Saturday, September 22, 2018

Depression/ अवसाद

जब पहला i don't care निकला था
किसी की ज़ुबान से, उसे
वहीं, उसी वक्त,
एक ज़ोर का तमाचा मारना चाहिये था ।

पीली बेल
पैदा होते ही काट दो,
तभी बचता है पेङ।
ये परवाह न करने की महामारी भी
वही पीली बेल है
धीरे धीरे
मर रहा है पेङ।
घिरता आ रहा है
अकेलेपन का डर
अवसाद का दानव।

मरने वालों के अंतिम शब्द :
"No one cares for me. "

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

That time when i forgot to be politically correct..

Scrolling down the Facebook timeline trying to fall asleep, I'm first amused and then irritated by the non stop political cacophony.
So dear friends of mine:
1. The best place to express your political opinion is inside a polling booth.
2. We can all read and we're educated enough to make our own decisions. If you must do public good in the time of elections, take a walk to the nearest slum and tell people what a manifesto is. Why they must vote on the basis of a manifesto and no...t on the basis of 1500 rs per rally. Gather manifestos and explain each one. If u want a better democracy, create more aware citizens.
3. This is a democracy. The buck stops with the voter. Stop electing criminals and then creating memes on them for the next 5 years. The joke's on us.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Book Review: 54 Reasons why parents suck

I just finished reading this book:

And I am in tears.

The book is a 16 year old Swaraa talking about the pet rants of children against their parents. Compiled in a nice 54 reasons format, each reason is well illustrated and explained - using examples and research studies, without sounding academic or boring.

As I read each reason, I wrote the parent's response to the reason. Then my son and I will compare notes.

Swaraa shows the mirror to us as parents. Come to think of it, there is NO feedback mechanism from children to parents. Parents give feedback to kids like 10 times a day, but how many times a day (lets be honest here) do they listen to feedback themselves?

But the reason I was in tears, is that, she also provides validation to parents like me.

3 years ago, I gave up a corporate role to exclusively spend time with our son. All these years later, I STILL hear this almost on a daily basis:
  • Children grow up anyway. Why did you have to leave such an enviable career?
  • You wasted a seat at an IIM. Why go to an IIM if you wanted to sit at home and raise children?
  • Women should not leave the professional world due to childcare issues. The employer should arrange for a day care.
  • Why couldn't you ask your mother or mother in law to live with you??
Without going into the right that these people have to be judge and jury on my specific case, these comments, and the sheer frequency at which they are made - both to the face and behind the back, indicate, quite clearly, the majority view on parenting in our world.

So, dear Swaraa(and Swati), THANK YOU for validating:
  • You should only be a parent if you want to spend the next 18 years nurturing another human being. If you are not emotionally invested in the nurturing, your child will sense it. It not NOT MANDATORY to be a parent. No one else's opinion matters. You have to live with the consequence of that action, and your child. You must think this through very carefully.
  • The small things matter. You cannot decide when a child will choose to confide in you. It is important that you are present when that moment arrives.
  • The ONLY way to get a child who lives a mindful existence is to be a MINDFULLY present parent.
  • If kids spend too much time on their gadgets, take a good, long, hard look at what you do with gadgets in their presence.
  • Parenting is not a part time job I do after office hours.
  • It is POSSIBLE to have an open, nurturing relationship with a parent, where both are open about their weak spots, vulnerabilities and comfort zones.
  • Disciplining is not outdated. Even children appreciate parents who set limits and help  them grow.
  • Open communication is very vital. Our children are telling us, as straight forward as they can, that they want to talk and be heard. We are not listening!
Dear both: More power to you, for writing this book. I Hope this will encourage, above all else, a feedback loop from parents to children in every house.

PS: If you really want to benefit from this book, I recommend that you also supplement your reading with the Parent-Child-Adult Ego States theory. To apply things that this book hints at, we will have to discover and if needed, alter the ego state we exist in.

Friday, September 14, 2018

On figures, numbers, statistics and trends

मैं उसे नहीं जानती थी साहब.
वो कभी घर से निकलती ही नहीं थी
कोई जानता कैसे?

मैं बस २ ऊंची आवाज़ों को जानती थी,
(जिन में से एक बिलबिलाती थी)
वे घर से निकलतीं भी थीं 
और सबके घर भी जाती थीं। 

उसके कपडे
सूखने के लिए डाले होते थे रोज़
और उठ भी जाते थे
पर न मालूम कब पड़ते थे
और कौन उठाता था
वो कभी नहीं दिखी

उसके बच्चे भी
बराबर स्कूल जाते थे
और वापिस भी आते थे
स्कूल की पढाई भी
ठीक ही रही होगी
क्यूंकि मास्टर
बड़े खुश रहते थे बच्चों से
- हमारे बच्चे बताते हैं.

आप पूछते हैं 
मेरा क्या ख्याल है 
उसने ख़ुदकुशी की होगी 
या उसका खून हुआ होगा ?
मैं क्या कयास लगाऊं साहब 
जब मैं उसे जानती ही नहीं थी। ... 

पर मुझे लगता है 
कि वो 
बच्चों को छोड़ कर मरने वाली औरत नहीं थी 
जो उसका ढांढस 
या नसीब 
साथ देते 
तो उसने 
कुछ बरस और, निकाल ही जाने थे.

I did not know her, Sir.
None of us did.
How could we?
She never got out of her house
Or met anyone.

We did know her screams, though.
They left the house
at regular intervals
and reached everyone.

Her clothes appeared
and disappeared
on and from
the clothesline.
We never saw her.

Her children
were dressed
and sent to school
They did well at school,
our children tell us that.

You are asking my view
on whether this was
a suicide
or a murder.
But how can I guess, sir,
when I did not know her at all?

When this report was published and widely discussed yesterday, I just politely smiled. Depression in women, women dying, has always been inconsequential. If someone had taken action, these numbers would not have climbed the way they have. The rise has been consistent since 2012 at least.

