December 22, 2012

Borrowed Camera Photography

Everyday we spend two hours in the sun. This is perhaps the most pleasant time of my wintered days. She wears her name on her fingers and laughs that everyone in her family has the same name. I had cracked this joke a few days back. Now its Ours.

December 18, 2012

Poppy Shame

I was driving back home. At a busy junction where I usually turn left to my colony, I was stopped by a scooter standing in my way. The man next to it signaled me to wait. I acknowledged his request and upon realizing that a favorite was playing on the radio, increased the volume. Suddenly I got embarrassed - I had caught my self singing too loudly and there were lots of people around. I'm sure most of them were not even looking but it made me uneasy. Slightly. I reduced the volume and decided I had been waiting for longer than expected. I looked up to honk at the man with the scooter. He stood there with his helmet on, opened his belt, unbuttoned his trousers, zipped down, tucked his shirt in and repeated the steps backwards. He signaled me (again!) to wait, casually turned around, sat on his scooter and rode away.

The shock of what I had just seen in broad daylight slowly turned into an ironic smile. I remembered a remark a friend had once made - unlike men, women are socialized to feel shame. I laughed to myself, shook my head and decided to move on. I put the car in gear, pressed the clutch and before I could accelerate, an obnoxious black skoda with blaring music shamelessly zipped pass me.

November 26, 2012

November 20, 2012

Mar Gaya Saala

I will openly write about his death. I will openly say he should have died long time back. I will read other people's posts on this. I will like them and comment on them. I will agree with them and pass them on. I will have conversations, hold discussions, send emails, messages, scream slogans and or do whatever the hell I want to do. Come arrest me if you want.

November 16, 2012

The Rockstar of my film!

Suddenly remembered how I bullied him into singing a song for me on camera. 
I think it happened a year ago 

November 08, 2012

Slight Alteration

You are allowed to call it a Sea Crush if it happens between 15th October and 15th November.
You need not be next to the sea. Strictly for people 25 yrs and above.

I have three at the moment :)

November 07, 2012

Do Plateon Wala Baaja

Today I spent time in the sun with Ram. She offered to oil my hair and I jumped at the opportunity. I sat on a low mudda in front of her and held the oil bottle. He poured a little on her palm and softly caressed my hair. I never realized her touch was so soft. She told me to cut my hair. I reminded her she wanted me to grow it. She got confused. Less than a minute and we were done. I protested. She protested. Her hands start hurting after a while, she said. I took her hands in mine and started to press them. She wanted a massage instead. I laughed. I ran inside enthusiastically and reappeared with a moisturizer. This time I massaged her. Her feet, her arms, her legs. All dry. Her parched skin soaked the cream rapidly. We talked about a vegetable. She explained a recipe. By now her skin was beaming in the sun. I proceeded with removing her rings to reach between her fingers. Smaller parts of her I had not touched. As she spoke about the first time she used a two piece telephone, my fingers ran over the bulging veins. Beautiful green veins protruding from her paper skin. I decided to go a little strong. It hurt her. She abused me in Derawali. I laughed and told her she needed to be stronger.

We sat quietly before she remembered something that she had left behind in Pakistan. Lost in the kaleidoscope of her million gleaming wrinkles I looked up at her. She said she had left behind 'do plateon wala baaja.' If we still had it, she calculated, we could have earned a lakh from it.

November 05, 2012

Your Laughter

Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy boy
who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes
and close them,
when my steps go
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
light, spring
but never your laughter
for I would die.

-- Pablo Neruda

November 04, 2012

Ha! I'm not 25 anymore!

I woke up this morning and made the following observations about my life:

1. I'm 26 now and really 26 does not have as much character as 25. I dont think I can write revelations about this age like I could two days back. 26 is irrelevant. Like Tuesdays. (two of my friends recently talked about Tuesdays) Can be easily be deleted from our lives without much damage.

2. The happiest time of the year for me is 15th October to 15th November.

3. I have been thinking of buying a new camera, an edit machine and a smart phone. I tell myself I can only have one of the three things. I have no money so my rich relatives may have to contribute. I also tell myself that I must not become an Apple whore. I have been having this conversation with myself for a year now.

4. Its also been a year since I started writing this blog. READ THIS I never thought I'd last. I did. Hi!

5. My friends think my blog is just like me (errr who else is it supposed to be like?) Someone laughed and said it was so punjabi (spl reference to the choice of the backdrop) and then some one laughed at the very name. Really? Dude Chotusing. Gao beta Gao! IS SUCH A FANTASTIC NAME!

Now time to show off. A recent masterpiece. I call it 'borrowed camera photography'
Special Diwali Gifts for those who guess what this is :)

October 24, 2012

Bracket Poetry

(Its not about you)
Its about me
(heard that before)

Its about telling myself 
(two drinks later)

that I still love you
and I want to have you

(only because you happen to be here)

for the night

(and we know its going to be good)

September 21, 2012

Psycho Sickness

I have been sleeping for more than 16 hours everyday. I am told the best way to get over your sickness is to sleep through it. It doesn't take much out of me. I swallow my medicine, switch the fan off, wrap half a quilt around and shut my eyes. I sleep well. That's perhaps the only time when I feel well. At all other times I feel drowsy - sleep and sleeplessness overlap each other, I feel weak - there is a strange ache at the back of my head, and I feel depressed.

