Sunday, August 20, 2017


It was always a fragile peace
like 2 warring tribes
sharing the same mountain
or gangs
the same neighbourhood.

One slap, one drunken outburst
One day of intolerance
of the "couldn't-help-myself" behaviour
is all it takes
to start the war again
Then, seeing the bloodshed
a temporary truce called in
by the police
or the "social worker"

And that
is how one dies
after 20 years of marriage.
Or 7.
Or 2.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Disilusioned? Ignore that cacophony!

From 1930 to 1947, a gradual, but definite radicalisation was done. This radicalisation took in its fold rational intellectuals like Allama Iqbal (who went from translating the Gayatri Mantra to insisting on offering namaaz at a converted cathedral) and Md. Ali Jinnah(who went from being staunchly anti Pakistan in 1936 to being the Qaid-e-azam of Pakistan) - people who had grown up in cosmopolitan surroundings, had friends from all faiths and nationalities.

Even they were converted to radicalism by this paranoia of "Muslims cannot co exist with Hindus without living in perpetual fear." As a result of this, not one but 2 separate and new countries were created, for Muslims to live in peace, without fear and with freedom to practice their religion.

It has now been 70 years. History has seen the result of the 2 theories - that Muslims will live in fear in a Hindu country, and that Muslims will live well in a country of their own.

Today, I see the replay of that paranoia. I hear the same cacophony that played from 1930 to 1947. So, as a survivor of 1947, here is my humble request to you:

If you feel that Muslims are not secure or free to live as they please in India, please understand that this is not a new or original thought. With exactly this fear in mind, Jinnah has created 2 countries for Muslims to live free and happy. All you need to do is, prepare your citizenship papers, then go to the country of your choice, and tell them, "My forefathers made a mistake when they decided to continue living in India. Jinnah was right. Muslims cannot live in a Hindu India without fearing for their life and belief. Please don't punish me for the wrong decision of my grandparents. I need to join the dream that Jinnah saw for us."

But please, do NOT poison the air that we breathe. Because when I turn off your cacophony and look around me, I see Muslim craftsmen making Jain marble temples. I see maids saying "Didi I wont come tomorrow, its my Eid, and the Hindu didi putting enough money to cover the Eidi of all the maid's children. I see a national Muslim body saying they will sing Saare Jahaan se accha instead of Vande Mataram, and no one batting an eyelid.

This poison is worse than you can imagine in your wildest dreams. It killed millions of people in a gory, bloody journey, displaced millions, created orphans and widows who didn't care about religion in the first place. Just honest men and women concerned with earning their daily bread. My family went through this and By God , I do not want to go through this again. So please, unless you can control the consequences of your short term power hunger(and you cannot): SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Janmashtami poem for kids

प्यारे कृष्णा आओ न!
माखन हमें खिलाओ न
अम्मा नटखट बनने न देती
नटखट हमें बनाओ न!

आज करें हम मस्ती सारी
जन्माष्टमी है आज हमारी!

झूला झुलाएं, पकवान खाएं
कृष्णा के संग मौज मनाएं!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The contribution of the Congress Party to the Sikhs

The Indian National Congress has played a very important role in modern Sikh history. There are 3 landmarks that must be remembered:

1. 1947 : As Amardeep Singh says in his book , the rioters during the partition came with the slogan - Hindu ka zar aur sardaar ka sar (Loot the Hindu and kill the Sikh), the Sikhs suffered more fatalities. This was because the Sikhs were considered more capable of fighting back and needed to be killed.

2. The partition of Punjab: The Congress party prevented the Sikhs from creating a strong regional party by convincing Master Tara Singh that he had a seat at the table and that Sikh concerns will be heard and absorbed in the partition talks. Instead, the Punjabi sooba was most mercilessly partitioned with no consideration for the ethnic mix. Most sacred Sikh shrines were handed over to Pakistan, where they now rot and are written about by Amardeep Singh. Not only that, the Sikhs were largely land owning farmers. Their wealth was stripped off them and remained in Pakistan as they escaped with nothing but their lives.

3. Post independence, Punjab was the first state to be broken into smaller states - even though Punjabi was spoken all the way from Delhi to Jammu - the original extent of the Punjab state. First Himachal, and then Haryana were carved out of Punjab with exactly one objective - the weakening of the Punjab state.

4. Who can forget Bhindrawale? Just to ensure that the Akalis do not get power on the basis of their allegiance to the Sikh panth, she created a monster that plunged Punjab into a decade of pointless, violent and inhuman terrorism. She should have been tried for the worst crime against humanity. 

