Worst, for the best of us

A phone call is all it takes, to change lives forever. Sometimes it pushes you in an ocean of scary uncertainty with statements like “Kohli, Navneet ko kuchh hua hai, koi kuchh bata nai raha” (Kohli, something has happened to Navneet, no one is telling me anything).

Other times, the voices from the other side are calm and composed. They silently throw you into emptiness. They just state the fact as they are. They can be as simple as “nahi” (no)  when you desperately shout to the other person, “is he alive or not!?”.

Last year, it was a dear friend. This time, on the first anniversary of that friend, is a senior. The times when you are forced to believe that the worst happens to the best of us, you are consumed by both despair and fearlessness. You stop believing in everything you thought to be obvious till now. Suddenly, lung cancer and smoking seem completely unrelated. Drinking and driving start causing deaths to innocents rather than the culprits.

The fond memories of laughter, discussions, let downs, guidance do remain with us, but the reality of God’s cruelty haunts the heart in nights. 

Navneet and Sagar, wherever you are, hope you keep making lives of others beautiful like you did with us 🙂

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Knowing heart

A monkey cap from the back
A cunning smile over a goatee
It was funny how she saw him everywhere
When she knew he’d never be there

Perhaps she didn’t know after all
Or she didn’t want to know
She heard a reference to rising from the ashes once
You never know” she said when was told the impossibility

Probably she knows he’s there
Helping in interviews, getting the cab
Cancelling of events, changing the seasons
Smiling, still making her heart skip a beat – while his own stopped months ago

Open ended

He opened his eyes
Saw around him the blood
Heard the cries and shrieks
Thanked God, he was scratch-less

It was dark, the date had changed
And so was the mood of birthday celebration
He wished he could help his wounded acquaintances
But he cared for his sleep more, always

He reminded himself of the time
When his girlfriend broke up with him
For the n-th time because sleep was his true love
He laughed off the thought as his canines shone in the lights dim

He picked himself up and realised
That he was as full of life as ever
He looked around to find someone like him
Crazy enough to be playing football at that hour

Disappointed, he thought of his mom
She wouldn’t be too happy he realized
Last time he met her, she had fainted
Of fasting for her son’s good job
While he was unable to control his laughter

His dad always wanted him to confess that he drinks
But he was too smart to do so
He pretended to be as ideal as his brother
While he lived life by being as badass as possible

Probably the thoughts of some of his brought back his smile
He was again the first to do something
And got a lot of boost to his ego
Wo kehte hain na : Spotlight” – he lives that dialogue of his own play

He liked open-ended scripts
So it is unknown what he did next
Some said he stayed, watching and judging
Some said he started working on a new script
Some thought he left to meet his true love – peaceful sleep

They can’t be sure though
The scratch less body gave no clue

The dark road

The road dazzled with lights moving
A broken divider lay in the dark
Words few hung from it
Covered with dusty dreams and salty water

Scared, I checked for mine in my ears
Different these were, completely alien
I Picked up the carefree smirk, that never left
A cold wind blows, a warm assurance brought

A familiar voice, the naughty laughter
A split second, the deafening silence.
A thousand ifs, the merciless truth
A rode dazzled, the divider broke

Eyes and suitcase

With a few thudds of a relatively newer cloth
The dust cloud flew before the anticipating eyes
Pin drop silence broken by the zzziping sound
The suitcase was opened after decades.

Black and white photographs
Brought colourful nostalgia
In the sparkling eyes
The suitcase was opened after decades.

A college degree of two of those eyes
The laughing echo of the past in present
Tears for the loving and caring deceased
His suitcase was opened after decades.

Our memories turned to my precious
Our childhood to my good days
All but dust was divided among shameless eyes
The suitcase was happily closed for decades.

Laughing through centuries

On an average, how much time do you spend to think of a title for your blog post? I hope at least a few seconds? But we Indians have a shortage of time. So we call the oldest known structure of any type in Delhi as. . . ummm. . . “Old Fort“. Well it is old, and it is a fort. So ‘Old Fort’ it is.
I wonder how this might have happened. The person in-charge asks his employees : “Hey I need a name for this structure.”
Employee 1 : “Tell us more about this structure, sir”
Boss : “A magnificent castle of sandstones, it has 18m high walls which traverse a whopping 1.5km. It was renovated by two of the strongest rulers who walked on Indian soil in the 16th century and was first built around 2500 B.C.!”
Employee 2 : Oh I see ! So it is an old fort !
Boss : YOU ARE A GENIUS ! *grabs his cheeks and kisses the forehead* ! INDEED IT IS ‘OLD FORT’  !

Let’s have a look at its entrance before going into names further.

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Main entrance of Old Fort : Bada Darwaza

“Bada Darwaza” – that translates to “Big Door”. Please my lovely readers, observe two minutes of silence for the team who was assigned the task of naming this castle. I mean, what the fuck were they thinking? Did they think they did a very cool thing? Was that for publicity? Guess we’ll never know. Let’s enter the big door to see what’s inside now.

