Saturday, December 29, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
“That’s what you call a wobbly arse.”
“And what’s a wobbly arse?”
“It’s the kind that wobbles when you spank it.”
“You can’t get over thinking about girls. Can you?”
“I hate this thing about you; all the good writers say and write about what they feel and not what’s moral and righteous. The other day I was reading these memoirs by a Turkish writer, where he said he used to think a lot about religion and politics and the rich and the poor and then he turned 14. He just thought about sex after that.”
“Ha ha…I’m sure he did. But he wrote about a lot of other things too.”
“Yes but those guys had issues dude… he wrote about the melancholy that prevailed in the fallen capital of the great Ottoman empire, Kafka had this whole surrealistic movement influencing him, Dylan had this folk tradition which was in vogue. And he could do it better than anyone else. Tom waits, Lou reed wrote about the down-town trash the great capitalist economy, Rand glorified the virtues of capitalism or individualism or objectivism or whatever. What do we have to get inspired by? Hot looking dumb chicks?
“You sound like a pseudo. But I know all you can think about is sex.”
“Dude, there’s more to me than sex.”
“The truth is - you are sex and more.”
“Whatever…maybe we are living in happy times. Booming economy, great jobs, a flat and a car for every hardworking executive of a corporation, fashionable wives, kids in schools that cost more than a stay in a luxury liner. Happy lives. Happy times.”
“That’s what someone cursed an artist with – may you live in happy times.”
“Or may be its guys like us who aren’t living those happy lives, desire mayhem and disorder and chaos and ugliness.”
“There must be some kind of way out of here - said the joker to the thief.”
“And I must assume that the joker is me and the thief is you.”
“How does it matter? Both of them aren’t normal. It’s just that the thief accepts the mediocre thoughts of most people and obviousness of life and the joker can’t come to terms with it. And the thief is the one helping him understand that.”
“But dude I can’t live with this shit. I need inspiration. Some real inspiration.”
The other guy takes out a rod out from somewhere under the table and bangs it on the head of his friend. He keeps hitting till the poor guys head is all but a pulp of blood and flesh.
“Is this inspiration enough for you?” He shouts aloud.
“Extreme violence is not an alternative to real inspiration.” A voice comes out from the moving lips of the battered head.
People around them continue their gossips while sipping coffee and smoking cigarettes oblivious of what just happened.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
i’d say, without a doubt, yes. certainly, affirmative, spot on, 20 points and do you want to go to bonus round.
let me explain. and i’m being dead honest here.
i hate you.
i hate the lives you lead. i hate the people you live with. i hate your parties. i hate your small talk. i hate what you do for a living. i hate how you do it. i hate who you do it for. i hate your parents. i hate your relatives. i hate your pets. i even hate the people you hate.
all of you. i hate all of you.
and i hate you too much to explain why.
if there was a little red button to push to kill you all, i would have pushed it yesterday.
see, it’s like this. i’m a misanthrope with jilted plans of world domination and an obvious lack of talent. so, given the lack of access to a nuclear solution, how do i wreak my malevolence on you.
the answer’s pretty simple, really.
i mean, if chetan bhagat can do it, why can’t i. it requires zero effort, it completely wastes time you could have spent doing something more worthwhile (like playing football with the little critter you spawned or fellating your friends, for instance) and some fuckheads actually like it.
think about it. people say you destroy five minutes of your life with every cigarette you smoke. my longer stories definitely destroy more of your time. and it costs to produce a cigarette. it costs me zilch to write.
there. i hope that explains that.
and fuck you.
suddenly, the white starts going grey. i look up and realize it’s a giant shadow. a giant jug is approaching the cup held by a giant hand. it all looks like slow mo to me because i’m smaller and time passes slower for me. a great steaming dark brown wave appears out of the jug. it approaches and finally splashes over me. it splashes over my face. its heat blinds me. i feel my face melting. i taste it. it’s bitter. in my veins, it kills my pain. i observe, objectively, what’s happening to me. it stains my shirt, spotless white goes a shit brown. the skin beneath burns. it chars my exposed palms. there’s a stinging pain in my feet. as it settles on the bottom, the coffee burns my feet past the skin, past the tissue and finally past the bone until i can’t stand anymore. as i fall, i feel myself broken by the current of the fluid as it fills up the space. i’m swimming in the heat now. i feel it cut in. my clothes go first, my skin follows and slowly, i feel it move towards my soul.
with little by little by oasis playing in my head, i dissolve.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
lit lamps and leaking lungs ,
butts bitten till lips got burnt ,
intriguing voices ,bells, and colossal gongs,
eyes of void – eyes that haunt
misspent times of idleness ,
hunger fatigue and laziness,
night that dawns for Neanderthalls,
and voiceless dream that appalls.
Chattering monkeys with Chaucer thoughts ,
Coffee ,omlette ,and a big hug ,
Colourfull butterflies ,aspiring moths,
Addictive garden with decaying logs.
And in ponds of absurdity they dip ,
The soulless bodies they rip,
Tired aren’t they?-the Hedonists
an old hunched man on a walking stick and in a clumsy suit (i can almost imagine him drooling unconsciously while watching something mediocre on TV) is stopped, is distantly related and is introduced.
'so young man, what do you do?'
'you know those things between TV serials, i make them.'
'bastard', he mutters and moves off.
Monday, December 24, 2007
The virgin cleanliness of the room when you first enter. The full length mirrors in the bathroom. Strangers congregated in lobbies and coffee shops and herbal parlours. Saunas with aromatic massages. The anonymity of it all. The ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door. The curtains translucent like shimmering veils. Cool women in cocktail dresses, in restaurants talking to their husbands, or their boyfriends, or taking a break from them. The crisp uniforms of room service. The knowledge that as you walk down the carpeted corridors there are, in rooms to the right and left, honeymooners, and professionals, and people determined to break off their marriage in dramatic fashion. The sheer convenience of it all (in good hotels, the sheets are changed daily and in your absence). Good hotels are always sexy.
Good hotels are also lonely.
The way in which the staff tries to act friendly. The plastic covering on the cups, the bottles and the soap. Honeymooners, hand in hand. A short note for you when you open your suitcase. Time on your hands. The antiseptic perfection, an exact apotheosis of normal life. Newspapers with their local interest stories and regional politics. Getting your meals ordered to the room, because what’s the point eating alone. May as well watch TV (in good hotels all sitcoms seem that little bit warmer). Good hotels are necessarily lonely.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Subah subah jab murgay ki pukaar suni, to aisa laga mano kambakhat muskura raha ho. December shuru hote hi, mahaz balon ko chorke… baki poora sansar… mano kambal ke andar hi bas jaata ho.
Apne dain haath ko tasalli di… to sahab sirak-ke dono moze …andar ko khainch layen. Andhere mein hi who anhoni hui jab left or right ulte pad gaye.
Thande farsh pe chappal khonjte hue balcony tak aa pahuche…rasten mein kahin …pata nahin kaise …ek garam chai ka pyala haath mein aaa thama.
Samne wale ghar ki balcony mein… aunty roz ki tarah aaj bhi kapde sukha rahin thin…mein sikud ke, dono hathon mein apna pyaala liye khada tha.
Suryadev… aaj bhi mazzak kar rahe the.