5. After that, the 1984 riots happened. 3000 people were killed in 3 days on the streets of the national capital of India. Their bodies were swept away and rewarded with 1000 rs by the aakas of the riots. Read H. S Phoolka's book to know more on the subject. It has now been 33 years, and we are still waiting for the Indian judicial system to do its constitutional duty. In spite of 1984, no Sikh ever retaliated with violence. Not in 33 years.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the contribution of the Congress to modern Sikh history. This video sums it up rather well:

On bullying and assertiveness

आज मैंने अपने बेटे को सिखाया 
डराओ मत, पर 
डरो भी मत 

हराओ नहीं 
हारो भी मत 

Why i worship Gurdas Mann

47 ਵਿਚੋਂ ਲੰਗ ਕੇ ਆਈ ਸੀ, ਤੂੰ 84 ਦੇ ਦਿੱਤਾ..
ਹੁਣ ਖੌਰੇ ਕੇਦਾ ਵਰਯਾ ਦੇਣਾ ਈ

ਕੀ ਖਟਿਆ ਮੈਂ ਤੇਰੀ ਹੀਰ ਬਣ ਕੇ...

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Indian Marriages

कितनी शादियां बचाई हैं
रातों की तन्हाई के डर ने

"जाऊंगी कहाँ? करूंगी क्या?" ने

"मैं तुम्हे दहेज़ के मामले में अंदर करवा दूँगी" ने

कितनी शादियां बचायी हैं
डर , मजबूरी, और खलिश ने.

Poorly translated, but here goes:

So many marriages have been saved
by the fear of lonely nights
"What will I do?" s
"I will get you arrested for dowry." s

So many marriages have been saved
by fear, emptiness and helplessness.
("saved" is satirical)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Gentle reminder for the day..

जहां सफाई, वहां खुदाई

Cleanliness is Godliness...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Kalahari Typing School for Men - Book Review

Its hard to get a book that flows like  a gentle river and does not bore. For someone who is addicted to the pace of thrillers and murder mysteries, to be engaged with a book that does not have the pace of a Ferrari on a race track, is saying something.

The book has characters that are well developed, and you get the sense that you know them well. Asked to do a character sketch, you could easily visualise Mr. JLB Maketoni, Precious and even the young apprentice who has taken to the Lord.

The plot is simple, if one can call it that. It feels a lot like a slice out of a life that is ongoing. The reader is aware at all times that there was an eventful life before this book,  and there will be more events in these lives after the book as well. Yet there is a sense of completeness as one turns the last page. More like one has just gotten up from a very long high tea with close friends, than that one has just turned the last page on a book.

Compared to the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, this one was a little short on the details, and there were some loose ends, which is rare for this author. For instance, how come Precious did not check up on the credentials of the rival detective agency? And how did that agency suddenly shut down? We can surmise, of course, but these are loose ends that leave the reader wondering..

Sunday, July 16, 2017

On Work Life Balance - The story of the scientist

Once, there was a scientist. He was brilliant at his work and it kept him very very busy. He was at his work all  the time - late nights, weekends, everything. This scientist spent no time with his family at all.

One day, his wife left him. He was very distraught and could not understand why. So he called her, and she told him that she had left him because he never had any time for her and the child, being forever busy with the work.
He was very sad to hear it.

After she left, he realised how hard it was to do the simple things in a house - to keep it clean, to have 3 meals on the table, to just sleep at night - alone. When he had returned from work, he had just assumed that his wife and child would be there, so when he went to sleep, he was not alone in the house. Even if he never spoke to them, he realised now how much their presence meant.

After a few days, he was very sad and lonely. It was impossible to both keep house and maintain his work. So he decided to make amends and called his wife again. He told her that he would change now, spend more time at home. That he had learnt his lesson. Could she and the child please come back?

The wife replied, "It is not what you do, my darling. Over the years, I have realised, this is who you are. It is not something you do deliberately. As a personality, you value your work above all else. If I come back, you will make efforts for a few days, but will eventually go back to being who you really are. No my dear, it is best that you live with that which matters to you - your work." And so saying, she refused to come home.

He was very sad after this talk and just could not concentrate on work. His colleague saw him sad and asked what had happened. He told him everything and then said, "The thing is, my wife is right. I am inherently like that. I do love my work above all else. But I also miss my family a lot. I don't know what to do."

The friend then said, " Let us say that you plant 2 trees at the same time. You have a limited amount of water and manure each day.  If you give all of your water and manure to one tree, it will grow big and strong and definitely taller and bigger than all other trees around it planted at the same time. But the other tree will wilt within a short time and die away. Then you cannot bring it back.

If you divide your water and manure among the 2 trees, they will both grow only moderately, you will never touch the heights that you could have touched with either, but they will both be in your garden.

This is a decision that we all have to make. If we pay no attention to the family, we can reach great heights in our careers, because our time and attention is the water and manure that we have every day. If we do work life balance, we must do so with the conscious idea that we will not win Nobel prizes in our profession so easily. But we will have a family to go home to.

Everyday, that water and manure - our time and attention, must be divided between the 2 trees. But most importantly, you must know,  that the trees are exactly the way you want them to be. It is, my friend, time for you to make a decision. If you want to rise to great heights in your career, you must abide by the decision of your wife - because she is right. And if you want your family, you must know, right now, that it will be wise to sacrifice some of your ambition. You will see some of your colleagues outshine you. And you must not regret or grudge them their success or ambition, for you have traded happily, the place on the podium for a place by the hearth. It must be a conscious decision - one that you take for yourself, and not one that is taken for you.  Your wife has taken a decision once for you. Don't let that happen again. Go home and think. "

With these words, the colleague left the scientist. The scientist came home and thought. All of that night and all of the next day he thought.
That night, he called his wife again. He spoke to her at length, and by next morning, she had come home with the child.

