Nov 26, 2010


“If you want to be truly selfish, help someone”

It sounds like a strange quote at first glance, but if one looks closely, there is a lot of truth in it. If I, for example, help someone, I will be the one feeling good and possibly, experiencing a change within me. More than the effects that it has on the receiver of help, a selfish person can find solace in the fact that his/her own interests have, in fact, been furthered.

A big company carries out its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme to its best ability. A few hundred more trees have been planted in the company’s name in an industrial area and hence, the company’s image is being built. Isn’t that the motive to help out, rather than the legalities and the evident formality to have a CSR department? After all, let’s face it-there is no unselfish good deed!

[Disclaimer: This is just a take on the quote. It may or may not reflect the author’s opinion on the matter]

Senseless Rhymes

She tried, she tried, with all her might
To put on her old pants, now tight,
Gave up after putting up a very good fight,
Not blaming her weight but increasing height.
Little Suzy wanted to eat a peach:
A peach high up on a tree, out of her reach;
Disappointed, she went and sulked on the beach,
Where her blood got sucked by a scary leech.
To the trainers of big, wild bears,
Do brush their hair, though they don’t care!
On my chairs they sit, fart, and shed their hair,
To do such a deed, how do they dare?
On and off, up and down,
Of such opposites, who wears the crown?
A greyish death, a shitty brown,
Adjectives have scope to cover so much ground!

Counting the minutes

Forty eight more minutes to cut in this office,
Today’s 432 others have passed.
My head feels light, light as the clouds,
For my brains can no longer process a thought.

A dry day in the truest sense of the word-
The cold dry air of the AC dried my skin,
No juices or coconut water consumed,
No mind games or work to tickle my brain,
That vestigial organ, that resides in my head.

The wall to my left,
To me has been kind
The only solace of the day-
As I lean on its broad shoulders offered to me,
It, with no complaint, takes my weight.

I am ready to leave, ready to sleep,
To go out and face the world-
Catching a cab that will take me home
Will be the world’s greatest adventure, untold.

Nov 23, 2010

I keep going on diets from time to time. Why don't I give up? Because I'm determined and wont let anything stop me...

Except food.


Urban Shots: My first book launch

Imagine yourself standing in a crowded bus, trying hard to look out of the window to catch ephemeral glimpses of the street lights, of busy roads, of traffic jams. You are in the midst of it all, brushing shoulders with strangers who have their own stories to tell. This book is that window in the bus, giving you an insight into the fictional or non-fictional lives of others.

That's a short excerpt from the foreword that I wrote for an anthology of 29 short stories by 13 Indian authors titled 'Urban Shots'. The book can be found/bought here, the main site of the publishers, Grey Oak.

On the 19th of November, I held a copy of this book in my hand at Oxford Book Store, Calcutta (can't say Kolkata because this one's been around for too long and the Chai Bar and set-up to sit and read still reeks of the Calcutta I grew up in). The book was launched along with the publisher, Ahmed Faiyaz's book, Another Chance. The book launches across India were either focusing on Another Chance or Urban Shots. The Calcutta one was on Another Chance. But I was a panelist for this launch in a conversation between Ahmed, Mrs Arpita Chatterjee, who did a dramatic book reading, and myself. The poster for this event is here: (They screwed up Ahmed's book's name. There's no 'The' before Another Chance)

I never thought that the first book launch I would attend in life would be my own. There was a lot of unease before the event and in the part where I had to decide what to wear. Finally, I settled for a black simple kurta with jeans, the image of a college goer. Simple and smart. Besides, black hides the fat! When the event started, I did the moderation of the discussion and different angles on urban relationships were brought up. Talking into the mike in front of an audience (that had many smiling supportive family members and friends) was interesting. This was not a school assembly on Dream Theatre or a little girl dressed as a fairy singing We Wish You A Merry Christmas in CSC's Christmas Fancy Dress/Talent Show Competition. This was a grown up girl, speaking her mind about the topics concerned. I even gave my input in the question-answer session.

The most fun parts were:
1) Drinking the water from the glass kept in front of me during the discussion. Silly, but felt great!
2) Signing the copies bought by the people attending. Mummy's was the first I signed and the whole thing felt real only when I saw that smile on her face. She deserved my first autograph. She and Papa were the reasons why I was there facing an audience rather than being one in the audience. They let me pursue my own dreams and write, even if it wasn't the best paying option for a future (Still not sure about the future, though. Working on it). In the copies, I could write whatever I wanted and my friends and cousins would have to buy it! I did! 