Aunty ne bach-che ki chaddi balti se nikaalke…nichoodke… …taar pe tangi aur galti se balti mein bachche hue pani ko neeeche udail diya…zor se chillane ki aawaz ane par… Aunty ne forun sorry bol ke smile paas kari …to neeche khade bhaiya bhi…koi nahin …bol ke hans diye. Itne mein meri chai thandi pad gayi…malai to khair mein waise bhi nahin khata .
Ghanti baji to chaukidaar chori ki khabar liye muskura raha tha…upar se gande pani ka bahaw dekha to jamadaar khil khila rahaa tha. Press wali aunty jale hue kapde leke khush hue jaa rahin thi to akhbaar wala dobara bil dete hue sharma raha tha.
Bhai… koi mujhe bata sakta hai ki is sheher ke logon ko itni hansi kyon aati hai?
Monday, December 17, 2007
Feel out of place with you arty friends?
Need something to say in the interval of that art film?
Want to badly hit on that pot smoking beatnik chick but don't know want to say?
Here's the answer, order the Automatic Kafka by mail today. This device can be easily assembled and concealed at will in your bedroom, in the kitchen or even in your dresser. Whenever you find yourself in need, think of your faithful electronic companion, come to it and press it's enter key. Within a few seconds, it will articulate through its revolutionary 30 Watt No Scratch Sound Speakers (TM) some words from the well known and currently deceased philosopher Franz Kafka.
Manj Pandey, 23, Kalimpong reports a sudden increased popularity with healthy members of the opposite sex. A pretty girl by his side nods in agreement.
Avinash Chugh, 28, Panipat, has found himself being invited to more parties after his acquisition of the Automatic Kafka. 'I Have become life of party!', he exclaims joyfully.
Chakravarty & Associates
Chippi Tank, Meerut-250001
A BETTER LIFE AWAITS YOU!
Friday, December 14, 2007
To a ruthless precision
The heat is fermenting the sugar in my blood-wine
Tightening my vessels with alcoholic indecency
I lie here naked
Plucking grasses impulsively
Subconscious of the harrowing bees
That matters not .
Daisies,ducks,half submerged damsels
In chaste lakes,
Come, undress,spread all over
I am tired of sleeping with vanity.
The tomb of the Chishti saint Roshan Chirag Dilli (14th Century) is located on the bank of the canal flowing from Nizamuddin, where the dargah of his teacher Nizamuddin Auliya is located. Chirag Dilli’s dargah became a shrine for devotees and a settlement developed near it. In the 18th century, a high wall was built around the village with four gateways. Though little of this remains, and the village is now densely populated, traces of old settlement can still be recognized and a sense of medieval township be understood.
Just as I had gone through the engraving, my phone rang and my friends broke the news that they were stuck in one of those colossal traffic jams that have become as much a part of Delhi as the ubiquitous auto-rickshaw that gets trapped in these jams. I do the math and determine that it would take them at least fifteen minutes to reach me. I look for another essential ingredient of Delhi that is ubiquitously sprinkled in its topography, the ‘chai-wala’. Tea break awaits me only fifty feet away and I am being served a hot cup by a dwarfed old man who has two fingers and an eye missing. Hands covered in soot from the kerosene stove and head covered with a grimy monkey-cap, he uncovered a secret while I reluctantly sipped the brew he had concocted.
I go on and ask my storyteller the reason for the benevolence he has shown to me.
“Aapne tasveer kheench li hai na! Aapko bataana zaruri tha. Kya pataa aap kis kis ko dikhao. Aur phir log unko dhundne aa jayein. Zara soch samajh kar kisi se iss baaray mein baat karna. Unki na dosti acchi aur na dushmani.”
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Blinding flash of white light.
Me: I'm choking with a poetic urge gurgling up the glottis of my mind. Blip~
I've been here before. I've done it all not so long ago. I know what's going to happen. It's all so predictable.
Our favourite song will start playing in the background. Hear it?
Now, do you see that table in the corner?
Hmmm... What about it?
Nothing great, just that they won't let us take it.
Coz it’s booked and someone special is going to turn up on that one, so they will seat us two tables next to it.
What? What the fuck is wrong with you? We haven't even ordered drinks yet and you talking crap already!
Trust me, I've been here before. And that reminds me; don't be frivolous with the order. Just ask for two Old Monks, I ain't got enough dough for tonight.
Can you ever tell me how much is ‘enough’ for you?
No. But make the order quick n be prepared for the show.
Show? What show?
I don't want to spoil your share of the fun. So wait up...
Is it for real? That's not them? Tell me they are not who I see. What are they doing here?
I told you that you're in for a show. Now be calm. Keep sippin at your drink and not attract their attention.
How did you know they'd be here? I don't get it. What are you up to?
Nothing much. Just settling some old scores. Now, take this, walk up to their table and point it at his back. Nobody will see what you're doin. Trust me.
Are you fuckin crazy? It's loaded! And besides, if you're so sure, why don't you do it yourself?
Because I've seen it happen and it works out fine only if you do it. All I want is that you do as I tell you. Here, go for it!
And what do I do after that?
Ask him to get up and take a walk with you. I'll pay up and follow you guys outside onto the street. Head for the parking lot and force him to drive out with you in his car.
What about the other one?
Leave that to me.
Wait for me at the crossing. And while you're at it, just give him a subtle reminder or two that he'd be in serious trouble if he resorts to any heroics.
OK, Mr. Nostradamus, what is to be done after that?
Well, I don't remember exactly. Let's order another round and in the meantime, I'll try and piece it all together.
But I heard you say you ain't got enough money?
Can you define 'enough' for me?
So shut up and order another round.
*sip* *sip* *wait* *wait*
Have you figured out the next move?
No, not yet. But why the fuck are you so uneasy? Just enjoy your drink and let me concentrate.
Tell you what, this Monk worship is really something. It's just so blissful in the winters. You want another one?
I won't mind.
So where was I?
The next move.
Oh that. Ya, the one we've been talking about all this while?
Yes, what about it. What do you want me to do next?
Well. You don't have to do much.
Just sit back and enjoy your drink.
I guess I got it. You've managed to get high enough to fuck apart one more story to shreds, haven't you? Well guess what, I too have been here before. And I've also done it not so long ago. And it so happens that I knew what was going to happen. The thing is, I was here to pay homage to the Monk & you can never do 'enough' of that, can you?
Now pay up. And don't forget, I’d be waiting for you at the parking lot and not at the crossing...
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
A man winces, his eyelids refuse to obey.
‘Too... too much light. And that smell. What is...?’
Shrapnel explodes in mid-air, pellets fly in all directions. Soldiers duck, those who don’t no longer need to. Pieces of sharp metal hang in suspended motion for those who have but a split second to live. Flashes of light, the sound of thunder, blood on the walls, it’s a storm straight out of hell.
‘What just whizzed past my ear? What is this place? Where am I? Who am I?’
A man, ragged, torn, soiled, stands amongst flesh fused with clothes and concrete. He tries very hard to make sense of the world around him. He tries to remember. And secretly wishes he can’t.
‘This doesn’t make sense. This can’t be real. Who are all these people? They look like soldiers. And I look like them. Am I? I have to be. But why isn’t any of this familiar? This piece of metal around my neck, it has a name, it...’
As a battered, beaten soldier stands in the eye of the hurricane reading his dog-tag, an explosion right above him, a little to his right, sends three floors of bricks and bones crashing down on his foot.
