Saturday, 10 November 2007

Celebrate Good Times!

Just when you get yourself ready to pass a perfectly normal evening watching the daily dose of depressing news on the tele, the world surprises you.

This was during Ganesh Chaturti and celebrations were taken especially seriously in my neighbourhood. I was used to bumping into a painstakingly constructed pandal around every street corner. The loudspeakers, playing a puzzling mix of bhajans and crass regional film songs, no longer woke me up at the ungodly hours of the morning. I made my peace with the Lord and then proceeded to ignore the loud processions outside my door.

Then, if our religious calendar was to be believed, ages after all the Ganeshas should have been safely at the bottom of Sankey Tank, one group of devotees from across the block decide to hold the grand finale of their celebrations. And what a celebration it was!

They started out early that evening—we heard them. When they finished their rounds around the neighbourhood and came back near home, it was well into the night. But they had lost none of their enthusiasm or energy. It was just as alive, colourful, loud and noisy. I suppose a healthy mix of religious fervour, cheap alcohol and a smoke or two of something helped them get along rather well.

The beats of drums announced the arrival of the carnival from the end of the street. The deity’s entourage was a merry band of performers. There were dancers holding aloft huge garish masks that swayed dangerously with their every step. There were stilt walkers with their heads in the trees and the electricity poles, high in more ways than one. They were men in animal costumes, clowns, and dancers. The young boys (who really should have been in bed at that time of the night) seemed to be having the most fun—dancing like that was their only purpose in life.

Entertaining, they were. But from a distance. One ‘cow’ from the group had evidently and completely lost it some blocks away. He insisted on chasing the children all around. The brats were no better, encouraging such behaviour by pulling at his tail and sticking their tongues out at him. And they had to run in my general direction. The look of pure terror that must have crossed my face when the stupid cow came charging at me was probably comparable only to the expression on my neighbour’s 18 month old when the smart-alec cow stuffed its big painted nose in the poor child’s face. Thankfully at twenty, I am still small enough to hide behind Daddy Dearest, which was my vantage viewing point throughout the hullabaloo.

The cows weren’t the worst. A clown for some unfathomable reason took it upon himself to socialise with the good folks of the neighbourhood. When will people learn that people with painted faces and unnatural behaviour are in no way funny?

But I wasn’t the only one cowering in her pyjamas that day. My dog, a supposedly fearsome Mudhol Hound, didn’t know where to hide. She didn’t want to lose her face among all the dogs of our street, who by then were creating a cacophony, but she had sense enough to go to the furthest corner of the compound and bark her head off. Unfortunately for her, two of the Cows, the ones that weren’t scarring little children for life by chasing them all around, had decided to take a break and had parked their behinds gingerly on our back gate. If there’s anything scarier than the face of a painted cow, it’s the derriere of the cow in question. At the sight, my dog stopped dead in her tracks, yelped and bolted the other way before anyone could say ‘moo’.

While they were waiting for the rest of the party to catch up, two of the dancers thought they had just enough time for a quick canoodle in the park right there. A stilt walker however needed more than a little love to keep up his strength. If there was anything more fascinating than watching him tower over the rest, it was watching somebody trying to feed him up there in the tower.

Then the brightly lit idol followed eventually in full grandeur. In its dark shadow followed a frail man pulling the large generator that was supplying the electricity for the evening. Whadya know—it wasn’t divine light after all.

One by one, all the performers moved along. Their audience, glad that God had consented to visit their doorsteps, folded their hands in quick prayer and proceeded to their warm beds to sleep off the entertainment. The last to leave was the photographer and video-guy capturing the whole thing on tape. He had to pull out his extension wire from our house plug point and wind up yards of wire before he was off again!

The night was calm again.

But was it over? Not nearly! At the other end of the road, in the light of the street lamp, a small group of men were getting ready to—believe it or not—set up another Ganesh Pandal!

The good times never stop!


I was so caught up in figuring out why Mir Ranjan Negi would want to have anything to do with Reality Dance shows with as much melodrama as the primetime soaps they've dethroned, that I failed to notice the dangerous effect he was having on my folks. Dad's so inspired by the compliments heaped upon the man week after week despite an evident lack of dancing skills that he now considers it within norms of acceptability to dance in public again.
I knew I shouldn't have let Mum n Dad watch the same stuff on TV as me.

