Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year indeed

As soon as a new year starts, it feels as if it's never going to end. Towards the year end, you feel that the year flew by. Do we ever have a normal life? A life where things are just there. A content feeling. Or maybe very boring one.

And those endless resolutions. Problem is not making or breaking them. Problem is remembering them. That reminds me about how I don't remember things anymore. Actually it has always been like that. I don't remember good or bad stuff that happened in a particular year. I don't remember my school life. WTF did I do in college? No idea. Law school? Did I even attend one? But yes, I remember what I studied there. I don't remember history or maths. I don't use them in real life. But I remember laws. My mind is a smartass. Remembers what's required.

How was my 2015? Fuck no idea except that I took 8 vacations to 8 brilliant places and 1-2 more trips here and there. Tomorrow is just another day of this life. Happy new year? Sure.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A world without names

Imagine a world without names. Nothing has a name, an identity. To communicate to someone, you have to tap on their shoulder, or wave your hand rigorously. The one you hate will not have a name. Just a face. You have to touch him to tell him that you hate him. Expressing your love will always be special and personal. You won't be able to gossip about anyone. Reveal any secret. 

Imagine a world without names. All your destinations will be called nowhere. And everywhere. Every fruit will be called a fruit, so will every vegetable. You will never find out what's her favourite flower, or perfume. 

Imagine a world without names. All the letters will be addressed to everyone. People will notice people more to distinguish them from the others. That one unique feature, mark, will be the identity. It will not be long or short. Good or bad. It will just be that mark that makes that person special. 

Imagine a world without names. You and I will be the same.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Facing Your Worst Fear

Phobia - the moment you hear this word, and if you happen to be a phobic, you feel the chill running down your spine. You remember every detail of the things you have a phobia of. It can be one, it can be multiple. You imagine yourself being tied from head to toe with a rope and the phobia to be death without the hood. For a person who does not have any phobia or is yet unaware about his/her phobia will find this explanation quite exaggerating. But that’s how you feel when you face your worst fear.

The dictionary definition says - “A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer commits to great lengths in avoiding, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often being recognized as irrational.” Thank god words don’t scare me, or else I would have fainted halfway reading this definition. To put it simply, it’s your worst fear - a fear that is capable to make you lose your senses, scream out loud, cry, hide, cover your face or even faint. Common phobias include Acrophobia (fear of heights), Claustrophobia (fear of confined places), Aquaphobia (fear of water), Hemophobia (fear of blood) and so on.

These day-to-day things that look plain and simple to us may turn out to be the biggest hurdle for some. Imagine being a woman and hemophobic. Every month you have to face the blood coming out of your own body. A friend of mine gets sleepless nights when she is on her periods. Changing sanitary pads is the biggest challenge for her. She avoids blood tests. And in unavoidable circumstances, she goes for one with a blindfold on and nose covered. A claustrophobic climbs 24 floors but he will not travel by a closed lift. An aquaphobic panics even when he sees 3-4 water bottles lined up together.

These are common types of phobias. Some people have really weird phobias too. Chromophobia is a fear of bright colours. You are walking on a beautiful sunny day. Suddenly you spot a perfectly curved rainbow in the sky. Or a bed of beautiful and colourful flowers. And you freak out. You are terrorised. That’s because you are suffering from chromophobia.

Now imagine being scared of hair. Your own body hair that covers every possible part of your body. And you are scared of them. To an extent that you pluck out every tiny hair that you spot on your body. Your scar it just to get rid of those scary hair. That pain of pulling out hair from your sensitive area is more tolerable than the sight of hair.

There also exists something called Lepidopterophobia - fear of butterflies. Those harmless beauties can scare someone so much that they end up fainting. Eisoptrophobia - fear of your own reflection. Not seeing yourself in the mirror because you imagine worst possible things that your reflection does to you, that also includes strangling you. But the cruelest of all is Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia - it’s a phobia of long words. What an irony. The phobia itself is one of the longest words I have seen. If I think of it, I have a phobia of long sentences. I write in short sentences mostly. But when a sentence is longer than two lines, I freak out. I don’t understand how to deal with it. Talking of weird phobias of others!

It’s worrisome how these fears control us, how they limit the way we think and function. We can take other kind of pains just to avoid facing the fear. Imagine taking unbearable pain just because we are scared of something. Our imagination can trick us into doing something so stupid and so dangerous. Can this be cured? Can you get rid of your fear? For that you need to face it. The thought itself scares the daylights out of me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Forbidden Streets of South Mumbai

I was 8 or 9 years old when I heard about these forbidden streets of South Mumbai. My grandmother rescued our domestic help's daughter who was lured into running away with her boyfriend. He brought her to Bombay. There they stayed with a friend for a few days before he made his real intentions clear to her. She had been cheated. He raped her. Invited his friends to rape her. Again and again. She was gangraped for over a month before he decided to sell her to one of the madams in Kamathipura.

She refused to sleep with other men, refused to participate in flesh trade. They would beat her with cane on her feet. Till she would give in. She stayed there for a little over three months, getting raped by different men each night. At least seven to eight men would fuck her each night. Periods was a time for some relief if a weirdo didn't turn up who enjoyed fucking menstruating women.

She was one of those fortunate women who was rescued thanks to my grandmother's contacts and a hell lot of money. She was brought back home. She was completely shaken, depressed, scared, and pregnant. Family got the child aborted, got some tests done for STDs. Thankfully everything was normal. They got her married soon enough. She is happy now, has two kids, and husband doesn't know anything about her past.

