Friday, December 23, 2011

The stalker

The car stopped at the signal. She looked for him. He was standing there, wet, in his underpants. She smiled. He smiled. As he moved his hands up and down, his ribs flexed to define the leanness of his body. She opened her lips to let the warmth of her breath be smoked out. As the air passed through, her lips reddened. She almost licked off the water from his body. She let her eyes follow all his moves and then zoomed them out to focus on a particular part of his body. But then she realized she was missing on what's happening at other parts. She immediately zoomed her eyes in, in a frustration of missing on those forms that occurred in those missed moments. She found him looking at her. She felt being undressed. The honks around them didn't matter to her. They appeared far off.

The signal had turned yellow. She tried to look within his towel while he was changing. The lights turned green and the car moved. Her body didn't move. Neither did her face. Only two black balls moved from one corner to another in her eyes.

As the car turned right, she looked at her husband in the driver's seat. He looked at her and smiled. She smiled back and leaned to rest her head on his left hand. He kissed on her head. Some people indulge in a foreplay before making out. She did just the opposite. While she was cuddling in her husband's arms, she was still kissing the man she had left at the last signal. Every evening while returning from work, she would look for him. And he would be found there, mostly, cleaning himself, at an open pipeline, the only source of water for him, after a day's hard work. His nudity was a luxury for her, but a compulsion for him. The craving for a human body is probably the only one, where we dont engage in the discussions of the class. Its class is only defined in its quality, not from where is it produced or which brand is it of. Her want was the purest, devoid of any social subjugations, exactly as he existed. Every evening as she would walk out of her office, the only thing she would pray for would be this one minute at the signal. It had almost become the fuel of her life.

That day was a blessing. Her husband was out of town. She had to drive herself back home. She left office early, reached the signal almost ten minutes before her usual time and parked her car near the broken pineline. The evening supply was on and water was fountaining out. Some kids were playing in there. Two women were washing cloths. An old man was cleaning his cycle. She realized, probably they all were there, every evening. How come she never noticed them? She looked closely at their faces. The kids were playful. Women were chattering. The old man's face was devoid of any human expression. If something it contained, it was only an expression of the time which had passed by. She looked into the direction these people were coming from and going to. After few minutes, he arrived from the midst of the dirt, he would have called home. A torn jeans. Slipper-less, rugged feet. Bare chest. Strong, full arms. Hairs, curled up till the nape of his neck. White clean eyes, cupped in a dusty brown face. She gasped for some breath. “Oh! I so want him!!” she told herself.

The women asked those kids to pack up and move towards the dust this man was coming from. The sun had almost set, leaving behind the redness in the sky as its only trace. She looked at him as she would have done if they were alone in a space where no one else could enter. For the first time she had looked at him so closely. She moved her eyes from his feet to his face. For the first time she had looked into his eyes. Those clean, white ones. But they were not looking at her. She followed his gaze. She turned in the direction they were pointed at. She stopped at her car. She looked back at him and back in the direction he was looking. She again stopped at the car. Something crashed within her. She turned back, walked towards the car and started the engine.

Some wishes are better kept within than being given a form in this world. Inside, they remain authentic. Once exposed out, they get colored with the textures of who we are and how we are socially placed. The car zoomed into oblivion. He watched it till he could, then splashed some water on his face from the broken pipeline.

Image Source:

Friday, December 9, 2011

तुझे, कुछ और पाना चाहता हूँ |

तुझे पा लेने की एक अजीब ज़िद है,
जो तुझे पा लेने भर से, ख़त्म नहीं होती |
तेरे साथ होकर भी,
तुझे, कुछ और पाना चाहता हूँ |

हर वक़्त बेताब होता हूँ,
तेरी बाहों में आने को,
पर वहाँ आकर बस,
कुछ, घुट सा रहा होता हूँ |

तेरी साँसों में घुल जाए मेरी सांस,
इतनी करीबी की है ख्वाहिश,
पर तेरे पहलु में खुद को,
अक्सर, बस रोता-बिलखता पाता हूँ |

आ ख़त्म कर दे मुझे,
या राख़ होजा मेरी रूह में;
बस आज भर की रात, चाहे जीतनी लम्बी हो,
फिर, एक नयी सुबह पाना चाहता हूँ |

Posting in Roman-Hindi (as one of my friends call it :P) as well, for those who understand Hindi but cant read in the original script:

Tujhe paa lene ki ek ajeeb zid hai,
jo tujhe paa lene bhar se,
khatm nahi hoti.
Tere saath ho kar bhi,
tujhe, kuchh aur paana chahta hoon.