Fingers crossed that there will be more such book launches in the future. When I mailed my Head of Department about the experienced, his one line made it feel even better-"This is the kind of 'high' that I preach about."

Nov 21, 2010

Kamale Kamini

These are a few photographs from a dance recital called 'Kamale Kamini' on the banks of the Hooghly River in Calcutta that I saw this evening. The performance took place on a barge while the audience had to stand at the bank, which was quite far from the barge! The concept of this entire event on this beautiful winter evening on the night of Kartik Purnima was brilliant! Here they are: (no captions)

Nov 20, 2010

Thoughts of a baron

"Americans came into the land 500 years ago. They carried a gun in one hand and the Bible in the other. They killed the native Americans and enslaved the Blacks. That's how they got free land and free labour. That is why they are rich. That is why they are now a super power."
---Lord Diljit Rana,
Baron of Malone in the County of Antrim

The lines mentioned above were spoken by Lord Diljit Rana, Baron, Ireland, in a conversation about how America became a superpower. The words have been carefully picked and combined and show how it had exploited its own people for furthering the selfish interests of a few, and even thrown out the weaker sects of society rather than bridging disparities between them and the ‘powerful’ class.  Did their means truly justify their ends? Is it self-sustaining or even sustainable in the long run? Just some afterthoughts after hearing this line from him.


An opportunity at hand can definitely be an opportunity denied.
There are many occasions in life when one seeks something, gets an opportunity to further it and reach that 'something', but soon enough, for one reason or the other, that 'something' is taken from them. It is pitiable and we read about such stories day in, day out but the truth of its denial sticks.

The 98 percent-er 'could have' put in more number of hours of study a day and topped. But she didn't. She slacked off in her own eyes and lost self-determination to push herself for those 2 extra hours a day. She did not give up because that would not let her have come to the podium that she was standing on today. But she used those two hours a day to talk to her new found love, a classmate with whom she communicated only via the Internet and through glimpses caught from the first row in classes. Opportunities lost, Opportunities found.

Like many others of her age, she wanted to do something big and make a change in this tumultuous world. She allowed herself to believe that working in an NGO might further this. She got two great opportunities. She could work at the grassroots with the people infected by the diseases of urban life, deprived of resources because their urban counterparts took it all for themselves. She needed to do this. She wanted to, but was being unable to do so. Her father did not want her to mingle with the womenfolk, children, and especially not the HIV patients in those villages, who the NGOs were trying to help. 
A thousand children would not receive her help because she was his only child. 

Nov 13, 2010

Best Unsaid

The lack of resemblance with his parents would puzzle others but not him. There was a sense of peace within, stemming from the fact that he had unique looks. He was not one to yearn for attention, though he remembered getting plenty of it from them. Good manners, respect for elders and women, and politeness were just a few among the many values that he had inculcated in growing up. The environment was always full of love and the few unreasonable demands that any child makes were granted to him. He was never allowed to feel alone and if something bothered him, they were there. The feeling of resentment towards his parents' words and actions was incomprehensible even while peers around him cursed theirs with no shame.

A woman sat in a corner of the slum in a city far from where the boy lived. Life had not been kind to her as was evident from her tattered saree, the hole in her blouse, the unkempt hair, the scars. One man after another had used her body to find momentary peace in and left her with small packets of money. It helped her survive but that survival was one of disgust and remorse. Hurling abuses at passersby, she cried. Was it on that day or the next that her son had been born into this world? The father, a past lover, had showed her dreams of a home, of security, of love.

But those dreams had been baseless and were soon shattered because of his lust for alcohol. The beatings were especially unbearable on those nights that he had had a bad day at the farm. On the day she told him about the life that she was bearing inside her, the demon in him came out. His bloodshot eyes told her that the life in her and hers may not see the next day. She ran to the kitchen as he came after her and found the knife its target. Bemused by her move, she ran out of his little hut and fled. A temple in a village far from hers took her in without questioning why this pregnant woman had no other home.

He was born in a tiny village hospital without proper medical aids. She held the life that she had just given birth to in her arms. The tiny hands needed a hand to guide him and she knew that she did not have the strength or financial capacity to do that. She had to be fair to him. She had to give him the future that she could not have. She had to let him live his own dreams and face his own nightmares. She let him go...

Nov 11, 2010

All that matters

Coffee takes his place in your life once again. There is the morning dosage as well as the large dosage at night. Before you sleep. Sleep? Quite a forgotten concept.Foregone. Though Sleep does try and seduce you every now and then. Lure you to use her to her fullest capacity. But you must resist. And besides, Coffee hates Sleep and vice versa. They cannot stay in the same room. And you can thank Nature for that.

