Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The need to play "Little Daddy"

i was at the toy store today, picking up my son's xmas gift. i went past the "little mommy" series of toys, and realised, suddenly, that there are no "little daddy" toys anywhere. We inculcate nurturing in the play of our girl children - across the world. But not in the play of our male children.

In that, we assume that male children do not have a "need to nurture". The need to love is as natural as the need to be loved. The need to nurture is as natural as the need to be nurtured.

At night, as my son sacrifices his play time to "put me to sleep" - patiently lying down and waiting for mater to relax, i wonder whether that assumption is true.

The need to nurture exists in everyone, and to tell a child that his need to nurture needs to be left unacknowledged, and, worse still,  needs to be denied, is doing something very wrong for our male children.

We tell our male children that their only needs are need to win, need to conquer, and need to race. These needs we acknowledge in the toys of our children - racing tracks, ninja swords, aeroplanes. But the need to love and nurture.. the need to play "little daddy" - where did that go? Why do we laugh at sons and boys who even EXPRESS that need, in the form of a hug or caring for a younger child, et al? But are perfectly comfortable with a girl child who displays nurturing behavior? Hell's bells, we even encourage it.

So, what kind of hypocrisy makes us deny a basic need in our male children, while accepting and applauding the same need in our girl children?

Has anyone wondered, the difference it would make, if boys played "little daddy"s in their growing up?

Sunday, December 23, 2012


they are all still there
all the things
that went into
our love
but now
they dont add up
to that thing
called love.
the children in my class
ask about "synergy"
i want to
explain this to them.

Why a Delhi woman must have a pre approved gun licence

I have lived in Delhi for 9 years. in these 9 years, i have been married, changed jobs, and also had a baby. I have driven the car at any time of night or day. The Other was a very concerned spouse, and i would tell him, "You should be very scared of someone who is not scared of death. Bring it on. "

Friday night, i was too scared to drive out in Delhi at 2130 hours, with a tentative return time of 2300 hours. For the first time ever. Because i wasnt scared to die, but i was very scared of being in a hospital like that.

The sheer outrage at being scared lasted 2 days. Then this morning, i got up and knew exactly what i was going to do. I am going to apply for a gun licence. Then, i am going to invest in a small automatic pistol with silencer. Then, i am also going to invest in shooting lessons.

When they ask me why i need a gun license, i will tell them this:

In this city, your police stands up and declares that it cannot protect women after dark. Now, there is proof that it cannot protect women even in broad daylight. If you cant protect me, i have a right to protect myself. In fact, the police should pay for my license and pistol because i m making their task easier. i am doing what they are supposed to do in the first place.

And while we are at it, remember that government slogan - educate a man and u educate a person. educate a woman and u educate a family. The same applies to guns. Empower a man and u are creating one safe citizen. Empower a woman and you are protecting the family.

As part of a public safety drive, all women above the age of 18 should be entitled to a pre approved gun licence and the  budget should come from the government, which collects taxes but does not do something as basic as physical safety.

I want to see the rape statistics once the men know all women have a right to carry a pistol. And use it in self defence.

Friday, December 21, 2012

tu mere naal bai ke haan deya..

tainu labban gayi si ,
ko kaafraan te
mainu jaapda si
khaure tu kedi kand thalle
dabbya peya honvega
registaan te pahaad
main saare chhan aayi
pher tu
bistere de parle paase
bukkal paa ke lukkda labya
taan mainu pata chalya
koi beli
door jaan layi
ko kaafraan nai paalda
do dilaan de vichkar
jad registaan aa jaave
te seet di rajai vi
bada vadda safar laindi hai
te pher vi paar nahi hundi..

tu, mere naal bai ke haan deya,
methon meelon door lang gaya..

तुम्हे ढूढ्ने  गयी थी 
बहुत दूर 
मुझे लगा 
पता नहीं  , किस दीवार के नीचे 
दबे पडे हो तुम 
रेगिस्तान और पहाड़ 
सब छन आई 
तब तुम 
बिस्तर के दूसरी ओर 
अपनी रजाई में मिले 

तब मालूम हुआ 
की दूर जाने के लिए 
कोई दूरी नहीं ढूँढ ता 
जब मन के बीच रेगिस्तान आ जाए 
तो बीच की रजाई 
बहुत लम्बा सफ़र पैदा कर देती है 
जो कभी पार नहीं होता 

तू, मेरे साथ बैठे बैठे साथी रे 
बहुत दूर निकल गया मुझ से 

Saturday, December 08, 2012

The "system" : The convenient bearer of all things blame.

Yesterday, i heard a completely obnoxious song on radio. The day ended with news of a Bangalore mob molesting a woman. and a Punjab politician murdering in cold blood, the father of the girl his goons were sexually harassing. The father's fault? he met the politician and protested against this behavior.

These 2 things are correlated. When your popular music has misogynistic lyrics, and they are played in our parties, it means we endorse the lyrics somewhere in our heads. There has to be a lowest common denominator of crassness that we absolutely refuse.

The Guwahati girl and the Bangalore girl were not molested by that mob alone. They were molested by each one of us who plays these lyrics and tells our kids its ok for an inspector to whistle on duty, and its a desirable trait.

In india, we have this very convenient attitude of blaming someone else for all our problems. Its always the corrupt policeman, the corrupt babu, the corrupt politician. And when all else fails, its the "System".

Well, guess what? WE ARE THE SYSTEM.

In the case of crass lyrics, i hear stuff like, "Oh but this is all they dish out these days." This is the same film industry that gave us Naushad, Javed Akhtar, Sahir Ludhianvi, even Ghalib, in mainstream lyrics. Why are they now giving us Fevicol and munni badnaam hui? Who makes these songs super hits? When social cinema with stars like Farroq Sheikh and Dipi Naval was successful, it was successful because we liked them. We vote with our money every Friday. The industry just responds to those votes.

The crime against ur family and your popular entertainment are related. Insist on a consistent message each time - to everyone. It is NOT ok to play Honey Singh, or Fevicol and dance to them. It is NOT cool for a 6 year old to dance to an item song. It is NOT ok to look at a person who is 40, and confident, and call her a cougar at the water cooler. It is NOT ok to let your boys and girls have ideas that are anti the other gender, and think that they will change with age as they get attracted to each other. Before they get attracted to each other, they have to learn to respect each other. As people.


Tuesday, December 04, 2012

We, the Disablers. Thoughts on Disability Day

This is a post from the Esha blog - www.eshabraille.blogspot.com

Why do Russians get along just fine in Russia? Why do Germans get along just fine in Germany? And why do the blind get along just fine in a Blind School, but really poorly outside? Why do some places witness more inbound migration than some others?

Because these environments are ENABLED for them. When a culture is open and accepting, when it wants to learn, and to enrich itself through further interaction with cultures it knows nothing about, then it becomes an ENABLING culture – it enables itself to continually grow, and it enables other people to become comfortable in itself.

Therefore, if you find a certain section of people “just plain unfortunate” or “so different from us” – please remember, they are not the disabled, we are the disablers.

Compared to a dog, our sense of smell is severly hampered and we are, in the eyes of the dog, quite literally, “smell disabled”. Likewise, a cat’s ability to see in the dark is far higher than ours and to the cat, we appear quite “disabled”, almost blind for half of our lives – the entire night, since we can’t see beyond a certain range at all.

So, in effect, we are all “disabled”. But it never affects our ability to go on with our lives, and does not impact our ability to lead productive lives. Because we have enabled the world to make the best use of the faculties that we do have, and to help us with the stuff that we don’t have. Keyword: we have “enabled” the world.
Why is it not that way for the blind, or the deaf-mute, or the other differently abled? Because we have not enabled this world for their kind of disability. Only for ours.