Har waqt betaab hota hoon,
teri baaho me aane ko,
par waha aakar bas,
kuchh ghut sa raha hota hoon.

Teri saaso me ghul jaaye meri saans,
itani kareebi ki hai khawaahish,
par tere pehlu me khud ko,
aksar, bas rota bilakhata paata hoon.

Aa khatm kar de mujhe,
ya raakh ho ja meri ruh me,
bas aaj bhar ki raat,
chahe jitani lambi ho,
fir ek nayi subah paana chahta hoon.
Apologies to my friends who may not understand Hindi. Feeling incapable of translating it with the same or even toned down essence it has been written with :(
P.S.: Thanx Donald! Reading and discussing it with you felt like good ol' times :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Silence Behind FDI Hulla

I have been following few reports and commentaries on FDI in retail for sometime now. However, I am left with few questions:

  1. A lot of people are saying that this will bring in money to our country. I ask how? Are they coming in here for charity? They are coming here to do business, which means to make profit. They are going to buy our product, sell it to us, using our resources( human and material) and at the end take out the profit to their country. So basically, more than bringing money in, they are taking money out. Are we any reacher? People who get happy when World Bank sanctions a loan are funny people. A loan is not my money. Period. I have to return, and at most times with heavy interests. Same goes for FDI. It take out heavy profit value from my country, for a very low initial investment, and that too at the cost of us.

  2. Mr. P. K. Vasudeva (supposedly a former senior professor at ICFAI, Chandigarh) say that since they have professional approach, they should be allowed in (HT editorial on November 30, 2011). Well what is this professional approach all about? The same apporach that failed Lehman Brothers, General Motors, Enron, and the likes? I think the professor must be talking about some other approach. But dude, don't you think it would be better if we could learn that approach, if that's really so cool, and apply it ourselves here? But I am sure we cant learn a thing, not because we Indians are any less at learning, but because those so-called FDI-offerers are sissy enough to make knoweldge public. They know that the only thing they have is a well packaged, and mostly half baked, processes and approach to things. And if kept open, there would be more critism than anything else. Said that, I dont say that our current approach is okay. Of course, we need to amend our systems. But WHY do we need to do it through them? Why can't we do it ourselves?

  3. Abhijit Patnaik* (HT, December 02, 2011) very rightly said, “The world can't have a middle class with the same affluence as the US...” He argues that the consumer-led model is philosophically erraneous and we need to have new development paradigm that will include more sustainable business models, equitable distribution and better governance. Isn't it our extreme blind love for western systems, processes and approaches that we simply dont analyse them properly and feel like copying them? Is it that we dont want to THINK about solutions to our problems and simply copy-paste them from elsewhere?

  4. It is said that it will give us more options and hence cheaper products. Well tell me, today I have almost 50 options to buy an underwear, but which one of them is cheaper than earlier times? It's a big fat farce.

  5. Another strong argument is – It's the time of globallization. Another piece of crap. There's no such thing called globalization. Its just Americanization. And its scary. Not as much because one country is almost ruling the world, but more because one incompetent#, selfish$ and evil** country is almost ruling the world. They can simply not have any goodwill, and here I would like to leave out exceptional organizations who are doing some genuinely good work within and outside US.

  6. Why all of a sudden a huge focus on FDI thing? Weren't we supposed to hear on Lokpal in winter session?

I am not sure if I am being overtly skeptical. I may be completely wrong. But my only point is, why do we need them to solve our problems. They will never ever solve a problem if it's making profit for them. Remember East India Company? They had come to do business here. What we got was colonization and oppression. And over 200 years of struggle. Now that's not cool with me. Is it with you? Let's listen to the silence behind FDI hulla. We may understand it a little better.

* I suggest, everyone should read Abhijit's article. It offers an interesting perspective.

# Their systems have failed, more often they should not.

$ Read through the internet and you will know how ruthlessly they have robbed the entire world.

** Of many instances read,

Monday, October 10, 2011

a Revolutionary, a Rockstar, and a system in Ruins

Malcolm X | Sadda Haq | Quality (and reach) deficit in our Education System | Well these three words/phrases – a book, a song and an issue – sum my current state of mind.