This piece, just wrote itself.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Thoughts on Vinayak Chaturthi

Vinayak Chaturthi is the celebration of Shri Ganesha. We know him as the God with the head of an elephant. We also know him to be the Vighna Harta – the God who removes obstacles.
What you may not know is that Ganpati is not just celebrated in India. We find pictures of Ganpati in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and there also, he is the Lord of Abundance.
 You have probably been to a Ganesha temple. But it doesn’t matter. Because Ganpati temple is the first enclosure in any temple. No prayer begins until Lord Ganesha has been venerated. No Yagya begins without a prayer to the Ganpati.
Now, let me ask you a very interesting question. What if you knew someone who had a head like an elephant? Would you celebrate them like the Gods, and their followers, celebrate Ganpati?
Let that be an important question to you today.
If the Gods did not judge one with the head of an elephant, who are you and I to judge another person?
Not just Ganpati, our Gods have taken, wilfully, the forms of fish, a dwarf, a boar, a playful, naughty little boy – and all these forms of our Gods have been accepted, venerated and prayed to. What is that if not the indication that all Life, all of this world, and everything in it, is beautiful, is respectable, and deserves equal celebration.
If I was to tell you that you have to meet a person who has an unusually large head, and has a really big tooth jutting out of it, you are not likely to imagine something beautiful. Yet we have all seen beautiful images of the same person.
Look around you. Who is different? Who has hands that are different?  Legs that are a little wobbly, a rather large or small head, or just doesn’t get stuff when the rest of the class/group does? Who speaks a little differently?
The next time you want to play God and judge, remember that the Gods did not judge on these things.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Pearls/ Moti

ਗਾਨੀ ਟੁੱਟ ਕੇ ਮਨਾ ਲੈਂਦੀ ਹੈ
ਆਪਣੇ ਹੋਨ ਦਾ ਸੋਗ।
ਮਣਕੇ ਦੀ ਕਿਸਮਤ ਵਿਚ
ਟੁੱਟਣਾ ਵੀ ਨਹੀਂ ਲਿਖਿਆ

ਰਿਸ਼ਤਾ ਕੋਈ ਖੇੜੂ ਖੇੜੂ ਕਰ ਵੀ ਦੇਵੇ
ਮਰਜਾਣੀ ਗਾਨੀ ਵਾਂਗ
ਨਿੱਕੀਆਂ ਨਿੱਕੀਆਂ ਯਾਦਾਂ
ਜਯੂੰ ਮਾਲਾ ਦੇ ਮਣਕੇ

माला टूट कर मना लेती है 
अपने होने का सोग 
मोती की किस्मत में
वो भी नहीं।

रिश्ता कोई छिन्न भिन्न कर भी दे 
माला  जैसे 
छोटी छोटी यादें 
ज्यूँ माला के मोती
चुभती रहती हैं
पैरों के नीचे।

A string of pearls
can tear itself apart
to bemoan
its very existence
but the pearls
have no such luck.

A bad relationship
can be forgotten
as if it was
a nightmare
But the tiny memories
of moments spent:
Like pearls
from a necklace.  

Best Rom Coms on Netflix India

If you are like me, you dig rom coms.

Finally, I found some good Rom coms on Netflix. Here goes:

Our souls at Night

If you like old fashioned romance (and I do), then this is the movie for you. An old woman goes to her neighbour and asks him if he would consider putting her to sleep every night, so both of them can draw solace from each other's presence and sleep better.
The man accepts. And what follows is a complete romance. I am not a fan of Mills and Boons. This is real. It has people who deal with a lot. And very few mushy scenes. Their underlying strength as they deal with questions from everyone. Their underlying companionship. The easy camaraderie with Jamie.

I loved every frame in this film. Its not a mush fest. Its intelligence, perseverance and a very good cast. The background score? That's a HUGE bonus. Loved every single track on the OST of this film.

Once Again

One of the BEST rom coms of recent times. The only similarity with Lunch Box is the food connection. Nothing else.

The movie runs at a really slow pace. Every action is deliberate, every expression on every face gets the attention that it deserves. But here is the funny thing - it never gets boring. Not even for a NFS junkie like me. (Ok, I am not really a NFS junkie. But I find slow real boring)

I love Shefali as an actress. Always have. And this movie gives her the stage that she deserves. The cinematography deserves special mention. I love it when light is used to good effect in a film. In this film, it is. Mumbai is also highlighted well. But it doesn't become a glittering Diva from its real personality. You just see some key locations at night.

Qarib Qarib Single

Here is a confession - This movie is special to me because of Gangtok. Because it was shot to show my favourite table at my favourite café in Gangtok. Some day, I am going to sit at that table and write my life all over again.

The story is really sweet. The acting is par excellence. The plot? Not so much. But the whole experience of the film is sooo.. romantic. And so real.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

The effect of poetry on the head

You wrote
a poem once
It reminded me so much
of someone
who could have been

That ended - all of it,
the someone.
The something.

But the words.
And the promise they held out
that day
Like a little angel
the moon.

We both knew, of course,
the Angel and I
that it is not possible
to promise the moon
to a mortal.
But we played along, the Angel
and I.
Like that, your words
have remained
in the head.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

बंद नहीं होते
कल के दरवाज़े

आज की सांकल
लगती नहीं है अभी। 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Freedom to BE

This post was actually written for my friend’s dauther, but in hindsight, I was able to learn much from it too.

Many of our children want to take paths that are, to put it mildly, “OFF the beaten path”. Some of them want to discontinue studies and travel the world. Many of them want to quit corporate careers and move to farming. As parents, obviously, our reactions range from quiet acceptance to being appalled. We’d like to blame “The times” , “Technology” or anything else that’s handy - like the white handkerchief that the mother always used to press into their hands as they left for school, or the said second cousin of the spouse who you “always knew” was a bad influence.

This post is for those children - and parents.

Dear Person (Because, as you know, I firmly believe in the right of the child to be recognised as an equal stakeholder in the world), you are FREE to make a decision about the future course of your life -both short term and long term.

But that decision must be taken from a place of freedom. Not from a place of slavery. Slavery is a strong word to use, but from where I stand, there is so much of it all around!

What does that even mean? Being free and taking a decision from place of freedom?

Here is what I think it means:

Freedom is not a linear thing. It is multi dimensional. And these are the most important dimensions.