The scientist and his family were happy this time. They lived together for many years. Finally, the son grew up. He studied, and started earning his own living. It was then time for him to get married. He fell in love with a very smart young lady, and announced the decision to his parents. His parents welcomed the idea and the young lady into their home.

That night, the scientist took his son aside, and said, "There is something I must share with you. You do know that there are 2 pots in the garden that I always take care of myself. No matter how large the garden or how small, no gardener is allowed to touch my 2 plants. You have often asked me the secret of my fascination for those 2 plants. I will tell you today. It is not the plants. It is the pots that house those plants.

Many years ago, your mother left me because I had no time for you and her. When I pleaded with her to come back, she reminded me, that I was not busy at work so as to avoid her. This is who I was. And I would do it again. She was right, of course. Your mother always is. So one night, I brought these 2 tiny saplings home. I told her, that I was going to nurture both those plants. Every morning, I would water them the same way that I had divided my time between home and work the previous day. So if I had ignored my family for a day because of an important thing at work, I ignored the family plant entirely the next morning. On a good day, I would come home on time and spend time teaching you, asking her about her day and telling her about mine. On such a day, I would water and nurture both plants equally. On the weekends, I would not work. And then, I would not nurture or weed the work plant either.

In this way, the minute a plant starts to wilt, I will know that that aspect of my life needs attention. If one plant was not flourishing, I would know before any real harm came to my life. Over the years, those plants have been my daily reminders, companions and guides. When you get married, remember to plant such saplings, so that you and your wife always remember that a family needs attention too. That is the secret of my 2 plants, and why I wouldn't let any gardener interfere with those 2 pots."

The son was amazed to hear this. He had never imagined that 2 pots could mean so much to his father. Or to anyone. He had no idea that he really needed to work on being a family. He thought it just happened on its own. Then he reflected upon his own hours at work, and smiled. He was his father's son all right. He was going to need the 2 pots of his own.

Dard/ दर्द / Translations

यूँ तो 
हर भाषा में 
अपने ही तरीके से 
बयाँ होता  है 
पर एक स्तर के ऊपर 
मैंने देखा है 
दर्द का तर्जुमा 
बड़ा आसान सा हो जाता है 
एक सी ही निकलती है 
और चुप्पी भी 
हर भाषा की 
समझ में आ ही जाती है ...

ਹਰ ਜ਼ੁਬਾਨ ਵਿਚ
ਵੱਖਰੀ ਜਤਾਈ ਜਾਣਦੀ ਹੈ
ਪਰ ਮੈਨੂੰ ਜਾਪਦਾ
ਜਿਦਾਂ ਇਕ ਮੁਕਾਮ ਤੋਂ ਪਰੇ
ਪੀੜ ਦਾ ਤਰਜੁਮਾ
ਸੌਖਾ ਜੇਹਾ ਹੋ ਜਾਂਦਾ ਹੈ

ਚੀਖ ਤੇ ਸਬਦੀ
ਇਕੋ ਜੇਹੀ ਨਿਕਲਦੀ ਹੈ
ਤੇ ਚੁੱਪੀ ਵੀ
ਹਰ ਜ਼ੁਬਾਨ ਦੀ
ਸੋਜੀ ਪੈ ਹੀ ਜਾਂਦੀ ਹੈ / ਸਮਝ ਆ ਹੀ ਜਾਂਦੀ ਹੈ
no doubt
is described differently
in every language,
but I have observed
that when it crosses a certain level
it is really easy
to translate
the expression of pain

sound the same
in every language.

And it is possible
to understand silence
in any language.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

More good songs.. for posterity

Swarg Nark

My dadi had a really strange theory

कोई स्वर्ग या नर्क नहीं होता. स्वर्ग और नर्क दोनों यहीं होते हैं. हर किसी को बूढा होना है और हर किसी को मरना है. धीरे, धीरे, दर्द से मरते हुए मरना, औरों पर मोहताज होकर जीना, यही नर्क है. अपने पैरों चलते जाना, बिना बीमारी के निकलना, यही स्वर्ग है.

Now, whenever I do anything bad, the picture of dying in pain, dependant upon other people, alarms me no end. Its a very effective threat.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

We don't live in a world of circumstances

Wrote this for the Edit today of TCP - the newspaper I make my child everyday.

Thought this was relevant in more ways than one. So posting it here

How many times have you heard people complain about other people? Things? The government?
Today, give it a shot and count. Chances are, we hear complaints at least 100 times a day. With friends, from teachers, on social media, in the traffic.
Now, take another survey. How many times in a day do you hear – “I am going to change this in myself to make that better.” I haven’t heard that in ages.
When I was very young, I went to my grandfather with a complaint. He listened to me and then asked, “Very well. What are you going to do to change that?”
“Me? But I am only a little person!”
“But you are one person, and you are affected. What are you going to do to change that?”
On that day, a transformation happened. That day, I stopped complaining, and started asking the question, “What am I going to do to change that?”