‘God no! Damn this! Oh god no! My leg, I can’t feel it. This isn’t happening! It’s NOT happening! I need help. I need to know. That man, he’s still alive. I just need to...’
A badly wounded soldier, screaming away his breath, pulls out his crushed leg from under the debris and drags his bloody body towards another. Inch by inch, moment by moment, he draws closer to the inevitable.
“You... you have to help me. You need to tell me where I am, what is all this? Do you know who I am? Who the fuck am I? God please tell me who I am!”
The man being questioned rests his remains against a wall and probes the man in question. His fingers travel the stranger’s body and stop at his hands. He grabs them and brings them closer to his face. He feels touch, he feels warmth, he feels the need to ask.
“My eyes... have you seen my eyes? Have you seen my GODDAMN eyes?”
Pair of eyelids open on one face, a pair of them closes on another. The one legged soldier pushes back on the hollow sockets dripping with blood and pus. He throws up amidst demands of lost goods and a solitary gunshot that ensures the search, need be no more.
“Help. Man down. Help! Please.”
From the smoke emerges a man with blood on his face, and clothes, that isn’t his. He looks into the eyes of the fallen and fakes a smile, his fangs glistening.
“Get yourself together soldier, the war is almost over. We are going ho...”
Startled by a subdued ticking noise, the warrior eyes the wounded suspiciously. In a swift motion he rips apart the suspect’s shirt to discover 4Gs of dynamite strapped to his chest and an LCD display that changes 5 to 4 in the blink of an eye.
“Fuck! God damn you! Traitor! Mother...”
A brother shouts obscenities at another, fumbling with his gun, trying to locate the safety, fearing his own.
“But I can’t be. I’m one of you... Aren’t I?”
Light gives way to darkness, darkness to void.
Monday, December 3, 2007
As new faces come to life
I look back at me from a distance
My story's come alive
One last leap is all it needs
As it slowly rolls on by
Nobody move an inch
Let the music be my guide
Soon it'll be all over
Coz the hero's found his way
He's charging ahead towards the end
The story's nearly there
I hear a knock on the door
I think I know who it is
It's too bad for you my hero
This story's got to wait
Saturday, December 1, 2007
‘right?’, he always asks.
my office, at the tribhuvan complex, is situated behind a hole in what used to be a wall before the mcd’s sealing drive. you’re supposed to follow this hole to a beaten path to a gate that leads to a garage cum general store cum lingerie store cum call center cum advertising agency.
the hole is towards the right. towards the left is a proper road that careens off to the community centre – easily a more noted social venue. So when I say left, the man driving the auto is confused. his mind says: ‘what this loose headed spectacled beardman saying? nothing being on right. does beardman be demanding u-turn. isn’t taking a u-turn philosophically inconsistent with the idea of progress’ and so on and so forth.
the man bespoke such and I convinced him that there was no alternative but to turn right. we reached the red light and waited for the traffic coming from the other side to stop. the dancing children who beg around this area started dancing for money. finally, the light went green. the oncoming traffic stopped. the traffic behind us waiting to take the u –turn and cross over into the hole started. however, we realized that we couldn’t. it was the angle maybe, or the rush overtaking us that disallowed us the space to move, or both. we just stayed stuck. the waiting tore on my constitution. if I had a cigarette, I’d smoke it, if I had a bottle of wine, I’d drink it. I was on the verge of considering drugs when the light turned back to red. the oncoming traffic, hitherto building to a manic crescendo, started again. there was traffic behind us again, building up with a ferocity that I hadn’t noticed. then the light turned green again. and the traffic started overtaking us again. we found we were stuck like the last time. after what seemed like forever, the light turned to red again. the autowallah sighed and shut his engine. one of the dancing children, now resting against the light, smiled a quiet knowing smile at us. what had been ten minutes turned to hours to days to weeks to months to years. the auto wallah grew bald and lost his teeth, my clothes grew dirtier, my beard grew larger, my spectacles smudgier. after contemplating suicide for the nth time and a few affairs with interesting passerbys, I started writing.
for jayant, avinash, kingshuk, abhinav, riyazat, deshwal and others who've suffered nfc with me. our office moved friday.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Dilli sheher ki tanhaion se kuch door nikalte hi…shuru hoti hai zindagi. Agar kuch khatam hoti hai to who hai ek bejaan duniya ki dardnak yaaden aur wahi ghise-pite chand angrezi ke shabd. Welcome to old country bhaiya.
Highway ki seedh pe chalte hue kuch sawal dil ki ghehraiyon se umadne lage. Jaise ki hum kaun hain, kyon hain aur yeh “child beer” kya hota hai?
Doori ke baad kuch aur door chalne pe maloom pada, ki bhai jis tarah school ven, bullet cart aur horn ok please… naam se kam aur kaam se zyaada matlab rakhten hain…theek usi tarah is unhoni ka bhi yahi rahasya hai.
Phir bhi…yeh child beer akhir hai kya…kya yeh bachchon ke liye banayi gayi imported sharab hai ya phir …
Khaer is “child beer” wali baat ko in stephenians ke beech overanalyze na kiya jaye to hi achcha hai.
Nahin to bekar mein “The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid” se lekar Lacan aur Freud tak bhi baat pahuch sakti hai…na na…forum chuppi sadh li jaye.
Safar lamba hai aur mein neendh se timepaas karna zyada pasand karoonga
Beheral angrezi bhasha avam avashyakta aur avishkar ka silsila…swapnlok mein jaari rahega.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Too tired to make an effort to frame a structured slew of letters, the heroic blogger resorts to random rants about shoes and ships and sealing wax and I am the eggman, they are the eggmen, I am the Walrus…
Everything here is in regression. There hasn’t been a movie worth seeing since Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, which was some five years back. Instead, they put all their money into self-congratulatory crap like Om Shanti Om, which, in its effort to milk ‘70s nostalgia actually gives you a crash course in how things got to the sorry state they are in today. There hasn’t been a truly memorable ad on TV for a long time. Television has been stuck in a horrible stupor for about a decade. Brain-dead for all practical purposes, it raises its head only to look to Bollywood for inspiration, which just makes things worse. And music may be the saddest scene of all, because you have a bunch of diverse talents all wasting their fucking time trying to be the bastardized son of Laxmikant-Pyarelal with Bhangra beats, while Rahman continues to innovate from a brilliant parallel universe.
Literature doesn’t seem to be going anywhere significant either. When will that book come along, that elusive rebel yell I’ve been waiting for all these years (and which I doubt I want to read now because it must be a young book or else its useless), the one whose realities are our realities, whose dreams are our dreams, whose broken, innovative, transfigured language is the kind that we, young of this country, have spoken for close to a decade now. Give me no more NRI displacement sagas, no matter how sensitively wrought. And stop showing me Rushdie, we do not speak like he thinks we do. We are a unique generation, rapidly growing old, and in need of a good chronicler.
Take me back to those last 2 years of school. In rock ‘n roll terms, that time was like a fantastic chorus; it all came together, and we brought it all back home. Fifteen jugglers, five believers. I’ve never known a crazier bunch of people; it was like we were all wired together, but the wiring was loose. I sometimes wonder what it would be like if we were all together today. I should probably call them…
Anything else? Yeah, the Government. As the Stiff Little Fingers said “Its time the bastards fell”. And corporate culture. And ranting self-obsessed bloggers. I hate them the most.
