the long search

When you have nowhere to go, go back to yourself.

Soul's New Song

Don't look back
It will tug at your heart
Let the past go
Let go of the memories
And the clutching pain.

Soon the stars will fade
The blackness of the night will melt
In the soothing lights of a new dawn
Tomorrow will be another day
Tomorrow will have a new sun.....

*Wishing you all a soulful New Year*
(Image: Shamim Qureshy)


About half an hour ago, he had showed up at my place seeking my escort service. “I need to drop this packet at a friend‘s place and pick up some pictures from another person,” he said.He was always lousy about finding houses. Most of the times, he would lose way in the residential colonies, often making circles of the same place.

I was reluctant. On my day off and for a chilly evening, staying back home seemed a better and warmer idea. But knowing his style, I decided to give him company.

“I have not been to their place very many times. I guess, this is the second instance though I keep meeting them – both the husband and the wife - at their corporate offices and outside. They had a baby in October and this is the first time I will meet them after that. They have moved to a new flat.” He was introducing me to destination number one.

* * * * * *

As we waited for a few minutes, V opened the door. Slowly. Almost carefully. I saw the baby, looking like a bundle of white wool, fallen asleep on his left shoulder. “Come on in,” he said, with a whispering tone.

It was quiet inside. It was kind of cozy. Bright and warm. The light green wall-hangings clearly stood out on the shining white background. There were two portraits on the wall behind the cane sofa. The cabinet right in front boasted of different kinds of toys. A large curtain separated the living space from the dining hall. It was dimly lit.

“I returned from office only a while ago,” V said, gently patting his daughter and gestured us to sit on the divan.

“You seem to be enjoying every bit of fatherhood,” he asked.

“It feels great to be with my daughter. She sleeps and sleeps and is barely awake when I return home,” V said as his wife walked in with a dropper in hand. The baby’s medicine, I thought.

“Did you manage to put her to sleep? Or is she still awake?” she asked. V just nodded as he gently brought the baby back into his arms for the medicine.

We kept chatting for quite a while before he realized it’s time to leave the family alone.

* * * * * *

He drove silently, keeping his eyes on the road; his mind apparently was elsewhere. Twenty minutes later, we were in front of an apartment that appeared to have lost power supply.

E – Block, Flat No 3. Straight towards the end of the line and first floor, the security guard pointed out.
The apartment looked worn out to me. Flat No 1 and 2 were locked and No 4 was had some men working on renovation.
He hit the doorbell this time. “It’s open. Come on in,” said the voice. As we walked in, B greeted us with a feeble smile, which did not, in any manner, hide its affection. He taught English literature, I was told on my way.

The floor was cold; the tube-lights did enough for the two-bedroom flat though. But it was very quiet in there. The white walls looked pensive and the almost-no-furniture rooms exuded an expansive feeling.

The living room virtually had nothing to show. One room across the hall had a computer surrounded by books and more books, all of them littered in gay abandon gathering dust at some places. The bedroom had a TV set just across the bed and a moulded chair.

B was a bachelor. Almost a genius and wasted to a large extent. He lived a solitary life (Someone wise had said: Only God is entitled to solitude) and was not keeping good health. The failing health showed on B’s face.

The curling smoke from the cigarette he held was the only thing that made some “noise” in an otherwise somber ambiance of the flat.

“My doctor would be furious to see this. I was categorically asked to stay away from smoking but have had three since the morning. Just can’t help,” laughed B; his laughter had a tremendous sense of honesty in it.

A little later, we left B alone with his life.

* * * * * *

“How disturbingly contrast were they,” I said as we drove back home.

“I found them happy and quiet in their own ways,” he replied, “It’s all about how you look at it.”

(Image: Flickr)

déjà vu

Last time I met him, he hardly spoke.

Sometimes, he would just shut up and shut himself out for weeks together. And, when he does that, he can be pretty much insufferable. It is well-nigh impossible to know beneath that frivolous facade does lie a gloomy persona. Someone suffocating to the core.

Years ago, when I first ran into him and this side of his, a friend said ‘it’s his way of unwinding.’ He probably was looking for another word to substitute ‘unwinding’ but did not get any. I think he meant 'self-examination.'

I met him last night. He stood there on the terrace, bending forward over the dwarf wall, as if attempting to catch hold of something that was flying by. There was nothing I could see though.

I made no attempt to talk to him. It would have been an exercise in futility. I respected his philosophy of respecting people’s space. “Let them be,” he would always say. Some mistook it for his aloofness and indifference to others.