Today, the World Disability Day is not for the people we call "disabled". It is for us - the Disablers.

Friday, November 16, 2012

3 Life Lessons

1. If you find yourself in love with a person (especially if you are a girl/woman), ask yourself this question, and ask it long and hard:
DO you love the person, or are you responding to his/her need for you?

A lot of us, when "in love" are just responding to someone's need for us. it fulfils a deep need inside us - to be needed, wanted. To us, being needed and wanted is the same as being loved. It is not. Both make you feel better about your self worth, but they are 2 different things.

Ask yourself: if this person did not love me as he does, would i still love him? If the answer is yes, great. If the answer is no, ask yourself why you feel "in love" with this person.

2. A lot of times, when we "love" another person, are we fulfilling their need to be loved, or our need to love? The need to love is as strong a human need as the need to be loved.
We need to transmit love to other people. Its innate.

If you find time for them, not when they need you, but when you want to meet them, you are fulfilling your need to love, not their need to be loved. To love someone, you have to try to be there when they want you, because thats when they need loving. Think of it like this:

I am thirsty. I ask you for water. You are watching TV then and you dont feel like getting me water. i just ask someone else to get it for me, or i get it myself. A while later, you feel like doing something nice for me, and get me a glass of water. but you see, i m not thirsty any more. i dont need that water then. i needed it some time ago.

That is the difference between fulfilling our Need to Love and fulfilling someone's need to be loved.

3. Very, very often, you will find the need to make a choice - of external "success" and greater "acceptance" and doing what your heart desires. They are not always mutually exclusive, but very few of us truly, really want to spend our lives amassing more wealth. However, we are scared to live our lives because that might take away the next promotion, the next hike, and put u out of the league of your batchmates.
A lot of people may not like you for being yourself without caring. But if you have that one thing - integrity, you will also have that other thing - peace with yourself. You have to decide if peace with yourself is a fair prize for the pain of not being as rich as your batchmates. And if its not, if external acceptance is what gives you internal peace, then be honest about it.

And these are the 3 things i have learnt in life.
1. If you are responding to someone's need for you, understand that. Understand the difference between loving someone and being needed by them and therefore feeling worthy. Its an important difference, though it affects different people differently.

2. If you love someone, be there when they need you. If there is a conflict of calendar, ask yourself which of the 2 activities will matter more 20 years from now. The important moments are usually in the unimportant activities.. a shared story book, a quiet wink, a bedtime kiss, a shared breakfast, a simple drink with a long lost friend whom we were too busy to meet again. This is the stuff memories are made of.

3. Do what gives u peace - if its sticking to your core personality, do that. If its external acceptance, then do that. But do exactly what gives you peace. Life is like a river. If you dont choose your direction, the water will give you a direction anyway. Choose your direction. You are not floatsam.


Saturday, November 03, 2012

Understanding Rape..


We cannot understand what it is like to be raped. We cannot know it unless it happens to us. When a house is burgled, we can move away from the house and try to remove the memories, make a fresh start. But when it happens to your body.. the defeat.. and the powerlessness above all else, stays with you for the rest of your life.

What can we do for rape?

50 years ago, if a boy eve teased, and the girl raised her slippers, the rest of the street joined her in beating up the boy. The complaint would reach his house where his ashamed parents would apologise to the community and hit the boy black and blue. "aapke ghar mein bhi behan beti hai" was euphimism for "it can happen to anyone. including you, unless you stop your son from doing it to others now."

Today, ppl snigger when a girl is eve teased or even probed in public. shifty eyes wait to see how far the set of hands can go before the embarassed girl gets off the bus or the street or whatever. physical violence against women who "break the norm" is considered "ok."

When you see someone eve tease, join others in shaming him. even if it takes 2 minutes of your time. that meeting is not as important as this.

At the very least, we can take the blanket of shame that is put on the victim and put it on the perpetrator. Do not meet ppl socially if you know they have been in a crime like this. Yes, they are moneyed and a thousand other ppl will step in to fill your shoes. But it wont be you. And thats important.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Oct 31 - Anniversary of the 1984 riots

On this day, in 1984, Indira Gandhi was killed. While the Congress burns crores (someone should file an RTI to know how much money the 64% bigger newspaper made across the country from these advertisements alone) on paying homage, this blog post is for the thousands who were mercilessly slaughtered, burnt alive with their own turbans soaked in petrol and then used to gag them. Their throats burnt first. With the same turbans that had covered their proud heads.

On these 3 days, out of thousands and thousands of stories, is also the story of Sandeep, whom i remember every year. And the stories of what happened and was never told.

When the courts of this country tell the petitioners that this is a history that is best buried and forgotten, they are not exactly promising justice. They are, in fact, asking for forced amnesia. How can you forget the sight of an innocent child burning to its death, if it was your son? Or anyone's son.

So, on this day, every year, is the anniversary of the Carnage of 1984. Not Forgotten. Not forgiven.

PS: If you have not already seen it, and want to understand what i am talking about, this film will help.   - Amu. Its an award winner at multiple film festivals but was not screened in India.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

English Vinglish - A Review

Yes, there hasnt been a film review here for a long time. But then, one hasnt seen a film like English Vinglish for a long time either.

This film is being liked a lot. And though the title is about English, English is only the hook used to tell the story of personal achievement. Of being put down by "family" - repeatedly, almost without thinking, as a matter of course, then finding enough courage to go beyond.. and overcome that one shortcoming (if it can be called that) to emerge stronger, better, more confident.

Almost every married woman will identify with this story.. we all have families who love putting us down. Best part? They do it in the process of complimenting the wife or mother.

There is a scene in the film where everyone is going ga ga over the laddoos made by the lead protagonist. The husband of the lead (Sridevi, of course), says to the newest member of the family (a groom, not a baby), "These are the best laddoos you will ever eat. And my wife, she was born to make laddoos." That is a very telling shot - because he actually meant it as a compliment. And did not even realise its an insult to the rest of her personality. The danger of the Single Story.. as a TED speaker would put it.

The film has clear parallels with another brilliant film on the same theme - Mitr. (wiki entry here)


Since most of the shooting is on location, one cant really go wrong with the sets. The Costumes deserve a standing ovation - for everyone, and especially for Sridevi. Every single woman i know is swooning over those saris, urs truly included. But even for the supporting cast - the husband, the daughter and the class mates, the costumes are well thought out and do help to bring out the personality in very subtle ways.
The dialogues are all sooo right.. just the right sort of humour.. the right sort of emotion.. there is a part where Sridevi tells her child, "i dont know what PTA means.. but i know what parent means." i could have stood up and applauded her at that point.

Its a film that leaves one entertained and thinking.. one that comes out of the theater with you, then stays as you admonish little children calling their mother "Fat". For the first time, you look around and realise in how many small ways we gnaw at the self confidence of the women closest to us - by putting them down in such tiny ways, bit by excruciating bit.. by just not paying attention.. by overlooking the fact that unlike us, who have a life outside, these women depend on us for their daily dose of appreciation and positive feedback. They depend on us for their daily dose of adult conversation.. the kind we find easy to have at work "saari important baatein to english mein hi hoti hain na?" .. by ignoring their small, almost imperceptible cries for attention..

This is the kind of film that all tweenies of our country must watch - we have made a national sport of putting down mother in our peer group because it makes us so "cool".

One Line Review:  Its a movie that should be seen. Good story, well told.