The other day I was curled up in a sofa at my sister’s place with the autobiography of Malcolm X and was bugging Ishita, my niece, to tune in to a channel where I can listen to any Rockstar song. Just when I was about to give up on my curiosity for this song after almost fifteen minutes of irritating her, the tube flashed a poster titled “Negative” and here walked in Ranbir Kapoor as the music went on. The song was Saadda Haq. A desperate book in hand, an intense song in eyes and ears, and a forever lingering thought in my head – I had never been so present with myself to anything in recent times… my body, my eyes, my ears and my mind… all full blown open and functioning to their highest capacity!!!

Though all these things sound hysterically disconnected at first glance, they are actually, very deeply connected with, or at least echo, each other. In fact they deserve separate posts, however after discussing it with myself, I zeroed in on the idea of presenting them together, here.

For those who may not know who Malcolm X is, he was the greatest (presumably) human rights activist for African Americans in the era of 1950’s. Here I am not presenting my views in support or against of his ideology or action. I just wish to share three things in this book that deeply intrigued me –

1) Malcolm’s openness to new ideas and single-minded devotion for changing things around for himself and his people. The way this man catapulted from ‘being who he was’ to ‘who he became’ is sheer amazing. If whatever said in the book is true, I must say this man personified Belief.
2) His adaptability in times of greatest psychological crisis. I could only imagine, that too not to the fullest, what he must have gone through in his days of separations from the Nation of Islam and his break up with his God-like guru, Elijah Mohammad.

3) How an identity (a religious one here), in times of a great social crisis, can lift people from the mess they are in.

All the above points root from a single issue – people devoid of or snatched away with their basic human rights. Lost in this fascinating book, when I heard this song for the first time, only two words were exhaled from inside me, “Oh fuck!!!”

I am not too sure how and where the song is placed in the movie, but in my current context when I am into this book (and Ishita would know what I mean by it) it could have never been so well timed. Whatever Malcolm X, or for that matter any oppressed human being, would have had to say to reclaim his rights and honor, this song says it all… Sadda Haq… Aithe Rakh!

Fabulous lyrics (Irshad Kamil). Awesome composition (A R Rahman). Sexy vocals (Mohit C). And beautiful visuals (Ranbir K and Imtiyaz Ali). With such rockstars, the song was born to be a rockstar. Check out this opening part of the song – “Marzi se jeene ki bhi main… Kya tum sabko main arzi doon… Matlab ki tum sabka mujhpe… Mujhse bhi zyada haq hai”, which is loosely translated as “If I have to live as I would want, will I have to write an application to you for that? Which means you own me more than I myself do?”

Doesn’t it echo what Malcolm or Gandhi or Bhagat Singh fought for? Or what thousands of Naxalites, Kashmiris, Palestinians, Afghans, and so many others are still fighting for? Please note, I am NOT commenting or supporting on the methods they employ to voice their concerns. Rather I am commenting only on ‘their voices’. If a society sickens one of its sections economically, politically and educationally (all or some of it), it is bound to boomerang; in what form, only the sufferer can decide.

Malcolm in his book says, and I firmly believe, that the most dangerous person in the world is the one devoid of or not provided with their rights, more so educational rights. Education, of all, is one right that when compromised or not provided with, will actually pose issues for the society that debars it for its people than the people themselves, who are debarred with it.

If you are a little aware of what is happening in Education sector, you will hear Mr. Murthy saying IITians are loosing the content and blaming coaching centers for it. You will hear coaching centers blaming JEE for it and claiming that they merely are responding what JEE is asking for. Higher Education blaming Primary and Secondary Education for not providing with enough educated students and the later blaming the entire system for not equipped to groom children well. And by the way, this discussion is for only that small section of our society which can actually avail education through all these levels. There are millions of children (and adults) who have been devoid of their basic right of education (and discussing quality would be a joke here). The sooner we pull our education system out of ruins, the better. Coz’ the day they realize it and ask us “sadda educational haq… aithe rakh”, they will only decide in which way they do it. And God forbid, if they choose violence or separation, can we really complain then?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Nationalism in Schools


For at least seven years during my stay at my boarding school, I have spent almost every morning with the Indian national pledge – “India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters. I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage. I shall always strive to be worthy of it. I shall give respect to my parents, teachers and elders and treat everyone with courtesy. To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion. In their well being and prosperity alone, lies my happiness.”

