Dec 21, 2011

The winding, chilly path to Peace

Everybody has to agree that they have those one or two saying or words that they swear by. I'm not going to quote others on their 'driving words' in life because I'm trying this thing called 'writing' and not 'reporting' after a very long time. This basically involves me writing down my own thoughts and not using others' quotes to string a couple of coherent words together in the inverted pyramid format.

For me, I picked up on Carpe diem for example, after watching Dead Poets Society. It means 'Seize the day' in Latin, which is just to say that one should live in and for the moment to make their life extraordinary. It's so simple and yet so hard to actually adopt into your life. Trust me.

And then, I found two other lines that I currently swear by - two contradicting beliefs that have left me conflicted with myself of late. I used to live by #1 for a long time. And only as recently as last week, I heard about #2, which is when the whole self conflict began.

#1 - "Happiness is only real when shared." That's a quote by Christopher McCandless, the guy whose life has been portrayed in Into The Wild. It's a film everybody has to watch though it could be viewed as something silly to have done in the first place or too idealistic. That's your perception and I'll leave you to that. R.I.P Alexander Supertramp (which is what Chris calls himself in it.) Also, read the book by Jon Krakeur tracing back McCandless' life before or after you're done with the film. It's actually one of those rare films which is as good, if not better than the book. If you have time, read my other longer post on it actually - click here.

#2 - "Something is yours and yours alone till you share it with someone else." After that, it becomes somebody else's. That's a quote Parvathy Baul gave me when I was interacting with her for an article. It makes so much sense. I don't even know what context she spoke about it that evening. But the next morning when I woke up, that was the only thought on my mind.

So that's my life in short. A very very rough sketch.

But this morning, I experienced a convergence point. I visited Nandi Hills to watch the sunrise from the top. I was just moved by the amount of awe and wonder that Nature can create in a person. It truly was the perfect sunrise. A morning of frozen fingers, one rupee chai on the road, foggy winding roads, silhouettes and that perfect sunrise. And then it struck me. My little moment of epiphany: The happiness had been shared because I would suggest others to visit the place after me; but that experience would always be mine because that sunrise would never be seen and felt by any other soul in this vast universe the way I did. And I was at peace.

I purposely chose the blurry picture to leave that sunrise as just that for you, someone who wasn't there.

Dec 9, 2011

A lost voice

A singer driven by love and passion. A bhakt. A being who could give back to the world only what the creator had given her: a voice. She once lost that voice. She went to a healer in a mystic land and sought his help. He told her to sit in a hut by the sea on a mat and let the water wash her and allow her to be cured. She did so for 15 days. The sand latched itself onto her dreadlocks, the water drenched her robe, the salt scraped her skin.

But she stayed put. She stayed put in the hut and allowed nature to take its course. Someone was appointed to make sure the sea did not wash her away along with it. He gave her food and ironically, more water.

In 15 days, her voice was back and she never had to go looking for it again.

Dec 1, 2011

The full Marko Saaresto (Poets of the Fall vocalist) interview

I wrote an article for Deccan Herald on the Great Indian Octoberfest which took place in Bangalore in November this year. I also happened to get a 6 minute long interview with Marko Saaresto, the Poets of the Fall vocalist (They were headlining the 3 day music festival). =)

The published article on Octoberfest:

The published article on Marko:

Marko Saaresto
The original full-length transcribed interview with Marko: 

Me: How does it feel to be back in India?

Marko: It feels really great. I wouldn't miss this for the world. It's a really great place to come and play. The people are really enthusiastic. They love us. We love them, obviously. My mind was really blown. You have people singing the songs and you're like 'whoa!' The audiences really received.

Me: Did you enjoy Bangalore so far?

Marko: Yeah, we drove around the town today and we went shopping for a while. There's some great handicrafts. I bought some silver bracelets, which are really cool. I really liked it

Me: Did you try out the local food?

Marko: Yeah, we had great lunches and dinners at our hotel with 40 different dishes there to choose from as well as the desserts. I ate everything! I am a spice fan and if anything's spicy, I tend to like that.

Me: POTF did an online release of Alchemy Volume 1, a compilation album in January this year. What is the next album that you're working on?

Marko: There are two new songs for Alchemy and we're also working on the next album, which should be out next year sometime. I'm not going to tell you what it's called.

Me: Do you feel that the music industry is commercially viable and self-sustaining?

Marko: Oh yes, definitely. There is money if you get to that certain level. I hope we're there.

Me: In the official videos of your tracks, does the band have any creative liberty or do you just finish a song and give it to the director to interpret?

Marko: No, we've always thought that the videos are a very important part of our music. And so, everytime we pick a song for a video, we all write down our ideas, sit and discuss them, and then talk to the director about it. So it's always a colloboration with the director.

Me: What is the one thing that keeps the band together?

Marko: I think it's the love for the music. It's a need to express yourself in a way and then, we're all really good friends. The chemistry works in the studio and while we write the song. Everyone has their artistic views and there are clashes sometimes and that's the educational part. If we had clashes all the time, we wouldn't be a band.

Me: What's the inspiration to the songs?

Marko: It comes from everywhere and anywhere-from music and also from daily occurences like when we're touring or what happens to us when we're live. They have an emotional background and that's something that usually brings out the music as well.

Me: The band uses the violin sometimes and the minor key very often, which is not conventionally 'rock.' Why is that?

Marko: Because it speaks to us. We've tried the major key many many times but all those songs have ended up for someone else and not for us. We wrote them but we gave them to a different artiste. We love the minor key.

Me: In one line, what would you tell your fans in Bangalore?

Marko: Enjoy your life!

Nov 10, 2011

Photostory: Shutterbug Bangalore Escapades Part 1

Seeds of change
Give me a tiny little push, please
Shiny disco balls
The inconsistent wave
Shook me all night long
Fluorescent Emerald
Shadows in the day
Paperback Desires

Oct 26, 2011

The City of Joy: Lansdowne Market

The freshest garlands in the market. My hands are a shade of orange now because I had to take out the petals for decorations. 
The elegant looking pandal near Hazra crossing. I love the fact that there are more cycles than cars in the photograph.
Streamers of all sorts to add color to one's life (I picked up the silver, purple &  blue ones for myself)
Look at the blue & yellow in this Kala Ma pandal. Such rich hues.
Patakas being sold by a little girl whose expressions are as explosive as firecrackers themselves. See! *bang*
I call it the One Stop Shop. Everything seemingly related to pujas was available here!