 To be truly free, you need to be:

A. Physically Free
The first, and one of the most important dimensions of freedom, is physical independence. Are you able to take care of your physical needs yourself? Are you in a situation where you are physically safe and reasonably free to move around? If we are not able to take care of our simple physical needs like hygiene, safety, health and even basic physical movement, then our decisions will always be based on that dependence. Of all dimensions of freedom, this is the most fundamental.

B. Financially Free
If you lead a life that is physically free, the next freedom that you must have is financial freedom. The ability to get up and not have to worry about the next meal frees you up in an incredible way. And the converse is even more true - lack of financial freedom gnaws at your ability to take independent decisions progressively - until it destroys all your relationships, connections, work and even day to day actions. No decision taken in this state of existence is a decision connected to “freedom.”

C. Emotionally Free
Vivekananda explained this beautifully. In a single, simple sentence, he solved the world’s most difficult question for me - Love never brings pain. Love can only bring joy. Attachment brings pain.
Take a minute to think about that. Remember the time when you felt absolute, pure love. The object of that love is not important. The joy that you experienced at that moment - that is.

But love is not the only emotional dependence that we need to break. If we are emotionally dependent - on anything - another person, a place, even an emotion (if all our actions come from anger, for instance, or, as is more common, an emotional need to be accepted by those we want to align with), then we cannot experience the freedom of our decisions. Those decisions are basically slave reactions to our emotional needs.

If you have not tried it yet, try loving for its own sake. Not because you expect acceptance from them, or approval. Just because you find it in your heart to give love, and therefore you want to. That is when you will know emotional freedom - when you connect with someone because you want to - not because you need to.

D. Spiritually Free
We are not bodies with a soul. We are souls in a body.

Of all our freedoms, this should be held dearest. Let no one sabotage your spiritual journey.

There is a reason that a lot of followers of spiritual leaders do not experience the same peace and spiritual progression as the guru. It is because they are following the path of the Guru, not their own.

Remember that a guru is like the runner who holds the baton in a relay race.

It is the baton that has to reach the cross line - not the runner. The runner puts their best into helping the baton on that journey - holding it safely and taking it as best as is possible for them. But the journey belongs to the baton. Not the runner. If you make someone else the custodian of your spiritual journey, then it isnt yours any more. A guru is to learn from, and we surrender to them for the learning. But the responsibility of the journey rests with us.

To be spiritually free is to own this journey for ourselves. If your decisions are coming from a dependence on someone or something or a group and if you cannot imagine your spiritual journey without them, you are acting from a place of belonging, but not from a place of freedom. When you act with spiritual freedom, you will take control of your own journey and you will then take decisions based on what your journey needs at that moment.

And finally, lets talk about the image attached to this note. Radha Krishna, even if they are in the middle of the circle, surrounded by a thousand gopis, are free. The gopis, even though they surround the love struck couple, are not.

When you reach a place of freedom, you will know. And at that time, you will yourself observe a difference in the quality of your decisions, and the satisfaction you get from taking those decisions and acting on them.

For the parents: As guardians, we can only help our children reach that place of freedom. Because we have seen more slavery than they have, and can make an effort to recognise it. Once our children are truly in a place of freedom, will find them taking decisions that are not temporary.

We will see a difference in the peace on their faces. Instead of wondering if it is, in our terms, “a good decision”, lets try to see whether it is coming from a place of freedom. Because the accompaniment of freedom is wisdom. Freedom is not easily got.

Monday, August 27, 2018

On Childhood Sexual Abuse

The only difference
between scholars
and survivors
is that
in sermons
and survivors
in monosyllables.

A sketch, and then a note to go with it..

माँ का 
सर नहीं होता।

होते हैं 
केवल हाथ 
बड़ा सा ह्रदय 

एक गोद भी होती है 
सारी उम्र 
रहती हैं। 

माँ का बस 
सर नहीं होता।

Monday, August 20, 2018

Qotd: Stand-up comedians

Dear Stand-up comedians of India: Fucking is a verb. Please stop using it as an adjective.


Ppl who don't want to imagine the #PoT : Porn of things.

# FuckingShoes , Fuckingtubelight, FuckingClassroom ..

Seriously, none of these things are capable of actions you're ascribing to them.

Mahi Ve - Episode 25

WHY??? Like, WHY???

After salivating over Shiv Whatever-his-last-name-is, after fervently, fervently hoping and praying that she marries Shiv and not Ishaan... after watching the last 3 episodes jaise mere hi ghar mein koi galti kar raha hai (as if I am personally sad) , as they prepare to marry Mahi and Ishaan (who is not bad, but God, he is not Shiv)

WHY, Yash Raj TV, would u do the most cliched, hackneyed, boring thing possible and make her run away from the mandap, and NOT into Shiv? (better still, Shiv's arms, but Shiv will do just fine).

Shiv... after turning in up in the most unexpected way at all times, after creating a character so lovely (and unreal, but lovely), would you NOT be present at that Wimpy's outlet in some way?

Dear Yash Raj TV, next time:
A. Make her run away faster. That runaway bride thingie is so not cool.
B. Let her see sense sooner. Much, much sooner. Can you imagine how much we wanted to see romance between Shiv and Mahi? (OK, Shiv and Anyone! Just put Shiv in the frame please)
C. End it in a logical marriage.. even Mahi's intelligence was insulted in this ending. Like, Seriously!!! (I'm not a big fan of Mahi's EQ or IQ, but this!!!!)

And I have officially grown old. The sweet character gets the crush, not the hot ones. Ufff!!

PS: I know its a really old serial, but no one else has spilled the beans online, and I want to help future viewers.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Deemak / Termite

लकड़ी खा जाते हैं
और गाड़ियां
बच्चों के पार्क। 

destroy wood
And cars
children's parks.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

2 songs, decades apart, yet so alike..

Isi liye.. navras atal hai.. bcs the basic human emotions.. they don't change..

ESPECIALLY the one where you say you don't love. and you love.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Towards Respectful Parenting - II

In this post, we laid a foundation. Lets understand the idea of Respectful Parenting.

Respectful Parenting is a idea that a child is an equal participant in the family unit. That a child deserves respect as an individual. But most importantly, perhaps, Respectful Parenting is the idea that children are sentient, thinking, feeling beings who are able to hold up their own end of a conversation. That they are not blind particles waiting to be led. They are, in fact, the ansh(element) of the same cosmic consciousness that resides in you and me and makes us intelligent units of existence.