I left him alone on the terrace and walked into his room. As I drew closer, I could clearly hear Mehdi Haasan’s rich baritone (if I can say that) from his computer’s speakers. The volume was set very low. As if the great singer was whispering away. I turned the speaker volume higher. The voice was resonating:
Keh do in hasraton se kahiin aur jaa basein
Itnii jagah kahaan hai dil-e-daaghdaar mein*….

His personal diary was lying on the table. I know how he loved his diary. He has been writing since he was 17, he once told me. For the last few months, he had stopped though. “I write only when I feel compelled to,” he had said. You could well substitute it for “when I am either happy or sad.”

I opened it. There were blank pages. I saw one. Then I saw another. Some more…..and more. So many. Do blank pages mean he is sad? Because it meant he was not happy.

I reached December 10. There were just two lines scribbled on it.

It read: It's a sense of déjà vu. But when people choose to walk away from you, all you can do is wish them well in life.
*The lines by Bahadur Shah Jaffer mean:
Tell these desires
To go and settle down somewhere else
Where is so much space
In this scarred heart?

Fear, Love & Loss

"I always believed that fear belonged to other people. Weaker people. It never touched me. And then it did. And when it touches you, you know... that it's been there all along. Waiting beneath the surfaces of everything you loved."

"When you love something, every time a bit goes, you lose a piece of yourself."

Loss, like love, is deeply personal. Only the one who has suffered, knows the depths of it.

(Table : Wikipedia )

My Post, His Story

As usual, this is my post. But this is not my story as usual.

I was struggling with my post. Then I took a look at my blog-roll. I saw most of my blogger friends, barring probably Agnes, have fallen silent. May be this is the season of slience. Then quite a few things came to my mind. Some dark, some cheerful. Some did excite me, some left me cold. I knew I was struggling.

This morning, I reached office when my colleague handed out a photograph to me. "Today is World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse and it's a related picture," he said. I should be honest, I did not know such a day did exist. These days, there are so many that one loses count.

Soon after, I logged into my Facebook account and saw a link from NY Times my friend Lala - he is pursuing his doctoral degree in Purdue University - had sent me. It had something to do with children in Congo. I read and did not just stop till it ended. At the end, it saddened me no end.

I don't intend to make any statement although I know I am sounding like a hypocrite here. For, such stories are not exclusive to Congo. Stories like this one abound in Asia and Africa where governments have failed; where civil war is the norm; where mineral resources have been plundered by outsiders, ably assisted by forces from developed nations. It's not as if we have not come across such tales of human tragedy before. Not as if it has not happened anywhere near I live. By saying all this, I am probably ridding myself of the feeling of guilt of not doing my bit.

Do read the following link. I just wanted to share what I call His Story.

15 and Broke in a Cut-Throat Congo Mining Town

This post is dedicated to the two blogger friends whose compassion in their last posts is still lingering around in my mind. To Mehreen (for that post on child labour) and Trevor (for that moving photograph on Children's Day).


I looked for you. But I found some memories.

The memory of you
Is a million million stars
Stabbing a black silk sky.
I wait for day to take away
The stars, the memory
The pain..... Raynette Eitel

I held that memory
For just a second longer.
I held you
Before that memory would vanish away
From my fingertips..... Lulu Muffin

Last night your faded memory came to me
As in the wilderness spring comes quietly,
As, slowly, in the desert moves the breeze,
As to a sick man, without cause, comes peace.

(Raat yun dil mein teri, khoi hui yaad aayee,
Jaise veerane mein, chupke se bahaar aa jaye,
Jaise sehraon mein hole se chale baad-e-nasim,
Jaise beemar ko be wajah qarar aa jaye)…. Faiz Ahmed Faiz

But for these few...

I remember telling T, “You say so much yet with so few words.” I had just finished reading his blog post.

“Pithy has become a wasted art these days. I’d like to say I practice it,” he replied. I had to agree. I was never a man of few words.

T practiced it. But there are times when people want to say so much and end up saying so little. I noticed, it mostly happens when they really want to say something. The words may not appear significant and you could almost pass them off as ordinary on any other day. Not always though. There are times when they stay with you.

Some of the “so-few saying so-much” words that I will always remember.

“Eat on time.” That’s what Ma says every time I am traveling. She could replace the three words with so many but she fails to.

“Thank you for everything,” she said. It was a tough phase and I just happened to be by her side.

“Talking to you is therapeutic,” said someone who had chosen not to talk to me.

“Stupid fool,” said Sonya. It was after a long conversation about my life. She and I have not met each other in ten years.