Oct 25, 2011

My long(est)-term relationship: Music

This is going to be my official speech at the launch of my book on the journey to becoming the best guitarist in the world (Okay, in India. Okay fine, in Calcutta. Okay, just in my own mind.) at some point in life after years of learning. It's like a reverie of how I became so into the music scene as I currently am. Just treat it as a dream post of a sort.
(Note: I do not know how to play the guitar at all currently but recently decided that I will buy one soon with my savings and learn.)

Yes, I know I started playing only at 20 while most others already had their act together by then. They all started when they were 9 or 13 or 16. Only a few pushed it till the 20s and couldn't recognize their inner passion and potential till then. But it was just that drive at that age. There I was on 25th october, 2011 sitting back and reflecting on how I need music playing around me all the time and not being able to get how some people I know don't like music. Music had become one of the most essential things in my life.

It was the trip to Kerala in class 6 where I heard Indian Ocean's Kandisa and really enjoyed it. I went through my Britney Spears and Sugababes and then the Beatles and Pink Floyd phases like everyone does at different points before/after that. But I always knew that there was something to it than I could fathom.

Then, The Tossed Salad (TTS) happened and I had to review Ashima Aiyer's music. It was the first time I dwelled on the melody and lyrics and what goes into it an individual song and its depth and from there, there was no looking back. There was more listening, new sounds, research, trial and error, and discussions and there was just more everyday to learn about music, and specifically, the music scene in India. It was a crazy rush everytime and very fulfilling as an experience. I would like to stop here for a second and really thank the Indian music scene for picking up the way it has, especially so in the recent years. There's just so much content, both good and bad, and so much potential to actually improve and reach a standard that cannot be countered by other countries. This is also excellent because of India's rich cultural diversity which a lot of the Indian bands retain in their sound. (I'm thinking Advaita, Swarathma and Indian Ocean as I write this.)

Then, the interviews for TTS started and I started getting better with each interview and started thoroughly enjoying the conversations with the artistes concerned. I'd interviewed Sahej Bakshi aka Dualist Inquiry once and I completely forgot my prepared questionnaire and just explored his music and all I wanted to know about it to understand it fully and then wrote the piece. He claims he liked it. It was just the involvement I felt while thinking about that piece of writing and it made me feel really good inside since I want to be a journalist in the future.

And that's the best part. There's been many interactions and they have all taught me something new each time and managed to only got more and more fascinated. And it was more like a fascination for life through the music because it was giving me this natural high of a sort all the time, which could only be fueled by other intoxicants which were therefore, not the necessity.

And then, NH7 weekender was happening that year and I missed it in its first year and had even stayed off Facebook for those 3 days knowing I'd be wanting to kick myself with the updates about how 'awesome' it was. I traveled to Bombay for the announcement party at Razz with the most amazing line-up and the entire show was pretty much orchestrated by Warren Mendonsa (Blackstratblues). It was a milestone for me and ever since, I have compared gigs to it. (Note: This speech is for the future and I would've attended Weekender by then but currently, I'm just super excited to attend it in 23 days). I volunteered with them and helped in Marketing and Promotions (I sold 6 tickets, including 3 people I convinced to travel to Pune from Calcutta for just those 3 days) and also with the NH7 wire, a magazine with NH7 as a part of TTS. It was all just overwhelming and seemed bloody right while writing for it.

And coming to how I got to where I am today. Everything that I just explained drove me to want to finally understand the other side to the story and be the one making the music to give me the clearest understanding of a piece of music when I hear it. It was after focussing on Mr Woodnote's feet work the loop pedal at a live gig at High Spirits, Pune and understand the many layers to his music that I wanted to pick up an instrument, any instrument, and just devour it completely in the sense of knowing each and every sound and combination that can possibly come out of it.

And for those of you who are curious, once I'm done with the guitar, I'm aiming to delve deep into the intricacies of the saxophone. That's all. Thank you for pushing me in ways unknown to you or me and making me explore this wonderful field of music, this magical field of opportunities.

*takes a bow and goes and hugs Mummy who is sitting at the front row*

Oct 24, 2011

Shopping for the Diwali puja

Rangoli: A treat for the eyes
Diyas of all shapes, colours and sizes for the puja
Ganesh & Lakshmi murtis (idols) on display
The little rui (cotton) seller boy
Incense, roli-chawal, kapur and an assortment of other requisites for the puja
The kheel-batasha prasad (offerings to the Gods)
All these photographs were taken on my phone camera and are therefore, not as clear as I would have liked them to be. Still, they should hopefully capture the essence of the marketplace for all the Diwali puja items. No firecrackers were in that area of the market and so, are not included.

Oct 22, 2011

The Moth

I see it outside my window, struggling with all its might to get in. It reminds me an awful lot of myself but the only difference is that it can fly and I can't even though there are days when I wish I could. It is trapped in the outside world while I am trapped inside. But it still has more freedom than me. It wants in; I want out. I may as well admit here that though I do feel liberated, at the end of the day, I do not get the liberation that I seek.

I used to be good at a game of Hide and Seek as a kid. Today, if I hide, I can't look myself in the eye in my own reflection. Today, if I switch off the light so that I can't see the moth any longer knowing that it still is there despite the temporary darkness, I know that it has won and I have lost.

Oct 12, 2011

Maadhyam: The revolution is here

The second edition of my college fest, Maadhyam 2011 is finally here. After all the toil and trouble, three days of fun and excitement is expected. Day 1 will see an inter-college fashion show at Phoenix Mall, Day 2 with a band competition at Phoenix folled by a dance competition at the college auditorium and finally, and this one's the best, Ankur Tewari & the Ghalat Family on Saturday, Day 3! I can't wait. If you're in Pune tomorrow onwards, make sure to drop in at the Vimannagar Symbiosis campus. Enough and more entertainment :) And passes for the gig are only for 100 bucks. And that's just awesome for such good music!