Sickness is depressive. You feel terrible for yourself. You drown in self pity, your body refuses to stand by you and your mind just has too much time to think. So you think of all sorts of things. Useless things. About ghosts from your past and of potential ghosts of the future.

I tried to get out of the house today to catch a film with friends. I was rather excited given that I have been on house arrest for all these days. But as fate would have it, we got stuck in traffic, decided not to watch the movie, couldn't find another place for cheap tickets so drove back. I felt sick again. I got out of the car at some point and caught an auto back home. I cried incessantly. Till I was back in my bed and in the same place where I could allow myself to slip into the oblivion of my sleep. I slept for hours. Woke up. Lost. 

I have been thinking why I cried so much. Felt bad for my self I guess, irritated at the thought of not having enough energy to stay out or depressed for being rejected by a friend who I loved so much. A friend who used to treat me and my sickness with a lot more love and a lot more warmth. 

See. Too much time to think. 

September 18, 2012

I'm sick


This space
we're trying to occupy
This middle ground
does not exist


I'm sick
of writing
about you

September 11, 2012

Good Looking People

This game we play with ourselves. The game of narcissism. The obsession with archiving our lives and the obsession with constantly finding ways to resist it. Many years back a friend introduced the idea of not clicking photographs on trips we made together. I was amused. Why does everything have to be photographed? she said. I remember that vacation. I told myself how liberating it was - not having to think about what to click, why to click, how to click, Click Click Click.

These memories are like photographs, another said. So for a month, I spent remembering my past as a series of pictures. Neither digital not film. No jpegs either. Raw? Maybe. Easy to edit. None of them were sepia as they tell us. Neither colour nor black and white (FYI - black and white are colours too)  

Anyway. I made pictures out of memories. Then took some positives and made stories around them. Narrated stories. Narrated my self. Realized how Raw they were. We appear to appear before people through stories from Raw photographs.

Obsessed about seeing ourselves in photographs. I can't remember a single time when I saw myself in a photograph and not wondered how good or bad I look. This obsession with looking good. Looking good before good looking people. The obsession of looking good in your own archive.

Photograph by the Man with the Camera

Another agreed, the fad these days is to archive yourself but cleverly appear to not care. The bug struck me too. It helps in writing definitions of the self, you see. Definitions of yourself through labels you use to appear before good looking people. These labels are very important.

What do you do? he said. Nothing, she said. But what DO you do? I remember how weird yet brave that moment was before someone changed the subject. These moments should pause sometime. While everyone's frozen I should kiss them both. 

I should also stop. Ranting at the cost of a pending reading. Brooding about the inevitable.

And the irony of having posted this on my blog. This archive of mine!

September 01, 2012

Madness is enough

“Love is never enough. Madness is enough. It is complete, sufficient unto itself. You can only stand outside it, as a woman might stand outside a prison in which her lover is locked up. From time to time, a well-loved face will peer out and love floods back. A scrap of cloth flutters and it becomes a sign and a code and a message and all that you want it to be.”

Em and the Big Hoom

August 26, 2012

If you're 25

You have probably

1. Discovered your ex-boy/girl friend's wedding pictures on facebook

2. Realised how much damage you have done to your body in younger days (you might have also tried to go off alcohol and cigarettes for a week!)

3. Been to the gym, left it and joined it again

4. Discovered your friends' sudden interest in cooking and taking pictures of food to put up on facebook

5. Heard your friends say 'Still? Why? When will you Stop?' when you tell them about the new MA/Mphil/PhD course you've joined

6. Understood words like 'manglik' 'double manglik' 'shani-rahu-ketu' and ideas about marrying and divorcing trees

7. Dealt with the fact that you'll be 26 soon and maybe it doesn't really matter anymore

8. Lost hope of falling in love if you haven't already

For more information on this crucial age please read THIS

Thank you

Lots of love

Miss 25 going on 26!

August 23, 2012


to know
from inside
and then
from outside

August 21, 2012

To a wanderer and a friend

'...words are spoken by the camp-fires, in the shared solitude of the sea, in riverside villages, in resting places surrounded by forests - words are spoken that take no account of race or colour. One heart speaks - another one listens; and the earth, the sea, the sky, the passing wind and the stirring leaf, hear also the futile tale of the burden of life.'