Monday, October 08, 2012

The Case of The Corrupt Voter

When the Congress dared team Anna to fight elections, i laughed. Because the Congress knows one thing - no one has the necessary money power to buy voters like they do. Asking a new person (not moneyed) to fight elections is like forcing a boxer to play sumo wrestling.

And that brings one to something that is not mentioned in our vibrant democracy - the corrupt voter. we talk about corrupt politicians, corrupt babus, corrupt army people, but never the corrupt voter. Because they are "poor people" . Somehow, in my mind, being poor does not mean they can sell democracy for a blanket and 150 rs. I cannot think of that as not being a crime.

When we dont vote, or vote for money, we are hitting at the very core of our democracy. Like termites, we gnaw into the very foundation of our State - democracy. Why is that not a crime?

Should people be prosecuted for voting for  money? Yes. As much as the babus and the netas should be prosecuted for accepting bribe.

I wonder why the Corrupt voter is not even mentioned, much less publicly censored. THat is where the entire vicious cycle starts. If the voters dont vote for money, they will start looking for real issues and candidates will be forced to work to get votes. If we choose good candidates, and if candidates dont have to spend money on campaigning, their need to be corrupt and moneyed will vanish. Once the netas dont need to be moneyed to be elected, we will be able to contain corruption in the bureaucracy through tight governance. The theory may be oversimplified, but its still valid.

The end of the corrupt voter will mean the end of the corrupt politician. The aware voter chooses the working candidate. About time we shamed the corrupt voter as much as we hate the corrupt politician and the corrupt babu.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Alice in Wonderland

I want to look
At your intelligent looking faces
And find
A trace of identifiable cells there
That looks anything like
Any cell I have
But I don’t look
Anything like any of you
In your world of real people
I am
An anime doll
An object of play
Not of camaraderie
In your wonderland
I am Alice
Maybe, the wonderland is unreal
I am.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

5 year old child of drdo scientist couple kidnapped and killed by

usually, one steers clear of negative news in the paper and prefers to start the day with economic times. worries abt the economy scare one less than worries abt where we are going as human beings.

but this news... leaves even hardened news readers like yours truly singed. 15 year olds.. kill a 5 year old child for a bike that they anyway dont get.

when they are from the security services that is supposed to protect the families they have mutilated. the first reaction is anger. no trial. kill them right after arrest. the next reaction is pure sadness.

the worst part of the whole deal is, one really doesnt know where to place the blame - no one knows. on parents, on society, on the individuals.. i really dont know!

am lost.

no ted video today, no poetry. 2 minute silence. for what is essentially unspeakable.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

TED talk of the day - The voices of China's workers


one was supposed to be working.. when a friend suggested this TED video..and everything paused while one saw this wonderful speaker (duh, elementary - all TED speakers are fantastic speakers)

And suddenly, the perspective changed. Factory workers were no longer a nameless, faceless collective. They were, just like Indian workers, (think factories in Mumbai some decades ago and a movie called Gaman about migration from rural areas to cities for work) , people with real personalities.. distinct aspirations, and ambition.

She has delineated the worker from the product. And presented the worker, not as another product or project or subject for theorising, but as an INDIVIDUAL. a person who has profound observations (maybe because of the culture we grow up in, and we take for granted), looks for opportunities and tries to exploit them.

There will, of course, be freeloaders. There will be people who tried and fell by the side. But in this story, there are also winners.

While there are implications for the macro economics of globalisation and Distributed manufacturing, Personally, i take away the micro story - of the persons being impacted by this on a daily basis, and of where they would have been if this opportunity had not presented itself.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

ye na thi hamari qismat.of ghalib in devanagari script

of all the renditions of this ghazal, i like this one the best.. special thanks to Gentle Breeze for commenting about this ghazal. no one writes it like chacha ghalib..

Tere vaade par jiye hum to ye jaan jhooth jaana,
ke khushi se mar na jaate, agar aitbaar hota...

and here is the full ghazal:
ये न थी हमारी किस्मत, के विसाले यार होता,
अगर और जीते रहते,  यूँ ही इंतज़ार होता

कहूं किस से मैं के क्या है, शब्-इ-ग़म बुरी बला है,
मुझे  क्या बुरा था मरना, अगर एक बार  होता

कोई मेरे दिल से पूछे , तेरे तीरे-नाम कश को,
ये खलिश कहाँ से होती, जो जिगर के पार होता

तेरे वादे पे जिए हम, तो ये जान झूठ जाना
के ख़ुशी से मर ना जाते गर ऐतबार होता

हुए मर के हम जो रुसवा हुए क्यूँ न गर्क-ए -दरिया
न कहीं जनाज़ा उठता , न कहीं मज़ार होता

ये मसाइल -ए -तसव्वुफ़ , ये तेरा बयान ग़ालिब।
तुझे हम वाली समझते, जो ना बादा-ख्वार  होता

and u can go to this great link to read this ghazal in the Roman script and also a very good translation.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Someday, when you are alone..

Someday, when you are alone, you will come for me..
By then, the corn in my body, will have sprouted many, many children..
And my wings, the ones that scared you away, will have dried, gone pale, and then golden..
If you had waited, you would know (but what is the use of knowing now)
You would know, that the wings on me, are the wings of the homing pigeons
You will see, when you come, the high cheekbones and the still sharp nose.
And i will show you
The downcast eyes, the covered head.
Someday, when you are alone, you will come for me.

Picture : A sculpture i saw  at the Heard Museum, Arizona. The sculpture was so powerful that the blog post wrote itself.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

even more Javed Akhtar poetry..

this is from Tarkash.. and one cant get it out of head.. so here it is.. if you search on youtube for javed akhtar tarkash, you will be able to hear all this awesome poetry in his own voice.

हम को उठना  तो मुंह अँधेरे था
लेकिन एक ख्वाब हम को घेरे था

I had to wake up at the crack of dawn,
but a dream kept me captive..

and this one is my all time favorite.. i dont even need to hear this sher in years..
मुझ को यकीन है, सच कहती थी जो भी अम्मी कहती थी
जब मेरे  बचपन के दिन थे चाँद पे परियां रहती थी।।

i am sure, that my mother was right all along
when i was a child, there were fairies on the moon.

अक्सर वो कहते हैं वो बस मेरे हैं,
अक्सर क्यूँ कहते हैं, हैरत होती है।।
- cant translate this one.

and this one:
तब हम दोनों वक़्त चुरा कर लाते थे
 अब मिलते हैं जब भी फुर्सत होती है।।

there was a time when we stole time to meet each other
now, we meet when there is nothing else to do..

हम से दिलचस्प कभी सच्चे नहीं होते हैं
अच्हे लगते हैं मगर अच्छे नहीं होते हैं।।

He, who is interesting, is not likely to be honest.
He appears good for us, but is not.

and this one that was on the tip of memory for weeks:
नर्म अलफ़ाज़ भरी बातें, मुहज्ज़ब  लहजे ,
पहली बारिश में ही ये रंग उतर जाते हैं।।

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

black and white in a world of greys..

Always, Always, you must come home. It is in your destiny like the lines in your hand. always, you must come back, after the hunt and the expedition, to that one place that means home to you. the lap of the woman you love, the laughter of your children, the gong of the favorite church bell, even the familiar weeds in an overgrown park - who can tell, what you call home? But we can tell, for as long as we have been around, that when a man does not come home, he gets lost pretty soon. But always, they have to find their way home. it is their destiny. If the home is not real any more, you create your own cocoon - in your mind. into that mind, you retreat every night, a fugitive from the bare rocks of your reality. but you make yourself a home. and Always, you must go back to it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

short pieces - random, aise hi..