“Life has been a series of crutches. You are the softest one,” said I. I and I have been friends since college days. Communication through phones or mails doesn’t really matter for us. We work for the same company, at two difference places though.

“I don’t believe in your nonsense,” That’s SN. At it again.

"Time you got married," my colleague K can't hide her disappointment.

“Don’t call me. Boss is at crease.” MK is superstitious about a cricketer named Sachin Tendulkar. He doesn’t forget to call me when India is playing Down Under. At 4 in the morning.

The text said: "Wil miss u." She was leaving.

Now, my turn, I guess.

I told her: “I want you to stay happy. Always.”

The Baggage

The tall flower plants blocked my view of her as she emerged from the office. The laptop case suspended from the left shoulder, her handbag from the other. A dossier in one hand and the cell phone in the other. She was struggling and I could clearly see that.

But I was so glad to see her. It was after a long interval.

I had been waiting for a quite a while but then, I would have waited any length of time for her.

As she spotted me, she tried to wave at me. There she was, struggling to handle so many things at one time; the burden weighing her down. It was one of those testing phases of life for her, phases that can shake anyone. But one gritty woman she was (and still is).

“Waiting for long? I know, you have been,” she said. I gestured at her laptop. “What?” she asked. “You can give it to me,” I said.

“Don’t worry, I can manage. I do this every day,” she said.

“See, I won’t exactly like carrying a ladies handbag but you can give me the laptop.” I was insistent. So was she. “That one is a little more heavy than normal. There are so many things stuffed inside,” she said.

“That’s what friends are for - to carry your extra baggage, are not they?” I quipped, extending my hand to take the laptop bag.

She looked at me, as if trying to figure something out, and then said: “You are right.”

A share of her burden on my shoulders, she and I hit the road. Talking vacuities...

White Noise

There is something about hospitals that I could never quite bring myself to like. Not that I am one among those who dread the place because it reminds the grim realities of sickness, pain, old age and death. Some even don’t like the smell of medicine that hospitals are so typified with. Some are scared of catching infections. Not me. I believe hospitals are where people get new life and, new ways for life. But something about hospitals always bothered me.

As I sat by M inside the intensive care unit, I started pondering about it all over again. I could see the trace of pain in her lovely face as she tried to get herself some sleep – she was almost wired up – with the oxygen mask, catheter, drips and a dozen other pipes entangling her. She looked considerably weak and I spoke next to nothing. I just looked at the walls, the ceiling, the curtains and the bed-sheets. There is this whiteness about hospitals that always got me.

Why are hospitals mostly coloured white? Is white not monotonous and gloomy? And depressing too? Why can’t vibrant colours – or even soothing ones – be in place of white? Or is it because white symbolizes peace, innocence and purity that health facilities are painted so? Medical science probably does not overtly endorse white for hospitals but the colour stands for cleanliness and hence so much in practice.

Interestingly, in Western culture, the bridal wear is white, while in India and in many Asian countries, white is associated with mourning and death. For someone whose favourite colour has always been white, I was always unsettled by the whiteness in the hospitals. I am yet to find out why.

I would have liked to ask M if she liked the never-ending white all around her. I didn’t. In her 60s, M has not been keeping good health lately, and my question, I am sure, would make no sense to her when she is struggling even to breathe. May be I will find out when I am there.

I know my friend Sonya (that's what I addressed her as, much to her chagrin) would say that I am looking at the wrong side of it. But it's not as if I hate hospitals. Tell you something? It's here in the hospitals that I had found some unforgettable persons. Hey, I love hospitals, people.

At the end....

It was exactly eight weeks ago that I last met DK. In a hospital which was so very quiet. That was August 17, my birthday.

DK died today.

I very well knew he was going to lose this battle against cancer. But I did not grieve because DK was a fighter to the core. And, he went down fighting without ever regretting what he had lost.

In my short association with him, I had realized that one must always be ready to put one's hands up when a fight beckons. At the end, that's going to define the journey.

From feline to feminine

Someone with a wise head once said: The best laid plans of men and mice always go awry. Mine just did. You are free to choose what fits me. And, you know the options.

Since I had a three-day break from work, two days owing to Dussehra and my day-off clubbed to it, I wanted a getaway. I knew exactly where to go. Into the wild. Track the tigers in a national park spread over some 1100 sq km. Guess what? I had everything ready, everything going for me. But what I did not realize was my options as a species were limited: Men and mice. Besides, I am from the journo breed.

So here I am now. With my plans up in smoke, I am back home. Tell you what? I am trying to cook up something, creating smoke. Literally. I have hit the kitchen because I always loved cooking. Mind you, cooking can be a great stress-buster. In fact, another Indian called Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar too shares the same passion.