Swimming and Horses plays on the laptop near me. A curse is uttered. For just how good the song is! So good that you are just tempted to lie. And wish to forget all that you know so far. Forget and just be. Understand the moment. Not give that examination that will add/subtract to/from your future. The numbers, the B+s, the cramming. However important it may seem right now, it won't matter in the end. When you find the secret to living contently, the perfect song, or how to make your mother laugh like a child again, you'd know what does... 

Nov 6, 2010


Nov 5, 2010

Diwali in Bangalore

There could be an escapist angle to this trip too but more than anything, it's the need for a change of scene. As much as I love Nila, Megha and Varsha, I needed time apart from people in general. From the room where I could do what I wanted for the upcoming week to a space that I had to try to take mine while abiding by certain norms. It worked. Things can go really wrong when one ponders more than is required. And besides, my true love, Hot Chocolate Fudge from Corner House beckoned me. It even wrote me a love letter recently asking me to come visit. Couldn't resist. So there I was, asleep on the flight before it even took off, and soon paying 900 bucks to get to my aunt's place.

It felt nice seeing her face and meeting my other aunt (s) and cousins. The sad part was that the workload followed me till here and that my laptop was being used to compile module notes rather than watch movies on. However, the Gilmore Girls obsession started soon after the notes were submitted, much to my delight. Season 4 episode 19/22 is where I am. Ahhh! Such is life. Sujay, Trisha and Sreeja were highlights of my trip! Also, Shubham with his driving me back home. Hot Chocolate Fudge featured in all of the above! And the shopping...Cruel as it may be to one's pocket, it is not as bad as I thought it was. Jeans, Shampoos, four tops, 3 pairs of chappals, banana chips, filter coffee, Subway, Pasta with Deepika Padukone consuming wine behind me. All very nice! No guilt :)

The place is warm but cold. Home is home. This is a home away from home and the warmth from the diyas at home can't be matched up to. But this is good. It IS still family. And that's what brought me here.

Happy Diwali, whoever ends up reading this post! :) May you have a bright and cracker-free safe Diwali!

Nov 3, 2010

Eyes that know

I love this one. No particular reason.

Nov 1, 2010

Growing Up

This is an excerpt from my essay titled 'Growing Up' that will be featured in a book called 'Strangers' by Ahmed Faiyaz:

The frivolous, carefree time in one's early years eventually turns into an enigmatic, tumultuous process that you live out. That process is commonly known as 'growing up'. Becoming an adult is not something everyone looks forward to, tempting as it may sound. You are sitting alone in a corner in your verandah, holding a drink in one hand and your lover in the other arm. The falling rain is only a distant sound because you are deep in thought about how this is what you had always hoped for - love, money, happiness. Or is it just a part and parcel of the bigger picture?

There is an inwardly laugh and you realize that though this may be THE ultimate life, your mind as a child had painted a completely different painting of what these terms would mean. For a boy, it might have meant that he would be a top cricketer, earning plenty of money, and having a wide choice of good looking girls (probably his own female fan following) to pick his girlfriend (not wife) from. For a girl, it might have been that she would be a respected businesswoman and be financially independent and loaded, with a 'cute' boyfriend who loved her. Such were the silly dreams, while the reality then was that the two genders hated each other. 

The I-Hate-Boys phase came when we read the books that told us that boys ate snails. Eventually, you grew up and realized that though each boy was worse than the other in terms of the number of snails consumed, that number could not prevent you from having feelings for some of those snail-eaters. The game, Ghar Ghar (role-playing of being in a married household) that one would play with their family friends only turned out to be an enactment of what you hoped would reflect in your future. The dressing up, cooking for the one you love, the pretend babies that you looked after with your fake husbands... It is all too embarrassing when one truly realizes the potential of his or her imagination. The wastefulness of your resources would now make you cringe.

Read the rest of the essay here.

The Man On The Hill

Hard hitting Sun parched the back,
Yet he sat in a state of imposed ecstasy
The inhaled smoke creating that momentary high in the mind,
The music in the air brought in the Desert Rain.

From afar he came, to feel the rays,
To delve into himself in all its truths,
To breathe the easy air and sway,
To live amidst the passion of Nature.

Gleams reflected off the surface,
The winding road to where he sat seemed like a python.
Many had sat at the very spot before him
Living the moment in whichever way they could.