I have tried to find ways to put Respectful Parenting in words, and I think, that the following positive affirmations for the parent, will help us internalise Respectful Parenting in the best way:

1. The child comes through us, but not to us.
2. Their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which we cannot visit, even in our dreams.
3. My child has the same conscious existence that I do and is, to the same degree, a spiritual, sentient and aware being.
4. My child may know less, but is not less intelligent or less conscious.
5. The child deserves respect in all aspects of life.

These affirmations are incremental - in the first 2, we slowly let go of our inherent sense of ownership and belonging over the child. In these affirmations, we become what Gibran has said that we are - caretakers of a luminous soul, not its owners. Our focus shifts from that of the owner, to that of the teacher or gardener or nurturer. In doing this, not only do we free the child, but we also (more importantly) free ourselves of the attachment that comes from owning. To know that we are just agents of growth allows us to give more freely of our love, and removes us from the attachment that must necessarily come from ownership or belonging.

In these 2 affirmations, the child also shifts from being "It" to being "He" or "She". I find the use of "it" for the child just..wrong. To call a child "it" is to deny its conscious existence.

When we open these 2 paths - that of thinking of the child as an "it" and the attachment of viewing the child as something that belongs to us (is 'ours'), we are ready to move to the next stage of this acceptance of the child's divinity:

The Child is a sentient, aware, conscious being.

Inside all of us is an element of the spiritual presence. We acknowledge it in each other when we say "Namaste" - the Divine in me, bows to the divine in you. It is now time to acknowledge and respect the divine in the child. The child is a sentient, aware, conscious being.

My child may know less, but is not less intelligent or less conscious.
This affirmation is to fight one of our strongest cognitive biases. We are all brought up with the idea that "Parents know what is best for us".
That may be true, they may know more. But they do not know what is best for us. Look back at your life. Can you think of times when you really, really wanted something, but your parents told you that that wish was unwise, and that you'd end up a fool? Or worse, hurt?  How do you feel about that decision now? 20 years later?

Here is one way to view this - our parents know a LOT more about this world and how it works. What they do not know enough of, is what is important for US. It is the same for our children and us. They know less, but they are not less intelligent. Nor are they any less capable of processing information.

We can, as parents, acknowledge that their "What" knowledge is limited. But so is ours. If we do not stop ourselves from taking decisions because our conscious knowledge is limited, what right do we have to stop them? Have we taken all our decisions in a state of perfect knowledge?

This affirmation will change A LOT of your relationship with your child. It will shift the onus of decision making from you to the child. All those queries of "What books can I get for a 9 year old avid reader?" OR "What is the best career for a science graduate?" All those times when you take a decision on behalf of your child because they "don't know enough" will change. You may provide information, but the processing has to be theirs.

It will dramatically change the way they view themselves. They will start to see themselves as people who are responsible for the results of their actions. They will start to take control of their decisions, and take ownership of the consequences of those actions.

You have no idea how that will free you up. Didn't study? Poor Marks. Your problem! Don't read? Can't do quiz. Too bad! Don't practice? Wont make it to the school team. Your call!

The sheer amount of nagging that will simply poof! Vanish from your life once you hold the children responsible for their actions (and make yourself responsible only for the information) is incredible. You have to experience it to know what I mean.

The child deserves respect in all aspects of life.
This is easily the most important affirmation of all. Because it completely changes the way that we view the universe around us. Respecting a child as an equal human being is a very important part of nurturing them. I had a father tell me recently - I have decided to split from my wife. I asked, "What about your child? How will it affect them?"
"Oh, he is a child. He will just have to deal with it."
When you have internalised this affirmation, "He is just a child" are words that you will not understand any more. The child is an equal participant in your family.

Does Respectful Parenting mean that we let our children run amuck and take decisions on behalf of grown ups?

No. In fact, it means the exact opposite. It means that we eliminate the idea that if they take their own decisions, they will run amuck and take wrong decisions (remember affirmation 4). When you do Respectful Parenting, you will not understand where this desire to control children is coming from. You will experience the child as a perfectly conscious person who has much to learn and much to teach. Your interactions with the child will become mindful, intelligent and full of new learning everyday. You will find yourself having access to the inner world of the child and you will probably discover what a wonderful world it is.

This is perhaps one of the most heartfelt posts that I have written on the subject.

Towards Respectful Parenting

Honestly, I don't know how to start this post. Or why. What I am about to say is pretty explosive and is going to be very unpopular. But then, when have I ever said anything that is popular?

I am going to present and defend the radical notion that children are people - not "mini-me's" - full people. They are people with an ability to think. And they deserve respect.

When someone gets pregnant, in my circle, I hand calligraph and send them 2 posters - the first is this poem:

And the second is this:

Pay special attention to the second one, because this whole post is about that second poem.

"They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you."

They are with you, but they belong not to you. They come through you but not from you. Every single day, and every single time that we try to call them "our" children, it is time to remember that. We are channels, we are conduits and caretakers. But they are the children of destiny.

"You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams."

When my son was in Nursery, Mark Parkinson, the Director of the group of schools, stood on the podium and said, "60 percent of these children are going to be in professions that have not been imagined yet. Do not think that you can prepare them for the future." Look around you - standup comic, SEO, Information Security, Digital Marketing, Customer Experience Designer, Image Consultant, Graphic Designer - professions that were not imagined a decade ago and are the highest paying today. And the list of these professions only grows larger every day. We cannot prepare these children for their future because we have no idea what that future will look like. And that has always been the case.

So, now that we have established 2 basic things:
1. That we do not own our children.
2. That we are not equipped to "prepare" them for a future that we cannot understand or imagine

Let's move to the core of the idea of  Respectful Parenting. (Next Post)

Friday, August 03, 2018

Os Ke Rang by Viki Arya - Book Review

If I had the words to praise this book enough, I would do just that. If I had to point out the best pieces in the book, I'd just have to reprint the whole book. Every page leaves u breathless (and I read a LOT of poetry every week), and every single piece is a universe unto itself.
If Brevity is your thing, and if you like poetry that says a lot in a very few words, make Viky Arya a must have in your library.