Autumn Trees


Of the Gods
Born to be
Crafted into


Your Love
More bitter
More lethal
Than the poison cup
Handed out to me.
And the world wonders
Did not die.
सांवरे का  बिरहा
विष से कड़वा
ज्यादा  पीड़ादायी
अधिक प्राणघाती
और दुनिया सोचे
राणा  जी के प्याले से
मीरा क्यूँ न मरी?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Return of the Xenophobic

When i wrote last week about the Pak Hindus asking for asylum, the North East storm wasnt on our heads. Now it is, and i had to take away that post because honestly, the head hangs in shame. Pakistan is an Islamic nation, by definition. What is the defence of the Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic of India, which just celebrated its 66th birthday, for:
  • The way its women are treated?
  • The fact that one third of the world's visually challenged population is in this country, and still, we do not have signages in public places?
  • What is happening, and has been happening to people from the North East?
  • The Assam fiasco? where the CM doesnt even make a proper bledy statement, much less do anything?
  • Multiple other instances of intolerance that we face everyday, and dont say anything?
When i thought some more about all of this, the conclusion was that its not just the state, the establishment or the "system" that is to blame. it is us - WE, THE PEOPLE.

We, who dont cringe at chinki or Sardarji jokes - giving them the crucial social acceptance that they need.

We, who dont think twice before attending marriages where dowry has been exchanged.

We, who love to follow "indian tradition" except the age old tradition of keeping a part of your earnings for a good cause.

We, who are so accustomed to AC environments and lack of queues that we dont go out to vote - not even once in 5 years - for the Lok Sabha elections.

We, who, instead of standing up and walking out, stay in that room and nod silently when a xenophobic discussion is raised in that room. We may or may not agree with the speaker, but the fact that something inside us is nodding to a xenophobic statement should be enough to inspire introspection.

With the whole bunch of We Vs They messages all around us, not succumbing to a caste/ religion/ gender/ state bias is a daily battle. but its a battle worth fighting - even with ourselves, on a daily basis.

Monday, August 13, 2012

sammohan सम्मोहन

तुम और हम
जब मिले थे
तब जैसे इन्द्रधनुष

पर इन्द्रधनुष
होता है
प्रकृति से  ही

और अब
ज्ञात हुआ
तुम्हारे प्रेम का निर्मल झरना
केवल मेरी

मेरे निस्वार्थ प्रेम की बारिश
केवल मायावी इन्द्रधनुष

अब सोच रहा  हूँ
ये  सम्मोहन
पहले तुम तोड़ो ,
के मैं तोडू

devesh matharia's poem - Dilli

दिल्ली... तुम बहुत कड़क चाय हो!

ज़रा तपाक से दो कदम बढ़ जाऊं आगे तो
लबों पर एक तपिश का बोसा धर देती हो
जुबां खुद ब खुद लड़खड़ाती है
प्याली से छलक कर बहते रहने की आदत सी हो गई है

घूँट घूँट क़तरा क़तरा रोज़ तुमको पीता हूँ
और तुम मुझे अन्दर ही अन्दर पी रही हो
एक दिन गुज़रता है एक चुस्की उतरती है
तेरे लहजे में रोज़ नई तल्ख़ी उभरती है
सुबह से जिस्म के चूल्हे पर सांस पकती है
तब कहीं जाकर सहन में एक रोटी पकती है

रात होती है तो इंडिया गेट पर जाकर
चुस्कियां भरता हुआ तेरी
मैं चाँद की शक्लें बदलता हूँ
एक कप दिल्ली को मीठा करने को
रोज़ शीरी कितनी नज़्में कहता हूँ...

दिल्ली... तुम बहुत कड़क चाय हो...

- देव -

Friday, August 10, 2012

micro health center in india

You dont think of it in a city full of multi speciality hospitals and multiple doctors. you dont think of snake bites as a cause of death in a concrete jungle. When you see a peacock or a camel, you get excited and point it to your child.

When you are at a book fair, at the eklavya book stall, a fat book is titled "jahaan doctor nahi hain" (where there are no doctors) . You look at the book - bewildered. the idea of not having access to a doctor, hits you smock in the middle of your eyes. you then realise that more than half of this country cannot go to a doctor even if they need to.because there are no doctors within reachable distance. Even more people cannot reach a hospital because there are no hospitals or medical facilities.

Thats when the importance of something like this hits you. Full on. A portable, cloud enabled, plug and play health center. Fully equipped to enable telemedicine.
The brilliance of the solution is in its simplicity. Its amazing what technology can do when someone thinks about what we can make it do.

Find out more about this amazing concept here:



Friday, July 27, 2012

today, you are not here..

you are not here.
so i will
kill time
with the cloves
... in the kitchen
drive out
the chameleons
in the garden.
flirt with the
who has been
eyeing me coyly.

i will
send a perfumed letter
to the boy who sent me
that letter with his blood
last week.
ask him over maybe.

today, you are not here
only so i may realise
that when you are not here
it doesnt matter
it is the chameleons in the garden
or the boy with the blood soaked letter.
if its not you,
its all the same.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Can't protect women? Dont tax them either - No Taxation Without Representation

"No Taxation Without Representation" - You may not remember this phrase unless you are a history buff.

It means, simply, that if we are not represented in power, then we will not pay taxes. Fair point. Lets turn that around a little for India.

Taxation is not the right of the State. It is payment for services rendered. These services include but are not limited to - security, infrastructure, public health et al. The assumption is that the "Fees for administration" that is paid by the public to the state is a tax.

So, when we have an administration that goes out to say that it cannot prevent:
I want to understand why a woman should pay taxes to an administration that cannot provide her a basic service like physical safety.

So, if you cant protect women, no problem. Just dont ask them to pay you big, fat taxes to do something you... profess you cant do.

If you want the taxation, women want the following representation:
1. In government - from Panchayat to Parliament.
2. In Execution - from IAS to IPS and everything in between.
3. In basic population - our gender ratios speak for themselves.
4. On the road - why are the roads out of bounds for half the population after "dark"?
5. In schools - What is the enrolment and dropout ratio for boys and girls?
6. In employment - What is the percentage of women in the organised workforce compared to the percentage of women in the population?

Give us representation, and we will pay taxes. Payment of taxes for non performance of basic administrative functions is not acceptable. End of story.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

to all those parents who oppose "wrong" "love marriages"

why are love marriages wrong? our children are choosing who they want to spend their lives with. why do we think that our decision will be better than theirs?

माँ बाप को अक्सर लगता है की बच्चे अपने फैसले लेने के काबिल नहीं हैं। उन्हें समझ नहीं है.

हमारे बच्चों का फैसला सिर्फ एक ही सूरत में गलत हो सकता है - अगर हमने उन्हें बचपन से सही शिक्षा नहीं दी है  तो . अगर हम ने उन्हें बचपन से सही गलत का भेद करना सिखाया है, दुनिया की अच्छाई  बुराइ  सिखाई है, तो हमारे बच्चे गलत फैसला नहीं लेंगे

जब हम ये कहते हैं की हमारे बच्चे सही फैसला नहीं ले सकते उनमें समझ नहीं है, तो दुसरे शब्दों में हम ये कह रहे हैं की हम अच्छे माँ बाप नहीं हैं। हमें अपने बच्चों को तालीम देना नहीं आता . हमने उन्हें सही वक़्त  पर सही चीज़ें नहीं सिखाई।

जिस का मतलब ये हुआ की हम माँ बाप होने के काबिल नहीं। तो अगर हम सही वक़्त पर बच्चों को सही तरीके से तैयार नहीं कर सके तो हम क्या कर सकते हैं?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

So, what is "good" news reporting?