Posted by a fan apart at 6:33 AM
for more, log onto www.fanapart.blogspot.com
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
“Its something I've always wanted to tell you.”
“What is it?”
“But the thing is I’ve never been able to gather up enough courage to speak about it.”
“Don’t feel shy Rahul…just say it.”
“That’s what the problem is…I come up to you… and then I lose all steam.”
“Its not that Rahul…You guys just keep everything to yourself.”
“But Pooja I’m not sure how will you take it.”
“How will you know if you don’t tell me in the first place?”
“Pooja I feel shy.”
“Aaawwww… my baby…come aawwwwn…be a man.”
“Ok Rahul you don’t have to say it. I know it already. Some things are better left unsaid.”
“You know it Pooja?”
“How dumb do you think I am?”
“But how do you know?”
“I can tell it looking at your eyes.”
“WHAAAAT?... Do my eyes tell you that I masturbate day and night, thinking about you?”
(Long pause…a very long pause)
“(in a whisper) Rahul”
“Pooja…even the memory of your smile makes me come…”
“I knew you’ll get upset Pooja…that’s why I never wanted to tell you.”
“That’s the best thing anyone has ever said to me.”
….and they fucked happily ever after.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
therefore the need to go to a barber's shop to have the damned thing trimmed. i try and make it there every sunday. run by goblins, and mostly for them, the place provides a television, a poster with several korean men wearing complicated 80's hairdos and a fat man geting a facial done, sans the cucumbers. this time, a man sitting next to me is geting a mullet. there's a vhs tape with chuck norris and two machine guns on the cover, the reference shot for the desired haircut. and the barber's like a trained professional at it, snipping away at the details and getting them all wrong. jeena marna tere sang is playing on the overhead tv. a man in a moustache and a t-shirt (note bourgeoisie pretensions) takes a swig out of a bottle of whisky and bursts into the next room to rape raveena tandon, hullabaloo follows and an old man inervenes wth a stick and is consequently beaten and thrown off. meanwhile an ape has started his journey towards the house. the drunk gets back to sruggling with raveena tandon as the ape makes an entrance, notices a scorpion walking about the place and throws it into the man's t-shirt. the man collapses into a shelf of utensils, gets covered in flour and gets a pot stuck to his head. the ape meanwhle starts applauding. raveena tandon is suddenly laughing. the man rushes out of the house with no help from his sense of vision on account of having a pot stuck to his head. the neighbours find this strage creature threatening and pounce upon him with pitchforks and lathis. the ape continues applauding.
meanwhle, the barber is done with his trimming and asks me whether i want a massage. there's a stunned silence in the room as he says this, even the actors in the tv have gone quiet. a lined page, torn out from a copy saying 'No Smoking Please!' flutters scotch taped on the wall. now i've heard about this a lot. apparently a man with magical fingers kneads your face and makes your cheeks, neck, nose and ears crack. hearing the crack is a human condition comparable only to that microsecond of bliss after acheving orgasm or taking a piss after great denial. i succumbed. 'shahnaz husain ya champi?', he asked me. doubt. apparently, and i remembered this from a friend's experience, these massage oils are the harbingers of allergy. i murmur my dissent but it's too late, the man is already rubbing some paraffin smelling substance onto my face. my protests go unheeded. i finally make a loud retort. the man, in return, holds my neck and makes it go crack. post the joy, i realise that i can't move, the crack has me paralysed. any attempt to move simultaneously injects a thousand needles into me. i can see the eyes of the man with the facial looking at me. the man behind me is still reading his dainik jagran. the two children next to him are staring at the television. my man is continuing to wax my face. the atmosphere is, by and large, unperturbed by what's happening to me. as soon as he's done murdering my face with the paraffin, he presses this red button on the table in front of me which i had mistaken for a bottle cap. suddenly the life sized anil kapoor poster opens up and four mustanda pehelwans appear out of it. i'm grabbed and held horizontal and carried back into the secret opening. as i see the sunlight fadng, i know it's closing.
i'm taken into this hamam like place, there are these steamy fireplaces around a slab of stone. i'm placed on the slab and my clohes are taken off. i remember that my spectacles are on the shelf in front of where i was getting my hair cut. in the blur that is my state of vision, i see a monstrously fat man, naked and draped in oil. 'no', i manage to scream. but in my state of paralysis, it is little more than a whisper. the man comes running and leaps upon me.
i pass out.
i wake up fully clothed, sitting in the barber's shop. i put my spectacles on and get up to leave. i pull out the 10 odd i pay the barber everytime.
20, he says.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
i leave the book i bought for kanika at the gallery. 'A book for a book!' written in pencil on the second page over snow orhan pamuk with a visitng card. it's something i'd been planning for a long time. i walk out to the road and walk to a rickshaw, the farthest one towards the road. i feel heartless as i ignore the other rickshaw wallahs calling for me. i remind myself i'm not being partial. d block, 1403, i tell the rickshaw man. he nods, minute acknowledgement of the address and possibly knowledge of its location, i get on and we begin our journey. there're a set of tapes i have to pick up from the address, a gift from long ago.
the houses in NFC are a disinct south delhi 'i have a farmhouse in mehrauli, a bmw and no taste' sort. going down these roads makes you ashamed of your shoes and your lack of interest in commerce. the guards outside these homes look at you with disdain. and your rickshaw wallah feels srangely intimidated. after recieving directions from several helpful bystanders/shopkeepers/guards, a passerby informs us that d-1403 doesn't exist.
my rickshaw wallah decides he's had eough and flees the scene. the place looks familiar so i trudge along, deciding that the number must be 1043.
d 1043 seems more achievable than 1403. i follow a d 991 to a d 1011 in a more relaxed residential bylane. this place has trees and almost no traffic. a porsche cayenne parked by the side reminds me that i should have stuck to my plan of doing an mba. the road decides to split into two. i ask a reluctant wachman which one i have to take to d -1043. the watchman tells me i can take either. i pick the one on the right. i walk along conemplating this grand alley. this is probably where the term boulevard comes from. i'm looking at these palatial 3 BHK company lease only dream homes when suddenly i freeze in my tracks. before me is the house i was looking for. i don't know why, but i'm horribly certain. i go to the watchman perched on a small wooden chair blocking the security entrance. 'bhaiya ye kaun sa makaan number hai?'
what do i do now? a name suddenly pops to the surface.
'sher shah honge?'
'sorry, sher singh?'
'haan, sher singh hain'
he asks me for my name. there's nothing i can tell him that'll make any sense. i tell him to tell sher singh that i've come to take the tapes. regarding me suspiciously, he walks in. a few yells later, sher singh appears.
thankfully, he recognises me. he's at once respectful and apologetic. he tells me i took too long, and that the tapes are gone.
i tell him it's ok, and that i was just passing through. i thank him and walk on, asking for directions to the NFC community centre.
a gift was delivered, another wasn't. -1, +1, a balanced zero, like it's part of some greater symmetry that i'm too small to understand.