Friday, 26 October 2007


I was living dangerously, hanging by a single thread of reason.
Of course it snapped.
I landed on my feet but, to stand and stare at frayed edges.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

When the star doesn't Have to go out

"Oh, no, he'll come back. We all come back. These private little revolutions always die. The compromise is always made...every man does have a star. The star of one's honesty. And you spend your life groping for it, but once it's out it never lights again. I don't think he went very far. He probably just wanted to be alone to watch his star go out..."
-All My Sons, Arthur Miller

Scary thoughts. Harsh. Pessimistic. Fatalist. So condescending. It doesn't even pretend to be regretful while Being Realistic.


Excuse me while I hang on to a bit of idealism.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Where the Tracks Meet

My train just came in.

I left teary Disappointment behind. Doubt sneaked in after Me. After all, we were both Ticketless. Sense and Strength said they'll join me next stop. I hope they aren't late as usual. They said they hoped I've packed enough Faith for the journey. I have. Only I forgot the Patience that goes with it. Guess it's plain ol' Stubbornness that makes me sit back and enjoy the sights now.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Litter Bug

I have thrown not more than three chocolate wrappers and bits of paper on the road, and that too only because I tried to basketball them into the dustbin and failed. But I still can’t escape the ignominy of a carbon footprint. And now, making my already guilt-ridden conscience worse, I have on my head the shame of being responsible for a mountain of cyber litter.

Every time they ask me to type in my email i.d and my p******d I feel like an annoying, messy 4-year old who dribbles dinner all over the clean carpet just to say I-was-here. I know they said, “Never delete a mail again!” but does that mean I save mails from 1999? What are they trying to make me do—flood the world antiques market with worthless correspondence? The same send-this-to-twenty-people-or-you-will-have-a-lousy-love-life forwards lie latent in my inbox as cruel reminders of at least seventeen years of accumulated bad luck. Seventeen into four years, if you count all my four accounts, each associated to different personal profiles posted on networking sites (five and counting) with Friends I didn’t know I had. Unread daily updates and newsletters go to a cyberspace thrash can which I would (*shudder*) dread to have to empty....

And now I've gone and got my muddy footprints all over the blog world. Like the guilt of being a litter-bug wasn't embarrasment enough, I now have the added responsibility of ensuring that every word I put up online counts for something.

No pressure.

Friday, 22 June 2007

To Cap it All...Chapter 1

On a normal day, it took Vikki seven minutes to cycle back home after school.
Today, he had taken twenty minutes just for half the distance.

Chandu Uncle, from behind the billing counter of Chandu and Sons Tiffin and Condiments, was the first to suspect that something was wrong.
At first, when he saw Vikki wheeling his cycle along meticulously slowly, he hoped for a profitable and not exactly rare visit from the boy and his famous high-school boy appetite. “Ah!” he thought. “Vikki’s not cycling at the speed of sound for once,” he thought. “I’m glad we just made a fresh round of samosas,” he thought. “Here he comes!” he thought.

But the boy walked past without as much as a wistful sniff at the newly baked cakes or a stolen glance at the freshly fried samosas.

Chandu and all Sons of the establishment were set to be attacked by panic at this undisguised display of disinterest and apparent customer dissatisfaction. But then they noticed the downcast eyes, the trudging steps, the frequent and rather loud sighs, the glumness etc and they were relieved. “Ah, there must be something wrong,” Chandu thought. In fact, if the proud owner of Chandu and Sons Tiffin and Condiments was to later recount the tale, he would have sworn to have seen a menacingly grey cloud ominously following the boy.

Which is odd, considering that it was a particularly sunny day, with the sun bearing down mercilessly on our young (tragic) hero’s head, and therein lying his problems.

You see, Vikki had lost his cap. And it wasn’t even his to lose. It was ‘borrowed’ from his brother.
[To be continued...]

Tuesday, 22 May 2007


Wisps of smoke are hard to catch.
They glimer in the dark.
They tantalise.
Curling strokes
That slip back into the realm of thought.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Long Live!

8 out of 10 people in the Cool* People list find their names on the list only because they Burned Out, not Faded Away.

I could invoke poster-boy for irrefutable iconic falls and tragic loss of Cool, Wacko Jacko and no more, and comfortably rest my case.
I could say Britney. But that would be overkill.

But think Elvis. If he hadn’t … you know … he’d have been old and fat and doped and selling himself silly while on the fast track to bankruptcy. Now he gets to be God, the King and the second richest dead person.
Thank the heavens that we didn’t have to see the richest dead person become anything but the Cobain persona he left behind.
Che. He’d be like Castro. Not a symbol of revolution and (personally, I would say, misplaced) icon for every rebel yell, but a power-hungry, dictatorial communist who’s good only for getting the US’ goat.
Gandhi even. So he went when he was old. But he went before he turned into a politician and everything the word implies, and when we still liked him enough to make him father of the nation and martyr his name forevermore.
And if the Blonde that Gentlemen Prefer and stayed around for a little longer, the world would have soon forgotten all its fantasies about flying white dresses and remembered a sorry prescription pills addict.
Some never had any chance but to fall authoritatively into legend.
James Dean was always driving too fast; Jim Morrison was too deep into Rock and Roll to ever be anything else….
(Makes me wonder how Axl Rose is still around?!?)