Life 365 and The Better India are positive news papers. One loves that about them.

other "general" news papers/channels believe(rightfully) that nothing sells like gossip. and crime. and other negative stuff.

Then, there are the investigative journalists who risk their life (and sometimes lose it) , go out on a limb to track down and write stories of oppression, of discrimination, in the hope that someone will hear about it and do something.

At the same time, the near salacious spread of the egyptian protester who was stripped on the street, and the recent Guwahati case, makes me hang my head in shame. Do we need to see the video to understand what happened to this girl? do we need to go viral with it?

Because of social media, we are news generators as much as we are news consumers. The kind of news we choose to consume pays a lot of salaries in the media industry. The kind of news we choose to generate goes a step further - it defines the very nature of the society that we are creating around us. The Guwahati girl's humiliation was made even more public because we chose to spread that video. With the intention of shocking and spreading awareness and making people angry, of course. But the girl doesnt know that. All that she knows, is that someone taped that video, and thousands of people shared it. Would you have liked to be that girl?

So, both, as a news generator and a news consumer, what is "good" news reporting, according to you?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

One Minute’s ‘Silence’ for Barun Biswas at rimibchatterjee.net

This post here... is one of those posts that makes one rub eyes in wonder.

Can someone really do this? change an entire set up just by talking?

and my favorite part from the blog post :

So let’s have a special kind of silence for Barun Biswas.

 For a designated period, which could be one minute or one lifetime, you choose, we will not say, ‘She asked for it’, or ‘What was she wearing?’ or ‘Men are pigs’, or ‘What can anyone do?’ or ‘You have brought shame on this house’, or ‘Be more careful next time’.

We will not say, ‘Men can’t understand/don’t care what a woman goes through’, or ‘That doesn’t happen in our neighbourhood’, or ‘You have to understand the frustration of today’s youth exposed to television’, or ‘Ban pornography’, or ‘Get them married off, it will solve everything’.

Because all this stuff is predator-talk. It’s the gabble of the prey lining up to be preyed on, and the snarling of the predators getting ready to feed. Let’s not be either. Let’s shame the criminals, not the victims, let’s say ‘Rapists are thieves of happiness and freedom’, or ‘We will not be cowed by violence’ or ‘We won’t forget you or betray you’. Let’s say, ‘I’m glad you survived’, or ‘Well done, you’re still here,’ or ‘Yes, we will help you file an FIR’, or ‘Yes, we will conduct a post-rape examination and bag the evidence correctly’.

Let’s tell the women, ‘Don’t cry, get angry, tell your stories, join together like you did when you picketed the police station and yelled slogans against the killer. Check on each other, stay in touch, keep tabs, be vigilant, don’t be afraid to call for help and report, report, report. If they get you, submit, go limp, scream but don’t plead for mercy. They feed on that shit.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

is it ok to "insult" your elders ?

Confession: At the ripe old age of 19, i stood up to my father and dared the patriarch to marry me off without my consent.
Over the years, yours truly has been guilty of multiple such "insults" to "elders". but ihm's blog, over a period of time, got me thinking.

Why do we ask our children to respect age for its own sake? other than staying alive, there is little a person has done to deserve respect because of sheer age.

When we stand up for a senior citizen, a lot of it is because they need the seat more - because of their age. But respect is not in the same category as helping someone because they are physically more in need of that seat.

And somewhere, i think, we need to teach our children the difference between "help" and "respect".

When we respect age, some assumptions are implicit:
a. The person has more experience than us and is therefore "wiser".
b. The  person has , over the years, acquired qualities that deserve to be learnt. Therefore, we respect the person for having those qualities.
c. The person has, over the years, loved us, or taken care of us in a way that we should be grateful for them.
d. The person has, at some time, helped people who are important to us, and therefore, they deserve our gratitude.

Now, think hard. Look at all the random people around you. Take away the age factor. How many people would u respect if they were 10? or 12? Everything else being exactly the same, how much would u respect them?

Why is it important to stop respecting age?

Because, this respect severely hampers progress forward. "it has always been this way" is a lame defence that has been used by age ad infinitum to stop any new action. But the world is changing - not by the day, but by the minute. We have never had it change so much so fast. Patterns are being broken everyday and the only defence of these patterns is "it has always been this way."
Not all patterns merit to be changed or broken. My problem is with the universal "it has always been this way" defence.

This is really hard for one to say as they approach the age where ahem.. age starts to be respected for its own sake, but here it is :
I think we should teach old age to respect youth as much as teach the youth to respect old age. Children and grandparents are natural allies for one reason - they understand each other . They have a lot to learn from each other

What do u think?

Sunday, July 08, 2012

positive images, anyone?

i know, this blog hasnt had an opinion for some time. but this is itching to get out. so bear with me here.

look around you. like, in a 360 degree angle. how many positive images do you see? how many negative ones? like skulls, jolly rogers, evil looking aliens et al? let me guess.. a lot more than you'd have seen even 10 years ago.

And thats the gripe. Why so much negativity in the images we put around us? Tattoos for instance - they are just images - they can be positive (smileys) and negative (jolly rogers). So why dont i see any tattoo studio advertising with smileys or positive images?

Why are childrens shows so gory? Why are children's play figurines so ferocious? Why do our TV channels not mind the most disgusting twists in the plot? Why is everything fair play for TRPs? Violence, gore, manipulation, anger?

I wish, really, that more companies would have old style packaging - like Yardley or M&S. I miss the roses on the packaging.. the soft hues and blushing colors..

*end of gripe*

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

थी एक रात की ये ज़िन्दगी गुज़ार चले...
- from an Asha Bhonsle song of long ago. 

why we will never be a superpower, no matter what..

let me share an experience here. i was at the passport office, with all the documents, trying to finish my work. this was my third day. i had been sent back twice for some document or another, but when i asked them for the list of documents needed for my application, they did not have that list. which means they were inventing documents on the go.
all of us there were facing the same issue. they did not have a displayed list of documents, were not accepting the list of documents given on the website. most of us were there for days on end.

on my second day there, a lady , who was being sent back yet again, asked the clerk why he wont accept annexure F on a printed letterhead. The clerk replied that they dont accept computer printouts of letter heads. The lady then asked the clerk to give her this objection in writing, and to write that her application is being sent back for this reason. The clerk refused to give anything in writing. She asked for the rulebook. She was told, to her face “we wil not write anything and we will not accept your papers. you can do whatever you want about it.” She created some noise and asked for the manager.

They refused to call the manager.
But this is the interesting part:


And that, imho, is why we will never be a superpower, no matter how much IT money we make. A country where the empowered refuse to take part in governance.. where they are more focused on buying their convenience than anything else.. a country like that, cannot be a superpower. or any power at all.

The reason we were able to wrest our independence from the British is that thousands of us were willing to give up property, court arrest, suffer financial hardships et al, for a principle.

Somehow, they took our spines away and left us a country of cripples.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

why delhi will always remain unsafe for women no matter what we do..