'seedhe chale jao', he says. it's a long road down ahead. thankfully i have my walkman. mark knopfler is singing true love will never fade.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
there's a disfigured carcass lying at the traffic signal near the New Friends Colony Community Centre.
roadkill, probably a blueline bus. weathered grey trousers. white shirt/top soaked in blood. the boy/girl is lying in a twisted heap by the further side of the road. you can't make out it's face. there's a crowd gathered about it. the bus didn't stop. someone noted the number and is making a police officer note it down. you can see a hand poking out of the mess. it's unbloodied and clean. you can see three stars on the palm.
some people are concerned. others stand about the place, uninterested. in a greater circumference, some even pass by, ignoring the scene like it doesn't exist. happens often. delhi is a harsh city.
sometimes you have to wait a long time to cross this road. it leads from a wide, unfettered distance into a flyover. the traffic, therefore, is speeding either side of the road. they've set up a miniature garden on the divider. a small boy with a painted nose and a pebble attached by a string to the top of his cap dances with a hoop here. he shakes his head in a circular motion and makes the pebble move in circles above his head. his mother/older sister plays a song on a steel plate sitting behind him. he starts this when traffic stops at the signal. after a performance, he goes down to the road to beg people for money. he goes to firangs/college students first. i'm standing right there, behind him, as he's running from auto to car to auto. behind me, the traffic is whizzing past. people are wating on the other side of the road. they'll probably have to wait for another 10 minutes. i'm standing here looking lost.
ten minutes earlier, my mum called. she's coming with the man servant, parimal. he'll need a place to sleep. my set in lajpat isn't large enough. i tried fixing up a thing for him at a friend's place, didn't work out. they'll be arriving tonight.
earlier, in the same day, i'm sitting in ogilvy, trying to work on a brief for a banner inside an office, celebrating it's 10th anniversary. later, all my lines get scrapped, as we start work on an idea based poster campaign.
around 4 months ago, i'm sipping apple juice outside my office, another agency called fcb ulka. i'm considering moving to another agency because an idea i thought was great got scrapped because the client didn't understand it. actually, i messed up while narrating the script. i hate myself for it.
6 months ago, i'm waiting for the response to my application to soas for a course in development. i got the letters of recommendation from my favorite teachers. one of them made me write a paper for it. i wrote it on the reservations issue. i used a friend's credit card to pay the application fee. i spent about a week writing an earnest statement of purpose. they didn't get back.
three years ago, i'm in college. i'm in the finals of acropolis, a parliamentary debate organised by hansraj college. we were up against lsr. one of the girls we were debating against was very pretty. she met me around two years later in the saket barista and told me she was going to yale to study. the dramatics in her resume helped, she said. we were debating the imposition of the uniform civil code. the other team got their facts wrong. we got best team and i got best speaker.
four years ago, i'm standing in a senior's room in st. stephen's college, pretending to give myself a handjob. i'm also telling him what i want to do with my life. i tell him, i want to be a development professional for the undp.
six years ago, i'm in loreto convent, lucknow. i'm representing my school, la martiniere college, in a poetry competition, because uday, the boy who was supposed to do this had to participate in the prose competition which was happening at the same time. i'm frightened because i misspelt a word in the slogan writing competition and the teacher asked me who my english teacher was. they announce the results of the poetry writing competition. i win first prize. i believe, for a moment, that i can do anything.
sometime before the accident, i'm standing on the divider. the man servant has no place to sleep. there's no place at my friend's place. if i wasn't there, there would be space for the man servant . the boy is running from auto to car to auto. i see a bus whizz past behind me. others follow.
earlier in the day, i draw three stars on the palm of my left hand.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
And then he… reached the road. The road… it stretched from the ends of one civilization to the start of another. Civilization, if you identify it by the shining glass buildings and air-conditioned shuttles moving from point A to point B, carrying in them people dressed quite inappropriately for the season with stiffened collars and cold faces. These were the people who traveled by the road apart from others who are seldom talked about in stories.
The road in itself was as peculiar as the characters that used it. And he loved it. He traveled from one end to the other joyously hunting out his victims. And the victims were not too hard to find.
The road was somewhat straight except for a bend or two. At places it was being dug at the very centre to install pillars to support a rail line in air. The road was a mess at such places, making them his favorite hunting grounds. Then there were the trees. A road with trees would look beautiful if the trees were not in the very middle of it. To add to the charm, illegally built buildings brought down by the municipal corporation lined the road on both sides. The government guys had not cared to bring down the structures completely. They just hung in balance dying a painful death, making the place look like a war ravaged country. Such characters of the road were too irresistible for him and let him work like an artist. An artist he was. Who else uses the perfect balance of all elements and creates such a beautiful piece of art.
Something that makes people stop and admire it on their way home.
They are always careful enough to not disturb its completion by the slightest interference. The travelers of the road had long since become true admirers of his art. The pattern, the balance, the finish was always on their mind. It was the new ones who weren’t aware or the one who forgot under the influence of alcohol or anything that was more attractive.
These were the kinds he despised and always longed to make them a part of it, submerge them in the beauty of it so that they never forget or nothing else remains to be remembered.
And then there was his favorite element – the human mind. Its depths, its richness, its beliefs, its contradictions, afflictions, addictions …such a vast subject to study. The slightest of contradictions and errors of the human mind were like his perfect traps.
Naren wasn’t the most difficult of minds for him to work on. A non-descript farmer from a non-descript village looking for a non-descript job. He was crossing the road at its very end. He reached the other side and realized he was one slipper less. The slipper lay at the middle of the road he had just crossed. He had to make a decision now to walk back to get his slippers. Such decisions are made in a fraction of a second. What may be the time you take to blink your eye, was a whole period of action for the killer. he acted quickly and Naren went back. A speeding radio cab hit Naren first on his head which he had bowed to pick up his slipper, and then his legs. It all happened in a single massive hit which sent Naren flying in the air only to fall back crashing his head on the glass pane of the car.
There lay glass and blood, splattered all across, in a pattern that could inspire any successful merchant banker to give his profession and start painting.
Passersby stopped and admired the work, giving the killer a kind of applause only he could hear, sitting in the corner smiling.
And then they moved on.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Udayan: Dial 911. 911... 9... 1... 1... God Damn It! This is so arbit. I'm going out for a drag.
Abhinav: This is SO turning me on.
Kingshuk: Khoon! Khoon! Aaaaa!
Copy trainee No. 7089: Dude, this would make an awesome ad for...
Deshwal: ...aur phir maine us ladki se kaha, yaar tum...
Random Baby: Waaaa Waaaaa Waaaainnn!!!
Shivi: Fuck! I’m late for my tennis match! Fuck!
Goat: Udayan, I really don’t have all day.
Overworked Servicing Executive: Who gives a damn about him? I haven’t slept in three days. Feels like my head is going to exp...
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Now, how I did what I did. In retrospect, it was quite simple. It’s just how you manipulate dark-matter, the bringer of all existence. You know matter, right? What we’re made of, what everything’s made of. And therefore there must exist anti-matter. Why? For balance, like a south for a north, a negative for a positive, a man for every woman, a hell for all of heaven’s rejects. God I hope I don’t end up there. There’s so much space, time, matter... I hope probability is on my side tonight. Pardon me for digressing, but it’s really hard to contain all this excitement.