Think about that around you – are you going to stop taking shortcuts to your tuition class? Are you going to start doing your homework so that the teacher doesn’t have to be rude?
We often think that we live in a world of circumstances. We don’t. We live in a world of possibilities.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

21st century parenting

How did we learn life long lessons? In moments, in one liners
and sometimes,
on long, silent walks
In an admonishment
or a forced walk ...
to a Gurudrawa
the mandatory 20 minutes of "meditation" during which
we closed eyes and
rehashed jokes to ourselves.
In a prayer
heard only once
and read many times : Make me a channel of your peace".

The children, they are doing the same things.
Our parents
threw no security blanket around us
they trusted teh goodness of strangers
And that, methinks
is the only difference.
The goodness of others
And our belief in it
Are both rare commodities
getting rarer still.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Identity confusion

In the halfway home
between consciousness
and lack of it
I find
a longing
for  you.

At all other times
life is good.

Are you a station
on that route?
Or are you
the final saviour
before the abyss?

Monday, July 03, 2017

more one liners

ऐ मैं  क्या सारी उम्र जलेबी के थाल से मक्खियां उड़ाती रहूंगी? - on marrying a handsome man.

आज़ादी सिर्फ मर्दो की होती है।  - Begum Jaan, on Independence Day

Thursday, June 29, 2017

4 kos par paani badle, 8 kos par baani..

४ कोस पर पानी बदले, ८ कोस पर बाणी। 

This is an old saying from India that means, literally translated, "The quality of the groundwater will change after every 4 kos (12km app) , and the dialect will change at 8 kos (app 24 km) .

Here is what it means, specifically for the anthropologists:

 The 24 km diameter is a coherent unit of human habitation. Just like they found out that a person cannot have more than 150 "real" friends, someone extapolated that dialect must change beyond a certain point. A coherent, uniform settlement unit will use the same dialect.

I have found this one liner very useful when it comes to understanding differences in people - they grew up with different resources (4 kos par paani badle) and with different ideas, ideals and social structures (8 kos par baani)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Swiss Air Business Class Review

I usually don't do travel reviews, but this one, methinks, deserves to be done, because I did not find enough online when looking.

We travelled Delhi-Zurich and Zurich Delhi on a round trip in June 2017.

I am a big fan of Lufthansa's A 380 business class flying from Delhi to Germany. But this time, the destination was Zurich, and having a port of entry in Germany would have changed the visa process, the layover time everything. So we decided to risk it and fly Swiss Air direct to Zurich - an 8 hour flight.

For starters, there is no comparison. Swiss Air uses A 330 - a relatively old craft on the Delhi - Zurich line, and I don't think they have any A 380s. So that experience should be automatically discounted.

Even for an A 330, we expected a comfortable trip. In particular, since it was a night flight,  we expected comfortable beds so we could start the day refreshed.

Here is what works and doesn't work:
1. The crew from Zurich - Delhi was way better than the Delhi- Zurich crew. For starters, they actually responded to call buttons - within half an hour, sometimes less. The Delhi - Zurich crew is equipped with special call button ignoring devices that ensures that you get up from  your seat, go to the gallery and ask them for whatever it is that you want.

2. The business class does not provide bathroom slippers, just the stockings, so please carry your own. The washrooms definitely need the slippers bcs I don't think they were serviced as often.

3. There is just no stowage/ storage next to your seat! That is insane!

4. The crew does have at least one Hindi speaking member and announcements are also made in Hindi.

5.  The food was decidedly better on the Zurich-Delhi sector. The Delhi-Zurich sector, we asked for chocolates and were told that they are in the "rear section" and someone will have to get them. I stared at her incredulously. We were travelling to the chocolate capital of the world, on the national carrier, and they did not have chocolates for children on board! The result of this glare was that miraculously, a box of pralines was produced. I asked her to leave it there and we will return it when the child is done with them. This was done rather reluctantly.

6. The entertainment on board is very limited for kids, and the display is nothing to write home about. Its not convenient when you are lying down. For me, there were a couple of options, but can't say I enjoyed the selection. I just chose because.. well, there were 8 hours to be killed.

7. The recline, I think, is the biggest disappointment. If you want to recline at 45 degrees, curl your feet up and watch a good movie, this is how you do it: Activate the "bed", stop at the right incline, then put up the feet. I figured that out after some experimentation, so will help you.

8. The flat bed basically is the chair sinking down to the floor. So no window view if you are lying down.

9. The seating configuration. Really, you just have to see it to know what I mean. Go there. Checking out the config through online pictures does not do justice to the hilarity of that seat configuration.

10. Last but not the least, the crafts are old. So please expect the same experience that you would on board old Air India crafts. The date is roughly the same, as is the level of staining on the seat covers.

Will I recommend this airline and this class of travel? NOT for this price. The price is the same as the A380 Lufthansa business class, with a lot less thrown in.