On June 23, 2012 around 1 PM, my friend  boarded the general car of the metro at Noida City Center. She was standing near the doors minding her own business and after a while she felt a guy hovering over her. She thought maybe he has to get off and asked him if he needed to. He told her no, he doesnt need to get off and kept leaning over her. So she asked him to back off a little. He refused and went on to ask my friend that why is she traveling here and not in a womens car. My friend told him there is no restriction on women to travel anywhere cause women can travel decently and asked him to step back. Another guy came in to talk to this offending guy to move. The first guy refuses and soon a fight ensued between these two guys. The fight escalated so drastically that the bad guy hits the helping guy so hard that he fell to the ground bleeding profusely.

All the other 40-50 men in the car start shouting at my friend that she is the reason for this fight, that because of her speaking out the men started fighting, and that she should get off the train!! Shocked, my friend shouted back at these men SHE is not the reason the men are fighting, she stood up for herself and had both politely and then demanded the man to back off, which he refused and continued to harass her and only one guy decided to do something about it and was beaten up. None of these men tried to stop the harassment or even to stop the fight and stood by and watched. My friend calls #100 to report the incident, the fellow who answered the phone hangs up. In the meanwhile all the men are shouting that these girls are to blame and they make the men fight. They kept shouting at her to get off the train and saying things like "Ladkiyan to hoti hi aisee hain...wo dono pit gaye par isko koi asar nahi huya". My friend continued to stick to her stance that she has just as much right to be in the metro as any man and she is not the reason the two men fought, they fought cause one was a pervert and the other tried to teach him some manners. How traumatising it was for my friend to have 50 odd men and surprisingly few women as well, who continued to verbally harass her- for speaking out against harassment and for refusing to leave the metro, just cannot be described in words. Is this what we are now, that one woman has to stand against 50 men shouting that she has as much right to travel as they do without being harassed and when she speaks up no one steps forward to help her and turn right back around and BLAME her!

Dear Men of Delhi and the North:
1. Nothing the administration does to make Delhi safe for women will work if you want delhi to remain unsafe for women.
2. Not all men are bad or lecherous. However, all men who DO NOT oppose such men are as bad. So are all women who judge other women.
3. There is a reason why reservations are needed for women. You are that reason. Remember that.

Friday, June 15, 2012

bcs gomu liked it.. khala...

तुम चल पड़ी थी
समंदर में
डूब कर मरने के लिए
पर तुम नहीं जानती
समंदर का फर्श
थोड़ी देर तक धीरे धीरे ढलान में ढलता है
और फिर
गिर जाता है
बहुत, बहुत गहरा
बहुत, बहुत अचानक.
बस, यहीं रुक जाओ।
इसी जगह।
यहाँ से आगे
सिर्फ खला है।
tum chal padi thi
samandar mein
doob kar marne ke liye
par tum nahi jaanti
samandar ka farsh
thodi der tak dheere dheere dhalaan mein dhalta hai
aur phir
gir jaata hai
bahut, bahut gehra
bahut, bahut achanak.

bas yahin ruk jao, isi jagah, abhi.
yahaan se aage
sirf khala hai

Sunday, June 10, 2012

peepal... aur tum..

peepal ke gird
lal dhaga baandh kar
maangti hain

jo mere jeevan ke
peepal ho
- sthir, adol, anant..
tumhare gird
lal dhaga baandh kar,
tumhe maang loon??

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

what i learnt after watching 3 episodes of satyamev jayate

1. on one hand, we are killing our female foetuses because they are.. well, female.

2. we are also killing our brides and wives at the rate of 1 per hour because they are... well, female.

3. if you decide to get married and pay dowry, you are likely to end up in the icu in a foreign country, supported by the emergency services. or, u might commit suicide, in your own room. OR, you will be kindly pushed down the nth floor by your inlaws.

4. if you decide to refuse marriage as soon as the first demand for dowry (or anything in the nature of "contribution to family") comes up, you are likely to end up with a guy who wants to marry you - just because.

5. female children are killed because they have to be married off someday and there will be dowry. female brides are killed because they were married. ergo, marriage is bad for society because it leads to increased female mortality.

basically, i learnt that when women learn to say NO, they will find around them, a thousand accusing fingers, and maybe just one supportive hand. try and be that one supportive hand. please.

Monday, May 14, 2012

काठ का घोडा

काठ का घोडा 
असली नहीं होता 
उस पर चढ़ कर 
काठ के पर्वत , काठ की नदी , और काठ के खेत  
तो पार किये जा सकते हैं 
पर असली 
जलधारा भी 
टापी नहीं जा सकती ..

और काठ के खेत , काठ के पर्वत, काठ की नदी,
तो बस कल्पना में होते हैं .

इतना ही भर कर पाता  है 
काठ का घोडा 
उस से 
इतनी ही उम्मीद 
काफी है।

on childhood sexual abuse

right after Aamir Khan talks about it, the subject trends on our collective consciousness for the whole week. hats off to him for doing that.

one thing hit me in the show yesterday - children were not able to explain to their parents what was happening. that was important - one thing was the knowledge that it was "wrong" - but there was another - they did not have the WORDS to explain to their parents what was happening (i think i noticed it most in Harish's narrative. )

and this morning, i realised - shoulder is shoulder, but penis is "pee pee". stomach is stomach, but vulva is.. .well, mostly unnamed!

how can children explain what is happening if they dont even know the names of the organs they want to talk about. it is easy to say "my knee is hurt." because you know that your mother knows what "knee" means and what "hurt" means. but try explaining the EXACT same thing to a parent with your vocabulary of the names of organs .

and that, imho, is an important practical problem. teach your kids the names of ALL their organs, and functions. this is your penis. you use it to pass urine. this is your bum. within this bum, is a hole called the anus. you use it to pass solid waste. urine is liquid waste. potty(or whatever word you use for it) is solid waste.

take the shame out of it, and we might see a lot of children opening up about their organs.

while on CSA, i HAVE to talk abt the wonderful work that this blog has been doing for at least 2 years now - read survivor stories, get tips, talk to other people. -  http://csaawarenessmonth.com/

vain hope, vainer thought

they will
wont they
make an account
of all the sighs
and the tears
of the earth?

they will, wont they,
in some bizzare cosmic audit
unearth the sins
that were bled and then buried?

someday, they will,
wont they
explain to me
just that...


Thursday, May 10, 2012

on bringing up a child..

the script is roman, but the poem is in punjabi, and speaks about a native punjabi belief that i believe in a lot.
main, ma..

tussi saarya ne
badi oonchi peeng jhulaayi mainu
maa ai, maa o...
meri ma ne
bas inna keha
tu meri jaayi
meri lendaar si
kisi pichhle janam di..

is janam vich
main tera udhar
tere sar
koi karz nahi chadaya
is janam vich
ai meri sewa sweekaar kar,
te meri jaan chhad...
teri meri
laindaari khatam..

is janam vich
meri usdi
lendaari khatam

te pher
tu aayon
khaure kede pichhle janam da bahi khata chuk ke
meri kukh vich payi
te main
saari umar
teri lendaari chukayi
ki tu
iss janam vich
meri sewa sweekar kar
te teri meri
lendaari mukki!
rough translation:
me, the mother.
the one everyone puts
on a pedestal:
mothers are this
and mothers are that.
but let me tell you
what my mother said
to me.
she just said,
"you, who has come from my womb
were my creditor
in an earlier birth
i died
without paying off your debt
and you
brought your debt
with you.
in serving you
i pay off
my debt
of an earlier birth
i do not
put a debt on you.
so here,
accept my service
in lieu of the debt
that i owed you
in a previous birth
and we are square."

thus ended
my mother's debt.

and then
god knows
with which book of accounts
you landed
in my womb.
and i
paid off your debt
in bringing you up.

so here,
accept my service
in lieu of the debt
that i owed you
in a previous birth
and we are square.