-- Joseph Conrad

August 19, 2012

She is the one

Name: Ram Pyari
Father's name: Ram Chander
Mother's name: Ram Bai
Favorite activity: This

August 15, 2012


While kites fly
tied to invisible threads
the sky drizzles
to tease
And my friends abroad
do their duty
of making the Indian flag
their profile picture

August 13, 2012

Poetry Shoetry

For a long time now;
we have stood
on the rooftops of stories
believing this city is ours

-- Kishwar Naheed (shared by Ufaque)

August 11, 2012

Like you


Someone asked
if we talk
I said
we do 
about you
of course


Someone said
I laugh like you


And I laughed
just like you


And just like that
When I ate alone
You appeared

August 10, 2012

Appear Disappear


The thought
that I have finally forgotten you
is also the thought
that reminds me of you


The thoughts
are finally my own
(but not quite)


I play this game
of remembering and forgetting


You just
appear disappear


I live in my head
and you
of course
live somewhere else

August 09, 2012

Too busy for love


I fell
out of love
you didn't
send that last post card
I asked for


In moments of mad rush
I miss being loved

July 29, 2012

This time last year

This time last year
was full of screams
loud insulting screams

It was full of tears
shameless tears soaked in self pity
in self doubt

it smelt of damp monsoon
algaed over the leaking wall
It smelt of dirty feet
and dirty thoughts

This time last year
was so angry
full of boiling silences

It was full of love
and full of
unimaginable hate

Smelt of bad people
with sweat patches
of bad behaviour
and bad words

This time last year
was sad
and slow

This time last year was so hard

But this time
this year
two monsoons since

I walk in the drizzle
with my face to the sky

July 25, 2012

On a lovely day

You get to be a student again!

July 24, 2012

On a loveless day

1. You eat alone
2. Three people refuse to oil your hair
3. Your phone doesn't ring

July 08, 2012

Laptop Wound

I woke up one morning to find a crack at the bottom right corner of my laptop screen. It was an internal crack which looked like the screen had been smashed from the outside. But really, I checked, it was inside. It looked like a broken glass piece embellished with colourful pixels and horizontal and vertical lines around it. The lines, very thin though, extend to the other ended of the screen. Since it was a two inch internal crack in a corner and I had no great plans to fix it (also I have no money) I decided to ignore it for a while and just work with the rest of the screen. Its been three days now and the laptop wound has only been growing. As of today it is 4x4 inches (double its original size!) and with more than 100 colourful lines every where. They are taking over my screen. My work area is shrinking! I feel there are people living inside my machine! I don't know how long this screen will last. As I am typing this one more line appeared before my eyes. This is really freaky shit! I wont survive I think.
Mayday! Mayday!
Somebodyyyyyy saaavvvvveee meeeeeee!!!!!

July 06, 2012


Every morning my grand ma breaks one tablet of Digene into nine pieces and eats them through the day.

July 04, 2012

Dear Vivek

I have a feeling you are reading this.
The mountains were calling. Have you left already?
To be honest, whatever is happening on your facebook wall
is freaking me out.
But the thought of you does make me miss you.
I wish we could go back to the village
and watch the fireflies on a moonless night.
Meet me at the anda pav stall?

June 23, 2012

Psycho Test II

You are a psycho:

1. If you spread a newspaper on your bed before letting your friend sit on it.
2. If you are afraid of bus germs more than auto germs
3. If you decide to climb a bus on the basis of how it looks from the outside
4. If you make your friend bring you carrots at 6.30 in the morning
5. If you have a total of 12 friends on facebook.
6. If you keep adding and deleting these 12 friends.
7. If you make travel plans with unconfirmed tickets and stress everyday about your movement up the waiting list
8. If your profile picture is of a bare chest with eight packs and male boobs.
9. If at some point in your life your pet line was 'let your beauty fill the sky'
10. If you're reading this and thinking 'oofya('

June 19, 2012

Psycho in the Summer

Dear Friend, 
You are going psycho in the summer if you consume any of the following on a daily basis:

1. Aam Panna
2. Mango Milk Shake
3. Mango flavored TANG
4. Fruity
5. Cut mangoes with vanilla ice cream
6. Plain cut mangoes
7. Mango Duet ice cream
8. Aam ka achar!

You are also a summer psycho is you do any of the following:

1. Enter the ATM for a quick AC blast when your friend has to withdraw money
2. Only travel by the Red AC bus and Delhi Metro
3. Make tan patterns on your feet and arms (with wrist watches, half/no sleeve tshirts, shoe straps etc)
4. Wear socks and gloves to prevent a tan
5. Enthusiastically wake up in the middle of the night to fill water in your cooler.
6. Go for a swim knowing very well that you'll bang into a zillion people in the pool
7. Constantly crib about how hot it is (Ha! You do the same in the winter)

Do me a favor. Listen to this. You'll feel better :)


Summer Psychoanalyst

May 31, 2012

I wonder if we can bond over our short hair

It's been more than two month since Amma stopped coming to our house. When my mum asked Prakashi, her daughter-in-law, she said Amma has now, after more than 100 years, started to lose her memory. Really fast. They have cut her hair short because she cant't take care of it anymore. I want to visit Amma and I fear she too won't recognize me.


May 29, 2012

On days like today

I doubt my work and wonder if I'm in the right place.

May 28, 2012

If you forget me

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land. 