This is not to say what kind of a cook I am (I am a pretty decent one though) but I have understood over the years (I am into this since I was 12 or 13) that the greatest pleasure that cooking gives you is the feeling of treating someone to food. If the person you are treating to is hungry, you earn some heavenly brownie points, I can assure you this. Even if she/he is not, it still is as good as it gets.

Trust me, to be able to feed someone is almost divine. And that sets women apart from men. For, they are the ones who keep us alive. I believe that’s the reason a man can never be a mother – I am not inclined to get into biology side of it – because the latter is always feeding us all, throughout our lives despite all the work burden. Men just cannot do that. They may make the best chefs but…..

Why I am saying all this? Hey, I am enjoying this streak of womanhood, damn it.

(Not a footnote; a headnote actually: The credit for the title goes to Trevor Penn)

A chuisle mo chroí

A lonely beach. White sand. A long walk.

I know I have to wait. How long, I don't know. May be I will have to be born again. And then, wait again....

Come to me in the silence of the night;

Come in the speaking silence of a dream;

Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright

As sunlight on a stream;

Come back in tears,

O memory, hope and love of finished years.

O dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter-sweet,

Whose wakening should have been in Paradise,

Where souls brim-full of love abide and meet;

Where thirsting longing eyes

Watch the slow door

That opening, letting in, lets out no more.

Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live

My very life again though cold in death;

Come back to me in dreams, that I may give

Pulse for pulse, breath for breath:

Speak low, lean low,

As long ago, my love, how long ago........

Egg-xample of life

SN hates philosophy. To be honest, he despises it. THE reason he hates my blog space is he thinks I am philosophizing. “You are wasting your time in life. Instead, start living it.” That is his common refrain.

Expectedly, I differ. Always. I keep telling him I am just talking to myself. This is my way of a conversation with the self. Leave it or take it. Of course, he would leave it. In fact, he once did leave a comment – the only time – saying “Stop bullshitting.”

Yesterday, SN appeared agitated. His wifey has banned eggs from his plate. “I can live without booze (he quit it earlier this year after a two decade-long intense love affair. He would swear by Nicolas Cage’s character in Leaving Las Vegas). I can do without meat. But eggs!!!!! God, No.” SN was virtually yelling at me when I asked what the reason was.

I did quit non-veg in January. But I am still on eggs. SN probably is nursing a grudge – That he can’t have eggs and I can.

“Is that it? In life, you can’t have everything all the time. As life progresses, you will learn that you have to do without a lot of things you like. That’s life.” I was attempting to assure SN in a tone that almost smacked of philosophy.

“You might be happy philosophising loss in life. But I am not interested. I am worried about the eggs,” he said. I wanted to tell him there is a connection.

Like with egg, you got to break life open and see what’s inside. Life is never on the surface. What appears is not what it is. What you get and what you do with it defines your life.

Some want life restrained. Just the egg white in omelette. Some want it straight and are relaxed about it. The yolk makes its way to the pan with the white. Some want it all spiced up, with all kinds of reds, greens and frills. Like a Spanish omelette. I even had a south Indian friend who used to make paratha out of omelette. And some want it in full size. Boiled.

Besides, like eggs, life too comes in different sizes.

But I didn’t tell SN all this. I knew what his reaction would be. “How on the earth can you connect egg with philosophy,” his already-damaged lungs stuck out of his mouth.

The Interregnum

This is a blank phase in my life. A phase I would like to forget but I know I will remember. It's a phase of nothingness. It has, as if, stopped between two moments of time. A kind of interregnum. An endless one. It's a phase I have completely lost control over. It's chaotic but shows nothing outwards. The chaos and the disturbances sometimes overpower me and threaten to make me what I dread to be. It has been peaceless. I feel like being imprisoned in a castle surrounded by a deep moat. Only that the castle is pervaded by darkness. I believe that I am chained by my own frailties and insecurities. And I can't escape from their clutches.

I badly want to, though. So much so that I want to walk away. Walk away from everything I have. Head into an exile. May be to a place where I don't have to share my space with anyone; where there is just me. I can distinctly remember a disturbing film called The Quiet wherein the protagonist Dot says (and I quote) "All I wanted was to be invisible. It was a simple request. It didn't involve anyone else. When I was in a room with another person, I felt like I was only half there. When I was in a room with two other people, I felt like a third of myself. When I was in a room with three other people, I felt like a quarter of myself. And when I was in a whole crowd of people, I felt like nobody." That's my state of mind now.