Like this I had to indulge in many school level programmes that directly or indirectly enforced a feeling of nationalism/ patriotism in me. I must admit I did (and to a good extent, still) subscribe to them. I feel proud when I sing Indian national anthem or talk about my country in forums where national anthem fits in appropriately. Its so much in me that I was so shocked to learn that one of the municipal schools that I am working with doesn’t call their students for Independence day celebrations due to “lack of assembly space” that I went on the theme my Art classes for a week on “Independence day”. However, I shall not prejudice my exploration in this paper with any such feelings I have held in most of my formative years of life. Today I wonder – Did I place my pride in the “rich and varied heritage” only after knowing what they were and evaluating if they were worthy of my pride? Why only Indians are being called my brothers and sisters? Why not a Palestinian or a Nepali or a Japanese? Why is there no mention of other living beings – the animals, the birds in our national pledge? Does my national identity contribute towards my development as a human being? Does it contribute towards any scientific invention that I may lead to? Does it, for that matter, contribute towards my exploration and placement of nationalism within school curriculum/ agenda in this paper?

Intrigued by these and similar other questions, I intend to explore the basic question “does nationalism holds a place within school curriculum agenda?” In this effort, let’s first understand “nationalism” and some related ideas (in differentiation section) before we can study the position it may (or may not) behold within the education premises (in integration section).


The below three concepts are often discussed, and at times used, interchangeably. Due to this, it’s important to understand the fine conceptual differences between these three:


Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. (Source: http:// wiki/ Nationalism). Nationalism, by many, is understood as an extreme form of patriotism marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries. Like religion, and many other social identities, nationalism too thrives on “us against the other”, defining a group of people as one unit by rejecting/ dishonoring (in some cases) the “others”. It is interesting to note the inception of the term and its placement in the era of French Revolution, and catastrophe of world wars that it is suspected it did lead to.


Excluding differences caused by the dependencies of the term's meaning upon context, geography and philosophy, patriotism is a devotion to one's country. In a generalized sense applicable to all countries and peoples, patriotism is a devotion to one's country (Source: http:// This basically is devoid of the concept of “us against the other”.


Citizenship is understood as the state of being a citizen of a particular social, political, national, or human resource community. Citizenship status, under social contract theory, carries with it both rights and responsibilities. "Active citizenship" is the philosophy that citizens should work towards the betterment of their community through economic participation, public, volunteer work, and other such efforts to improve life for all citizens. This concept asks for participation in activities of the countries we live in.

From above explanations, it would be interesting to understand what motivates the people supporting or opposing Anna Hazare in his “movement against corruption”.


Including the creation of social identity would be required if our aim is to prepare our pupil to deal with the matters in society as-is (which is fragmented by various social identities – religious, cultural, national and so on). However, if the aim of education is to move towards the concept of “one world”, would it be really important to discuss “nationalism” or other social identities? What is our education’s aim and what should be?

Education is purposed at what?

I personally believe the primary purpose of education is to assist in identification and further development of the natural talent of a child, and leading to the enablement of his/her rational, logical and emotional quotient. Education should be such that it enables a child to be able to express his/her idea and apply his/her knowledge. Rest would all be a byproduct of this process; be it the profession a child would choose, the success that shall follow or for that matter social identity he/she creates for himself/herself.

“Mera Bharat mahaan”: a nationalist, patriotic or citizenry construct?

‘Mahaan’, or ‘great’, by itself has a comparative tone to it. Having its roots in the colonial period, the slogan and all such similar ones (Vande Matram, etc) behold the feeling me “us against them – the British”. That was then when a group of people were fighting for their independence from a foreign body and needed various ways to keep themselves united by a single social construct (in this case the nation – India). But today, if a child says “Mera bharat Mahaan”, it becomes important to understand where he/he is picking it from and what meaning /value is he/she attaching to it. If such feelings are mere emulation of the beliefs held by his/her favorite teacher or a response to a social behavior (everyone in morning assembly does that), I offer caution. It may move from the domains of “influence” to conditioning and even indoctrination. I ask, how different is the person who believes his/her religion is great against the one who believes India is great and can go to any extreme to prove that point?

Should education aim at influencing love for one’s country in its pupils? I am not very sure of this. Education may best introduce the concept of love and facilitate its pupil to reason and then bestow upon their love and respect on things, people and ideas they would find worthy of. And if their nation or country befits their logical conclusions of assigning love, they can very well institute their pride in it. Otherwise, “Mera Bharat Mahaan” remains a transferred nationalist pride only.