While the words themselves are beautiful, the composition of the book is also fantastic. The colors, images and the overall "feel" of the book goes so well. This is the perfect book to lose oneself with on a rainy day, high up in the mountains, looking out of a window. As the rain soaks the mountains, the words in the book will soak your soul.

In our library, there is a section of books which are so precious that they are never lent out. Viky Arya's Os ke Rang is the latest entrant to that section.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

On Fake News

आवश्यकता है: हंस की 

जो जीवन में 
दूध का दूध 
और पानी का पानी कर जाए

पर उस से भी आवश्यक 
ये है कि 
वह दिखा कर 
विश्वास दिलाये 
दूध का दूध 
और पानी का पानी 
होता है. 
सच, और 
सचमुच फर्क होता है.

ਲੋੜ ਹੈ: ਹੰਸ ਦੀ
ਦੂਧ ਦਾ ਦੂਧ
 ਤੇ ਪਾਣੀ ਦਾ ਪਾਣੀ
ਕਰ ਕੇ ਦਿਖਾਏ
ਤਸੱਲੀ ਦੁਵਾਏ
ਕੇ ਸੱਚੀ
ਸੱਚ ਤੇ ਝੂਠ ਵਿਚ
ਵਿਥ ਹੁੰਦੀ ਹੈ

Meena Kumari Ji - Happy Birthday

It is her birthday today. She is known as the tragedy queen. But she was so, so much more than that single story.

Today, I found myself humming Nanhi Kali, sone chali. and for some reason, I thot this was picturised on Meena Kumari.

But the song I remember when I think of Meena Kumari is not a sad song. It is one of my all time favorite love songs. Bcs I think, that while she knew how to be sad, she knew even better, how to love:

In the book, because he is, Meghna Gulzar shares a copy of a portrait of Meena Kumari that Gulzar had in his office for ever. I think that that portrait defines her better than anything else that we have seen. That remains my favorite portrait of her. Will post it soon.

In the meantime, this is what the potpourri of her memory looks like, in my head:

Chalte Chalte… cannot, cannot, get over that song:

Ajeeb Dastaan hai ye... because only she could have been Kalpana..

Another from Pakeeza: Aaj hum apni.. there is incredible strength in this song...

The way she runs after Raj Kumar says - Inka Naam Hai 'Pakeeza'

You might think of Sahib, Biwi aur Gulaam. But that's not her best work. That's not who she was. She was so much more. She had so much more strength than that. I cannot imagine her that way.

Happy Birthday.... to the woman who was strong enough to know what she wanted, and wouldn't settle for less.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Parmanu - Movie Review

Just finished watching Parmanu. I LOVE YOU, John Abraham! What an amazing movie!!!!

It is easy to call an Army officer a patriot. But to create movies like Madras Café and Parmanu is an act of patriotism too. This movie made me realise that Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the PM who made the Buddha smile.. it was IMPORTANT. These movies tell us what recorded history could not. Like Amar Chitra Katha, they teach us through entertainment.

There, I said it. I LOVE YOU, JOHN ABRAHAM!

The greatest technical strength of the movie is its editing, followed by the background music.
The art direction and the sets.. it is so easy to overlook or take for granted the technical aspects of a film, but here, they just stand out.

Obviously, the director has done an excellent job. And the performers - every single one of them. Boman Irani ruled the screen from the first shot, but that was hardly a surprise. A friend mentioned that the female roles were great too. I don't know about that. I do know that nowhere did i see skin, no item song and in the entire movie, I tried to find a single shot that objectifies women, and, surprise surprise, it wasn't there! Can you even IMAGINE a Hindi movie that does not objectify the female body in some way?

When I told my son that the nuclear scientists paid with their lives and the mainstream media is not even talking abt the mysterious deaths of our nuclear scientists, that was another discussion point at home. Here is that media story.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Katranein - On being friends

So, you have started seeing someone else?

What do you mean, 'else'?

Main aur Bhagwaan God and I

भगवान , बुतशिकन है
तोड़ देता है
बचपन से सारे भरम
मन की हर आस
भोलेपन का
हर विश्वास।

is an
He destroys
all the beliefs
of childhood
every hope of the heart
my innocence
believes in.

Monday, July 16, 2018


We'll put up paintings.
Square ones. I like them square.

And red brick walls on the outside,
but on the inside
all white, nicely plastered.

And an open kitchen.
I always like open kitchens.

When that dream ends
We can go back
to the purple and pink
of the bruises.

The "Shut Up"s and the
"Go inside"s

Surender Sharma Poetry

Yesterday, I was privileged to be at a place where Surender Sharma ji was reciting his poetry. 2 pieces completely stood out and I have to record them:

ये शादी नहीं आसान, बस इतना समझ लीजे
सल्फास की गोली है, और चूस के खाना है.

Ab joke suno. I was trying to share this joke with others and no one knew what Sulfaas ki goli is! Reason #67319 that we should stay in touch with our agriculture sector!

Here is the second:

 नदी ने पूछा कुंवे से , तेरी औकात ही क्या है?

कुँवे ने कहा, ठीक कहती हो बहिन
भटकाव और ठहराव में
कुछ तो अंतर होगा।।।

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Why Jagir Kaur and SGPC should not create trouble

I've learnt one thing from Islam. That it is not the violence of a few that kills a religion. It is the silence of the majority.

And I don't want to let that happen to Sikhism. I do not want to be the majority that stayed silent because 'it wasn't such a big issue.' It is.

So here goes:

1. Guru Nanak said "Ek Onkar" - There is only one God. There is no difference among his people so long as they are all devotees who do good deeds (Kirat Karo) and Recite his name(Naam Japo), preferably as a group united in devotion (Sangat). From the first Guru to the Tenth, the MOST IMPORTANT tenet of the religion has been to get over our caste identity, our superstition and belief in ritual over devotion.

So, if you are a person who uses his caste name in spite of the surname given by Guruji - Singh and Kaur, then you have failed a very basic teaching of the Gurus. You can either be Singh or Bedi. You can't be both.

2. You belong to  a religion which does not even allow different names for boys and girls. Which allowed a woman to reach the highest administrative role in the religion - heading SGPC. A religion that simply requires a member of the family to read from the prayer book. That member of the family can be male or female and usually, it is both. So when you try to honour kill your daughter, what exactly gives you the right to certify other Sikhs after that?