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So while walking down this lovely road let us know about the funny people who have lived here. The fort is believed to be constructed 5000 years ago during the period of Indus Valley civilization by a few fictional characters from the story of Mahabharata (Pandavas). Wait a minute ! Fictional characters built a real fort ! I am telling you there is something spooky with this place !

This was renovated in 1545 A.D. by Sher Shah Suri, the first Afghan emperor of India (also known as Sher Khan (Tiger Lord) because he once killed a fully grown tiger with his bare hands and took WWE to a whole new level). This was probably the time when the United States had no idea that Afghanistan had oil, so the Afghanis had the liberty to boss around its neighbours who were still celebrating the discovery of Zero and thinking of themselves as geniuses.

But then, the Hindu king ‘Hemu’ (also known as Vikramaditya. Shouldn’t it be the other way round? Why is the real name smaller and cuter than the nickname?) attacked Sher Shah’s son and became the king in 1556. But just after a few months, one of the greatest Mughal emperors, Akbar defeated Hemu and to create terror among Hindus, hung his torso outside this fort. WOAH Dude ! I could not bear the smell of a dead rat! You preserved a dead body outside your home? You must be having an eternally stuffed nose!

Now we reach the end of the above road and see this beautifully beautiful, perfectly perfect Qila-i Kuhna Mosque – translated as ‘Old Fort Mosque’. No, I am not making any jokes on the name now.

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The backside
The front
The front
The inside - 1
The inside – 1
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The inside – 2
The upside
The upside
The view outside
The view outside

Now I’ll show you what is the more tragic than the Hemu’s death and its show off, and at the same time more funnier that Russel Peters. Please welcome the Sher-Mandal. Built by Sher Shah Suri as the “Pleasure Resort”. That man ruled India for 5 years! Less than most democratic parliamentarians do! He built a road from Bengal to Afghanistan and numerous other structures, defeated the mighty Mughals, supported the uprising in Bengal and got time for pleasure! Men were always men. There is more to it. But have a look at it first.

Sher - Mandal
Sher – Mandal
Sher - Mandal
Sher – Mandal

Yes, both the times, the clicking of couples outside the pleasure resort was co-incidental and have no relation with anything – living or dead 😛

So the story goes like this – After the Mughals defeated the Afghans, Emperor Humayun who had earned the title of ‘Insan-i-Kamil’ (Perfect man) with his peaceful personality converted this pleasure resort to a library. One fine day, when he was having some me-time in his library, he heard the Adhan (call for the prayer) and rushed to the staircase. Next – Humayun fell down and broke his crown, there’s no Jill to come tumbling after. And a great emperor died by falling from his staircase. That’s why they say – good guys really get heaven, while bad guys get the girls.

So that’s how I had a great day today talking to these walls and listening to their stories. I hope you too had fun. Please tell me you did because you don’t want to experience what Hemu experienced. (Just kidding).
Thank you for reading my longest post. Leaving you now with some more pictures of this marvelous castle standing through the ages.
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If you liked this, you’d love to read what the lovely Millie Thom has to say about Castles in Wales as this trip was inspired by her wonderful insight into history.

Drunken talkies

Being in an expensive bar during happy hours is fun whether or not you are drunk. There are individuals trying to mend a broken heart, groups celebrating a birthday looting an individual, and couples dating while respecting the slowdown in the economy.

There is a saying here that if there are more than one utensils in a kitchen, they are bound to make sound – referring to the occasional arguments people in a family indulge into. Well, probably at the time this saying was made, bars were not so prevalent as they are now. The “sound” that the innocently drunk “utensils” make is sometimes enough to subside the loud music playing in the language of Martians which is further remixed by Wall-E.

It was the time of our graduation treat at The Irish House in Calcutta and we saw a couple enjoying an appealing drink. It was a cocktail in which the whole solid can of Red Bull was immersed upside down. We were intrigued (and hoped the cans would pass the hygiene tests with better marks than we did in our finals) by the look of the drink. So one of our drunken masters, Ravi, went up to the couple and very respectfully asked the girl, “Excuse me, ma’am. What are the ingredients of this drink?” Unfortunately, the guy was in no mood to let her girl socialize and let our warrior get some happiness in the happy hours. “Ingredients? Are you a fucking scientist?”, he barked furiously. Heartbroken, my friend who had just a day before submitted his thesis for his masters in Chemistry declared proudly : “Yes I am !” And it was a delight to see the petrified faces of these newly made friends. The three of them spent a major part of the evening discussing the ingredients. 😀

Meanwhile another sober friend, Aleem showed me a card with these words : “Buy 2 get 1”. Anyone found it funny? Neither did I. Then he said this : “Dude how can these be happy hours? We have to pay for 2 drinks but they’ll give only 1”. And a subtle giggle slipped from Tejeshwar, sitting between us. This triggered a chain reaction and one by one each one of us spat out everything that was inside their mouths, laughing with tears in our eyes on this lame joke. It became a herculean task to stop ourselves from laughing but then the bill did the trick. The smiles suddenly changed in a moment to inquisitive looks to ascertain who has how much.