-- Pablo Neruda

May 27, 2012

Walling Music

A song shared by a friend. A movie we're looking forward to - Gangs of Wasseypur

May 25, 2012

After watching my film

My friend said I laugh like my Bade Papa
Thank you for saying that. You don't know what you've done :)

May 22, 2012

To our silliness that travels with us

I was in Goa. It was Sunday. Kiki Bakshi and I were hungry. We decided to go eat a full english breakfast somewhere. So we set out on our hired red scooter. Name - 'Pleasure'. Kiki in front (and helmet to control mad hair). Me at the back (careful not to hurt already sprained foot). We got to some place, ate some Ham and cheese, Kiki ordered some bad papaya lassi and we were done. yeah, so much for english breakfast.

'Ab Kya Karein?'
'Chaltein hain'
'Kahan Jaogi?
"Kahin Bhi. We can go to the interiors of Goa. Find a jungle perhaps. We can get lost also. We have a lot of petrol in the scooter basically!'

So Kiki and I rode. We rode on a really sunny Sunday. Without sunscreen. Kept riding with the logic that if the beach was on our right, we had to keep going left. Into the interiors. We had plans to get lost. But how does one get lost when parallel roads and road signs all bring you back to the highway! We rode into dead ends of small hamlets, we rode up a steep road into a private property, got caught and were sent back. We rode behind a foreign cyclist who rode really really fast. We were determined to lose our selves on the road. And perhaps find something - a beautiful riverlet somewhere, a jungle with animal sounds, the controversial coal mines. Something! Anything!

We were getting desperate and I was getting bored. I cursed my broken foot. Lost interest in checking myself out the rear view mirror and complained about my tight bra. To console ourselves we stopped at an unimpressive river body, chatted with an old Konkani aunty, made stupid hand gestures to ask if there were snakes in the field, crossed a fisherman, slipped a little, laughed a little and sat in the sun. Harsh May sun. But feet dipped in muddy water felt good.

Then we were off again, we crossed another village, rode into a ferry with our scooter which dropped us to the village across the river. Suddenly we knew nothing about the place, or the road or the people or anything. We were no where close to the highway. We didn't use the 'go left' logic anymore. Our real adventure was about to begin. We drove past small villages, smaller lanes, crossing daring pink-yellow Goan houses, with men sitting outside on concrete chairs and women peering through small windows.

Then we drove past ghost villages.Not a single car, scooter or cycle on the road. Not a single pair of walking legs. Absolutely deserted. Although the place looked gorgeous. We were driving deep into it. Our narrow long road split the vast yellow landscape into two - spread out far and wide on either sides. Wind blew in our hair and ears. Suddenly Kiki decided to stop our scooter under an orange Gulmohar tree. I was relieved. We had been riding for hours. The tight bra finally came out, cold water splashed from a bottle to our faces and two cigarettes lit up as we sat down on the side of the road. After a while stood up to check myself out in the side mirror, wind dried hair looked perfect with orange gulmohar reflecting in the back. I looked on either side to check something. Not a soul. And then we did what we were dying to do in a secluded place like this.

We played Gustavo Santaolalla on Kiki's phone!

(Please play the following video to enjoy the music as you read)

Yes we played Gustavo Santaolalla! Reclining on our scooter that stood still on the narrow stretched road we looked to one side exploring the depths of the distance afar. We lived the moment. Allowed ourselves to feel the glamour of standing in the middle of yellow fields with a beautiful sun and a sky blue sky with strokes of pretty white clouds. The music played on and we soaked it all in - our silly little motorcycle diaries moment happened right there.

When we looked to each other - we burst out laughing. Uncontrollably. We laughed so hard. It was really some kind of madness. And my favourite so far!

Its Kiki's birthday today. So here's to you kiki - to our silliness that travels with us.
Happy Birthday.
I love you

(Now you can watch the rest of the video! or read this)

May 20, 2012


She sat in her bedroom soaking in the silence of the night. Soaking in the only time when people don't scream from the outside, when doors can remain shut and faces always in her face sleep away in oblivion. The only time in the house when no one talks, only fingers type and music plays from a laptop where the battery doesn't last. As the ink pen demands to write, the nip softly scraps on the surface of an old diary, letters permute to make sense to literate eyes. The lamp in the corner shines confidently, leaving water patterns on the wall, a silent click somewhere, eyes look to the fan which readjusts with heaviness and continues to fan. Effort-fully.

The tone of the room changes, music stops, the pen continues but words feel pressurized. From somewhere, guilt starts to crawl in. Something from the past just came alive. The stomach growls, spasms erupt in pain and relax. Back asks for a change of posture, muscles contract, wait to ease, eyes drop, fingers hurt for a lack of practice and she realizes all her body has done - is complain.

To conclude, let me share this medal with Franca

Franca Rame, my companion in life and in art who you, members of the Academy, acknowledge in your motivation of the prize as actress and author; who has had a hand in many of the texts of our theatre.


Without her at my side, where she has been for a lifetime, I would never have accomplished the work you have seen fit to honour. Together we've staged and recited thousands of performances, in theatres, occupied factories, at university sit-ins, even in deconsecrated churches, in prisons and city parks, in sunshine and pouring rain, always together. We've had to endure abuse, assaults by the police, insults from the right-thinking, and violence. And it is Franca who has had to suffer the most atrocious aggression. She has had to pay more dearly than any one of us, with her neck and limb in the balance, for the solidarity with the humble and the beaten that has been our premise.