I know I am guilty of being selfish. But right now, I want to go; run away from this darkness before it consumes me. May be there is more waiting for me and I might just lose myself for the time being. But I want to go. Where? I don't know.

Awake for hours and staring at the ceiling
Through the unsettled stillness of the night
He grows possessed of the obsessive feeling
That dawn has come and gone and brought no light.....Vikram Seth

Is it a sin, really?

It's not often that people like me pose such questions to themselves. There are times, though, when they do. With the debate of communalism raging across India today, I feel like asking myself: Why is it a sin to be called a Hindu? Why are you suddenly branded as a "fundamentalist" when Hinduism is the issue? Even the media is not averse to using the word "extremism." Why is the average Hindu on the defensive? Is it because he/she has never been assertive about his/her religion? Is it because Hinduism never taught us to encroach upon others? There are a lot of "why"s that have bothered me. The answers seem difficult to come by but they are somewhere here. Anyone who has been an Indian by heart would know why. For, this is the only country that has thrown open its arms to almost everyone.

But you don't have to be a fanatic to be faithful to your religion. You don't have to be apologetic either.

I read this in a forum and would post it. It's by J Venkata? He makes sense to me. Or does he?

Dissent is Democratic, Consensus is Fascist

I still remember those days in my early twenties when I got to read the novel `Atlas Shrugged' by `Ayn Rand' loaned to me by my cousin sister. Ayn Rand was a born rebel who had her own vision of a society based on an idealistic objectivism.

If someone mentions `capitalism' to me ,then Jefferson, Washington and Ayn Rand only come to my imagination. Such has been her influence on American society.

Ayn Rand and Democracy:

She will tell in one of her works - " Whenever you hear words such as `unanimity, consensus, etc, immediately know that the organization is fascist. Democracy has dissent built into it. No two men think alike and act alike.

So , in a large organization like a business corporation or a political party, if there is such a thing as consensus, it simply means that views of one man or a few are pushed down the throats of those down the hierarchy. The result ? Oppression , obviously.

Think of an organization or society where plurality of opinion is accepted rather than tolerated and even welcomed. There, my friend , democracy blooms. Where the freedom to think, speak and act is inherent in the society, democracy shows its fragrance.

Suppression is fascism. Liberation is Democracy.

The Ideal Society

Rabindranath Tagore, in his Gitanjali writes

Where the mind is without fear and the held is high

Where knowledge is free

Where words come out from the depth of truth


Have you ever heard of a land where these values were actually practiced ? Well, it was the wonderland called Bharat. The sons of Bharat , a fearless intellectual group, dared to differ from the mundane and visualized a society based on free enquiry. We see much of it even now in India though the society lost many of its golden standards.

The village level self management, freedom for self enquiry and self realization ( as later summarized in the Gita) speak volumes of the society. It was in Bharat that is India that the 'free education for all ' policy was proclaimed and practiced till 1850 when the indigenous Gurukuls were destroyed.

An example of a Democratic village:

A small village in the erstwhile Chola Kingdom, Uttiramerur, Tamilnadu, (which is a temple village), has a written constitution in the temple complex devoted to Lord Shiva. This temple is typical of Chola Grandeur in stone. There , in a mantap, the gram Sabha met and elected its chief. The tenure was fixed and the election process was by dropping the choice written on a palmyrah leaf into a pot. The votes were counted and the winner declared by the village nobles.

The norms were also stringent. The contestant must not have married more than once, not have had illicit relationship, who has not usurped public property and so on. This happened thousand years ago under Rajaraja I.

The Present India

The India of present is a mix of honest, pious, religious and law abiding citizens headed by a few dishonest, deceitful, bigoted , nepotist and corrupt leaders. They have perfected the art of dividing the population on the basis of religion, caste and language in order to keep the throne for perpetuity.

Democracy was made into a laughing stock when a single family of Father, Daughter, Grandson, and his wife were all raised to the throne in almost regular succession. The family employed all the untruthful means to remain in power thus ridiculing the price of the blood of freedom fighters.

Undoing of Indians in Democracy

They realized that the only true bond of all Indians is their religion. So, they employed all means to keep the Indians disconnected from their umbilicus. To this end, they invented a novel formula of secularism which meant several things to several people.

The Hindu was taught that secularism meant sacrificing his rights of his religion over his motherland. It also meant forgiving of all oppressions of the past by other religions. It also said that tolerance even in the face of grim oppression was secularism.

The other religions were free from such indoctrinations. For them secularism meant they were free to practice their religions and convert anyone to their religion by whatever means. They could even use force on Hindus who had to be complacent as a rule.

