Saturday, November 29, 2008


The other day, Mahesh had asked for a back-to-back session of two movies in my company (wonder why he still enjoys it) in lieu of an exchange duty that I had promised a colleague on a Sunday. Actually, Mahesh had been upset that I had said yes to her during weekend-it is his time after all. He demanded compensation. He was right. My very genuine problem is that I cannot say no. When she requested me to take up that duty in her place, I assumed she had a very very genuine reason to request me-and so I said yes without thinking twice. It meant a spoiled Sunday and a day away from Mahesh and kids. But that never happened, she said she would manage to go; my Sunday was saved and hence there were no back-to-back movie sessions.

Over the week, we forgot about it, in the course of long phone talks over what is going on in India; in the course of his efforts to persuade me to watch television; in the course of my dogged ‘no’ to exposing children to the situation for as long as I could help; and we forgot about it in the course of his cajoling that I must keep myself abreast of the current affairs.

Yester night, when the stress levels of the Mumbai shooting reached the zenith, he proposed that we go watch a movie. Why didn’t I say no? I made quick net searches and we decided to go to the PVR. Found that we could get two respectable tickets and reached there at 9:30 p.m. Which movie will we watch? We will see. The movie was slated to start at 10:55 p.m. Result-Two people-two tickets to "Dostana" in Mahesh’s favorite corner of the cinema, a fast emptying mall, an hour to spend in each other's company and perhaps a cup of coffee.


An honest confession-when I was readying myself to move out of the house, subconsciously I was preparing myself for a hostage situation. What if, while I and Mahesh are in the PVR, some terrorists lay siege to it? Consciously, I kept a hairbrush, wore a shawl and sneakers with thick cotton socks. Why, for God’s sake? Mad, wasn’t I? Consciously I wanted Mahesh to wear his warm clothing, he catches colds very easily. Took out an old cell phone, put it on charging mode, and kept it by Rasan’s bedside; just in case she wants to talk to us. Just in case we want to inform her that we are trapped. I wished I could keep a firearm with me. Should I take my red torch too? But the PVR people won’t permit that. But then, those supposed terrorists would have all the ammunition and they won’t wait for the permission of the PVR people. Hmm, I am not as smart as them to be able to smuggle it in. So, the idea was dropped. Kissed the half-asleep Rasan-did I linger a bit longer on her cheek? She wondered what had happened to Mom. She said, “Mmm, you smell like strawberry. Did you just eat one?” I laughed, put another blanket over her favorite pink one, said bye and went out. “Have a nice time, mom.”

Paranoid? I am not. Why this preparation then? When I and Mahesh move out on such nightly jaunts, we lock the house from outside so that no one is disturbed in case we choose to return by 2 a.m. Last night, I put a very small padlock-just for the sake of locking the house. In case, we are trapped inside the mall, I should be able to communicate to mama that they can get someone to break the lock easily. No, I was not paranoid, I was just preparing for an emergency. Downstairs, in the car, I double checked if I still had my cell phone with me, if Mahesh had both his phones with him. If I had a little extra money with me… but what would money do? No idea. Nothing perhaps, it could do nothing.

"Dostana" started at 10:55. Finished at 1:30 A.M. Total value for money. Had good laughs and moments of craziness. Came out of the Mall to a total empty parking lot. Why was I a little afraid?

No, no terrorist could have anything to gain out of taking hostage a solitary car and its two occupants.

We drove around on the deserted roads till 3 a.m.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

India, My India

It was in those days when parents could not hide the newspapers from us. It was in those days when we had hardly any distractions. It was then that YOU decided for me what course my teenage will take. You sent letters of open threat to my house, my parents, and my friends’ parents. We grew up in times of utter anarchy. We grew up looking at our 15-16 year old classmates dying horrible deaths as ‘those boys’ running for their dear life in the open fields of Punjab. As children, we were awed by the museums featuring the pictures of ‘boys’ yet unbearded and already garlanded in ‘encounters’. You decided when my friend’s father, who shaved his beard and lived without a turban, would die. You decided how much scare could I take before my father came home. You decided that I would cover my head when I go to school, would not visit a beauty parlour and will not get my hair cut. You decided who I would meet, how I would live-because it suited your plan of action, it suited your religious fundamentalism. You decided that my parents tell me about the ways to save myself if you or your mates happened to come hold me and my home at ransom. You decided that I live with a burning tyre around my neck for the rest of my life. You decided that I grow up hating India.

I won’t allow you to corrupt my child’s mind.