Oct 6, 2011

Random Tweets: All in a night's work

These were all tweets over a span of an hour on the night of October 5th. Yes, I was extremely bored.
  • Let it swallow you in, as you lie there waiting. Would you even want to even try and get out? You know and so do I.
  • I wish to learn the language of cockroaches someday. And escape the vindictive wrath of humanity with my fellow brothers and sisters.
  • Plain and simple curiosity. Questions. Answers. Disappointment. Truth. Acceptance. Repeat cycle. The end.
  • You believe in unicorns and expect me to dismiss my beliefs?
  • You switch off the light as you walk inside. I lie there, terrified. It's a rolling sea outside. Don't hold me, you are not mine.
  • Sleepless in a city unknown to mankind. I hope the astronauts get here with the Martian brownies soon. And diet coke!
  • The depth is too much but drowning isn't even an option. Melt. Crash. Reconstruct. Grasp. Twitch. Yelp. Tighten. Stop. Revive.
  • The towel soaks me dry. As does vengeance and pity and loneliness.
  • Beauty is always overplayed or underplayed and never correctly estimated.
  • It doesn't belong to you and never will. Let go. Or could it be that you never knew it all along?
  • You fell asleep and I was numb.I tried to hurt you to awake you but you would not budge.You just lay there silent as before. #footfellasleep
  • It was just a glimpse. But it ended before I even shut my eyes. And without my knowing, someone pressed the Restart button.
  • Draped in the attire you chose, I stand. Hopeless and carefree, a step at a time. They come, they go. Would you care to stay?

    Sep 27, 2011

    An ode to Rishi Valley

    I wrote this on a bus to an ashram in Maharashtra as I compared the freshness of rural air there to that which I had felt on my way from Bangalore to my school in the hills, Rishi Valley School in Andhra Pradesh:

    It's the same familiar air,
    Hills of that same terrain,
    But the only difference remains-
    That it really isn't quite it.

    Those queasy bumps on the road are amiss,
    The toll we pay's much more.
    It seems to me that all it is
    Is the slow passage of time.

    I want to believe it's the same Sun setting,
    I want to feel as free;
    But heart in heart I know the truth-
    The long established hard hitting fact.

    It was just a journey I embarked on.
    It became much more than my world.
    As two worlds parted, a new emerged,
    I, a by-stander, just stood and watched.

    Sep 25, 2011

    Blog Award

    I just got a 'Blog Award' from someone in the Blogger community known as Kitten.
    Check it out here.  (Quoting her: "Now to forwarding this award..I'll choose my recent favourites:" )
    Thank you! :)

    Sep 24, 2011

    Scratch Off Challenge (I am currently suffering from boredom)

    I stumbled across this "scratch off" challenge on a blog and decided to do it for my blog too. Basically, what you do is  you strike off ("scratch off") what holds true for you. And I'm off!

    I have/had piercings besides the ears.
    I want piercings besides the ears.
    I have many scars.
    I tan easily.

    I wish my hair was a different color.
    I have friends who have never seen my natural hair color.
    I have a tattoo.
    I want a tattoo.
    I can be self-conscious about my appearance.
    I have/had braces.
    I have more than two piercings.

    Disney movies still make me cry.
    I’ve laughed so hard I’ve cried.
    I’ve glued my hand to something.
    I’ve laughed until some kind of beverage came out of my nose.

    I’ve had my pants rip in public.
    I’ve touched something sharp/hot/etc to see if it would hurt.

    I’ve gotten stitches.
    I’ve broken or dislocated a bone.
    I’ve had my tonsils removed.
    I’ve had my wisdom teeth removed.
    I’ve had chicken pox.
    I've had malaria.
    I've had typhoid.

    I've had jaundice.

    I’ve been on a plane.
    I’ve been to US.
    I’ve been to Europe.
    I've been to at least one other country.

    I've never been out of my country.

    I’ve gotten lost in my city.
    I’ve seen a shooting star.
    I’ve wished on a shooting star.

    I’ve seen a meteor shower.
    I’ve gone out in public in my pajamas.
    I’ve pushed all the buttons on an elevator.
    I’ve slapped someone.

    I’ve kissed someone underwater.
    I’ve chugged something.
    I’ve crashed a car.
    I’ve been skiing.
    I’ve been in a musical.
    I’ve auditioned for something.
    I’ve been on stage.
    I’ve caught a snowflake on my tongue.
    I’ve sat on a rooftop at night.
    I’ve pranked someone.

    I’ve ridden in a taxi.

    Honesty / Crime
    I’ve been threatened to be arrested.
    I’ve broken a law.
    I’ve done something I promised someone I wouldn’t.
    I’ve done something I promised myself I wouldn’t.
    I’ve sneaked out.
    I’ve lied about my whereabouts.
    I’ve cheated while playing a game.

    I’ve been in a fist fight.

    I’m afraid of dying.
    I hate funerals.
    I’ve seen someone/something die.

    Someone close to me has attempted/committed suicide.
    I have attempted suicide.
    I’ve thought about suicide before.
    I’ve written a eulogy for myself.  (I will do this soon. Interesting idea!)

    I own over 10 music CDs.
    I own over 10 novels.
    I own over 5 electronic gadgets.

    I’m obsessed with anime/manga.
    I collected comic books.
    I own a lot of makeup.
    I own gaming console(s).
    I own a car.
    I own a bike.
    I thrive on compliments.
    I thrive on hate.

    I can sing low key.
    I’ve stolen a tray from a fast food restaurant.
    I open up to others easily.
    I watch the news occasionally or always.
    I like to kill bugs.
    I sing in the shower.
    I’m a morning person.
    I’m a sports fanatic.
    I twirl my hair.
    I care about grammar.
    I love spam.
    I’ve copied more than 30 CDs in a day.
    I bake well.
    My favorite color is either white, yellow, pink, blue, red, black, purple, or orange.
    I would wear pajamas to school.

    I like Martha Stewart.
    I laugh at my own jokes.
    I eat fast food weekly.

    I’ve not turned anything in and still got an A in a certain class.
    I can’t sleep if there’s a bug/insect in the room.
    I’m really ticklish.
    I like chocolate
    I bite my nails.
    I’m good at remembering names.
    I’m good at remembering dates.
    My memory sucks.
    I have no idea what I want to do for the rest of my life.

    ...used to ask if I was anorexic/bulimic.
    ...called me fat.
    ...say I’m skinny.
    ...have said I’m ugly.
    ...have said I’m pretty.
    ...have spread rumors about me.