3. Guru Gobind Singh told us before he left his mortal coil - henceforth, the Hukumnama can only come from the Guru Granth Sahib. Not from any human. There will be no more "Gurus". The Granth Sahib is all the spiritual guidance that you need.
So if you try to issue religious edicts, you are directly violating the most fundamental, sacred tenet of the religion -  Sab Sikhan ko hukam hai, Guru Maanyo Granth. Don't you EVER dare issue an order on behalf of the religion.

4. The SGPC is an administrative body - it stands for Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee. - The chief body for administration of the Gurudwaras.

It is neither the religious head nor the spiritual guide of the Sikhs. The Sikhs do not have a religious head. Unlike the church, we don't have a hierarchical structure of spirituality that rolls up to the Golden Temple.

We were told to recite our Bani wherever we were. We were told to keep our heart pure. When you try to take on a spiritual or religious policing role, the rest of us need to stand up and remind you that the Granth Sahib is our Guru and the Bani is our spiritual guide. The Sangat is where we gain our spiritual salvation. The feature of the Sangat is that every human being is equal. Which is why you see people doing Jodon ki seva (cleaning the footwear) at a Gurudwara. We grow up learning that all human beings are equal and deserve the same respect.

No one can tell a person if they are a Sikh or not. There is no indoctrination ritual. No Kalma to read and no baptism to be performed. No one can decide the "degree" of Sikh that one is(another post on that). And if you are so free, work to ensure that first, you read the real teachings of the Gurus and then, you take them to a state that is getting buried under a pile of drugs. And please make a public apology to Karenjit Kaur on your way.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

I've started forgetting
A lot
Where i am
Why i am there.

Today i realised
Making me forget my life
Is anesthesia
Of the Gods

Friday, July 13, 2018

Dowry Deaths in India: The role of the parents

Growing up in Hyderabad, I used to open the newspaper to the crime page and read daily reports of women who had either died, or had committed suicide as a result of "stomach ache."

In some cases, there were clear reports of burning women to death. On average, there were 2-3 such reports every day.

On growing older, I wondered, if there are 3 reported deaths per day in one city, how many would there be all over the country? NCRB answered that question - roughly one dowry death every hour in India. Consistently. Since 2001, that number(deaths per hour) has not crossed 2.

What is the problem?

Dowry Deaths in India from 2001 to 2016 Source: NCRB data
I have added a Trend Line to the graph so we can clearly see the DIRECTION of the crime. In 2014, the worst year yet, a woman lost her life to dowry every 52 minutes.

This is not going to be a post about the causes of dowry. We all know the causes of dowry deaths.

What can we do to stop dowry deaths?
Here is what you need to consider - of the literally THOUSANDS of cases that I have read over the years (all the way from 1988), not ONE has happened right after the marriage. All deaths, every single one of them, is preceded by abuse. Months and years of abuse. Abuse that the woman almost always reports to her family.

There is a separate legal clause that deals with harassment for dowry.

The ratio of abuse to death cases ranges from 13:1 to 10:1. For every woman who is killed, at least 9 to 12 other women suffer dowry related abuse - so much that they make a formal complaint.

This is what makes one angry:

The parents, in every single case, turn a blind eye to the plight of the woman. The dowry death happens in the marital home. If you know your daughter is being abused or harassed for dowry, what is she doing in her marital home?

If a parent endangers the life of their daughter by forcing her to stay in a physical space where it is known that she is in danger, should the said parents not be prosecuted? In suicide, this is abetment to suicide. In murder, this is being a complicit accomplice.

I honestly feel that there should be a change in the law. Parents who ignore a daughter's plea related to dowry abuse, should be prosecuted. They should not be the petitioners. They should be the co-accused. How can you put your own child in almost certain danger, and then cry hoarse when that danger comes true?

Counter - For every woman who dies, 9 to 12 do not. They continue to live in their marital homes. So if the daughter raises an alarm, should she be removed from that danger?

If you were a husband or in law abusing a girl for dowry, would you stop, if you knew that the girl will be removed from the marital home AND there will be a police complaint against you? Yes, I think that a lot of men will stop then. Because dowry harassment is bullying. And in its most fundamental form, bullying is an act of cowardice that cannot stand up to courage. In the face of courage, it wilts and succumbs.

Yes, the problem and the solution are not that simple. But I simply cannot find a way to forgive parents who allow their daughters to remain in danger in their marital homes and then cry hoarse when the girl dies.

The problem is with the perpetrators. But the perpetrators are not just the people who commit the crime. The definition of "perpetrator" must be expanded to include the people who, through passive complicity, allow the crime to happen and in fact, create conditions that give the perpetrator the courage to take the step from harassment to abuse to murder. There were no consequences for what was done earlier. Why should one fear consequences for this? (At a conviction rate of 34%, the absence of fear is completely justified, but that's for another day)

I don't usually agree with Gandhi, but this one: "The criminal commits the crime, the society prepares it." , can be completely translated to "The in laws commit the crime, the parents prepare it."


I don't know whether its ironic or apt, that my staple medicine is called Tears Naturale Forte.

Blood Diamonds

Blood Diamonds... 2 तरह के होते है. पहले वो, जिनको पाने में खून बहाया जाता है. दुसरे वो, जिन्हें खून के आंसू पोंछने के लिए खरीदा जाता है.

इस धरा का, इस धरा पर, सब धरा रह जायेगा

 - Heard from somewhere. Loved it.

Lessons Learnt


I sat down to deliberately
peel the thin skin
that had just started to form
on the just-beginning-to-heal wound.
I thought it would be fun.
It wasn't.

Don't do that
to your wounds
even if they heal now
they will come back to haunt you

Today, I learnt
that the rights we sometimes do
are so wrong.

This isn't making sense
to anyone but me.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

On Living, recrafted

The previous post, On Living, was inspired by the style of a real poet - Arvind Joshi.(I have posted one of his poems on this blog earlier).

And he very kindly agreed to review and improve that poem. Here is the same piece, after coming out of the "playhouse" of his imagination. Same thing, supposedly, but how different and nice it reads now!