“Mama, Is India unsafe?” “Mama, Should we be living here?”
“Why not child?” “India is our home. India is safe. Where do we live if not here?”

You WILL not decide for my child if her country is safe for her…
You will not gloat thinking she is having nightmares after watching the bare bloody footprints and shoes scattered in civilized wilderness.
She will watch Tom and Jerry for as long as she wants.
At least till she has children of her own.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I Drive All Night

I drive all the way
In the middle of the night
To smell you-
Will you drive me away from the road?
Will you open your arms and
take me into your house?

That empty bottle
Of armani black code
Keeps you on my shelf.
You do not even know
What keeps me
in love…
To drive me crazy enough
To drive in the middle of the night to reach you.

Long silences of absence
of stealing looks,
and turning away…

What became of
That drive through the night
To reach you?

Thursday, November 20, 2008


This was originally thought and written in Punjabi. Original version in Gurmukhi is here. I am not very good either at Maths or at Hindi-kindly bear with me.

kabhi kabhi
hisab kitab kartey
samikaran asantulit ho jatey hain.

swaal suljaatey
kitna dhyan rakhti hoon
barabar ke nishan se
is paar ka tol
barabar ke nishaan se
us paar ke tol
ke barabar rahey.

jama, manfi kartey tang aa jati hoon
varshon ke abhyas ke baad bhi
jab samikaran sahi nahi hotey
gussa aata hai hisab ke teacher par-
mujhey kyon nahi sikhaya
yeh samikaran samaan karna?
barabar ke nishan ke is ore ko
barabar ke nishan ke us ore ke barabar karna?

bhag, guna, ghatao, jod-mere bas ke nahi shayad...
mere samikaran shayad
youn hi doltey rahengey?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday Tag

Once upon a time, I was tagged by Devaki. I was required to write about characters – real or imaginary - in literature that attract me enough that I can identify with them or remember them from past to share them with you. Yes, once upon a time because it was in June. The heat in the North overtook me so badly that I absolutely forgot about it and now when I was trying to finish my long pending tasks in short days of winter, it popped up as an admonishment. Not that the graceful Devaki ever reminded me. But Bandey ko khud bhi toh sharm aati hai na ji. So here I am.

I love Anne Frank as we know her from The Diary of a Young Girl for her guts and for the very fact that she was for real, that she had the courage to bring to us the horrors of war as she and the people around her lived it. I admire her because she was innocent enough to feel blessed even during the times of trial. Another character that I love for her innocence is Tess from Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. Joan of Arc in Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan always leaves me speechless because of her sheer faith in what she believes in, in her courage in the face of opposition by the forces that were literally and figuratively a whole lot larger than her. Her innocence in her impatience to perform while the so-called wise ones preferred to wait for her to prove the existence of the “voices” that talked to her.

Two characters that I admire despite the lack of innocence are Lady MacBeth (Macbeth-William Shakespeare) and Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind (Margaret Mitchell). Lack of innocence, yes; but not lack of courage and grit. These two female characters tried to get everything by hook or by crook. The singleness in achieving their respective aims is what gets them my admiration. However it does not mean that I approve of Madame MacBeth’s bloody decisions. But yes, a Scarlett tearing the emerald green curtains off her windows to stitch a formal gown definitely has stayed on in my mind.

A naughty demon Mephostophilis from Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus is my darling especially for turning up in the costume of a Franciscan friar in all his naughtiness and evil. This reminds me of the cute little imp Tom Sawyer from the Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain too.

Ayn Rand never fails to fascinate me with her characters like John Galt and Howard Roark who are a symbol of human power over mediocrity and Gail Wynand for being as real as he could . I admire Dominique Francon too but somehow I feel she could have done without the destructive streak-but then like my torchlight, what would the story be without a twist. Kira from We, The Living has been a wow character in my memory.

A few more characters that come back to me again and again from the past readings are Thomas Shadwell (Cos he was the king of the dunces. And we adulate kings, don’t we?) from MacFlecknoe by John Dryden, and Shylock for the sheer evil that he represents. I have always imagined the latter with long protruding canines with inbuilt straws (Yaar, to facilitate drinking of blood). And how can I forget Lucky Santangelo? I like her because she is the ideal mixture of richness, smartness and looks-Thank you Jackie Collins.