The Hindu, by such vicious inculcation of untruths, became indifferent to his society. His temples were nationalized and their lands and properties were stolen by the government. He dare not show off his religious affliction as it is a sign of aggression. If he formed a party, he was termed as communal. But the other religions were free from such injunctions and they were as secular as ever.

The average Hindu is longing for real democracy. His plight is his own making. He simply has to look back in time and realize what a tradition he belongs to. His tears will vanish and so will the suppressive, fascist, secularistic bondage.

The Rainbow

Your blogs are laced with a certain sense of sadness. That's what a friend told me. I understood what she meant. I guess, the pieces are extremely individualistic; sometimes way too introspective and hence the tone. I did not dispute because I believe it's a perspective of life, a way of looking at things.

We all look at life in our own ways, in a manner which is different from each other. We all look for happiness. But what does being happy mean? What's happiness, as a matter of fact? Do we choose to be happy or does happiness choose us? There is no definite answer. But I guess, none of us would ever appreciate happiness if there is not a shade of sadness inherent in it. It's always there. Embedded. You and I can't just wish it away. So I live with it and I love it. For, it's a happy mix.

I remember someone telling me not so long ago: "Life is all about chasing the rainbow." It's about the beauty of myriad colours and but also about the sad truth that you can never actually catch hold of it. But chase we must because we hope to.

I can cite one of my favourite poems which describes it all. It takes me to the depths of sadness but brings me back to surface with that strange thing called hope. So that I can get lung-ful of air - memories for me - to live on with.

She sat and sang away

By the green margin of a stream,

Watching the fishes leap and play

Beneath the glad sunbeam.

I sat and wept away

Beneath the moon's most shadowy beam,

Watching the blossoms of the May

Weep leaves into the stream.

I wept for memory;

She sang for hope that is so fair:

My tears were swallowed by the sea;

Her songs died in the air......

Of Today

Sometimes when you think you can get a hang of it, life quickly effaces all such notions. You feel so naive and ignorant then. I will remember August 17, 2008 for this reason.

I met DK today. He is fighting cancer. It's a battle he is unlikely to win.

I have known DK for quite some years, the acquaintance purely professional. Dark-complexioned and medium in build, you can dismiss everything about him. Not his eyes. They come across as that of a man who is game for every fight in life. A banker, he has been punished for standing up against the management for causes he believed in. He never gave up. DK went through tragic times when a son ended his life. Another one is fighting brain tumour for a second time. Nothing could dampen DK's spirit though. No tragedy, as if, could take him down.

I sat by his side in the hospital room. He looked a skeletal self of his own. DK was eager to go home, still unaware of the truth. Would he be shattered to know it? I had no clue.

How meaningless does everything seem when you know it will not last; that the race will meet a dead end someday. But we tend to ignore it because we are afraid. We are afraid because of the way we live, conduct ourselves and perceive life through our own microscopes. Instead of looking within, most of the times, we try to cover ourselves with more of ourselves. That's when the misgivings raise their ugly heads and weave a vicious circle we can never rid ourselves of.

I believe life is all about how you play it. Play it fair and you will have no regret at all because you may just not get enough time. You might just lose it - we all will - but you will have at least played it fair, stood up for what you truly believed in, damn it.

That's why I liked DK. And I will remember this day because it told me - in Andre Gide's words - Be faithful to that which exists nowhere but in yourself, and thus make yourself indispensable.

By the way, I was born today. On August 17.

Of Freedom

Nobody is free. We all like to believe otherwise though.

No, it's not an Independence Day thought for me. I remember arguing with my friends and colleagues (yes, all of them are married and I am not) that I can get up in the morning, pick up my backpack and head for the forests or mountains for trekking. And they can't. Is it freedom? I don't know if it is.

I guess freedom is the "space" you offer to people around you; people including your near and dear ones, your spouse, family members, friends and others who constitute your world. Freedom is when you let go of your insecurities; when you know not to possess. Freedom is when you realise you can give without actually seeking much in return. Am I making sense? You can tell me.

One thing I know for sure. Men pretend to be free. But they are not. For, they try to possess as they are insecure and want to retain control. They are a weak species compared to women. They even pretend that they believe in other's freedom. Then, that's just a pretension. It reminds me of the fiery Kamala Das (Surayya) when she wrote:

"You planned to tame a swallow, to hold her
In the long summer of your love so that she would forget
Not the raw seasons alone, and the homes left behind, but
Also her nature, the urge to fly, and the endless
Pathways of the sky...."