an entire blog dedicated to feticide in punjab..


how awesome is that!

thoughts on mothers day (mothers and daughters of my punjab)

ਮੇਰੀ ਮਾ
ਫੇਰ ਓੜੀ ਮਾ
ਫੇਰ ਓੜੀ ਵੀ ਮਾ

ਰੋਜ਼ ਸੁਵੇਰੇ
ਓਹੀ ਪਰਾਂਠੇ
ਓਹੀ ਮਖਣ
ਤੇ ਓਹੀ ਲਾਮੇ

ਰੋਜ਼ ਰਾਤੀ
ਓਹੋ ਝਿੜਕੀ
ਓਹੋ ਅਥਰੂ
 ਜੇੜੇ ਕਿਸੇ ਨਾ ਤੱਕੇ

ਨੀ ਮਾਰ ਜਾਣੀਏ
ਆਖਾਂ ਵਾਲੀ
ਰੋਜ਼ ਰਾਤੀ
ਪਾਠ ਕਰਦੀ
ਮੇਰੇ ਸਿਰਹਾਣੇ
ਸੁਖਮਨੀ ਸਾਹਿਬ

meri ma
pher odi ma
pher odi vi ma

roz suvere
ohi paranthe
ohi makhan
te ohi laame

roz raati
oho jhidki
oho athru
jede kise na takke

ni mar jaaniye
aakhan vaali
roz raati
paath kardi
mere sirhaane
sukhmani sahib

rough translation:
my mother
and before her
her mother
and even before that
her mother

every morning
the same breakfast
and the same taunts
on eating too much.

every night
the same cuss words
the same tears
always unshed.

the lips that say
"may you die!"
every night
by my pillow
the prayer
- The Prayer for Happiness.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

more Manjeet Kaur Tiwana

from the poem मेरी मिटटी के जाये 

हादसों में घिरे लोग 
अपने साथ ले आते हैं 
दुस्साहस भरी अकड
और थोड़ी सी आग 

फिर वो मधम  रौशनी में 
हादसों की आँखों में आँखें डाल कर 
रात भर जागते रहते हैं 
हादसों के हुजूम में 
हादसों के मुकाबिल 
हादसों के खिलाफ 

शकुंतला की अंगूठी वाली मछली को समुद्र ने निगल लिया है 
क्या विश्लेषण के पास समुद्र का हल है?

सुनहरे चोले वाला 
एक शरारती साधू है 

इस वक़्त जब की
मैं ख्वाहिशों की आखिरी साँसों पर लटकी हूँ 
तुम सब आओ 
मेरे सीने में से अपने अपने अस्तित्व की 
एक एक कील तो खींच दो 

मैं विदा होने से पहले 
अपनी तकदीर को माफ़ करना चाहती हूँ 


manjeet kaur tiwana's poetry

i have only read one of her books - uneenda vartaman (sleepy present)
and every time one reads her, one loves her even more..

कुछ लडकियां बनारसी साड़ी होती हैं,
जिनको एक बार देख कर ही जी जुड़ा जाता है..

कुछ लडकियां सुनहरी फरमे में जड़ी रंगीन  तस्वीर होती हैं,
जो किसी भी द्रविंग रूम में सजाई जा सकती हैं

कुछ लडकियां पच्छिमी बयार होती हैं
जो बिना बोले
सीने से लग कर चली जाती हैं

कुछ लडकियां होती हैं तितलियाँ
जो बचपन के किसी शौक के पीछे
उम्र भर पन्नों में क़ैद पड़ी रह जाती हैं

कुछ लडकियां होती हैं
बेगम अख्तर की गज़लें
जो बहुत कम लोगों को पसंद आती हैं

कुछ लडकियां माँ की आहें होती हैं

क्या पता था
वीरान नदी पर
किश्तियों का पुल तो बनेगा
लेकिन रिश्तों का शहर कभी नहीं बनेगा

क्या पता था
कंपोज़ की गोली बनेगी बिचौलिया
मेरी नींद के साथ सुलह करवाने के लिए
क्या पता मैं कब
पहाड़ की और मुंह कर के चली जाऊं
और तुम
मुझे ढूंढते रहो
उसकी आँखों में
चुप्पी में जड़ा  हुआ शीशा
तुम्हारे ज़ुल्म की गवाही

Saturday, April 21, 2012

the user of metaphors in indian poetry.. part II

After Sanskrit literature, we find a long time when the major part of the literature was in pali or prakrit.

This article speaks about the literature in general and metaphors in the passing.

but my interest is in the new metaphors brought in from the west - in particular, the middle ages. after this , we come to the bhakti movement, which is full of simple metaphors , taken from everyday life, and being used to explain deep spiritual concepts. these are my personal favorites in indian literature. imho, after kalidasa, the metaphor really saw its days of glory in the bhakti movement.
among others..
To this day, i find modern indian poetry replete with metaphors. Be it Manjeet Kaur Tiwana's "ladkiyaan" or Adee's Ainak and who can forget Gulzar's amazing use of parallels to draw pictures in our minds..

My all time time favorite use of metaphor?
Amrita Pritam's this couplet:

Ek dard hai, jo maine cigarette ki tarah piya hai,
kuchh nazmein hain, jo raakh ki tarah jhaadi hain..

and this one:
nazm kabhi kagaz ko dekhe
aur yun munh mode,
jyun kagaz paraya mard hota hai..


there.. my ode to metaphors and the beauty they bring to life.. is done.. for now.

the use of metaphors in traditional indian poetry

i love metaphors. because, they serve a purpose much bigger than entertainment in literature. metaphors teach us to instinctively do what is called in jargon - horizontal benchmarking. metaphors allow us to pick up lessons from completely unrelated contexts, and to apply those lessons to another context in a meaningful way.

it saddens me that traditional indian literature - both classics and folk, are so ignored by our children and by our education. The natural, spontaneous use of metaphors in our growing up, teaches us to connect dots across contexts as a matter of habit. Thats a skill that a lot of low context cultures will give an arm and a leg to learn. so why do we choose to throw this important learning aid away?

even in religious literature, we find abundant use of metaphors.

Lets start with the oldest book known to mankind - the Rig Veda (the link takes you to only one of the many metaphors that we find in the Vedas, but i thought this one was beautiful)

Sanskrit literature, in general, thrives on metaphors.. In fact, the critics in Sanskrit knew the difference between similes, metaphors, and something in between.

Kalidasa, of course, was the king of metaphors..it is impossible to talk of metaphors in poetry and to ignore Kalidasa, even today.:

O king! you are the finest among men with self-control. It is not fit of you to be struck by sorrow like the ordinary folk. If a great wind can move a tree and a mountain equally, how is the mountain better?

We have an unbroken tradition of THINKING in metaphors. This, imho, allows us to understand related concepts  across unrelated domains.

ps: i found this article on the timeline of indian lit very interesting.

kalidasa ka swayamvara

The story goes that a very erudite princess would marry no one, because she insisted on marrying only someone wiser than herself. the condition was that the suitor must defeat her in a shastrarth ( interpretation of the shastras). the shastrarth had to be mauna (silent, using only actions).
kalidasa, who was a simple fool, was dressed and brought to this swayamvara by some of the rejected suitors. The princess first raised a hand. In response, Kalidasa raised 2 hands. Next, the princess showed him her hand outstreched, to which he replied by flashing his fist in air.
The princess accepted defeat. However, everyone in the assembly was curious and asked the princess to explain. She said: "i first said, there is one sun, and he said, no, there are two - the sun and the moon are cosmic partners. Then, i showed him 5 fingers for the 5 elements, and his reply to that was that they all come together to form the substance, like the 5 fingers come together to form a fist."
Everyone, except the rejected suitors who brought Kalidasa to the swayamnvara, was very impressed. but the suitors took Kalidasa away and asked him for his interpretation of the shastraarth.