The experience was hugely underwhelming.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Deh Shiva Bar Mohe Ihe in Sukhwinder Singh's voice

Every time I heard Deh Shiva Bar Mohe Ihe, I could only think of this being in Sukhwinder Singh's voice..
Here, then, finally, is Deh Shiva Bar Mohe in Sukhwinder Singh's voice

And here are some other Deh Shiva Bar Mohe Ihe renditions that merit a mention:

Diljit Dosaanjh:

Manna De:

Jagjit Singh:

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Anant Mutreja's poetry at Rekhta 2017

Anant recited these 2 pieces of poetry at Jashn-e-Rekhta 2017.  I just could not get these poems out of my head.. FINALLY got both those poems. Sharing them with you here:




Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Fathers' Day

"A father
is a banker
provided by nature."

The one liner may be funny,
but its not
in jest.

A father is the one who,
when you are packing for a trip
and the mother is busy packing things to eat
secretly tucks
some extra money
in your backpack
for you to find later.

When you ask a father
what he wants
for a birthday, anniversary, or Father's Day
the answer is usually "Nothing."

When people think of
unconditional love
they think of mother
and miss out
on fathers
smiling gently
as the family
narrates a picnic
or a day of vacation
well spent
while they toiled
at their work place.

To fathers
who invest
their time, involvement and love
in nurturing a child.
While also working
to provide..

Happy Fathers' Day!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

10 day itinerary in Switzerland for Indians

1. You do not need 10 days in Switzerland if you are from India. If you want to see Jungfrau and Titlis, go to Eastern Himachal. If you want to see the rest of Swiss, to go Western Himachal or southern reaches of JnK.

2. Book EVERYTHING directly. Not through a travel agent. This includes insurance, ticket, visa and stay. The Swiss Airlines website offers insurance. Just take that. Everything else is a breeze. The VFS website for visa was more helpful than our stupid agent.

3. The place is one painting after another. There is good architecture and everything is overpriced.

4. Don't stay in a hotel. Use AirBnb and book an apartment. Europe has no concept of service. Better to at least get a good space for yourself.

5. Do not stay at the following places:

6. Buy a first class Swiss pass. It is better than the DB pass for Germany in that it covers all forms of travel within Swiss and gives you flexibility.

7. Do NOT buy cuckoo clocks or anything else. Everything from the same brands is available in India much cheaper.

Will share the itinerary etc. soon. But basically, we are bored to death on the 7th day.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

How to lose your advantage

In a country of 22 recognised languages and 2400 dialects, 90% of our reading is in English. Most of us cannot even read in an Indian language fluently.

Its not tragic for the languages. Its tragic for us. Our entire thought process is limited to what one language can offer. Its like being born in a university, and choosing to spend your life in a pre school.

Today's Gratitude

2 awesome things happened today..

1. I opened the balcony and heard the unmistakable sound of a.. lizard. Needless to add, there was a frantic Where-is-it search. After a while, I realised, the sound was coming, not from the vicinity, but from the green patch in front of the balcony. And its not a lizard.. its the sound of crickets in the forest. I have not stopped smiling since!

2. My son was trying to go play, and was wondering when his friends will reach the park. Suddenly, the doorbell rings, and I hear the loudest "Where are you, my friend? I am here!" - The entire gang was here!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The flora of Sikkim

Sikkim is a botanist's dream come true.
I am not a botanist, but the sheer variety or plants and leaves leaves one speechless.

So this trip, I tried to find out more about the local flora of Sikkim. To my utter dismay, while there were articles on the internet, not one of them referred to the local names of the plants. They had weird Latin names and some description. But the thing is, the people who live in these places have had a long standing relationship with these plants. They have names, and uses and truly a deep connect. Why is that knowledge not being captured anywhere?

So this is a different sort of feature on Sikkim flora. The next day, I took my driver with us as a guide, and requested him to tell me anything he could about the plants we found on our way. The Sikkim zoo is amazing for plant varieties, so that's where this is from.

The names are mostly Nepali, though some day I would love to go back and do the same thing with a Lepcha guide too.

Brush. About 1.5 meters in height. Red flowers in Feb-March.

Flowering shrub

सिंघानी - goat fodder

लांकूर - Timber. The leaves are dark, and roughly the size of mango leaves.

Cow fodder only.

This one is simply called red flower. Flowering shrub

सातो कावला - Tall, sturdy stem used for timber

पतले कातूस - used for timber

लाल चन्दन - USED FOR TIMBER

Jungle Patti. Used as cow fodder.

चुलात्रो  - only used for cow fodder

सांप का मकई - No particular use, and not a plant the locals are very fond of.

सांप की मकई leaves. The leaves have a gentle magenta outline and veins.

धूपी  - All conifer leaves are burnt in the gompa/ stupa for incense. And the smell is truly heavenly. Since they are used for Dhoop, hence the name Dhoopi.

तुसारे is a flowering shrub. No other use.

लालू पत्ती - flowering shrub

शिष्नु - edible leafy vegetable

Punjabi Bhuna masala

My mother was right. If you cook the masala gently over a low flame, it will reward you with amazing color and texture. 