Such hollow love for one’s country (or for that matter anything) would lead to one very important issue – one’s blindness towards the faults in our beloved. And nationalism in our schools has the capacity to reduce the responsibilities a person would hold in questioning his/her own nation, when the actions by the leaders/government doesn’t fit into his/her logical debates. Could that be a reason, why “Mera Bharat Mahaan” is so vociferously practiced in Indian schools (80% of Indian schools are govt. run/aided institutions)? And does our unquestioning (or at least over-accepting) attitude to whatever is happening in the national/public systems roots from there? Does the song “sau me se assi baimaan, fir bhi mera bharat mahaan / Eighty out of hundred are thugs, still India is great” hints at our inaction as citizens?

The identity and related discussion

Why is a nationalist identity, or for that matter, any such social identity, important for us? Does it address any of the existential issues? I am not sure if it helps in my development directly, but I can certainly say that it offers a sense of security which lets my development happen in a freer environment. For instance, if I am playing and I know that there’s my “family” who will take care of me if I am hurt, I am more open to experiment with my play. Such security also enables me to take a stand against issues, as it did to our freedom fighters against British (We have read of many stories on how Kasturaba supported Mahatma Gandhi) .

Another important thing this identity may breed is, competition. I am not sure if “my attitude towards my scientific invention” would be enhanced by my nationalist views. However, as a collective national entity, we definitely try to fuel our “growth” (now this is really subject how we define “growth”) by the competition backed by nationalism. The only thing is if it’s intertwined with insecurity, we compete for nuclear bombs; if with excellence, we may compete for alternate energy sources.

The present or the future?

However, the issues discussed in above section of identity and related discussions arise only in “as-is” situation; the world of today, where we are dealing with the issues of survival against other “nations”. When someone is dealing with issues of survival, it becomes easy for him/her to find solace/company in people who may subscribe to similar ideologies/identity (nation, state, religion, caste, class, gender, sexuality and so on). But if the focus is the future, curriculum for schools worldwide, as also discussed in Radhika Herzberger’s paper “Education and Indian Nationalism”, should focus on the world and not only the nations.

The competition bred by nationalism may not give the best results, but the one cultivated by the teachings of citizenry may very well do. When we move away from nationalism to citizenship, we are actually moving from ignorance to intellectual dialogue. If a student understands his/her role in a national set up, and is enabled to express his/her idea (with respect to his/her nation) and apply his/her knowledge (in betterment of the lives of his/her fellow human beings, and not only the fellow countrymen), the results that will be produced will be, I think, far greater than it would be in an institution thriving on nationalism. I think, to build a future, and not only survive the struggles of the present, we need to engage in the debates and discussions where we allow our students to question the concept of nationhood, it’s history, the national myths, the current setup and the scope of improvisation. In the ever globalizing world today, it’s very important to move away from “us against them” construct and develop a global outlook, the one which teaches patience and tolerance toward variety of social identities which may differ from our own. Nationalism, by its philosophy, doesn’t offer that, and hence should not find a place in our schools. What would be important is to initiate a discussion on citizenship and its value in an individual’s and subsequently a country’s development.

In this light, I think, It is very important to move away from the songs we sang in first half of twentieth sanctuary (In fact a teacher in Japan stood against the government in resistance to sing the national song as to many it signified the country’s militaristic past). It’s very important that we discuss Gandhi in our schools as a leader (with his ideological merits and demerits) and not just read him as a messiah of independence struggle. It’s very important to understand the role of Hindus in creation of Pakistan as opposed to that only of Muslims we have been reading in our books. And now, It’s very important to ask our students “why?”, when they say “Mera Bharat Mahan!”

Note: This term paper was submitted for "Philosophy of Education" course as part of my M.A. in Education (Elementary) at TATA Institute of Social Sciences.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

I am NOT Anna Hazare

I don’t like those caps. But that's not the only reason.

Yesterday, I had been to my local grocer to get some milk. I was standing there for over ten minutes before he decided to provide me any service. Well, why not? After all, his discussion was more important than his work. He was discussing how important it is for Anna to fight, “Boss he is doing the right thing. Marne ki umar me banda lad ra hai. chalo achcha hai... marne ke pahle hamare liye kuchh achcha kar ke jaayega. Ekdum theek kar ra hai banda. Saale in neta logo ke ke saath aisa hi hona chahiye.” This gentleman, after his long patriotic speech, sold a packet of milk to me at Rs. 16 which had an MRP of only Rs. 14. When asked, he told me, “yehi rate pe milta hai sab jagah. Kahi bhi poochh lo.” It is sold at the same rate everywhere. You may go and check.