    ...force me to eat.
    ...say I eat too much.
    ...say I eat too little.
    ...say I eat too fast.
    ...say I eat too slow.
    ...have called me a genius.
    ...have given me gifts.

    I’ve lost weight.
    I’ve gained weight.
    I’m at my thinnest.
    I’m at my biggest.
    I’ve lost weight and kept it off.
    I’ve lost weight, but gained it back.
    My weight affects my mood. A lot.
    I diet. 
    I’m vegan/vegetarian.

    I exercise.
    I’ve fainted from exhaustion.

    I’ve sworn at my parents.
    I’ve planned to run away from home before.
    I’ve run away from home.
    My biological parents are together.
    I have a sibling less than one year old.
    I want kids.
    I’ve had kids.
    I’ve lost a child.

    I’m engaged.
    I’m married.
    I’m a swinger.
    I'm single.
    I'm in a relationship.
    I’ve gone on a blind date.
    I have/had a friend with benefits.
    I miss someone right now.
    I have a fear of abandonment.
    I don't like to depend on others.
    I’ve gotten divorced.
    I’ve had feelings for someone who didn’t have them back.
    Someone has/had feelings for me when I didn’t have them back.

    I’ve told someone I loved them when I didn’t.
    I’ve told someone I didn’t love them when I did.
    I’ve kept something from a past relationship.

    I’m a cuddler.
    I’ve been kissed in the rain.
    I’ve hugged a stranger.
    I’ve kissed a stranger.

    Bad times
    I regularly drink.
    I can’t swallow pills.
    I can swallow numerous pills at a time without difficulty.
    I’ve been diagnosed with depression at some point.
    I have/had anxiety problems.
    I shut others out when I’m upset.
    I don’t have anyone to talk to when I’m upset.
    I have taken/take anti-depressants.
    I’ve slept an entire day before.
    I’ve plotted revenge.

    This was actually fun. Random, but fun. Try it out? You might just feel more at peace with yourself.
    A glimpse of Calcutta, the city of Joy.

    Sep 21, 2011

    Shantiniketan: A photostory

    My favorite part of the place: Rikshaw rides. In the evening, we were on it and passed forested areas where fireflies pretty much enveloped entire trees. One of the most beautiful journeys in my life.

    This little boy was selling these handicraft items at the local Saturday bazaar. This wink-smile caught my eye. As did the little pink chappals and the bow and arrows that reminded me of younger, more innocent days.

    This Baul singer was the most co-operative subject to photograph. He was singing Ekla Cholo Re in the most authentic Bengali way possible. A sheer pleasure to hear.

    The local bazaar was a magical place. There were Baul singers sitting under the shade of trees playing by themselves. Some had audiences, some didn't. The vermilion in his turban stood out so prominently against the greenery. It just had to be captured.

    One of the last conversations that I had on my trip was on the train back to Calcutta because I slept on the train after standing near the door for a while, something I always do on train journeys. One of my oldest friends and I chatting away after two cups of coffee standing there. Not the best time to capture us but still a happy memory.

    That lingering memory

    It's that faint hidden smile that only you could spot in the crowd that you miss. You came and left when you had to and that seemed all right at the time. I won't even try and understand why because everybody always has their side to each story, their own set of justifications and beliefs. But to what extent can you keep trying to hold onto that memory? Its already just a faded thought disappearing into what already was its emptiness. It never was more than just that lingering something in your mind, in your thoughts. And that's why such precious little is left of it. Look at it. How much is there and how much was there to begin with if only this is left? Was it ever truly there? Or another figment of your imagination, whatever that is. Can you still get that same scent or is it just an association that you impose onto your senses and bribe them to put it all together to fit the puzzle's pieces, if only for the shortest while. I wish I could remember to remember. I wish the memories were clearer. Sleep takes it all away and I wish I had never shut those eyes...

    Sep 15, 2011

    Two fools in love

    A friend of mine (first in college) bought a synthesizer recently and asked me to write funny sappy lyrics for him to compose something to. The theme given: love and hope, two concept that I've become completely unfamiliar with. Hence, this.

    No clear direction to take,
    No balance to keep me still,
    But I still keep on going,
    To see where this might lead.

    I pause and think,
    It all comes back.
    I picked you that day
    To share that dance.

    The first time our hands touched,
    The way our eyes met,
    The spark of yesterday,
    It's all coming back to me.

    There are times when I feel this isn't,
    This isn't the perfect I always dreamed,
    This isn't quite what I wanted,
    It's not as easy as it used to be.

    But then you come and make me smile,
    You hold my sweaty hands,
    You fill my life with surprises,
    You make it all seem so damn nice.

    I want to believe you're not really mine,
    But there's no point kidding anyone;
    I'm a fool, a fool in love,
    With another fool like me.

    Chorus: (don't know where it'll go)
    I love you,
    You love me,
    We're not what we used to be.
    But one hot kiss,
    You'll make my dreams come true,
    Now let me see what to do to you


    Twisting and turning,
    Seeing it again and again,
    It won't go this easily,
    I've always lost this game.

    Beyond my mind's capacity,
    This world unknown unfurls,
    Taking me to the pits of hell,
    Taking me through a slow fall.

    Disintegrating within me-
    My insides churn and flow,
    It's almost as if I can feel
    My intestines slowly grow.

    Expansions and contractions,
    Destroying every part of me,
    They grab and pull and tear and hit,
    And all I can do is stare.

    Crawled into the fetal position,
    I try and wish them away,
    But I know that it'll make them only
    For a prolonged time stay.

    I check for the monster under my bed,
    I repeat the unsaid prayers,
    But the only thing that's left to do-
    Is to accept it's all in my head.

    Aug 29, 2011

    An entry from my ('clean' house) floor's diary

    Yesterday, it was all but through layers that I could try and see the rest of the world. Layers and layers of dust had been gathering over my poor body and no one had bothered to help me overcome my eye's inability to see clearly. Normally, there's some random witch aka the 'bai' (Code word for the Bai The Way, I'm A Witch Association) who comes with her broom and removes the accumulated much once a day. She was dismissed from her services yesterday. All the books I've read always told me that witches are the villains but it is NOT true, I tell you! They are wonderful and so strong and brave. God bless the witches!