Milkha Singh, after I read his autobiography Flying Sikh-Milkha Singh in class 8th, is the earliest hero that I remember in my life. This book is in Punjabi, it contains the memories from his earliest days to the struggle he had to do to make both ends meet while also trying to realize a dream to run in the Olympics. And run he did, barefoot. Though he has no Olympic medal to his credit, he is my hero. Hero-for having a supreme survival instinct, for having made the best of all the opportunities life offered him. The one paragraph I remember the best from his autobiography is his memory of defeating death by a hair’s breadth. During the Partition riots he, an orphaned child of merely 12-13, happened to board a train to get to India. Now this compartment had some Muslims in it. It so happened that Muslim rioters also came there in search of sundry prey. An old man in his compartment hid him under his seat and saved him. We are grateful to that old man for gifting us our Milkha (treasure).

I could add more, but I think five months is a long time to do a tag. I cannot give myself another five minutes now to think.

I do not dare tag anyone now. Kis muh se tag karoon??

Monday, November 10, 2008

Torched Tiger

The situation:
The White Tiger - Shamelessly Borrowed
Eveready Torch-Rupees 70 only
Experience-Out of the World

And now, The Story:

I was in New Delhi today. Pinku mentioned she had Arvind Adiga' s novel. I started to drool. Requested her to lend it to me. Very kindly she brought it to lend me the copy. It was still daylight when I left Delhi and I started to read it while enjoying the luxury of not driving and of sitting in the backseat of the car. Travelling alone, I was not obliged to talk. I knew it would soon be dark and was conspiring inside my mind and wishing for a pen-light. Stopped at Murthal for a tea-break. Had a sandwich, and a nice masala tea and asked the Panchranga Achar guy to find me a torch to buy, but not before I had spent 150 odd bucks on achar. You see, anything to read this book. He was such a sweet guy ( was he?), went three shops away and found me this nice red torch. My driver has been wondering about the health of my brain but has also been kind enough to ignore my quirks. Mahesh called up on the way to ask where I had reached. I said I have been reading. "Reading, how? In the dark?" It had totally slipped out of my mind that he didn't know I had been reading by the torchlight. I told him and giggled. "Now I know where Rasan has inherited such stuff from." "From which side, Mahesh?" "Of course from you."

Result-6 hours, two traffic jams, countless naps, two nippo batteries in the torch and 250 out of 321 pages finished. The torch still going strong for another novel !

And now I hit the bed. Been up since 3 a.m. Last night I had slept only for 2 hours.

Normal Life!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Once Bitten, Twice Phooled

Why do we go to watch horror movies? We spend money to get scared. Life is so scary anyways.

Well, I was a fool to go watch ‘Phoonk’ on the instigation of little baby devil KiranG and she kept clinging to me all through the movie. Then, on the instigation of my personal devil Mahesh, I went to watch ‘1920’ and I kept clinging to him all through the movie. Now, if you commit a mistake once, you are forgiven, arnet you? Anjaan baccha samjh ke… But when you commit the same mistake twice, you are labeled as a Phool. That’s what M calls me. Well, the fool is back after watching the movie 1920 (This post was written a few days back and the fool forgot to post it). Both ‘Phoonk’ and ‘1920’ have many common points. Both talk about a soul sauntering inside a human body. Both talk about an atheist protagonist who, in the end, takes the shelter of God and exorcises his loved one of the devil’s designs. The devil works overtime in the form of a bad soul inside the loved one’s body. I won’t say which one I eiwwed better because I have not gotten over many scenes yet. While ‘Phoonk’ was monotonous in its angles, cinematography and was very average- going by RGV’s previous crime record; ‘1920’ was rich in wow scenes shot nicely in Europe, and the capturing of the period mood of the 1920s. Not that 1920s featured much in the movie anyways, except the heroine’s dresses and gloves and parasols. She is a cute one. The girl who played Gayatri (another pic here) resemebled Majaz to such an extent that I kept on boring into Mahesh’s ears by whispering , “I gotta IM her to ask her if she has acted in a movie.”

Phool, Phool, Phool.

I wont argue on the theme, if it encourages superstition, if it supports exorcism, if it supports the presence of after-life, if it ….

Coming back home at 1.45 a.m. on wide, lonely roads with loud music blaring in the car (that is my devil's favorite way to unwind), me and Mahesh as logical beings concluded that

one, The power of love can do anything-yes that makes the two of us, Phools.

And two, that one must believe that Supreme Power called God at all times. That again makes it the two of us-totally incorrigible believer-Phools.

Disclaimer-This post is not an effort to shake the atheists’ lack of faith. I respect their choice while I defend the right of believers to maintain their own faith. As you can see, this post is about Phools alias flowers.