I could only smirk. I wanted to tell him - your Anna can really not do anything for you; but refrained from it. In my protest, all I did was not to buy milk from his shop. Though, I did it from the other shop in the same rate, without getting into any further discussion.

Sounds like a daily, routine and mundane life scenario? At grocery shops? at rickshaw stands? at shopping malls? Feel cheated of or not provided with the services/products promised? Well, my dear readers, none of them are part of the so-called “MAHA CORRUPT governmental system”. They all belong to us, the helpless and most miserable - Aam Aadmi.

I am not against what Anna Hazare is leading or the support being rendered in his favor. Neither am I complaining about the rallies being held in, or at least being reported from, all across the urban India (Interestingly I would also want to know what is our rural youth doing?). I am only cautioning… against a weak structure of this movement. Any structure is what its building blocks are. And in this structure of the so-called “second freedom struggle”, the blocks- most of the people (but surely not all) on the roads in the support, I think are weak. Not weak as people, but weak as people-on-a-mission. I say that because they are the same people who sell the milk at a higher price than it should have.
But does it mean that we stop our fight till we become strong enough for the fight? Not really. It need not be a sequential process, but can work as a parallel programme. And that’s what Gandhian way of leading a movement was. Gandhi led a movement not only against an issue. Rather, his movements were FOR the people, OF the people and BY the people. I reiterate, his movements were FOR the people, OF the people and BY the people. Which means while he was raising a concern over an issue, he was also ensuring his building blocks of his movement were being trained to be strong enough. And that’s precisely what’s missing in Anna’s movement, and that what my subject of concern is. In fact, it’s sad to note how the cause itself has gone into a back burner and the man and his antics have become the front page news (whether Anna will be able to go on a Fast? For how many days? Will he be sent to jail? Damn! He was sent to Tihar jail!! Whether he will fast in Ramlila ground or at India gate? Oh! Anna was so cute on that reality show with kid!). And in this structure, do we really think we can overcome the issues? Don’t we all see Lokpal itself is a small step towards bringing in a check on corruption in governmental systems? Shifting the focus on our “media-created” leader from the movement is how much favorable to the cause?

Did I hurt anyone when I called Shri Anna Hazare a “media-created” leader? I am sorry. I, not in my most pessimist dream, would question the credentials of this man. He mostly has a good past and has done some really good work. But is he a leader by choice? I am not sure (Please note I don't say I negate completely the possibility of it being the case). In times, when India is producing more managers than leaders (I have discussed how a manager may or may not be a leader but the later has to be a former, in my previous writing), when there is more-than-ever frustration about our systems falling apart all across, when media offers an opportunity for anyone from a Baba Ramdev to Rakhi Sawant to become a solution provider to a clueless janta, Mr. Hazare had no option but to be showcased as a leader, I guess.

Please don’t mistake me as a supporter of government actions. I am equally pissed as things are happening in that part of the system. But then, let’s hold our thoughts for a while and ponder: are those people in anyway not “us”? Are they from some other planet? If there is a failure, is that not “ours”? And if so, will blame-game logic work, without accepting our own role in it all and initiating a correction process? I have always wondered, why have been we asking about solutions from the same set of people, whom we have been cursing for not doing anything? If we already know they are no good, what are we doing to replace them? Or help them with better solutions? Better infrastructure? Isn't my grocer’s selling an overpriced milk a way to support in their mission of corruption? Isn't my not raising a voice and taking a concrete action to ensure he stops doing that addition to corruption? Just because someone pockets lakhs he is a thief and someone pocketing Rs 2 is not? In last few days, my morning news paper has been reporting that how thousands of people are participating in various rallies and candle marches in the city. The same paper had reported about the lower than even 50% turnout of Mumbaikars at last polls. Many had chosen to go on an extended weekend over standing in the queue to vote. What are we doing to improve the procedure of voting that people start participating?

So when someone wears “I am Anna Hazare” cap next, he/she should first think if he/she did anything that would be illegal, and more than that unethical or immoral, in last 24 hrs. If the answer is yes, should delay wearing that cap till he/she gets his/her stand corrected. I, as said before, anyways don’t like that cap. I am NOT Anna Hazare. He is a good man. But I would rather be a Rohit and be good as well.