Many years ago:

 Me: But how will i know when the masala is ready? 


She: When it is ready, it will automatically stop sticking to everything. It will let go of the pan that held it and the ladle that drove it.

Applies also, i think, to people. When we are ready, we spontaneously let go.

The Punjabi bhuna masala - the way it is made at home. No artificial color added.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

A dream...

One of my bucket list dreams is to create the next Ceaser or Capitalism Labs out of India. Does anyone else share the same dream?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Personal Credo

Why I never have an answer to those " 5 year plan" type questions? I live by this:
Today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today.

That's all.

On Mother's Day..

I honestly did try to look for a Mother's Day pic with my mom, Ishaan's paternal grandmother, my bhabi, and the other awesome moms i know.. then realised.. there are so few, because the mothers are the ones taking the pictures!
The mother is not in the picture, because she is the one creating it.
Happy Mother's Day, dear moms of my life.

Monday, May 08, 2017


So, the last few months have been a spate of health issues. So weird and sudden that i told my mother to get a pooja done. First, there was the ankle that led to bed rest. Then, the dry eyes and eye inflammation that made it impossible to see the screen and do computer based work for more than 2 hours a day. Then, the right shoulder just lost mobility one night, leaving it possible to do only small things.
But here's what that did.. it eliminated all distractions. It taught the importance of walking, cooking, raising a hand to paint or work on the keyboard.

And here is how I changed as a person:
  • I smile more.
  • I used to be grateful for my legs every morning, but never more than in the last 5 months. I REALLY know what a blessing it is to be able to see, walk and use your hands. There is nothing more precious than this.
  • I smile at children and strangers a lot more.
  • I used to wave at children from a bus or train. Now I really see the beauty of that action.
  • I've started to see my life from that moment of death, and from there, there is only this thing that we need to do more of - love, hug and laugh. Meet friends. Spend more time with the family and accept them as lovely, special human beings that we have chosen to spend our lives with.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Bernd Hoesslin Pilot

On April 9, 2017, Bernd Hoesslin was a pilot with an Indian airline - Jet Airways. Jet is one of the only 2 surviving full service airlines in India.

This amazing pilot said the following: "You bloody Indian get out of my flight." It was a racist comment. He was de rostered after this.

The reason I am writing this post is that if you are doing a reference check on him, you should know this. Apparently, he also physically assaulted a woman and a physically challenged passenger.

It doesn't impact me personally because I have not flown Jet Airways for many years. But if you want to hire pilots like this, please leave a note here so we know that we should avoid that airline. Yes, we are customers like that. We don't speak. We vote with our dollars (oops, rupees).

Monday, April 10, 2017

Natural History marvel

Humans are the only species in natural history that will procreate themselves to extinction.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Shri Ram Center's play: Appointment with Death (Agatha Christie) (Hindi) - A Review

I wanted to introduce my son (9 years old), to Agatha Christie for a while now. And then I heard of this play. It was a Shri Ram Center play, so I was reasonably confident of the production quality. The show time of 11 am meant that the child could enjoy the play without sacrificing his own play time.

That decision turned out to be so spot on. The Shri Ram center auditorium is anyway enviable. The production quality was superb and the play itself was very well dramatized. The best part was, that the play was in Hindi, so my mother could enjoy it too!

The long prelude to the death could have been shortened, but overall, it was a fantastic experience, and I truly hope that more people will find time to enjoy this awesome play. Good plays are scarce and scarcer.

Book Review: Predictably Irrational

Have you heard of Behavioral Economics? If, like me, you thought that Econometrics, Behavioral economics and other things that start with "eco" are masters courses in some part of the world that we do not want to explore, you must rethink. 

This is beahvioral economics explained in the easiest, most fun way. I have used some of the totkas given in this book and they are fool proof!

Here is the simple, short review of this book:
1. I will give it to my child to read before he is 12. There are less than 10 books on that list.
2. In my library, it is in the section that never gets lent to anyone.

In short, its a must read.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Software Reboot and types of longing

We upgraded our software
The world and I
After rebooting
we realised
that we are now
with each other.


Given the shrinking tolerance I have for the world, when they do it, it will seriously be "mercy" killing for me. :-p

There is the good kind of longing
and the bad kind of longing.
The good kind of longing
has a name, and a face
and therefore, it has a hope
or lack thereof.
Either way
it is certain.

And then there is
the bad kind of longing
which has no words
no face to reflect itself
no name
in short,
but the longing itself.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Ainve hi...

चाँद और आदमी में , एक बात तो सामान है. अगर बढ़ता नहीं, तो घटता है.

Man and the moon, have one thing in common. If they are not growing, they are shrinking.

गुरुद्वारा / Gurudwara

जब मैं गुरुद्वारे के अंदर नहीं जाती,
तो गुरुद्वारा
मेरे अंदर आ कर
बैठ जाता है

कभी सुखमनी की अष्टपदी बन कर
कभी पंज पौड़ियों दा पाठ
कभी चौपाई साहिब की धुन में
घुस ही जाता है
किसी न किसी तरह से
मेरे अंदर.