The day it was announced that I was to be awarded the Nobel Prize I found myself in front of the theatre on Via di Porta Romana in Milan where Franca, together with Giorgio Albertazzi, was performing The Devil with Tits. Suddenly I was surrounded by a throng of reporters, photographers and camera-wielding TV-crews. A passing tram stopped, unexpectedly, the driver stepped out to greet me, then all the passengers stepped out too, they applauded me, and everyone wanted to shake my hand and congratulate me ... when at a certain point they all stopped in their tracks and, as with a single voice, shouted "Where's Franca?". They began to holler "Francaaa" until, after a little while, she appeared. Discombobulated and moved to tears, she came down to embrace me.

At that moment, as if out of nowhere, a band appeared, playing nothing but wind instruments and drums. It was made up of kids from all parts of the city and, as it happened, they were playing together for the first time. They struck up "Porta Romana bella, Porta Romana" in samba beat. I've never heard anything played so out of tune, but it was the most beautiful music Franca and I had ever heard.
Believe me, this prize belongs to both of us.

--  Dario Fo (excerpt from his Nobel prize lecture)

May 14, 2012

From 2008

Keep myself busy to let my mind off you
Keep myself mindlessly free
and busy my thought with you

My 90 years old friend

Name: Colonel Puran Chand Sethi
Born: 1922
Place: Dera Ismail Khan, North West Frontier Province, Pakistan
Trivia: I just attended his 90th birthday party!

May 12, 2012

The US Visa form

What is your purpose of trip to the U.S (please select your visa type)

1. Foreign government official
2. Temporary business pleasure visitor
3. Treaty trader or investor
4. Fiance(e) or spouse of a U.S. citizen
5. Academic or language student
6. Alien with extraordinary ability
7. Alien in transit
8. Internationally recognized alien
9. Other

May 08, 2012

Sea Crush

Definition: A crush on someone. A crush you haven't had in a long long time. It happens next to the sea. Quite and happy. Sometimes sounds like the waves. Nothing needs to be done. Or said. It has to be soaked in. You're allowed to have it when you're 25.

I have a Sea Crush at the moment. And it feels soo good!

April 30, 2012

A friend of mine

had a boy friend but made out with new boy.
New boy gave love bite.
We asked her to hide it with foundation/turtle neck/scarf.
She had other plans.
She made boyfriend believe he gave her that hickey!

April 22, 2012

Things you can do in Bombay and not in Delhi

1. You can sit by the sea at the end of the day.

2. You can sit by the sea and vent all your frustrations

3. If you have nothing to do you can just sit by the sea

4. You can sit by the sea, have bhutta, chai, chuski and kulfi and not blow up money at an expensive restaurant.

5. You can sit by the sea and talk/ not talk for hours

6. You can sit by the sea, feel the wind in your hair and watch the waves go crazy

7. You can sit by the sea and make memories

Yes the sea makes you cheesey!

PS. Of course you can do this in any other city which has the sea but not Delhi

April 18, 2012

For four years now

I have been asked a zillion times:

Do you like Delhi more or Bombay?

And every time I just want to say


April 07, 2012

A boy I met

rates cities according to the number of McDonalds outlets they have.

April 05, 2012

A girl I know

throws her bags from her second floor balcony because she doesn't like lugging them down the staircase.

When friends grow in front of your eyes

A guitarist who became a designer who became a writer,
has recently written this: 

March 25, 2012

Realisation at the age of 25

When I first arrived, this is what I thought. Six months into it, this is what I think:

1. At 25 you may not have a well defined career.

2. You can obsess about facebook or go off it for as long as you like, but when you return, at least 25 people at 25 would have/would have planned to get married. The fast ones will even give you baby pictures.

3.You can't do all nighters any more and go for class/office at 8 in the morning. You don't party late on weekdays now. Or you just bunk. Shamelessly.

4. You know where your grey hair is. And you're not plucking it out.

5. You slowly get over the initial paranoia of quarter life crises. (did you do the math?)

6. People around you start dying of cancer.

7. People around you start dying of old age. (Do the math again) And for the first time, you notice your parents growing old.

Good luck guys

March 24, 2012

Bhartiya Rail Suvidha

Elements you find on the train. Planted in every compartment. Almost like a conspiracy. You'll find them no matter which class or train you travel by. No matter which city you go to. These are, as follows:

1. The Child: It screams, it whines, it eats, it shits (it gets escorted to the loo by poor old mother). It asks. It cries and cries and cries. Loud. louder, loudest! It tries to create a ruckus around the train. Parents think co passengers find IT cute. And you sit fuming in your berth. Its not your fault. You're just lucky to get stuck with a child every single time. It finds its way to you.

2. The Aunty: Mostly found reading her Sarita or Grah Shobha, she carries a big plastic bag full of food. If found to be Sindhi or Gujju, she'll have enough supply of khakra, bhujiya and namkeen to feed the entire train. She makes sure her family gets ghar ka khana even when not at home. She carries aachar and paper plates as well.

