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

Never, Never Land

This is a one way ticket
to Never, Never Land.
the one
with stardust.
The one
A Blackhole.


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.