P.S.: The below Amul ad more or less sums up my concern:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The city of hills and the sea - V

Boarding a BEST bus on a rainy Saturday evening from Borivali to Chembur is not the best of the ideas. And you may curse yourself to death if you did this just outside the railway station, where you had the option of boarding a Mumbai local. But I did board the bus and I did curse myself almost throughout the travel, until was engaged in a love story.
In those moments when I wasn’t cursing myself or reading the newspaper, I engaged myself in my favorite pastime - looking onto and into faces around me. And like it happens most of the times, this time too my maximum onto-into time was spent on a cute little baby girl’s happy face, shifting between her mom and dad, from time to time. She was wearing a bright red frock, a matching set of earrings, and a small ponytail like the Rasna baby (anyone remembers the girl from that ad?). Her dad looked like those big guys with heavy voices we see as sidekicks to the villain in Ram Gopal Varma movies. With his hulk-like hands, he would tickle the baby once in a while and father-daughter duo would burst into loud-sweet laughter. The lady, sitting next to him, was simply smiling when all this was happening. In the times when we get to hear of Indore doctors making big bucks by medically converting the girls into boys and some highly-educated Indians engaging in female foeticide, here was a family, probably from lower middle class, happily loving their girl child. The scene was refreshing and reassuring of goodness.
At times, the kid, while in transit between her parents, would halt in middle of her way and look into my staring eyes. She would wait for a second to study my offered emotion, and when confirmed that I was offering a friendly smile, would burst into laughter and then look at her mother, probably to assure that she is still happy and I have not scared her. Her mother would then throw her routine affirmative smile and hug her, bringing the kid’s face more close to my seat. The kid would then extend her cute little fingers towards me. I would touch them. It was the most therapeutic touch in that maddening traffic. I would tap her fingers as if they were the keys of the piano. I didn’t know her. But I knew her. We were part of a smile exchange programme.
In those moments when I was playing with their daughter and they were assured that I would not harm her, the mom and dad got their time to engage in their small talks. They would say something into each other’s ears and burst into laughter. On one such laughter, the kid got distracted, or probably got bored of playing with me, and started crying. Her mother pulled her from behind and asked, “What happened, beta? Arre nai nai nai…” she opened the window to let some fresh (!) air come in.
“See, there’s another babu. Isn’t he cute?” she pointed to a little kid walking on the footpath with his mother.
The kid looked at the-another-babu for a second, then back to her mom, and back to the-another-babu. Then she stopped crying for a second and then finally smiled. When she was happy and laughing again, she looked at me again and hovered towards me. After being assured that their kid was engaged again, the father leapt back into the moments of romantics, “by the way, the mother of the cute babu, wasn’t any less cute.” His lips widened into a naughty smile. The lady smiled back and tapped on his cheek gently. The man pulled the kid and kissed her with utmost affection. Then he said to her, as if she would understand, to pass it on to mummy. The lady smiled sheepishly and shied away to look outside the window. As the bus tried moving a little further, the moist wind flew her hairs toward the man. He in pretense of holding the kid touched them.
She wasn’t the most beautiful woman, even in the small demographic of the bus neither was he the handsomest man. I am not really sure if theirs was a love marriage or arranged. But how does it all matter? It happens, I think; if we let it. And when it does, it makes everything beautiful all around. Sometimes we close ourselves so tight that it only suffocates us. When kept open, it has the power to let you forget a sucking BEST ride at the least, at other times it may go on to define your whole life. I was in love with this moment of Bollywood-ish happiness offered in a crowded bus. Sometime, the stories around you are so simple and yet powerful that they touch your heart. I think, more than the content of the stories, at times it’s the way they are lived that makes the maximum impact on the watcher.
When I got down, I wasn't as enervated as I had assumed I would. Rather I was engulfed with some wondering thoughts: a few kisses here, and a few hugs there… a few smiles offered and few talks listened to… a few tickles and some giggles… in the BEST buses and the Mumbai locals… in the far and few open spaces available in this city and at the over-crowded seasides… over a rich meal and at times even when one is hungry… on the potholed streets and in the coziness of the closed rooms… on the college campuses and in the office premises… in the shopping malls and on the crowded Mohammad Ali road… despite all the tiredness and madness this city has to offer… Love happens, isn’t it?
P.S.: Their faces are still in my mind while I am done writing this piece and I am still smiling :)
Note: Except first photograph, others in the title image are taken from -,, and

To read the previous articles in this series, please visit below links:

Friday, July 29, 2011

खोज़, खुद की

हाथ उठा के कांख तले,


क्या पा पाते हो खुद को वहाँ,

या रहती है किसी इत्र की खुशबू?