    Today, one of my regular users decided to be the witch and remove the blackness off me. I had heard some talk about someone's mother arriving because of which, this once-in-a-blue moon ordeal had to be done. I did not understand why that meant that I'd be paid sudden attention to but either way, I was okay with that. I was actually beaming with pride aka shining aka sparkly white. That was until the everyday routine inevitably came into play-pizza crumbs thrown at me with vengeance, water droplets to make me feel colder than I already do and to top it off, a truck load of hair strands strewn about me as if to somehow decorate and enhance my short-lived former glory.

    I learnt something today: It is better not to expect much kindness from the owner who pays a fairly huge sum of Rs 15,000 a month to tread on you. Also, the floor is always cleaner on the other side.

    Oh, I almost forgot, I made up a new poem today on my pitiable life:
    Shoes may come, Shoes may go, But the unwashed clothes pile that rests on me, Is definitely here to stay.

    Aug 22, 2011

    The beauty of words

    "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion."

    — Henry David Thoreau

    Aug 20, 2011

    A Man She Knew

    There are different ways to find one’s true self – sitting on the top of a hill contemplating your life, doing something you find a passion in or just when you reach that comfort zone with someone where you know that there is no pretence. If there is someone with whom you have had that sort of intimacy, it is rare and ought to be preserved.

    They shared that. They were friends and knew each other pretty darn well. She’d scare him by predicting what he was about to say. He would name her ‘Psy-Ro’ for a crazy like that which he did not realize was predictable because of his very attribute of being a typical guy. He’d want to marry her because she knew the name of the rides in his favourite childhood computer game. She’d want to text him because she saw idiotic kids falling down while trying, very, trying, hard, trying, to, trying, rollerblade. ‘Trying’ being the key word in the previous sentence, the attempts were ‘epic fails’, as the kids these days like to refer to it as.

    But they enjoyed talking, be it on the occasional phone call while walking home because you’re bunking college, over texts throughout the day (mostly from class), or chatting online on Skype because Facebook had too many people who were dying to talk to the charming ‘boy’ in this friendship. The conversations never seemed to run dry, someone was often called a ‘cartoon’ because of her weird antics, and food talk always seemed to please both parties. It was a nice kind of friendship between these two ‘almost strangers’. They had known of each others’ existence and had even met once in the past and been in the same space on another ‘once’. But they had never really spoken to each other. When they finally did, Subway talk sealed the bond. When the two met, there was another story to tell...

    There were cheesy memories created. Smoke and colors passed in the wind. Music was in the air. There was even artificial rain. But he did not ask her to dance, for he knew she had two left feet. She watched him though, dancing away, hardly recognizable. It was a face, a phase she knew she wouldn't get over. There were silences that followed, owing to penguins on the road that he had to go meet. King Penguins at that! But she kept writing to him, telling him about her days, monotonous as they may be. It was nice how the two had to talk every night, regardless of circumstances that may hamper that normalcy in their lives. She went away for a while. So did he. But the communication never stopped.

    And soon, she was back in his life in person. He picked her up, almost from the airport, and showed him places she had not seen despite being in the city for long enough. When she was low and having the worst day of her life, he showed up and tried to take her out for dinner. They did go for the dinner but she didn't allow him to pay for her. Why? Gender equality and to not let him be a chauvinistic pig, of course. He had much to learn from her, you see. Not like she didn't from him. It worked both ways. He cheered her up that night over delicious pasta by reminding her of her problem in a really messed up funny way. It worked, somehow, to her surprise. She actually smiled! He did get a kick in the ass after that but that was bound to happen. They met once again before he went away again. It was at a music concert that she had been aching to go for. She told him the songs she loved and the ones that she didn't as much. He paid careful attention despite the slices of pizza that tempted him as he listened. At the end of the concert, he hugged her and left. 

    She missed him. But she knew he'd come back. Soon, apparently. He could have surprised her and not told her the dates of his return. But then, how would his very deflated ego boost up without her constantly telling him to 'come soon?' She would love it if he just showed up near her house and called her down to surprise her...Just saying. :)
    7 months of knowing each other and actually talking almost everyday. Forever friends? (Lame ending was expected!)

    My Interview on BookChums

    Here's a short excerpt from my interview taken by after 'Down The Road' came out. It felt strange answering it but it's funny, in retrospect:

    How was the experience editing Down The Road? How were the drafts you received? What did you look for while compiling the collection?
    To say the least, it was a very exciting and new experience for me to edit Down The Road. I wasn’t really sure how difficult it would be but just took the plunge when Ahmed asked me to co-edit it with him.

    Some of the drafts I received had little or no errors, while others required a little more working on. It worked on a feedback mechanism, where I would track the changes as I edited and would send it to the author. After he/she went through it and agreed to those changes or didn’t, it would be sent back to me and then the re-editing would start and this process would continue until the final copy was ready.

    I did not select the stories in the collection and hence, the question of compiling the collection doesn’t arise.

    Read the full interview here.
    (P.S.It's a really bad photograph used!)

    That familiar scent always lingers

    That familiar scent always lingers,
    Reminding you of that wonderful night,
    Of the love you felt,
    Of the warmth so close.

    That familiar scent always lingers,
    It makes you see those faces gone,
    Of death, of never returning,
    To the world you claim to know.

    That familiar scent always lingers,
    Of your mother's hand cooked food,
    Of the fond memories of home it brings
    As you sit far away in another city.

    That familiar scent always lingers,
    Of the Diwali patakas burning,
    Of the earth before it rains,
    Of the Hajmola caused farts.

    The odd thing about that scent,
    Is that it always is the same.

    My silent shadow

    There are those times in the night
    When I am afraid to walk alone,
    To walk that long stretch under the streetlights
    To my house at the corner of the road.

    My lone house to the corner right,
    Would take too many steps to reach.
    But then I realize I have a friend, 
    My stalker, my best company.

    My shadow is my only friend,
    Sometimes she's tall, sometimes short,
    But on those rainy blurry nights,
    Her haziness never does appall.

    She is beautiful, much more than I
    Could ever dream to be.
    She wanders creepily behind,
    But only seems to put me at ease.

    I know her well, she really hears me out,
    Despite the occasional silences.
    Those silences are truly missed,
    When in the dark, she vanishes.

    Aug 17, 2011

    The missing spark

    If you want me
    Let me know
    Where do you want to go.
    No need for talking
    I already know.
    -The XX (Stars)

    He'd been in her life for too long a time. On and off, never always there. You know the kind. Actually, you'd never know with this one-he was mad, alive, untouched by rain or snow. A model of a do-what-he-wants kind of man. And quite a man at that!