Anyway, like I said, there’s matter, and then there’s antimatter. And when the twain shall meet, who knew? All I did was close my eyes, twist inward reality and suck out all that was there till nothing existed. And when I opened them, there was fusion, birth. I wouldn’t like to call it my child, but I will have to name this wormhole eventually. Maybe even worry about its college education. Sorry, I am digressing, again. It’s just hard, you know, the excitement. It is after all my baby, my own. I somehow feel there is a part of me in there. I mean there is a part of everyone and everything in it, but I feel more so of me. I feel... I feel these strange feelings, uncanny emotions. Is this what maternal love is? I think I’m going to cry. Oh god, my baby... my beautiful, black, light sucking, all engulfing baby. I love you so much. So much that I can’t contain it any longer. Come here you, give mamma a hug. Give mamma a big fat hu9893200 688elp0932 666008vil93274 120011 01001100 0010000 000000 000000 000000 000000 000000 000000
Friday, August 31, 2007
Meanwhile, inside the bathroom;
Zooey: hey franny, i don't like the looks of this, let's get the fuck out of here
Franny: relax, love, there's one of him and two of us
Zooey: and look at that gecko, i don't like the look of him either
Franny: relax love, i've done this before
this had happened before. now i don't like killing insects. i really don't. but in lajpat, where i stay, you really can't help it. the place is infested with ants. swarming with them, literally. you go to the loo in the morning to find them all over the commode, swimming in the buckets and walking all over the walls. it's like a mini ant metropolis in there. but more of this later. it's the bees i hate. they're frightening, malevolent creatures. when they're in the loo, they act like they own the damned place. they come at you baring their little sting tails, ready to fuck you over for messing about in what's suddenly their territory. i switch off the lights in the loo (the switchboard is on the outside) and try sleeping.
i wake up in a sweat. my ancestors have come to me in my sleep and have told me i can't accept defeat to the bees. that, and it's too hot to sleep without a shower. i sit up and reason things out. i mean, there's a reason for things, right. we're in charge. and not the tigers or the fishes or the bees. and that's because we fought them and beat them fair and square (now and then, at least). we won the race for civilization. which explains why i'm living in a rented two room flat in lajpat nagar and not freeloading in some bee bathroom in a giant beehive. i decide i'm not taking this lying down (or sitting up for that matter). i do the math, they've got those stingtails, they're winged and small (giving them a guerrila sort of dexterity) and they've got speed. i've got my mind and an aresenal of books, newspapers, advanced and ineffective household appliances, footwear and cooking utensils. i reach out for the common human consciousness that knows no barriers of time and space and conference with adam, tutankhamen, genghis khan, winston churchill and mahatma gandhi. the mahatma is summarily explelled from the meeting. i draw out my plans. i wrap the towel around myself. i arm myself with two rubber slippers and head off to the bathroom. i feel the war paint inside my skin. it is to be a long night.
Meanwhile, inside the bathroom;
Franny: hey, lights on, he's a coming
Zooey: let's just leave
Franny: believe in me
Zooey: do we need to stay here
Franny, we do, trust me, i wouldn't put you through this if we didn't.
Zooey: he's coming
Franny: ok, on my lead, as soon as he gets in, we zoom in towards him, doesn't matter if we miss him. it'll frighten him off our tails for the night. and that's all we need.
Zooey: that's him. i love you franny
Franny: i love you too zooey, now on my mark. trust me baby
Zooey: what about the reptile
Franny: focus, love, we can't afford to lose, now
Sound Effects: bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, followed by a human OW and the thump of bathroom slippers on the ground after a jump.
they attacked me, they fucking attacked me. i look inside. they're buzzing about the whole bathroom now. they were behind the damned door so i didn't see them. i look inside througha small crack in the door. the gecko is at a distance, looking at me. it's almost like we're having a conversation. at a distance. in a moment of miraculous clarity i know what to do. i head for the balcony and drop one of the chappals and arm myself with a floor scrubber with a long handle.
Meanwhile, inside the bathroom;
Zooey: i can't believe it, we shooed him off
Franny: done it a million times love
Zooey: you know, i was worried, that gecko over there was giving me bad vibes
Franny: don't worry about them, love, they always maintain a fixed distance.
Zooey: you know, you know a lot for a bumble bee
(a giant slipper appears from behind the door and splatters zooey out onto the back of the door)
one of them falls dead onto the floor. i push it out with the floor scrubber. i push the scrubber's head in, scanning for the other bee. i hear it's agitated buzzing on the back of the door. i understood where the bees were because of the gecko. it always stands far from them and looks in their direction. like a well trained bloodhound. i stand on the outside of the bathroom door, waiting for movement. i look at the gecko again. i knowe exactly where he is. i put my hand with the rubber chappal in and splatter the fuck out of the other bee. i know i got him when the gecko moves closer. just to make sure, i probe with the scrubber. it's a dead silence. i go in to celebrate.
suddenly, a bee zooms in my direction and stings me in the fucking eye. i drop my weapons and get the fuck out. it's all red. it's what pain looks like to a blind guy. it hurts. it really fucking hurts. i feel the towel unravel. but it doesn't matter. the sting is burning my eye and my head from the inside. outside, i trip on the balcony and fall naked to the ground downstairs. i fall headfirst and i hear my neck go snap. i lie there, naked, before my door struggling to breathe. the memory of the buzzing is loud in my head. i die.
actually, i kill the other bee successfully with the last shot. the gecko wouldn't have moved closer otherwise. i sweep the fuckers out and smoke a smoke to their memory. the next day i unleash genocidal hell upon the ants.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Writers aren’t born, they are made. Created are they from the hollow remains of a war, sodomized by the plight of a thousand hungry, baffled and mind-fucked by the very horrors of society, they once looked up to in blind faith and gratitude. Divorced parents, drunk dads, incest, unemployment, mediocrity, ignorance, rape and violence…the society of the inhumane.
But just the other day, I heard a little sparrow say, that writers are in fact born. The mind, to make my point clear, is a dangerous thing. You can never be sure, between the two of you, which one really is in control. Much to your plight you’ll find, it always gets the better of you.
Hemingway puts a pistol to his head and splatters it like a watermelon and this after surviving grueling world wars, bad marriages, diseases, depressions and everything else in between, this after becoming what had become of the old man and the sea. His is not the only story. Generation after generations of perfectly competent writers, whose brilliance is but without question depict this unusually perplexed trait. Some convert their agony into joy by escaping it for a bit on the back of Haroon and his likes while others choose to stay back in another hundred years of solitude.
So I ask myself this. Is it really worth all of it? Is writing the best piece of literature really worth dying for? And my answer, every breath of it, every breath.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
It is true that nobility has no real definition. An act of nobility in today's times would be giving alms to a beggar. Or participating in a Peace march. Or lighting a candle. Or...hang on while I think of the last noble act I did. About 2 months back, when I was on a bus, I befriended the guy who sang in this nasal, high-pitched voice and mostly bhajans with a dafli. He was very shy and looked noble to me. So I brought him to my workplace, he sang, and all the seniors gave him lots of cash.
Was that a noble act? I think it was sheer luck for him and a crazy thing to do for me. I did it cause I thought it'd be fun. So are noble acts ones that are done in complete ignorance? Does intent blemish the purity or extent of a noble act? No, that would be unfair. NGOs though mostly very fake, probably do many things that are good for society and hence, noble. And that's their job. They intend to do good, be noble. And yet when I see or think of the fat, rich, impudent bastards (aka Lala's or Seth's) doling out copious amounts of halwa puri to poor, unfed, ignorant idiots; it makes my blood boil. Isn't it silly to attack intent here and condone it in the case of the NGOs? Are both right? or wrong? or is nobility a warped concept altogether?