The Long Wait

Sometimes when you are alone and waiting; and waiting, every moment seems like an eternity. I am almost tempted to say it's like India's quest for a Gold in the Olympics (thank God for Abhinav Bindra and I hope Saina Nehwal will do us proud soon) and a characteristic Rahul Dravid innings in a Test match but this feeling is personal. Something that's gnawing at my heart.
Kyon har aahat iik dastak si lage
Aur yun dekhoon teri raah
Apni palkon pe liye
Main hazaar raton ki neend....
(My eyelids flutter
Burdened by the darkness of a thousand nights
But sleep eludes me
And I wait
Every footstep outside my door says
You will be here soon...)

The Pride

Shooting!!!! Did you say shooting?

I was woken up by my cell phone's irritating ringtone. The late-sleeper that I am, it takes me some time to be on my feet. But the cell phone was unrelenting. "Hit DD Sports. Abhinav might just get a medal for us," my friend was blaring from the other side. Still rubbing my eyes, I switched to the channel.

I can still remember the second last shot and the final. The penultimate, when he was tied with the Chinese Zhu. And then came 10.8. Abhinav Bindra hit the bull's eye. That was a moment I will remember for years to come. For, I did not care what sport Bindra played (I am avid follower of Cricket - like every Indian is - and love lawn tennis, hockey and soccer). I was proud. I was proud that I am an Indian. I always was. I always will be. Not just because Bindra got us an individual gold in the Olympics. The reason was something else. When the national anthem played and the Indian Tri-colour was raised during the award ceremony, I stood up in attention and I was proud. That was pride for me. Thanks to Bindra. He brought me and a billion others that pride. I dont care which sport he played. In a country of over a billion, when getting an Olympic Gold medal takes 28 long years of wait, it can spur anyone on. Anyone Indian at heart.

Now, I am praying for the pint-sized powerhouse. Saina Nehwal. Bring it on.

The Rain

I can hear you
making small holes
in the silence

If I were deaf
the pores of my skin
would open to you
and shut

And I
should know you
by the lick of you
if I were blind

the something
special smell of you
when the sun cakes
the ground

the steady
drum-roll sound
you make
when the wind drops

But if I
should not hear
smell or feel or see

you would still
define me
disperse me
wash over me

Hone Tuwhare

The Flip Side

Life is amazingly paradoxical. One side of it is dark and intriguing. The other, sparklingly bright and inspiring.

The Naxal ambush on a mine-protected vehicle (MPV) carrying 17 security personnel in Eastern Indian state Orissa's southern district Malkangiri on July 16 was distressful. The Left Wing ultras found a ghastly way of telling the world that Rifle is the only way to bring revolution or change. Everytime, you want to sympathise with them, they surprise you with blood and gore. As if they are the Merchants of Death. Coming to think of it, even a 15 tonne heavily armoured vehicle could not save the policemen from a ghastly end. Howsoever hard one may try, if death has to take you, it will (sounds like Murphy's Law, doesn't it?).

Well, no. Look at 23-year-old Supratim Dutta of Delhi. The HCL executive sat in his car, his body pierced with an angle iron measuring about 5 ft in length and weighing close to 6 kg, waiting for help to arrive. The angle had to be cut - even as he sat for an hour and half inside his car which had rammed into Metro barricade along MG Road - with gas-cutters so that Supratim could be rushed to AIIMS Trauma care. It took the stunned doctors six hours to remove the angle that impaled the youth through the upper part of the body as his heart and spine escaped unhurt. It was probably for the first time that I remained glued to India TV (sic) as the channel kept beaming the videos of the surgery.

Supratim has to live. Some say, it's a second life for him. I believe this is his life. Sometimes, it can dumbfound you with something called hope. I believe you can kill someone but can't possibly take away that flickering hope to live till he finally dies. Why did it not happen with the 17 securitymen is something I can't understand though. May be, it did.

I remember the impeccable Tom Hanks saying in his Oscar winning Forrest Gump: Mama always said dying was a part of life. It probably is.

A 'Killing' Time

Sometimes, it is easy being in the seat of judgement. Easier when we have to do a post mortem. I am still wondering how would most of us (read media professionals) react after receiving the body of a dear one killed in a blood-chilling incident. A body bloated beyond recognition after being trapped inside the cabin of a motorboat lodged under water for more than four days. You are right, death always shook me up. But I am not sure if many of us have even visualised what would it feel like to be in the shoes of the kin of the Greyhound commandos.