    She had asked him to be there too many a time and for once, he did. And when he finally did, he made her repent not having pushed him to come earlier. The initial warm but too shortlived hug was shared. And before they knew it, they lay close to each other watching a movie. That movie changed everything. When it started, when it ended, they knew not. But they did know that that movie had changed everything.

    And for once, he could do what he wanted but could not. And that made him angry. It brought out his inner self. It made him feel vulnerable. And that intimidated her and brought out her inner side, her inner vices. Exposed to him, it seemed to find itself a partner, a vent, a shadow. And never a better hand to hold had she found.

    In her exposed state, she found comfort, she found a soothing sense of vulnerability that would not give in to anything but what felt right at that moment. Inside her, she felt something spark!

    Jul 16, 2011

    A poem is a poem is a poem

    The combination of these words,
    Are neither romantic nor meaningful.
    Yet they find an inconspicuous place
    In the pages of this book.

    This poem that I begin to write
    Has no particular rhyming scheme,
    But as I write this third line,
    I see it also lacks a theme.

    A theme that I thought I would write on
    Got lost in my train of thoughts,
    And I could not seem to get it back
    So I just kept going on.

    I tried to write on life and death,
    I tried to write on love.
    But the only thing I could say with my words:
    A poem is a poem is a poem.

    Jun 29, 2011

    Sprinkles in Chocolateville

    If I start thinking about a particular topic given to me, my thoughts immediately go to food. It's like this uncontrollable reflex action. The topic is 'Joy', I think of Pasta. The topic is 'Love', I think Chocolates. The topic is 'Black and White', I think me wearing sunglasses (hence, the black) and vanilla ice cream with Hershey's chocolate sauce. Of course, the originally brown chocolate sauce looks black thanks to the dark sunglasses.

    And then I think about colour added to it. The beautiful perfect chocolate sundae in the making. I can't only salivate and so, I lie down, shut my eyes, and wander off into Chocolateville, the carefully scooped out corner of my mind dedicated to fantasies of chocolates. Of course, Cafe Coffee Day's Chocolate Fantasy with ice cream and chocolate sauce always remains an inspiration for other fantasies to stem out!

    And in Chocolateville, as I make the perfect sundae with two, possibly four scoops of vanilla ice cream with chocolate ice cream on top of it, I start adding a touch of red to this painting of Utopia in my mind with the cherry on top. I proceed to eat the cherry and leave the fleshy brownish pink seed to the side. I then scoop out two scoops of strawberry ice cream and melt it into the sundae, making it a dark chocolate-meets-sinful pink strawberry-meets pristine vanilla love triangle. The actual cherry on top is the colorful sprinkles that I pour as if it's raining on the sundae. God, it looks so beautiful! I could almost taste the different colours...

    I snap out of this wonderful colourful dream of mine. I run to my kitchen. I open the fridge. I take out the biggest bowl I have. I take out the first scoop, then the second, then the third, then the fourth. I stop. I look around. Noone is watching me and the world's my stage. I pretend to be the best chef the world has ever seen. I cook up the concoction I just dreamed of. I was right. With all its colours and flavors and smells, it was a little bite of Heaven. And then I devoured Heaven till my tummy started to ache.

    This post was my entry for the 'Take Flight with Colour' contest on

    Jun 14, 2011


    Words can define,
    Words can scar,
    Words can be just as they are.

    They may not have a point,
    They might sound dumb, 
    But platypus will always be a word, just like gum.

    Words can rhyme, 
    Words can describe,
    But I wonder why 'gunk' is what is found in my eye.

    At the end of the day,
    The words hold no meaning,
    Unlike the lucid or blurry dreams that you see when you are REMing.

    I'd like to say it's only words,
    And words are all I have,
    To take your heart away.
    But I will not, for that would be gay.

    Amen. (That's an interesting sounding word!)

    Lessons from Calvin: Why settle for something when you can get better than that?

    God bless Bill Watterson! Thank you for bringing joy into my life whenever I have needed it.
    I love you as well, Hobbes. Hard luck for not being in this one.
    And I love you, StumbleUpon for helping me find this. The Humor section kicks ass!

    Jun 13, 2011

    Live Wildlife Cam

    One of the best sites online right now:                               '

    That is one of the most fascinating websites online. Please check it out. It's a live cam placed near a waterhole in 'Pete's Pond' in the Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana, Africa. The different animals that come to the waterhole are elephants, lions, warthogs, baboons, impala, and an excellent variety of birds. This is a live video camera with sound. At night, the floodlights come on automatically.

    This is one of the pictures taken by me while watching this beautiful herd of elephants at the waterhole.

    Do check it out for yourself! :)

    Jun 12, 2011


    There was a sense of disorientation. There was nausea. There were dust allergies. Unlike the previous times, this time, the shift was going to be a permanent one. We would no longer be returning to 11/4 Konark Nagar as our home after the holidays. A different address would have to be given to the autowalla at the airport in Vimannagar, Pune, when we'd go back in July to begin the last year of college. I would even be distanced then because I was pursuing Journalism and the three of them A/V.

    Why were we moving out anyway? None of us knew. For the apparent want of a better lifestyle. But what could be a better lifestyle than this? No problems with the society or neighbors, absolute freedom, swings right under the building, and an excellent proximity to the grocery store-the happiest place to be... (especially when they had a stock of Nutties!) 

    But the appliances were old, the monthly electricity bill high, the tiles dirty. In a way, they were cause enough to push us to let go. And so we did. From the moment I gave up my keys to our home, what would now have to be called a 'house' I once lived in, I knew it was closure. Things you want to stay permanent never do quite stay that way, do they?

    The only other real shifts in the past have been when I shifted out of our family home when I was five or so, and when we shifted out of the flat we stayed in after that for a year. These were the times I knew that I could never go back to that same space and find the same familiarity. On the contrary, I'd be called a trespasser to my own home. Boarding school was a different matter. You knew that every time you'd go back to visit, the school would still have a place for you, even if it was in their worst guest house. You didn't really mind. There, the people and the place were all that mattered anyway.