We get to claim money for food we eat or conveyance in our overtime service in the office. Till very recently I wouldn't claim money from office. Till very recently, I believed that the people who do claim money, are doing it to make money. I thought it cheap and degrading. Till I was told it was downright stupid of me not to claim money. And most certainly it was. What I thought of as a noble thing to do (not claim money), was demonstrated to me as silly, trivial. Now I do claim money, and I make money too. Here, my definitions have been modified to suit myself. I see my workplace as this big blood-sucking parasite that feeds off me, and it is only correct to fuck my workplace over. Noble, no. Correct, yes.
But if it is correct, it must be noble. I wrote some copy for the packaging of baby products. As has been passed down to us and of which we know nothing, babies are pure. Babies would never harm us, and so we must do everything to protect babies. As kids, we'd throw water balloons at everyone except women with babies. Why? When we had a justification for an act as barbaric and cruel as hurling water balloons at random folk, why then make exceptions? Anyway, babies are sacred.
So when I was told to simply tweak a few words here and there, and basically cut-copy-paste the material on some Chinese baby product, I thought this is why advertising isn't a noble profession. I even objected. I said when you're going to claim that this stupid baby rattle is made of bio-degradable and eco-friendly plastic (whatever that is), it should be. Coz these are baby products. People are going to purchase these feeding bottles, nipples, rattlers, teethers etc. on the presumption that what you write is the truth. That it is safe for their babies to use these. And if this is material off some Chinese baby products, what we're doing is the exact opposite of noble. And I won't do it.
You can find all the Baby products from Guardian at a Guardian pharmacy close-by.
Monday, August 6, 2007
to explain what this blog is all about, i believe it would be best to start with the people we talk/write about.
for all the jat/bong/tam divisions we've drawn up for ourselves, we in delhi are basically three different species.
firstly, there are the elves, or the djinns as they are commonly known. A shadow species, they keep to the darkness and the wilderness, rarely venturing out to what we call daylight. they exist in a physics different than ours, their biology and society as different and shrouded in mystrey.
secondly, there are the goblins. short - and with sharp teeth, they have achieved an incredible degree of expertise in mastering and understanding how this world works. that makes them fantastic mechanics, plumbers and investment bankers. they live in the open in delhi, in the lajpat nagars, greater kailashes and south extensions of this city. they rule the day, seizing it with an incredible brutality and harshness that's come to characterise this conurbation. they don't understand emotion and are consequently insensitive towards the arts. they're also very messy and complain about this blog being incomprehensible, inward looking and unrealistic.
lastly, there are the dervishes - the poets, painters and actors. lost in the chasm of thought between the elven wilderness and goblinsville. they spend their lives trying to understand and explain the contradictions they exist in. some of them leave the twilight to cross the lines to goblinsville and, what is rarer, the wilderness. they generally spend their time thinking, singing and writing.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Operating on a fraction of NASA's budget, the ISRO has turned itself into the Energizer Bunny of space programs – it just keeps launching and launching and launching. Since 1975, the agency has lofted 43 satellites into orbit, 20 of them from Indian soil. An extraordinary string of successes – 12 consecutive launches without a failure – has attracted European and Asian investors looking to capitalize on the growing demand for satellite communication and reconnaissance. A few big deals could turn the ISRO into a moneymaker, boosting India's prestige and helping deflect criticism that the space agency's rupees would be better spent alleviating the misery of roughly 300 million Indians who live below the poverty line.
The launch site, situated on the island of Sriharikota off the east coast of India and surrounded by natural barriers of water and sand, could be the lair of a James Bond villain. Security is obsessively tight at the complex, which is about 50 miles from Chennai, the closest major city. For the mid-July launch, some 900 armed guards surrounded the site to secure the area for convoys of officials, scientists, and entrepreneurs. Over the course of two months, I applied formally to watch the launch but was rebuffed, so I decided to show up unannounced. No luck. With a broad smile, the dapper press officer informed me that foreign journalists were strictly prohibited. In case I had a problem with that, a guard holding an assault rifle stood nearby.
Denied access to the inner sanctum, I take an 8-mile detour to the nearest village, Ataganathippa, and claim a spot along the road with a clear view of the launchpad, amid an audience of ordinary people – farmers, fishermen, day laborers, and my rocket-engineer acquaintance, who has brought along his family. Jeans-clad engineering students from the local community college chat excitedly about how the new satellite could reduce the price of cable television. Suddenly a bright flash erupts in the distance. Huge plumes of smoke boil up from the ground, and a loud rumble rolls across the water. In a matter of seconds the rocket rises above the horizon and a group of young boys shouts, "Jai Hind! Jai Hind!" (Victory to India!) Climbing steadily, the rocket disappears behind a bank of clouds. The crowd is motionless, anticipating the engine's fading rumble.
But it doesn't fade. There's a thunderlike crack. Then chunks of flaming debris begin a slow, tumbling descent, tracing red trails back to Earth.
"That's not supposed to happen," says the engineer, his voice tense with disbelief. Fifteen minutes later, a nearby car radio crackles: "The launch has failed." Ground control issued a self-destruct order when the rocket veered off course and threatened to crash. "It's not over," declares my companion. "God willing, we'll have another crack at the next launch." The crowd, now silent, slowly drifts away. A hard wind blows, scouring the sky clean.
– Scott Carney
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
“It’s too hot these days”
“Hot and humid”
“Why don’t we leave?”
“Because we need a place to stay”
“You know that boundaries of time and space don’t restrict us”
“Yes but there’s something called home”
1585 A.D. Istanbul
“I have a feeling our days are numbered here”
“You always have that feeling”
“This time it’s for real”
“Fear is itself a sum total of reality, future and uncertainty”
“I’m not here to listen to your absurd theories”
“What brings you to this desolate place then?”
“The followers of Nusret Hoja are after us… they are hunting us all down one by one”
“Who is Nusret Hoja? And what do mean by ‘us’”
“These are not the times to be so innocent and unaware. Nusret Hoja is the leader of all fanatics in this country and they are after all men who visit coffee houses and mingle in the company of the dervishes who dance to the tune of prayers”
“Do they have a good enough reason?”
“They say coffee makes you delirious and makes you indulge in blasphemy”
“Do you believe that?”
“Hasn’t happened to me but the other day that dreamy eyed boy Shevket went out of his mind, stood up on the table and announced ‘hey you, men and women of Istanbul, listen to what I have to say. For it is I who controls time. Strange events are about to unfold. The city you live in is about to become the seat of one of the greatest empires which will later crumble under the feet of the Frankish infidels. Your Arab neighbours will unsuccessfully wage war against the Frankish inhabitants of a far-off continent to stop them from stealing their buried gold.”
“What buried gold do the Arabs have?”
“Don’t you pay attention to what those-who-have-lost-their-senses say, just think about where do we go this time?”
“I refuse to listen to you. Last time, on your suggestion we hid among the Jews of Spain and were subsequently driven out by Queen Isabella.”
“But that’s how we landed in this beautiful city of Istanbul”
“Which according to you, is now impossible to survive in”
“Yes, because we have been spotted in the company of dervishes and coffee drinkers”
“Where do we go then?”
“Akbar, the emperor of Hindustan has sent emissaries to the four corners of the world to bring back artists of the highest order to reside in his court. I met one of them yesterday and fooled him into believing that I’m a renowned calligrapher and agreed to leave Istanbul along with my assistant that would be you.”