3. The Bhaiyaji: He hates being called bhaiya. But loves his phone. Because he has music on it. Music that he can blare out and loud for others to hear. He doesn't like his ear phones though. He has a list of once popular but now forgotten old hindi songs. Since that is his only mode of entertainment, he plays them ALL THE TIME! Loud enough to reach 15-15 people on each side of his berth.

4. The Rich College Kid: This kid is too cool. He doesn't talk to anyone. He likes his ipod and earphones. Always plugged in, a book or a magazine in hand and eyes romantically staring outside the window. These types  are often the ones who have to exchange berths with oldies who are too old to climb to the upper berths.

5. The Antakshari/ Taash Gang: They are the happiest of the lot. They have a gang and they have things to do.These types are loud, friendly and most annoying. They sing the same old songs stuck to the same old letters,  in the same old baritone. They think they are on a picnic. They have friends and families in other compartments having their own picnic. They, ofcourse, have to be visited as often as possible.

6. The Uncle who talks too loudly: Unlike the lover types who whisper into the phone, so soft that you can barely eavesdrop, these loud uncles are the least self conscious people on the train. They don't care if the whole compartment knows what they say to their wives, colleagues or the persons who will receive them at the station. They are so comfortable. No boundaries. Personal is public.

(The train who have been a quieter place had it not been for the bloody phones)

7. They - who snore: They start their business at 8.30 itself. Sometime even before the ice cream arrives. And they are at it the whole night long. As the night deepens, people from other berths join in, quite unintentionally. They have the talent of putting together an orchestra. The worst orchestra on earth. With different sounds, volumes and styles. They are the most disgusting. And if you don't have music and ear phones to drain out their symphonies, good luck to you!

Then there are the regular cuties who believe in befriending the housekeeping/pantry guys to extract extra favors, those who follow the TC (why do people call him TT?) to get a confirmed seat, those who dodge him to quickly smoke in the loo or hang outside the door. And finally those who just sleep from the minute they enter the train. Whats your type?

March 10, 2012

Bade Papa

To watch someone.
To watch someone in pain. In screaming excruciating pain. So much pain that every muscle that moves exudes trauma which suffocates the air. The trauma of physical pain.

To forget.
To forget faces you knew all your life.
To be lost in memory. A black hole of a lived lifetime.
An inability to remember faces. A convenient smile of helplessness.

To eat.
Mashed food disguised in fluids. 
And throw up traces of memory that dry on a blistered tongue. 

Control. Over body. Over pain. None.
Only Morphined body. Morphined pain.

To not watch someone die.
Not watch a ceremony.
Not see a body one last time.
A body which once lived.

To find a performance.
To find yourself in it.
And not know whether you like it or not.

He forgot my face in three weeks. He lost his sense of coherence in three weeks. He was in unimaginable pain for three weeks. I wanted him to recognize me at least once. I wanted to have a moment with him. One last memory with him which would have been our secret. Kept for a lifetime. His and mine.

I feared he would die in front of my eyes. He didn't.

February 29, 2012

I broke Tony's legs

The script said the superintendent broke Tony's legs. He took a big hammer and smashed both his knees because he tried to run away from the shelter. Because he didn't want to be anywhere but the platform.

I broke Tony's legs. I broke his legs in every rehearsal, repeatedly for ten days, ever since I was told to fill up for Rahil who left the play because of his knee surgery.

I was trying hard. Trying hard to be a good actor. To be a good woman actor who can play the boy who plays the superintendent, who breaks Tony's legs. I was trying so hard to have a good image in front of people who know me and were going to watch me. Too caught up in my worry of being revealed as an actor. Too caught up in issues of my time on stage, my dialogues, my monologues, my spot light, my body, my voice, my new look. I was trying hard to be my nameless character. And got so caught up in the act that I broke Tony's legs again and again, without the slightest hesitation.

Why would I hesitate?

On stage, in the glamour of fancy lights and a full auditorium, I performed the scene again. Was patted on my back for pulling it off, for not fudging lines, for having evolved as an actor, for having cracked it. I had cracked it by breaking Tony's legs - a story I knew was real.

I don't know what happened the last time I performed. In spite of its familiarity, the goriness of the image hasn't left me. I don't know what I saw that day.

I just know that that day on stage, I broke Tony's legs. Muntizer cried uncontrollably. Priya laughed uncontrollably.

February 19, 2012

Art of Studying

I returned home this evening and found a notice which is currently being circulated in my colony. It says:


Art of Studying is conducting parent student interactive session with an aim to help each other cope up with pre-examination stress with special focus on How to score maximum marks with same preparation?

Date: 19th February, 2012
Time: 3-4 pm
Venue: Badminton Court

February 17, 2012

This happens to you too

Too lazy
to sharpen
my kajal pencil,
I poke myself
in the eye,
every morning.

February 13, 2012

Hair and Care

Now that I look like a boy (which I'm thoroughly enjoying) I can't help but notice other girls who have short hair too. But the problem is...where are they? I've known/seen so many women with short/fun hairdos, why can't I find them when I'm consciously looking for them?