“It is hard,” he had said, finally.
Living on a raft is hard.
Some days
you keep them all out for many hours,
the people, the talk,
for many days sometimes.
you spread out the tarpaulin.
it’s safe then.
lonely, but safe.

Some days,
it gets rough outside.
it’s like the sea gone rough
the tides gone up.
you don’t know how long
you can keep up.
if the raft will hold.
but you know how it is.
the barest things don’t break easy.
Some days, he said,
it gets nice.
there’s sun.
it’s like hearing the waves
in gentle splash.
you don’t want to be closed in then.
not even on a raft.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

On living

He did confess then.
“It is hard,” he had said,
Living on a raft
Some days
The tarpaulin needs to be brought out
For hours, even days,
Keeping out
a cocoon
Equal parts safety
And loneliness
Some days,
It is
The rough seas
The tides
And then
For hours
One doesn’t know
If the raft
will survive
or capsize
But that, he had said,
is the beauty
of the raft.
You cannot easily break something
that is already
broken down
to the barest bits.
Some days, he had said
are pure bliss too.
When the weather is calm
you can hear the waves
create that gentle splash.
on those days
he understands
how little we need
the walls
we are constantly building
around us.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


Someday, it will happen.
They said
the morning.
It comes

I must have been living
on a different planet.

They sent me
some strange stuff
"believing in yourself"
and "finding your cause"
and some such.

I stared at it
a long time.
Didn't understand
a word.

Them Thai footballers
who got out of a deep cave?
They had rescuers.
They wanted to be rescued.
And that
is the difference.

Dil Naumeed to nahi..

दिल नाउम्मीद तो नहीं 
नाकाम ही तो है 
लम्बी है ग़म की शाम 
मगर शाम ही तो है….

Because sometimes we need to remember the obvious..

Friday, July 06, 2018

Lessons learnt and remembered

Many years ago, my father was in the ICU. With a brain stroke. For 8 days.

In those 8 days, a profound change happened. I realised that no amount of money sits outside an ICU. People do. Families do. That people are not forever. That fights are useless things.

When I came back, my currency had changed. It was time. The concept of wealth had changed. It was relationships. Real conversations. Nothing virtual. Physical coffee.

It has been 5 years. And every day, even more strongly, I realise the importance of the lesson of those 8 days.

And the inherent sense of peace. Anything for that.

How are you?

'How are you? '
is such a difficult question to answer sometimes.

You just nod, or make some sort of "hmm" sound indicating "ok", and move on to other things.

The grass looks so tiny to us, and so giant to the ant. It is the same with the question - How are you? Innocuous to most of us, and to the rest, an incredibly tough question to answer.

PS: Yes, there is a trigger to this particular episode. And yes, I will come out on the other side. He who has a why to live can always find a how.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018


Some where
There must be a safehouse
for tormented souls.

I'd like
an asylum
on grounds
of Threat to life
from the Monsters
in the head.

Good Morning Smiles

What amazes me:

We live this life as if we had a second instalment waiting.

We treat this planet as if we had another to go to.

We wait for 'opportunities' as if there was a better time than now.

We treat progress as a linear chart and not a radial graph.

And then we teach our children the same things!

Monday, July 02, 2018

सिर पर बस 
एक हाथ चाहिये 
जो 'ओ तेरा बेङा गर्क ' को 
'तेरा बेङा तरे' 
बना दे। 

Happy Birthday, Papa.  

On being a vote bank

There are a lot of communities - in India and around the world, that believe in voting en masse - as a group, because they are a "vote bank" and they truly believe that this will give them bargaining power with the politicians. 

Here is what you need to read:

It is the need of the politician to ensure that  a vote bank remains a vote bank. Which makes it important that there is little development in this category. The minute development or even relative prosperity happens, you stop being a vote bank.

It is important to keep a vote bank a vote bank. Poverty necessitates that and false promises effect that. If any people in the vote bank get rich, they will stop voting as a group.
So the first condition for a politician to retain a vote bank, is to ensure that they remain poor and in need, so that they vote as a group, not as individuals with individual needs.
If you vote as a vote bank, you are, in effect, signing your own poverty warrant.

The Parsis are not a vote bank. The Sikhs are not a vote bank. The Jains are not a vote bank. Think about that.

Now, think about the state of people who have voted as a vote bank. In 70 years, not ONE of these groups has been able to step out of their existing domain.

Unfortunately, this is true of EVERY vote bank, all over the world. If you are a vote bank, it is time to step out of that and become a voter.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

On Depression

That moment when I'm quiet and reticent and say that i don't want to be around anyone, especially you?

 That is the precise moment when you should not leave me alone.

When i ask you to leave, stay.  When i say I'm not hungry, make sure there's food in the kitchen.  When i say I'm not sleepy, dim the lights and don't leave the room.  Pat me gently if I'll let you.

We are all children, living in a country of djinns.

You and I, we live in the same city, but in 2 different worlds.  My side is like the dark side of the mountain, and yours, the sunny side.  We cannot understand each other.  We miss the smallest cues, the biggest signals . The guides to Depression are confusing.  That's why i make it simple and easy. I come to your side of the mountain sometimes- sunny and bright and all that.  I've seen your village.  You've seen mine.  Like a badly made film, it's always gray in here.  

On Instinct

This is why you should trust your instinct: Your instinct is this massive AI engine inside your head, with a processing power for which we have not invented a term yet. It is hooked to the giant internet of other energy fields, other people's brains and it takes and processes inputs faster than your senses can acknowledge things. It knows, identifies and processes the micro expressions and the other sensory inputs, combines them with the wisdom gained from its own historical experiences and gives you a directive output.

Its not "intuition." - Its the world's best known super computer at work. And that is why you should listen to your "instinct". Its pure science.

PS: Within a week, two of my contrarian "instincts" have come out to be true. Am waiting for a third to happen. :)

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Loneliness, and Investment in not being lonely

What is the problem?
With 3 celebrity suicides, the world is currently focusing on depression, mental health and allied issues. But long before these happened, I have also seen loneliness become almost an epidemic.
And I have been thinking deeply about it. Where does it begin? How do we get lonely in a world full of people?