My palm tells me I have an especially long lifespan. So it rankled a little that I, by my own definition, have little chance at Cool. But now, I and my bucket of poporn have settled into our front row seat.
I'll watch them come and go in blazes of glory. Becaue, it’s not about quitting when you’re winning or about retiring gracefully. It’s about being fortune’s favourite and the handful that get there.

I can live with that.

Note: For the 2 out of 10 exception, there’s a Keith Richards (!!!) and a Hugh Hefner (I mean, this guy has a rabbit named after him!), attitude firmly tongue in cheek and eccentricity allowed as genius.

* I’d define this as institutional, revolutionary, with cult like following, not necessarily indicating my personal taste.

Friday, 11 May 2007

The Appointment That Never Was

Stopped time slowly ticks
A leaky tap's water drips -
The phone still didn't ring.


It's consoling. That even if the world ends today, somewhere is The King in a pink spaceship to represent the human race.
We should however at this juncture hope that nobody else Randomly picks up Dent's (shall we say) ticket to travel first class.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

The Big G

One day, somebody in an evidently inebriated state decided to compliment my mother on her ginger juice. Since then, what started out as a culinary experiment has morphed into an exhaustive annual exercise comparable only to her efforts at making tomato ketchup.
I’ve tried reasoning with her that ginger is best left in the medicine cupboard, and even then, rarely (if ever) used, but to no avail.

This time, the ginger juice monster in her lay latent for a good twelve months, when it burst forth in all vengeance demanding a couple of extra hands to do the very dirty work for her, whence my forced volunteering of labour and kind.

I should have left home when she came armed with a two-foot tall sac packed with various sized and shaped stems of the particular underground variety in question. But I didn’t and it was worse than I feared.

My first task was to clean the wretched stem-vegetable. Ever cleaned mud off a bucket full of tangled roots in numbing cold water and then waited the rest of the day to be able to feel your fingers again, only to be told you did it all wrong in the first place?

My further services were required to grate the lot of ginger. I suppose there was a certain sadistic pleasure to be got out of shredding the g while continually mentioning the absolute irreverence I held for it. Until it avenged itself by making my eyes water and murdering a couple of hundred olfactory epithelial cells.

I weathered the dense reek that covered every inch of my house and person for three days, as the elaborate process of making the juice unravelled. The golden brown liquid menacingly simmered in a huge (what can only be called a) cauldron. (Who had to scamper up the atta to bring it down?)

But my contributions weren’t yet complete. I also had the unenviable job of scooping out gooey goo left over after the preparation and dunking it dollop by slow, messy dollop into the home’s compost pit, uninvited, into the humble abode of a rat family and the roaches. The stains still haven't left my nails.

I realise what a thankless job it is, when I am further assigned to fill the (by now) ready juice into ten bottles, all waiting for me in a line. Given the responsibility, I spill not a drop, working with immense precision despite a wonky ladle. Mum waits till bottle no. 10 is full to taste a bit of the concoction and realises it needs “some more lime.” Out she pours all ten bottles worth back into the cauldron to repair the apparent damage. I’m not pleased. I pour the improved product back in, this time rather ferociously, spilling about a bottle’s worth, and still finding that we now have enough to fill twelve bottles.

So now I’m sticky and no amount of soap can rid me of the ginger stink on me.

Mum forced some g juice down my protesting throat. I know I made a face to crack mirrors and informed her that it was no less foul than last year’s.
“It’s good for colds,” she said in an attempt at justification.
“But I don’t have a cold.” Just in case she hadn’t noticed.
“And you never will.”

Honestly Mum, I’ll take my chances with the cold.


Crisp breakfast bread crust crumbled onto his neatly pressed chocolate-striped shirt and tumbled onto his limited edition style 0N5-sepia trousers. Carelessly flicked onto the mahogany and teak custom side table they were done paying for. ("It looks so elegant when burnt ochre evening light fills the room," she said.) Blown onto the pale terracotta floor till they landed like floating dust spots beside nearly invisible coffee stains on the earthy carpet….

Who was he kidding. The bread was burnt, and it was all just brown and that’s all he was. Brown. What was ever good enough to be a colour.


I'll try.

Really hard.

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