I spent my day travelling in the metro (I'm a proud owner of the metro smart card now! All these years I was only an unsure visitor to the city, hence never bought one). I woke up in the morning and decided to let go of the rude autos and only walk or metro it to the places I had to visit. So on this busy day I did Hauz Khas to Chattarpur. Chattarpur to Rajiv Chowk. Rajiv Chowk to Hauz Khas and then back two times! I really traveled! In the ladies compartment. And saw soo many pretty women. Hundreds of them!

But not one girl with short hair.

I know they are there. But why in such minority? I wonder if I'll ever be in a place where all women have short or no hair. And the ones with long hair are stared at, looked upon with suspicion, judged for possibly being heterosexual. How many women can let go of that length, not bother to straighten, curl or blow dry, not own bands and clips - and just live a life where length, volume or quality of hair didn't matter, where hair was not associated with notions of beauty, where family members didn't freak out at the thought of a potentially marriageable girl looking like a boy!

I must confess, it took me a long time to convince myself to cut my hair this short. Some of my friends (and even random acquaintances!) are still recovering from it. Some tried to talk me out of it, saying it won't suit my big face, the shape of my head is not good, that I wont look graceful etc etc etc. Why such discomfort! Its only hair right? It will grow! Or maybe it wont. You will cut it, colour it, go bald, go patchy, go stripey! Do anything!!! Whats the big deal?

I think I want to do a study on this. People and their association with women's hair.

February 12, 2012

Coin Baba

Reluctant to brave the cold, I decided to spend a few more minutes in the warmth of my quilt. As I lay quite in my bed, I heard someone make a jarring sound with our iron gate outside. My mum calmly but quickly attended to her visitor and was back to her kitchen within seconds. It was a Saturday.

Every Saturday of our childhood, a man dressed like a baba - long hair, rudrakshed neck, overgrown beard, kajaled eyes, orange robes (or so I think) - used to come to our colony, to each and every doorstep on the ground floor, and scream 'Jai Shani Dev!!!'. My brother and I would promptly get up, borrow coins from our grandfather and run outside to meet our visitor. We would climb on to our grilled iron gate, careful to never open it, and pass our tiny hands through the narrow black grills to drop the silver coins in an open container he held out at us. It was filled with yellow-mustard oil. We would stare fascinated as the coins cut through the oil and settled at the bottom to join other coins and distorted figures with vermilion marks all over them. He would then chant some mantras in a cryptic language and move to the next door.

We did this every single Saturday. We never waited for him. But we always knew he'd come. He did. For years. I always wondered if he went back home and spent an afternoon cleaning the coins to give to his children. I also wondered if he reused the  mustard oil week after week.

Its been soon many years since I saw him. 

So when I heard the iron gate beat again this Saturday. I asked my mother if it was the same baba. She told me his daughter comes to collect the coins these days.
Coin baba died.

February 07, 2012


Then I wrote from there.
Now I write from here.
I have arrived.

January 24, 2012

Day 1


Tak and I

1. Met the landlord
2. Booked a ticket
3. Called the guy to take the AC away
4. Allowed strangers in the house accompanied by a broker

7 days to go

Then the 2 of us will go

Something really pretty happened here

Friends who work together and live together often forget to hang out with each other. So Takloo and I just left. We left the city in the midst of chaos. The chaos of finishing work in its last two weeks, the chaos of packing up the house we are so emotionally attached to, the chaos of our emotions. We left the madness of this noisy city to hang out with each other in Kochi.

Totally unprepared. Without an itinerary. So unprepared that I kept wanting to go to a cyber cafe to at least find the right places to eat.

The paranoia of missing out on good food.

Our modus operandi in this dire state was to just grab each and every tourist brochure that came our way and quickly screen through it to remember some, if not all, of the recommended places to visit (to eat) We felt so rushed. So much to do in four days. Not knowing where to start. Stop.

Kochi at first was a little disappointing. The spice market we went to, the beach we saw was nothing like the pictures we had in mind. Mental pictures are often photoshopped. But we are hopeful travelers. It started to grow on us, slowly, as we spent more time with it, as the sun signaled to set, as the evening breeze floated on water and the magic of the night took over. Its like we got over our photoshopped expectations and something started to happen!

Fort Cochi was our first stop. It is not a fort. Its an island of sorts connected to Ernakulam by a 10 rupee ferry ride, known for its huge Chinese nets meant for small fish fishing. Made in the 1840s, these nets are a major tourist attraction. Lots of people come here to watch the sunset. But the trick is to come here after the sun sets, evading the shadiness of the night, to hear the water and watch the light ripple from afar. The trick is to trip on your trip.

The trick is to walk down the Princess Street just when the night has taken over, when gorgeous stars hang from small arched doors, from old archaic dutch balconies, with the lights and shadows of closed antique shop windows - the trick is to walk and explore - and once tired to sit at the Loafers' corners - cafe on the first floor which allows you to watch the entire street (through old dying windows) and watch the purposeless tourists move  about - and the trick is to do this while sipping a good cup of coffee or while stealing Takloo's well ordered banana milk shake!