“I can hear people on the street shouting Allaho-akbar”
“May be its time”
1947 A.D. New Delhi
“The prime minister is closing all manholes and flushing out all undesirables from the city”
“After surviving the partition riots this was the last thing I expected”
“Where do we go now?”
“We don’t have to go anywhere. This city is big enough to hide in”
Friday, July 13, 2007
The ‘Jaat’ is a well built farmer with far less thinking abilities than an average school kid and an unpredictable behaviour pattern that can put any sociological expert to shame. He used to own huge tracts of land around Delhi but is now slowly selling them off plot by plot. It’s he and his brethren who mostly inhabit the serais of Delhi. In lado serai each four storied building belongs to a ‘Jaat’ family with single guys like me fearfully residing on the floors above. There’s a reason to this fear – the ‘Jaat’ himself.
The Jaat women of lado serai are the most mysterious characters. You can’t say whether they are beautiful or not because they have their faces mostly covered. Even when their faces aren’t covered, there’s an unwritten law (jaats hate writing) in lado serai which is implemented in the most ruthless manner and all outsiders follow – do not look at a female faces. No one knows the reason but assume that it’s a matter of honour as it is with the Arabs. This can be accepted as the most logical explanation.
Lado Serai is a very ancient locality with not many ancient buildings left. The only thing ancient that is left is the shadow of Qutub Minar. It’s the first thing you look at when you wake up and get out into your balcony. There’s another structure you notice in another direction. It’s a strange tomb. The blackened walls are a testimony to its age and the architecture doesn’t pretend to be outstanding. It stands on a small rocky hill in its own quiet way never seeking attention. I’ve never spotted any tourist, foreign or Indian, visiting the tomb.
A few days later I discovered something new about the Tomb. I spotted someone coming out of the tomb. I followed that someone’s path from when it was a speck in my sight to when my eyes signalled my brain to register the image of a woman. She crossed the main road and walked right into the lane entering lado serai. Just then my eyes travelled all the way back to the tomb and I saw two women entering the tomb. ‘The women of lado serai sure are admirers of medieval architecture’ I thought for a moment.
In a few days time it became a familiar sight watching women in traditional gear, with their veils covering their face, walking in and out of the tomb. Still I could never notice a tourist or even a street kid around the tomb. Except for the days of these strange visits by the women, the tomb stood there alone, quietly, looking even more mysterious and alluring in its silence and abandonment. I never once saw the Jaats enter the strange tomb.
There was one I particularly liked. Not because she was pretty, I never dared to look at her face. I just watched her walk to the tomb on a moonless night and realized that something was different about this one. Maybe it was the way she walked or the way everything seemed to get mysteriously dark as she crossed by. Or maybe it’s common to get attracted to whatever is unusual.
One day, the heavy chains of fear just loosened and I approached her and did what I wasn’t meant to do. Looked at her face, and there was nothing unusual about it. In fact, it was one of the most stunning faces I had ever seen. Regaining my senses I managed to utter my first few words.
“Hey what’s your name and why do you go to the tomb?”
“Our kinds have no name and at the end of the day everyone has to return to the place one belongs” she said and smiled.
Her sharp pointed teeth were the last thing I remember before I lost all sense of reality.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
The inside stuff that is outside on a stand -
(for bigger image go to http://blog.malvikajain.com)
Saturday, July 7, 2007
One fine day she calls
And asks me where I’ve been
It’s been so long
I’m searching…she says
For a certain Mr. Sin
I feel my hands tremble
As a gulp goes down my throat
I had it coming a long-long time
But was eluding it evermore
Sorry I said to her
You must have been mistaken
I sold my soul a while ago
I can’t be held for sin.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
In the month of June, Delhi is no better. Especially when you want people to open up accounts with your bank, even when they already have two. To top it all up, you get targets impossible to achieve. And the heat… the fucking heat, makes your field a living hell. And Mangesh, a small town guy from Rampur, had now fully understood that the life of a salesman was itself a living hell.
3 years back, he came to the capital to study for an MBA that was expensive enough to drain his father’s finances and burden him with loans even before starting to earn. He was happy with the placement season for bagging a good package in a world-renowned bank. He diddn’t quiet care to look closely at the profile. The first day itself he was given a nice leather bag with metal edges and kicked out of the office to try and open as many accounts as he could. With his leather briefcase strapped around his back he rode his bike all around the city knowing little what to do. Finally found a nice little place by the India Gate garden and dozed off. Little did he know that the coming days would be worse.
Not many days ago, a customer locked him up in his go-down and he had to call his superiors to sort out matters. Another day he was chased by a ferocious dog belonging to a guy he had high hopes on. Fortunately the dog was called back when he stumbled upon something and broke his leg. Life was not very rewarding.
And then came the heat wave.
Mangesh was the kind of guy you could easily slap on the back of his head with him not bothering to hit you back. He had an easy life back home and after that the college gave him good value for his money. But it was very different for him now. The world was never like this. No-one cared, not a single kind word. The boss used to switch off the air-conditioning after 11 and tell them to go out on their calls.
Hate was something he had found easy to carry along. Helped face the heat better, rose along with the mercury. It was a beautiful feeling to let all out and feel all powerful. His job seldom gave him that feeling.
Miserably failing in his Gurgaon campaign, he came back to Delhi all exhausted and account-less. His boss waited in expectation as he always did.
“dhanda kitna laaya hai?”
He hated that word ‘dhanda’. It made him feel like a prostitute who cruises the dirtiest corners of the city and meets the filthiest of people to earn her living. After completing his MBA from (if not one of the best) one of the most expensive colleges in Delhi this wasn’t the way he had ever imagined he would be addressed. This wasn’t the way things were supposed to turn out. This wasn’t the way he was supposed to live. This wasn’t how hot summers were supposed to be. This just wasn’t right.
And the heat… the fucking heat. His head was already spinning from the day’s job, cruising aimlessly from house to house knocking.
“abey ghoor kya raha hai? MBA me tereko dhanda laana nahi sikhaya kya? Abey…..”
It was still hot outside, as if the earth was now releasing what it had absorbed all day long. His face burned as he looked down but he no longer had that feeling of disappointment and humiliation inside him. He felt strong, all-powerful. He could feel a kind invigorating energy inside him.
He looked up when the first drop fell on his shirt. The blood dissolved to reveal the plain white colour of his shirt, and then another… and another. He turned his head down to watch the blood getting mixed with the water gathering around him in the mud.
Delhi’s meteorological department had issued a statement today that the monsoons would arrive late this year. Their weatherman was wrong… very wrong.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
as i walk down, i exchange pleasantries with the grandmother (wearing low cut cleavage baring ugh suits) as the housewife hurls hateful glances at me. the man of the house smiles at me from behind a newspaper. the child sits in a corner, suitably mangled and quiet (children should be seen and not heard). These people are short, grimy and have several disorderly sharp teeth. All of them except the child, that is. the child is still human.once when i crept up on them, hoping to record the scene. the mother, for all the sadness in her voice, was relaxing on a chair while uttering her remittances. meanwhile, the grandmother bent with her hands on her haunches, so as to get as close as possible to the child while screaming. the man of the house was holding the child by his feet and thrashing her against the wall. i thought one of them noticed me, so i fled the scene.
once, i asked the grandmother why they beat the child as they do.
'we all went through it', she said, 'how do you think we became the way we are.'