It is, I think, basically this - deep connections are hard work. They need a lot of repair and revival. They need a lot of conscious effort. But they are not necessary on a day to day basis. On a day to day basis, shallow 'positive strokes' that come from other places - office, for instance, or buddy lunches, or conferences and events, are quite enough. We only realise that we are lonely after a few years. But by then, it is too late. We are not able to trace the cause back to fundamental absence of deep human connect. And then begins the downward spiral into depression.

The picture above is the first part of a sketch note. I wondered why, on a day to day basis, we find more gratification in our offices than in our homes. All of us know that in office, we are just cogs in a wheel, but at home, we are the centres of an entire universe. Yet, across gender, age and level, most people find more gratification in office interactions than in family ones.

Why does it happen?

After thinking a lot, I could isolate 3 major reasons:

A. Instant Gratification / Minor Appreciations - Finish a report? You get a micro compliment. Helped a colleague? A minor positive stroke is immediate. There are tonnes of instant gratification moments in a work day. These include everything from the smile of the tea boy to appreciation from a senior.

B. Sense of tangible achievement: Everything from the annual PMS to minor tasks that are "Complete" - give a sense of accomplishment. No such luck at home. Leaky pipes, faulty switches, dirty dishes give no sense of tangible achievement.

C. Novelty and Variety:  A family has perhaps 10 stakeholders - including the gardener and the milk vendor. The office, by contrast, offers twice that number at least. Further, there are groups and sub groups, and an opportunity to do gossip. There is variety of both stakeholders and interactions.

Suppose I want to change that. What can I do?

A. Instant Gratification: "Good Morning" , "This is good" - common courtesies and small compliments(aka Positive strokes) that are so basic to office behavior need to be re-introduced to the house. With positive strokes, instant gratification will return to our lives.

B. Sense of Tangible Achievement: 2 ways -
1. Create goals as a family  and track their progress. "We will take a foreign holiday next year.", "I will score above 80 in science this year end." , "I will lose 10 kilos of weight." And needless to add, in tracking those goals, build each other, don't run each other down. Don't laugh at failures, and don't equate the failure of the initiative with the person.

2. Simple, but powerful - play games as a family. Don't underestimate the power of winning and the lessons of losing.

C. Experiences: This can be done in 2 ways -

1. Widen your social network - grandmother's friend, the neighbour, wife's childhood buddy - open your heart and calendar to get to know the social circle of all family members, widening your own horizon in the process.

2. Share experiences that anyone in the family likes. One person likes adventure holidays, all of us go. Another likes the hills, all of us go. Wider social networks and more varied shared experiences will provide the variety that is the spice of life. Of course, when you see the happiness on their face, that will make it all worthwhile too. 

And finally, here is the complete sketch note. It took me weeks to think this up and a whole day to make (yeah I am kind of slow that way)

Dealing with loneliness with the help of families

Friday, June 15, 2018

समझाना / Samjhaana

एक प्रयोग था विज्ञान का 

एक बन्दर
और उसकी माँ 
बच्चे को खिलाती, सुलाती 
और बहुत प्यार करती थी 

एक दिन 
माँ को 
वहां से हटा दिया गया 
कुछ समय बाद 
जब माँ को वापिस 
बच्चे के पास लाया गया 
तो बच्चा 
बजाये खुश होने के 
या माँ से पूछने के,
"माँ, कहाँ गयी थी तुम?"

माँ को नोचने, मारने लगा 
उस पर गुर्राने लगा.

बहुत हैरान हुए.

अब  समझ आया 
क्यों नाराज़ होती हूँ 
जब घर देर से आते हो?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Arvind Joshi's poem, a translation, and a rejoinder

Read this poem by Arvind Joshi on facebook:

don’t tell her
such things like my name.
let her figure.
say, i am his friend.
say, i have a letter.
he said to see you
in the rains, and
let her figure.
speak softly, with poise,
she likes that.
a strong boy with a low voice.
maybe small talk will help
break the ice.
something about
the traffic, something
about the roads. something.
but look away when you speak.
give her time to fix her eyes
gather her hair, button this,
unbutton that.
to bend and tighten
a toe ring
and to loosen another.
but mostly
time to figure.
[Cantos 38, Book 2: Letters in the Rains, from the series Monsoon Letters]

ये कविता ऐसी थी कि पढ़ते पढ़ते अपने आप हिंदी में तर्जुमा हो गया:
उसे,मेरा नाम मत बताना 
उसे बूझने ही देना।

कहना, "मैं दोस्त हूँ उनका।"
"आपके लिए चिट्ठी है।"
"आपसे बरसातों में मिलने आने का कहा था उन्होंने… "

उसे बूझने देना।

बात धीमे से करना, तहज़ीब से 
उसे अच्छा लगता है,
सख्त, मज़बूत बाज़ुओं के साथ
नर्म लहज़ा।

इधर उधर की बातें करना 
कुछ भी,
ट्रैफिक के बारे में,
सड़कों के बारे में,
कुछ भी. 

पर बात करते हुए 
उसकी ओर देखना मत. 
उसे वक़्त देना 
अपनी आँखें जमाने का 
बाल समेटने का,
ये उठाने का,
वो रखने का.
पैर की बिछिया 
मोड़ कर सीधी करने का. 

पर असल में 
सिर्फ बूझने का. 

And then, a rejoinder also came on its own:

बङी पहेली सी भेजी थी तुमने?
जैसे रबङी जलेबी से पूछे,
'मेरा नाम क्या है?'

बूझने को
कुछ अजाना होना चाहिये।
याद दिलाने को
पहले भूलना ज़रूरी है।

चौमासे में मिलने का
वर्ग पहेली संकेत (Crossword puzzle clue)
अपने पास ही रहने दो।

मुझ से दूर हो
इसी बात से पता चलता है -
तुम उतने समझदार हो नहीं,
जितना खुद को समझते हो।
Rough translation of the rejoinder (for you, kj and Z):

That riddle that you thought you sent?
Like the square asking,
"How many sides do I have?"

To guess
there must be an unknown.
To remember,
one must first forget.

That crossword puzzle clue
that you thought was so brilliant?
'To meet in the rains' ?
You can save it.

That you are not here
is proof enough
that you are not
as wise
as you think.