Yes the trick is to discover a walk. And in the walk discover quaint shops (we found one selling stationary made from elephant poop), and buy a filter less Charminar and smell the streets perfumed with Kerala oils. The trick is to walk through a spice market and for once really know what a walk in a spice market feels like (in your nose, in all your senses) as described in one of those novels. The trick is to enter the Dutch museum and find the prettiest ever wall paintings in natural dyes, to notice the greens of the hands and feet and find a pattern, and to slowly move away to find another pattern.

The most important thing to do is to do the backwaters. Tak and I were picked up from a folk and theatre museum in a yellow minibus which took us 45 min outside the city to Viacom. And this is where we found some magic. A small row boat took us through small canals and riverlets by small villages. We met the trees, the birds, the weeds, the ducks, the fishermen and found the palms hiding the sky from us. Suddenly someone made some noises and a young man wearing his mundu came to give us two bottles full of toddy. Then we floated on toddy, streamed under small water bridges and saw some green and some brown and more green and more brown!

Then we moved to the glamour of a big house boat and sailed on Vembanadu to find a boat man sing to us from afar, and to find a man bathing fearlessly in the deep and have a fisherman's wife cook hot baby mussels with coconut. The backwaters are not like the photoshopped photographs. They are far more magnificent and deep and serene and hued and calming than we can imagine.

Since food is important. One last thing I'll tell you about is the Ceylon Bake house. I actually found the best place to eat in the city. They served us karimeen masala, roasted prawns, fried fish, parontha and idliappam. Absolutely brilliant! And arguably cheaper than any of the fancy places in Fort Kochi or Mattancherry. This place is beautifully modest and sincere. Nothing fancy shwancy except for the food. The ambience is simple, shockingly plain, the mood is nothing extraordinary. You come, you eat, you love it and you leave. Full and satisfied. Maybe the reason I liked  it so much is because its glamour and fame has not gone to its head.

We did so much and saw so much and ate so much! So overwhelming in such a short trip. The art of not doing anything while doing some things. The art of finding an itinerary which flowed so beautifully. So effortlessly. We are all such artists!

And it ended with a perfect train journey. With a long train journey up the west coast. So long that it threatened to get tedious. But stopped just when we had soaked it all in.

Now I'm back to the madness, to a city I'm going to leave. Wish me luck!

January 07, 2012

Amma and Sona

Amma and Sona work part time in our house. While Sona came late, Amma has been around for as long as we can remember.We often conjecture how old she is. She doesn't know. Her grandchildren who work in other houses of the colony think she's about 90 years old. But this we have been hearing for four years now. We don't ask why she continues to work -clean, wash, mop etc. at this age. It became clear to us long back. It keeps her active. It keeps her going - perhaps a way to make sure she is not made to feel redundant at home.

Amma is so old that she doesn't register my visits from Bombay. There is an ordinary expression on her face when she sees me, even after months. I always go hug her hoping to hear her say 'ay bibi aa gayi tu!' She just mummers things I don't understand. As I write this, I wonder, if she knows that I live elsewhere? I wouldn't be shocked if she doesn't. Or maybe she knows and just doesn't remember. Or forgets to remember. 

Amma is a petite old woman who has shrunk and hunched over the years. I always picture her wearing her white sari with a shirt and a pallu loosely hanging over her head. Her hands and face are beautifully wrinkled, her green veins bulge against the softened skin and eyes are kuncha green. But these eyes are not lost. Not like my grandfather's eyes in the last one year. Her eyes are in control. She is perfectly in control. 

Amma has aged so beautifully.

Sona is half Amma's age. 45 years perhaps. A Bangladeshi, she wears her thin hair in a tight bun at the back.  Her leftover curls twirl prettily along her forehead and her mouth is forever red. Pan Red. She has a strong working body always draped in a practical sari. She, I think, loves me. She cries every time I leave for Bombay. And cries every time I return jaundiced or malariad. I often find her scolding my mum for sending me away to another city.

Amma and Sona don't quarrel. Perhaps they don't understand each other's language. My mum and Sona periodically fight even though they don't understand each other's language. I love-hate their love-hate relationship. Sona often threatens to walk out. My mum throws attitude. Sona leaves. My mother waits for  her for two days before asking the neighbours. On the third day Sona is willingly found in the kitchen scolding my mother for something new.
This time when I came back, my mum told me about Sona's decision to leave our house. She's moving away to Tuglaqabad cause she can't afford a house in Chirag Dilli any more and prefers to be closer to her daughter. A round bus trip from Tuglaqabad to my house costs about 30 rupees by the swanky green government buses. They are threatening to become costlier. This means if Sona were to continue working with us, she'd have to spend 1500 rupees per month plus a twenty minute walk to the bus stop plus unreliable amount of waiting in this frozen winter. 

Sona hugged me before leaving and cried. I looked to Amma and noticed how much older she was from my mental image of her. I will return to Bombay in three days not very happy I think.

This winter has been very harsh on us.

January 04, 2012


Our period is obsessed by the desire to forget, and it is to fulfill that desire that it gives over to the demon of speed; it picks up the pace to show us that it no longer wishes to be remembered; that it is tired of itself, sick of itself; that it wants to blow out the tiny trembling flame of memory.
-- Milan Kundera