शीशे के सामने सज़ी रंग-बिरंगी शीशियों में बंद हो,

या महसूस कर पाते हो खुद की महक?

तब भी - जब दिन भर की कड़ी मेहनत के बाद,

चूर हो घर लौटते हो;

और तब भी - जब स्नान कर बिस्तर पर लेटे,

यूँही आँखें बंद करते हो|

वो तुम हो|


Tried to translate (pretty loosely though) for some of my friends who may not be very conversant with Hindi script:

Raise your hands and under your armpit,


Do you find yourself there?

Or reside there a scent of some perfume?

Are to contained in the multicolored vials placed in front of the mirror,

Or are you able to feel your own scent?

Event then – when after a day's hard work

you return home, all enervated;

and even then – when you lie down on the bed after a bath

and close your eyes just like that.

That’s you.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The city of hills and the sea - IV

How close and personal it is to save one’s own home? And how grossly defeated one would feel if he/she is not able to do the same? Are their actions justified if they revolt such a defeat and go to an extreme? If not, then why not?
I wonder if the American, British and all such people who go around to colonize the world would ever have a sound sleep in night with the realization of murder and uprooting of so many people across the globe for their insatiable greed of possession (Watch movies such as Blessed by Fire and Salt of this Sea and you will know what I mean)! They may celebrate the victory of killing Osama bin Laden today. But then isn’t it a picture half-shown as we all know who created Osama in first place? Back home in India, how do we deal with the issues of Kashmir and Naxalism? Did it not all start with the greed of possession by an external entity of homes (and in some cases, the very right to exist) that belonged to someone else?

I was reading “Don’t Urbanize me - Focus section” of Sunday Hindustan Times (01, May, 2011) and realized that saving one’s home may be extremely close and personal but at times that doesn’t really matter. What matter is where does the power lie.
Not very far from the reaches of the mega city of Mumbai, live a handful of villagers (well yes, villagers in true sense) in Vasai who are poignantly fighting the system against the proposed “development”. What kind of thoughts pop up in your head? Don’t they appear like nuts? They will be offered huge value for their land and a nice flat to live in. And they say they don’t want it!! Such crazy maniacs always create roadblocks in the pace of development, right? Wrong! Coz when you hear what they have to say about development, you will realize, they understand its meaning, in true sense. Development is not about taller buildings, hospitals that may exist only for name sake, schools that may not have adequate resources (human as well as infrastructural) and roads with more potholes than the vehicles on it. And it’s certainly not snatching away someone’s right to choose a profession and a style of life, in the name of it all. Development simply means a stage of growth or advancement, in any area one chooses to do so. And if the people from Vasai have chosen to develop in the area of agriculture, they have every right to this choice. More so, when the land in question is extremely fertile and very good for agricultural advancement. As far as the other development parameters such as Education, Health, etc go, they have it enough. And Happiness, the one parameter that most of us ignore, they have in abundance, in the lifestyle they have chosen for themselves. As Peter Dias, former Sarpanch of Mulgaon Village from the regions puts it, “Help us strengthen our agricultural economy and save our green cover, and we will show you that we want development too.” And when he says this, it makes more sense because he has headed a village which has won the district level competition for its quality agricultural produce in 1995.
The meaning which we attach to development is very relative. We need to understand that we all are different people and we all have different needs. The most ethical way to survive is to respect everyone’s individuality and not to encroach in other’s personal premises without their consent. Here, the people Vasai are in effort to save their villages’ individuality and identity from the encroachment of the political goons, corporations and builder lobbyists. I am not very sure for how long will they be able to survive this tussle, but I pray that they not only survive but win. Because if they don’t, it will be another sign of human moral degradation. And we, the people who are aware of their plight are to support them, coz if we don’t and they lose, we are destined to lose our wars too, sooner or later.
While I move towards the closure of this piece, I realize that saving one’s home is not just a personal fight. We need to support them in their endeavor, coz tomorrow it may be us on the other side and if we choose to remain indifferent today, others may choose the same tomorrow.

(Photographs used in the title image are from Vasai and are taken from - the sage , Harini Calamur, Serenity on Flickr)