First she said, i will pull out one of your eyes, and i said, i will pull out both of your eyes!
Then she threatened me with a slap and i replied to say she will get a punch if she tries that with me!

Moral of the story: All our actions are interpreted by our contexts.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

the witch goddess

are not a girl.
you are
a witch goddess.
it is your religion
to irretrievably break the hearts
placed at ur altar
so they can never
love, or dream, or hope again..

you, the thrasher of
all things hope
and the destroyer of
every ounce of unselfish love
in a heart..

will never know,
or realise, or care
how much bitterness
you brought into the world
when you broke
those hearts
in jest.

ye suno, aur phir ye...

Friday, March 30, 2012

teri yaad hai...

तेरी याद
खिड़की से झांकती धूप  सी नहीं
आँखों में चुभती.

तेरी याद
जैसे बिस्तर पर छूटा
तेरा एक बाल ...
जो सुबह
तेरे जाने के बाद
तकिये के नीचे से
मेरे हाथों में फंसे.. लम्बा सा..

तेरी याद
मेरे घर के गुलदस्ते में रखे
ताज़ा फूलों सी नहीं
जो सारा कमरा भर दे

तेरी याद
वो गुलाब
जो बरसों बाद उठाये
दीवान-ए-ग़ालिब में मिले..

तेरी याद
कमरे के AC सी नहीं
जो सारे बदन में ठंडक भर दे

तेरी याद
जैसे गाँव के पीपल तले सोये हुए "मुझ" को
अचानक छुए
सावन की पहली बयार ..

Friday, March 23, 2012

मेरी बातें

मेरे गीत
ग़ालिब  की  ग़ज़ल नहीं
कबीर  के  दोहे  भी  नहीं
इन  में
न  तुक  न  लाया ,
... न  अज़ल  न  इशरत ...

मेरे  गीतों  की  रवानी
गर्मी  की  बयार  जैसे
जाने  कहाँ  से  आती, कहाँ  चली  जाती ..
बस  एहसास , कि  कुछ  हुआ  अभी ...
न  कोई  सिरा  न  पता ...

यह  गीत
रुके  आंसुओं  जैसे
कतरा  कतरा  पिघलते
और  सुर
सिसकियों   से  निकलते
होंठों से  चुप चाप .

this part of the post owes a lot of its existence to Pranesh Nagri ji at the browsing corner. He worked to articulate the thought behind the piece, and am very grateful for his guidance

my thoughts
a poem .. have..
no beginning
no end
no birth
no death
no birth
no salvation...

like a gust of summer breeze,
here this minute,
and gone the next
just a little something
left behind..
no telling where it came from
or where
one might
find it again..

like broken bones

like tears
held back for years
one by one
the sighs escape..

Thursday, March 22, 2012

the first 2 stars in the sky

A lot of people i know are like the first two stars in the sky -
Close enough for everyone to know that they belong together,
And yet,
Light years away from touching each other...

It mustnt feel nice, to be those 2 stars..

inspired by a poem and discussion on the tbc (the browsing corner on facebook)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy Anniversary

‎100 word story. my first effort. 

 He came home. She waited up for him. Opened the door for him. Did not talk to him. He sat on the sofa. Did not loosen tie or unbutton shirt. She got him water. Asked about food. He lied about having eaten already. She did not protest. They went away to their respective rooms.
He entered his room. There were red roses. And a familiar handwriting “Happy Anniversary.” She got to her room. Her favourite white roses. And a familiar handwriting “happy anniversary.”

Monday, March 12, 2012

right and wrong...

Pata hai, yahaan se bahut door, galat aur sahi ke paar, ek maidaan hai.. main vahaan miloonga tujhe...
पता है , यहाँ से बहुत दूर, गलत और सही के पार, एक मैदान है.. मैं वहां मिलूंगा तुझे...

this line from the movie Rockstar had me thinking. and then a friend, Chiya, pointed me to another dialogue in the same film:

Tum, tumse milna, tumhare bare mein sochna, sari duniya bhar ke kaam छोड़ kar tumse milna, jo kabhie nahi kiya, wo karna, sab sab galat hai. lekin AGAR GALAT HAI TO GALAT LAG KYON NAHI RAHA..

तुम, तुमसे मिलना, तुम्हारे बारे में सोचना, साड़ी दुनिया भर के काम छोड़ कर तुमसे मिलना, जो कभी नहीं किया, वो करना... सब, सब गलत है... लेकिन अगर गलत है तो गलत लग क्यूँ नहीं रहा..

But you see, this concept of "right" and "wrong" is so fluid!!

The mother thinks its a sin for her dil to make her dear son work at home. the dil thinks its wrong for both to work in office,but only one to work at home. which one is "right"?

The parents feel its wrong for young people to choose their own life partners because they dont know enough. hell, they are so convinced that they'd rather kill their children than let them marry for love. The children feel that they should be able to marry for love, even if it means living through the consequences of that decision.
so, who's right?

The child feels is he being oppressed because his parents insist that he has to finish school before becoming a photographer. The parents think they know the importance of a college degree, and how does a college degree stop him from following his dreams? so who's right? 

Most of us feel its "wrong" for older people to look for, or even think of love. That they should think of "god" after a certain age. And yet, in Gujarat, someone is working diligently and quietly, to make live ins plausible for the elderly. So, who's wrong?

Cut back to the film: Heer is "wrong" because she is in love with someone who is not her husband. Her mother initially feels its ok for her to die, but not ok for her to be associated with Jordan. So, who's right?

कहाँ है ये सही और गलत...? जहां मैं हूँ, वहां से कुछ सफ़ेद या काला नहीं है... सब कुछ, कई रंगों का है, सब कुछ, हर पल , नया रंग ओढ़ता है.. सब कुछ.... सही भी है, और गलत भी...

मेरी सारी दुनिया ही, उस सही और गलत के पार का मैदान है...और यहाँ, इस मैदान में, मुझे वो सब लोग मिलते हैं, जो मेरी तरह, सबरंग में देखते हैं.. सब की आँखें ख़राब हैं... दिमाग भी... सब एक जैसे हैं... :-)

 PS: this post is dedicated to ihm , whose writing has inspired me to see perspectives that did not exist for me earlier.. whose quiet companionship has taught me strength in a way that nothing else could... thank you! for opening my mind... :-)

if u r not around when ppl need u, at first, you will be sorely missed. then, you will be just missed. then, they will get used to being without you and u will be nice to have. then, you will be resisted , and eventually, you will be resented.


Sunday, March 04, 2012


नहीं, कहीं कुछ , गलती हुई है
ये जगह
ये रहगुज़र
ये कुछ भी
मेरे रास्ते में नहीं पड़ने  थे
नक़्शे पर कहीं
निशाँ नहीं है इस सब का

और फिर भी
तुम, सजीव , मेरे सामने हो..
ये जगह भी
असली लगती है
और रहगुज़र में से
अभी लुट कर निकला हूँ मैं

नहीं, कहीं कुछ , गलती हुई है

इस रास्ते पर
होना नहीं चाहिए था मुझे
या शायद
होना ही नहीं
चाहिए था मुझे
रास्ता गलत नहीं है
गलत है
मेरा होना
और मेरे कारण
इस नक़्शे का होना