आ बैठती है
बचपन की बीड़
"गगन में थाल रवि चाँद दीपक बने तारक मंडल जनक मोती "
की ऐसी धुन की सूरत
जो अब
सिर्फ मेरे मन में सुनाई पड़ती है। 

रूठा हुआ पीहर
ऐसे ही मनाता हो शायद
या शायद
किस्मत ही मेरी अच्छी है.

For you, kj,  the translation:

When I don't go to the temple
the temple comes
to me.

Sometimes, it is a favourite prayer
suddenly in the head.
The melody of a favourite hymn
One way or another
it makes its way
inside me.

The chapel of my childhood
makes itself right at home
through the tune of a hymn
not heard anywhere else since.

Perhaps this is how
they reach out to daughters who are married
away from their homes
Or maybe, just maybe
I am exceptionally lucky.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Just like that...

I want to record this.. I don't know why.

Today, I lost my watch. I looked all over. Finally, at night, when I had given up, it was there...on the nightstand. Exactly where it always was. It wasn't there 2 hours ago.. promise.. I saw ... searched it very thoroughly and it wasn't there.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Saturday, February 11, 2017

when i miss dad....

I haven't been to a Gurudwara in ages.. for some strange reason, I am mad at God. I don't know why. I don't want to go to the one place that gives me peace.

So when I miss dad, I listen to these 2 shabads:


And someday, I hope to get to a Gurudwara... Some Day....

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Katranein/कतरनें - Amrita and Sahir

Most posts in the Katranein/कतरनें  series come from a story, novel, movie or another reference. Usually I leave the reference out because the katran is complete in itself.

But this Katran will need reference. This is an imaginary conversation between Amrita Pritam and Sahir Ludhanvi, right after Nagamani is released.

A brief on the story - Amrita and Sahir loved each other, but Sahir thought he wasn't good enough for her, so he always denied that he loved her. Please read more on this if you'd like. You will also need to know Nagamani, if you haven't already read it.

वह : तुम कितनी  अलग अलग चीज़ें लिखती हो. पर सब, है तो मेरे ही लिए न?

यह: नहीं तो! सब कहाँ तुम्हारे बारे में है? तुम दिन भर में इतनी सिगरेट फूंकते हो. सब मेरे नाम की हैं क्या? सब कुछ, तुम्हारे नाम का नहीं है. 

वह: झूठी!

यह: थोड़े से झूठ का हक़ तो, मुझे भी है. नहीं?

Monday, February 06, 2017

कतरनें / Kataranein

She: Why should you matter to me, and why would I matter to you?

He: Because we do. बस. 

Monday, January 30, 2017



Latin is much better, see? 

When people do things they love..

When someone is doing what they love doing best, all the veils on their heart fall away. All the layers of paint worn to be who they should appear to be, are washed out.

To see someone doing what they truly love doing, is like seeing their soul naked.

Things to do in Shimla #1- The Himachal State Museum

Getting there:
In front of the Oberoi Cecil hotel, is one road that goes to the Viceregal Lodge. The other, smaller road that goes up to the Doordarshan Kendra, is the one you need to take. There are no signboards. Go right up to the end of that road. You will reach the Himachal Pradesh State Museum.
Tell the driver that the car goes right up and there is enough parking there.
Once inside, feel free to lose yourself entirely and completely.

Things to do:
If you have young children, they will enjoy the Indian Army section a lot. I went to see rare examples of the Guler School of Pahadi Miniature Art, and was suitably rewarded.

There is a real palki of the goddess for the famous Kullu Ka Dashahra, and there is a model of the Himachali temple - whose architectural style varies considerably from temples elsewhere in the country. There is a room dedicated to local murals and the Chamba Rumaal - beautiful embroidery that looks the same on both sides.

There is a section with the traditional dresses of all regions of Himachal. It was pure delight!
The biggest surprise was the sculpture from the Himachal school. I had no idea! It was a total learning experience.

There is also a coins gallery. Though not as good as the Coins gallery at the National Museum, Delhi, it is, nonetheless, a great resource for children who have never been exposed to the coin heritage of India. If you are accompanying a child, please do take the time to read, and then explain to the child.
One of the things that I cannot get out of my head - is a coin of a bull with inscription in Kharoshthi. The bull is shaped exactly like the bulls found on the Indus Valley seals, but the inscription is in Kharoshthi.

If you are an IVC fan (and I am), that coin is remarkable. It provides, to my knowledge, the only evidence of continuity from the IVC to the later Indic civilisations.

The other things of note are the miniature paintings and murals depicting women. In these late 18th century paintings, women can be seen writing, reading, playing with a top, smoking a hookah, and drinking wine. These are all solo portraits (meaning no need for a male subject in the picture). This was the India of over a 100 years ago. I think we need to pay attention to these pictures and understand what we are missing in our "modern" world.

In short, this museum is your window to the heritage that is Himachal. The clothes, the crafts (there are wooden masks too), the instruments, the jewelry, miniature art and the manuscripts, the coins and the sculptures, the embroidery and the murals. This is a treasure trove, if you have the time to invest.