    The cartons were all packed. The suitcases ready to be taken back home. Home. Wasn't this a home away from home? Was Calcutta home because the immediate family stayed there? Were my flat mates with whom I shared 2/3rds of my year under the same roof not immediate family too? They were. They are. I ought to feel happy that I have so many homes. But the memories with each are too starkly different, making it a discomfort more than a consolation. The difference only lies in the familiarity. And in the face of the person you turn to when you wake up...

    A friend of mine, Shrey, picked up from this post. Read his post here.

    Jun 10, 2011

    Live & Let Live

    Took part in a writing competition on My Scribble Pad. The winning entries can be found here.

    An excerpt from my submission:

    In such a world where living was more than just about earning money and making babies, she wanted to experience life, in the rawest form that it had to show-in all its colours, in its paradoxes that one lives out, in all its negativities thrown at you, in all its glory…
    It’s that one moment in that ‘big bad world out there’ that can change one’s whole life, whether it’s the moment you feel you have met the man of your life after a five-hour long chat in a dull party that suddenly had a whole different frequency to it, or the time when a stranger gropes you in a public place and you are rendered too helpless and shocked to do anything. Whether an experience leaves you feeling good, bad, or ugly, it was an experience that YOU, as an individual, had, and try as one may, it is amazingly hard to forget it. This is especially true of the bad ones.
    Read the rest of the essay here.

    thereafter...: A photography exhibition by Srikanth Kolari

    'thereafter...' is a photography exhibition by Chennai-based photographer, Srikanth Kolari, at Seagull Arts & Media Resource Centre at Kolkata from the 13th to 23rd May, depicting his photographic journey in Kashmir, Jharia, and the Tsunami coast. 

    Srikanth, better known as Sri, asks not be called an artist or a photojournalist. Instead, he prefers to assume the role of a 'messenger', motivated by his personal history to seek out stories and convey their messages through his photographs. His photographs demand an accompanying narrative, be it a line to describe it or a whole paragraph, with the subject and its surroundings contexualised through the words. Another technique he sometimes uses is to clip and join two frames to 'generate a new motion in the mind'. What this also does is give a stronger and harsher feel to the reality portrayed. This was implemented in his Kashmir photographs very well.

    Seagull is associated with Tasveer, the first Pan-India gallery dedicated to photography as an art, and Ganjam, a jewelry brand which is the sponsor for this exhibition. These three platforms have joined hands and made this exhibition possible. "Seagull is the Kolkata partner for Tasveer, and  tigether, we try to promote photography. Tasveer does shows in 4 other cities in India. Srikanth was supposed to come and give a talk to students for our project, Peaceworks, which uses various art forms to promote peace but was unable to make it this time. He should hopefully be able to come for the next show," says an optimistic Megha Malhotra of the Seagull group.
    The exhibition focuses on the effects certain incidents or concurring incidents have had on the people in that region. 

    To start with, his photographs in Kashmir clearly show the effect that the conflicts since 1989 have had on the people. The husbands and sons of the women there have often been suspected to be militants by security forces and killed, women have been raped, and civilians have been tortured in many ways. The post-traumatic depression, the sunken suicidal eyes, and the depth of the losses that the people suffered come through in the photographs. Though the violence has considerably subsided now, generations will suffer from it effects.

    The next affected place portrayed was the coalfields of Jharia in Jharkhand. The photographs depict the lives of coalfield workers in Jharia-villagers stealing coal from loading areas, contaminated water bodies, sulphurous smoke everywhere, and other daily activities of Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) workers. A memorable image is that of the charred hands of a worker, showing how the effects are skin deep. The problem in this area is the coal fires that arise due to unscientific mining and coal extraction in the past. Relocation of the locals to combat these fires is more troublesome than fighting the fire and hence, nothing is done about it. To add to the woes, these fires cause pollution that affects air, water and land, which become the everyday realities of people living in these regions.

    The last place depicted are the tsunami affected areas in Tamil Nadu's Kadalor district and Chennai's Marina Beach. The central and state governments of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and the Union Territories of Puducherry and Andaman & Nicobar Islands have not maintained their legal and moral responsibilities in providing adequate compensation and rehabilitation to the tsunami survivors. There have also been delays in providing permanent housing and restoring livelihoods. The photographs portray a temporariness in the lifestyles of people and the focus is on the life of fishermen after the tsunami. 

    The dedication to portraying the subject as close to its reality as possible is seen in the photographs. All of them are in black and white, lending an even more favourable depth to the images displayed. Sugata Srinivasaraju wrote the essay for Sri's book, "Thereafter...", the compilation of the photographs displayed in the exhibition, and his words sum up Sri's photography. He writes: "The camera is often an insensitive, loud and selfish being. It stirs silence, intrudes privacy, and violates the sanctity of every grave moment. But in the hands of Sri, it endeavours to become an instrument of compassion."

    Note: This piece did not get published in IE because it got forwarded to the Delhi office after the exhibition ended. Still, my blog has more than enough space for it. The photographs have been taken from various sites online and have all been taken by Sri.

    May 29, 2011

    A conversation with Mahesh Bhatt

    This evening, I went for a play titled 'The Last Salute' on the Iraq War, George Bush's administration, and Muntadhar al-Zaidi's act of throwing his shoe at the President. It was produced by Mahesh Bhatt and directed by Arvind Gaur with my mother and her friend today. Before going, I called up my boss at Indian Express and asked if I ought to cover the play and he said I should. I watched the play intently, took down running notes, and after it got over, I went to the director and cast to take quotes. I also approached Mahesh Bhatt. This was the conversation:

    R: Sir, I'm Rohini from Indian Express and I wanted to ask you a question or two. Are you free?

    MB: Go ahead. Wait, you're saying you're from Indian Express? Are you kidding me? You look like a school girl.

    R: Yes I am. I'm interning with them. I don't look like a school girl! Sir, since you are a filmmaker, why not take the tried and test platform of film and instead, use the stage to convey the realities of the Iraq war and the shoe throwing incident?

    MB: Well, cinema is an illusion-manufacturing business. They sell pain killers and put you to sleep and take you away from the reality. This is a play that wakes you up to reality. Besides, Bollywood worships a new deity these days-the Oscars. If you eye that deity, you cannot speak up against the land of that deity-the USA in a film or they'd ostracize you. Hence, the stage.

    R: All right, thank you, Sir. Can I have your autograph, please?