Just before leaving, we saw a man, probably in his late twenties or early thirties sitting alone with a beer TOWER on his table. He filled his glass and held it as if trying to crush it into pieces. His red eyes made it evident that if hate signifies passion, that guy has really found his passion in that beer tower !

Stories are more, but time is less. Alcohol is slow death. Consume only if you are not in a hurry to die. Thanks for reading.

Enough

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India Habitat Center

When it is hard for the eyes to spot the difference
Between reality and virtual reflection
The commotion in the mind searches for reminiscence
But in vain goes all the introspection

He looks through the glass of guilt made
Translucent by the scars of selfishness
Yearning to do righteous deeds slowly fade
Trapped in the comfort zone exposing helplessness

Focused on the light he tries again
Trusting the trees and leaves to be real
He breaks the glass leaving weakness’ feign
To climb to the roof enchantingly surreal

Upon reaching the top he turns and sees
The journey traveled from dungeons to sky
Tired, he deep breathes the refreshing breeze
Lived and loved enough, he now wasn’t scared to die

Free speech – an opinion or an insult?

tft-34-p-22-a-600x400About a month back, I read a news article that the Supreme Court of India has said that Freedom of Speech cannot be absolute. Unable to decide if it was a right decision or not, my mind raced to the Charlie Hebdo attack. A few days after the attack, a local leader who looked frustrated by the world clamouring for an unknown bird called the freedom of speech, stated on television that there is a thin line between expressing an opinion and insulting an opinion and that line has to be respected.

Unable to believe myself, I was able to find some sense in both the above statements given by the apex court which has to be obeyed and the leader who makes his ends meet by playing the communal card.

Somewhere in between these two incidents, a funny thing happened in Indian entertainment industry. A ‘roast’ video was released by an Indian channel on YouTube. This was a genre very new to the Indian audience and though the inexperience of the makers was visible, the effort was praised by the masses for doing something new. However, the funny thing was that the “comic video made to make people laugh” was banned and taken down from the internet. The reason given by the authorities was that it had hateful, sexist, racist and obscene content. I emphasize here that I saw the complete video and yes it had abusive words but if X jokes about Y in front of Y and Y laughs it off, how can Z have a problem with that? This was the time when I realized that being a little creative can turn out to be disastrous in the world’s largest democracy.

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I learnt to live with this fact and was at peace with the system when 2 notorious speeches by 2 notorious religious leaders came to my notice. In one of them, a leader of the minority challenged the Prime Minister to keep the police away for 15 minutes and then see how the minority shows that they are the real men. He continued by saying that the majority has given to this nation nothing but obscenity, refering to the caves of Ajanta and Ellora and erotic sculptures of Khajuraho.

The second video was the reply to this speech by the leader of a rival group who while addressing scores of people, found everything amusing and recalled the results of previous instances when the police was removed communal riots when thousands of innocent people from the minority were slaughtered.

Well, both of these videos are available on YouTube and all other websites and their views increase everyday and so is the hatred among the illiterate. I have a question from the unbiased government, the justice provider Supreme Court and all other guardians of peace and culture. I want to know where they are. How a comic video spread so many big negative words but hate speeches by influential people are totally acceptable? I also want to ask that gentleman who pointed out the difference between an insult and an opinion if he ever reads the newspaper. Each issue is filled with cartoons mocking our politicians. In which category does he put those cartoons? Or those speeches in the Parliament when opposition leaders call the former Prime Minister a ‘thief’. Are those “opinions” because his belief is not the one being talked about? Who is the one to decide if it is an insult or an opinion?

In a country where a teenager is arrested because of a Facebook update expressing remorse after the death of a politician because the roads would be jammed for his funeral, and a student body of IIT Madras (one of the finest institutes of the country) gets banned for publishing an article criticizing the Prime Minister; I have to think how is democracy different from dictatorship.

Is absoluteness of freedom of speech necessary for its survival or it is safe even with limits? This is the question whose answer I really need to know from everyone reading this post. Tell me what do you think.

This came in response to the Quote Challenge given by the wonderful blogger Kritika whose poetry and photography say much more than I could say here.

Heaven comes after death

Rocky was the terrain, too hard to walk on
In the absence of guides, ventured into unknown
Unable to find talent, he developed the skill
Excruciating pain in feet, neglected by eyes filled with thrill

Distant images of leaves, a faint crashing of waves
Inspiration was scarce, but the madness craves
The smell of winning, overpowering the fatigue
Not anymore was he, in reason’s league

 He lifted the cup of life, with his bruised hand
The suffering slipping away, like desert sand
A grin traveled through, scars and sweat
Skies reached, only after the clouds’ threat

He had to fall, while learning to fly
To experience heaven, he had to die