The staircase that greets you as soon as you enter the building. Amazing!

Traditional Himachali jewelry. What are these pieces used for?

Lady playing with a  traditional Indian toy - lattu

Lady drinking wine - Guler School of Pahadi Miniature Art

Lady writing letter - Pahadi School of Miniature Art - Guler

Hookah Time. Pahadi School of Miniature Art - Guler

A Gurudwara from 2 centuries ago. Guler, Pahadi School of Miniature Art

Model of the Shiva temple - Notice that large reception area and the Kalasham that is unlike anywhere else. Also notice the almost 100% wood construction.

The famous Chamba Rumaal

Traditional Himachali instruments

Vishnu - Himachal Sculpture style

Surya - HImachal Sculpture Style

Details about the Himachal Sculpture

This cute British era letter box in front of the museum

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Because i am Sherlock and must break everything down to logical bits and definitions..

He: Do you miss me?

She: I don't miss you. I remember you. The frequency at which we meet, is called "memories". Memories are not missed. They are remembered. Habits, are missed. When we remember, we think of you fondly, but we don't want you to be around. Its nice, and its in the past. When we miss, we want you around. Right Then. As if it would somehow make us more alive.

People don't realise that the only variable that moves the pointer from "remembering" to "missing" is the frequency at which our subconscious minds expect an association. In short, "Being There."

So there, now you know, why I don't miss you. I can't.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Book Review - Bheeshm Sahni - Sankalit Kahaniyaan

Bheeshma Sahni - Sankalit Kahaniyaan

आजकल, किताब पढ़ना यूँ भी आसान होता है, क्योंकि ज़्यादातर किताबें घड़े पर पानी सी होती हैं।  पर कुछ किताबें, चिपक सी जाती हैं. चाह कर भी उन से हाथ या आँखें हटाई नहीं जा सकती. ऐसी पुस्तकों के बारे में लिखने का मन करता है.  

किताब के पीछे लिखा है - "इस में कहानी की यात्रा में ही हम रस लेते हैं" ये ऐसी ही किताब है - एक एक शब्द में रस लेने वाली. हर कहानी अपने आप में एक अलग , नया संसार है. इस में जितना हुनर लेखक का है, उतना ही कौशल संकलनकर्ता का भी है. 

ये अलग वक़्तों की कहानियां भी हैं, और आज की भी. कहानी का अपना रस - जैसे "डायन" में मिलता है, वैसा शायद किसी और में नहीं. एक रोमांटिक कहानी... बस, पढ़ी जा सकती है, रुक्मणी की कल्पना की जा सकती है. उसके बारे में बताया नहीं जा सकता. कुछ कहानियों का बस, अनुभव ही अनिवार्य है. 

"साग मीट" एक और कहानी है, जिस में कितनी और कहानियां छिपी मिलती हैं. हंसी भी आती है, रोष भी होता है, दुःख भी. 

जो लोग अभी उम्र में छोटे हैं, उन्हें ४ साल तक स्कूटर खरीदन का इंतज़ार, या दंगों में बिछड़े बच्चों की खोज के किस्से, जाने पहचाने नहीं लगेंगे. और फिर मन में आता है, जो मेरे देश की जीत है, तो ये है, की ४० साल बाद, हमें ४ साल स्कूटर के इंतज़ार के बारे में कुछ भी याद नहीं. और जो मेरे मुल्क की हार है, तो ये है, कि जिस मुए हिन्दू-मुसलमान के फसाद में "पाली" और "वीरो" की कहानियां बनी , ७० साल बाद भी, उस फसाद में कोई बदलाव नहीं. मौलवी साहब कुछ और कट्टर हो गए हैं, समाज सेवक कुछ और निर्भीक।

ये कहानियां कुछ कुछ ऐसी हैं, जैसे कोई मोहल्ले में बीच में बैठा हो, और हर घर का कुछ कुछ झरोखा दीखता हो. और ऐसी भी, कि जैसे कोई माया महल में घुसे, और कोई शीशा किसी दुसरे शीशे सा न हो. हर शीशा बिलकुल अलग, पर बेहद मज़ेदार. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

कतरनें / kataranein

अगर वो कभी जुबां खोले, तो मैं उस के जीवन का सारा विष नीलकंठ बन कर पी जाऊं.

पर ऐसा कभी नहीं होता. कितने साल बीत गए.. वो चुप है, और मैं तृष्णा ग्रस्त।

Monday, January 16, 2017

Zaroorat / Need

बहुत ज़रूरी है। 

मोहल्ले में हो
एक ही ऊंची सीढ़ी
तो दीवार चढ़ने के लिए
अहम् की दीवार
लांघनी भी पड़ती है

जब डिनर सेट
शर्मा जी के यहां से
और कुर्सियां
वर्मा जी के यहां से हो
तो मेहमान नवाज़ी
सांझी हो जाती है। 
दुःख सुख भी

हलकी सी गोंद है 
जो सब को जोड़े रखती है 

बहुत ज़रूरी है। 

Update: This post made it to the Tangy Tuesday Picks of Blogadda! Am so surprised!