I don't want to get into the philosophy part of it. Call me an escapist if you may but I am not going to buy that theory of ideologies either. Thirty-six security personnel went missing in Chitrakonda reservoir in Orissa's bordering district of Malkangiri on June 29, 2008 (Sunday) morning after their motor-launch was sunk by Left Wing Extremists. A day later, one jawan was found with his hands tied behind his back and shot from a close range. The rest - slowly but surely - are being retrieved from inside the vessel entangled in dead tree branches near the reservoir bed. Decomposed beyond recognition, their bodies had little to give away their identities. Sometimes, it is hard to believe that these were the men who hunted down the Naxals. The elite Greyhound force of Andhra Pradesh. And what gory end! They surely did not deserve this. The Red Radicals would not agree, of course. Then again, it is back to the theory of ideologies.

Still engaged in a debate of strategic blunders and tactical errors - that's a favourite pastime of the media - on part of the security personnel, I am currently battling a strange feeling. Would I prefer - if asked to - a death so ghastly and so nondescript? Given an option, would any of us swap positions with the Greyhound men? Or even the Naxals? I know what the answers would be - I am doing my job and doing it fine. They were doing theirs.

I am still wondering what would have crossed the minds of these securitymen when faced with imminet death. Does a high level of dedication and supreme motivation for what one believes in - his/her duty and mission in life - put out the fear of such an end? Or does it merely become a personal and lonely fight to remain alive? Is the dividing line very blurred? I have no answers yet.

Reminds me of a few words of Jimmy Santiago Baca:
No matter how serene things may be in my life, how well things are going, my body and soul are two cliff peaks from which a dream of who I can befalls, and I must learn to fly again each day, or die. Death draws respect and fear from the living. Death offers no false starts. It is not a referee with a pop-gun at the starting of a hundred yard dash. I do not live to retrieve or multiply what my father lost or gained. I continually find myself in the ruins of new beginnings, uncoiling the rope of my life to descend ever deeper into unknown abysses, tying my heart into a knot round a tree or boulder, to insure I have something that will hold me, that will not let me fall. My heart has many thorn-studded slits of flame springing from the red candle jars. My dreams flicker and twist on the altar of this earth, light wrestling with darkness, light radiating into darkness, to widen my day blue, and all that is wax melts in the flame - I can see treetops !

A Killing Time

Leave it to God. That's what she told me....

It might have taken me quite a bit of time to own up but yes, it's a difficult phase in life. Everything I touch vanishes these days. Things I looked forward to have simply turned away from me. I thought I knew where I am headed. Now sometimes, I am forced to feel I have no clue. None whatsoever. It's frustrating, to say the least. You can always put up a brave face. Deep inside though you know it's merely a facade.

Why is it happening, I can't tell you. Sometimes, I even ask myself have I done enough to deserve what I am seeking in life. To be honest, I have no idea at all.

Then suddenly, it becomes all the more difficult if you set yourself parameters of success and failure. When you look at yourself as another one in the race, the path suddenly becomes tedious. The joy of the journey fades away. Getting drawn into comparison is something I always despised. But that's exactly what I am doing. Looking at myself through others' parameters of success and failure.

I always called myself a drifter. Took life as it came. So why am I bothered now? It probably is the right time to drift awhile without losing hope. Didn't someone say hope is the thing with feathers?

As nothing goes my way, I am back to things I have always cherished; things which are close to my heart; memories of great times with someone special; thoughts of people who have inspired me. I know it's time to hang on. May be a little more. The road will appear. Sooner than later.

The sensational Ayn Rand said:

It is easy to stumble. It's easy to lose way. Easier when you think you have not got what you want in life.

In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours.

That Feeling!

Someone who said love is a heady feeling must have been drunk.

I always thought love grinds you down, shows you your basic self. And the biggest question then is, can you stand up to this self of yours? It is disturbing. For, it holds a mirror to you. Boy! that can put you off.

Now, if you dont have the guts to withstand that, stay off it. Because if you cant see yourself through that process which I believe is a gruelling test of human character, you dont deserve to love that special one.

I know, what do you want to ask? What's your basic self, right? Yes, that's you with all your flaws, all your insecurities intact. Utterly humane. Can you overcome them? Do you have it in you to resist them? It's a tough job, friend. It's hard work. Something you work on everyday. For, love makes you go through a world of emotions. From utter hopelessness to a sense of redemption. Probably, that's what makes love such a grand feeling. Almost death like.

As Neruda describes:
I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.
I love you only because it's you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.
May be January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.
In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and
I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you,
Love, in fire and blood..............

About this blog

If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, then all possibility of life is destroyed