    MB:  (He signs on my play ticket) Sorry my handwriting isn't too good since there's nothing to keep the book on and write. (sees my handwriting behind that) Oh, neither is yours. I don't feel so bad now. (I'm just standing and laughing. It's not the first time I've heard this about my handwriting!)

    R: Uh, Sir, in case this quote doesn't work, can I have an email address or something to ask you for another one?

    MB: Sure. (gives it to me)

    R: Sir, what assurance do I have that you'll reply?

    MB: (shows me his three phones) I carry three phones with me. Be rest assured that I will reply almost immediately. Take care, Rohini. (smiles and walks away)

    Quite a different end to a play than what I thought it would be.
    Quite a different end to a day than what I thought it would be.

    Into The Wild

    Everybody has a particular film or book as their favourite for different reasons. It could be because of  associations with it or the one who bought you the book or with whom you saw the film; it could be a guaranteed  feel-good factor in your life or perhaps, you love it because it always evokes a particular emotion in you. And  then there are some that just change your life without your even knowing it as a fact.

    I've seen a lot of movies in my life because my father used to be an avid fan of HBO and Star Movies while I was  growing up. But when I think about it, the longest discussions about one particular movie and what it stands for  has been for Sean Penn's Into The Wild. I saw it in Rishi Valley School in class 12, just a few months before I got  out of the comfortable protected school environment and out into the 'big bad world' where I'd have to do my  college. On every Saturday, seniors had the option of watching the main school film being shown, which were usually  comedies, or to go and watch the 'alternate film' being shown, usually classics that have appreciated over the  years. That Saturday, it was Into The Wild or a Tamil comedy. I'm glad I made the right choice for myself.

    The film is the real life story of Christopher McCandless, who calls himself Alexander Supertramp, and his journey  after college to the wilderness, leaving parents and materialism behind him in an attempt to reach out to the basic  qualities of human nature and survival. Emile Hirsch does an excellent portrayal of the civilised man willingly  giving up everything to try and find his roots in Nature and to feel grounded once more. As I watched the film, I  remember feeling completely taken in and be in awe of the man. He died very early because he ate poisonous berries  on his travels. But, the beauty of it lies in how his story makes you feel absolutely human and relate to him and  desire to do what he managed to do. It explores human emotions in the simplest of ways and leaves you smiling and feeling each emotion he feels.

    After watching the movie, I returned to the hostel and started writing what I felt on some of the concepts explored in the film like consumerism, human survival, man versus nature, and the like. I sat up till 2 in the morning discussing the film and hearing criticism on the man and some decisions of his portrayed in the film. I found myself strangely defending his actions very strongly. I realized then that this movie had stirred something in my mind and really left an impact. I would never be able to do what he did by living off plants and more so animals, since I am a vegetarian and will be so unless I am to survive in the unlikely occurrence of an apocalypse where me and chickens would be the only survivors. It made me understand the value of money and how essential it has become in our lives, contrary to the complete dismissal of it that it done by him.

    The day after I saw the film, I started researching on the man and discovered that there was a book by Jon Krakeur, which retraced McCandless's journeys and conversations in his free spirited exploration of life. My sister bought it for me when I told her about the film and till today, she will never understand how thankful I am for it. The book makes you relate to him at an even closer level with the excerpts and quotes from the works of authors he enjoyed reading, the elongated conversations with people he met on the road, which were cut short in the film, and more so, the maps of his travels, which made you feel like a navigator yourself. For once, the film did do proper justification to the book. But neither would completely be able to do justice to the life of that man who changed me. When I think of Into the Wild, I feel happy and free and sense a rising desire to explore and understand everything.
    Christopher McCandless, May your soul rest in peace.

    May 22, 2011

    Conversation about Mamata Banerjee/The Grassflower Revolution

    Earlier this week, at a family dinner, the most obvious topic to speak about was Mamata Banerjee becoming the CM of West Bengal and the poribortan that was to be seen. While the question of who supported CPM and who supported TMC was avoided, the focus was brought to a seemingly silly decision she made-the entire Judges Court Road that leads up to her house on 30, Harish Chatterjee Street is now extremely brightly lit at night because of extra lights that have been put by her on either side of the road. While this is good for the pedestrians and maintains safety at night, one must also look at the wastefulness of these lights that are placed less than 20 feet from the next, having three bulbs to each lamppost.

    Another point of debate that stirred up was on her attire. Someone said that Didi should start dressing in a more 'dignified' manner and more appropriately to her post. This angered me greatly and I brought up the point that if someone with the level of dedication as her can deliver the work she has taken up, why should anyone have a problem or even look at what she wears? I got only two thumbsups on this point from a room full of twenty people or so.

    I had recently read that the story behind her white saree is this: When her father passed away, her mother, Gayatri Devi, started wearing white sarees as was expected of a widow at her time. They were very poor at the time and that is why Didi also started wearing the white saree to save on expenditures. The image of her in the saree stuck, and it continues to be worn by her all the time, which does not reflect a lack of dignity in any way.

    When I told everyone this story, they questioned me on her state of apparent 'poverty' now. There have been claims that like any politician, she too has taken enough bribes and is not poor by any standard. Owing to this, she could buy more clothes and better shoes and change her house if she wanted to. My only defence to this was that though money might enter someone's life, it need not change them the way people expect them to. Why would anyone want to unroot themselves from an established, familiar place that you can call 'home' just because of the lure and prospect of a bigger, fancier mansion?

    (History is being made in Kolkata: the uprootment of communism and the defeat of the 34 year old Leftist regime led by CPM, by TMC's Mamata Banerjee, a struggle that met its deserved end; the resignation of CPM's Buddhadeb Bhattacharya as the CM of West Bengal; the resignation of Didi as Railway Minister after being reelected in 2009 to give her post as CM her full concentration; the swearing in and Didi becoming the first woman and non-Marxist CM of West Bengal, bringing in the Grassflower Revolution.

    I am just glad to be able to see history unveiling itself and working with a newspaper like Indian Express during this time. For the first time, politics and government-related issues is actually genuinely interesting me. After a long time, I am reading not only the headlines that interest me but reading the newspaper cover-to-cover (minus Sports and Stocks). Being the first internship in journalism, I can feel how inclined it is making me towards the field.

    I have a strong feeling that this poribortan will stay.)