This is one of the stories. One of those rare stories where the victim was rescued. But does it happen in every case? When my grandma recites the story now, I realise how difficult it was to track her down and rescue her. The person who helped was stabbed. Luckily he survived. I have no idea what kind of risks, money and power were involved in the entire operation. What the girl must have gone through during that period.

A friend works with an NGO that works for sex workers of Kamathipura. I happen to discuss this story with her. She tells me her side of story. Rather, stories she gathered on her numerous visits to Kamathipura. 

To be continued..

Monday, August 17, 2015

And The Residue Remains

Independence Day is over. The streets that were full of people waving the tricolour yesterday are now full of half torn and muddy flags. Nobody gives a damn about the state of the country anymore. And it's kinda sad that this cynicism has become a reality now. Everywhere you see people not giving a damn about anything. Including their own lives. Pollution, population, corruption, crime - we tolerate everything like it's something obvious and something we cannot help.

The helpless state. Or the victim card. Be the bechara to get all the benefits. Fuck the rules. Fuck the fair game. Curse reservation when you don't get a seat anywhere. Curse the upper caste for treating lower caste as shit. Riots in the name of religion and blame the religion instead of those misusing and misinterpreting it. One judgment goes wrong and we blame the entire judiciary. Victim card/helplessness is a very safe and secure place. You are right even when you are wrong. And people will listen to you. 

If that doesn't work then bribe. Pay money and get the work done. Or not done. Keep doing it. Make the system so bloody corrupt that without money they don't even give you your death certificate. Pay the bribe to get the timely slot for cremation, or the best part of the land for burial. The smell coming out of the smoke tells you if you died rich or poor. We don't spare anyone. Or anything. 

Religion - again something we feel so strongly about. Whether in favour or against. Atheism is cool. Being a theist is kind of an abuse. You kill in the name of religion. They kill you because you killed in the name of religion. A few extremists malign the entire system. All of us die - one by one. Either as victims or as an accused. Just to feed that one sentiment we misunderstood. 

The torn flags on the roads remain as residues of our so called nation love for one day. Those half immersed idols float because we don't care either about them or the environment. Fuck the logic behind immersion. It's not the system, or the religious practice that's entirely wrong. It's the way you follow it - that's wrong. Practice doesn't specify the size of that idol. Or the requirement to buy and flaunt the flag you don't have any intentions of keeping. You abandon them. And you abandon your sentiments with them. That's where you go wrong. But it doesn't get destroyed completely. It stays there. Reminding you of what you have become. 

But again, who cares?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Place for a Wandering Soul

Have you been to a place where, after stepping there, you feel as if you are in a new world altogether? Or think that the one you live in is no life at all. Your idea of a good life is actually an illusion that you live in. Place you can call home. You feel at peace even while doing nothing at all. You meet new people and in no time it feels as if you have known them for years. You still try not to be too friendly because it all seems too good to be true. 

Such a place exists. For the first time I am taking out time to write about it while being there. Yes I skipped a nice place to visit just to spend this time with myself. Going to the terrace and reading a book, visiting a cafe nearby all on my own - I need at least one such getaway on a trip. I don't care if I end up missing out on the best structure in this world for this time. But this time is important to me. 

Auroville is much more than a home. It accepts you the moment you come here. And I am so glad I did. Second day here and everything - from people to food to places to my room - everything is just perfect. I can hear the sound leaves are making outside. Some birds are chirping. They chirp round the clock. And it's a pleasant, soothing voice. There is an old fountain outside. It's not a pretty one. Quite old, not functioning too well. But that's the best part about it. The sound of water dripping from it is the most soothing sound you can ever imagine. 

Yes, it sounds too poetic. Or not. Who cares. The place is magical. It's almost untouched. A place where you would want to come to without a plan. And stay for as long as you want to. A place where the company doesn't matter. A place you want to visit on your own. And not leave. 

It helps you find yourself. And connects with yourself. What music does to you. Auroville has the same effect on you.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Scattered Thoughts

I think I need to clear the dust before I start writing here again. At least clear it off the laptop screen. There is so much to write about, so much to say and share and so little time. I have been busy with so many things. Mostly travelling. Travelling more than working. And that's a bloody good feeling. This year I made two trips to East/North East and three to North. And the next one is planned already.

More than the travel part, it is about meeting different people. Learning about different cultures. Realising that your country is more beautiful than you can ever imagine. Realising that those google images were less beautiful than the place. The value it holds. You look at the place differently from everyone else. 

Life experiences mould you. How certain things change you as a person. How you look at someone you know changes. How indifferences disappear. How easily you can now let go. Forgive. Forget. Move on. Or, live with it.

Or completely opposite of it. The person you couldn't live without once, is no longer with you. You may even hate him, or miss him like crazy and still want him. Some relationships leave you bitter. Some make you better. 

And some things don't change at all. Anger is one such thing. It's good so far as it's healthy. But the moment it starts controlling you, or making things worse for you, you need to take the charge. Start controlling it. It's not possible always, but not too difficult either.

My anger has always been on the extreme side. It's just so easy to make me angry. I can blast even if you say A and I don't like you. I can blast the hell out of you. I don't care where I am or who is in front of me. I cool down quickly but by then the damage has already been done. People who know me well know this about me. Rest are no longer in my life. 

Do I regret? No. If I really love you, and get angry at you, and don't try to makeup within max a day, then you are wrong. Amendments? It depends on your wrong. Some things cannot be amended. Or altered. Some things are lost forever. Anger is just a medium to severe ties. To detach. They were never meant to be. And they will never be.

I wrote this article in bits and pieces over five days. I have been trying to write, but unable to due to many reasons. Mind is not at peace. It's not disturbed either. It just lacks motivation at the moment. I am off to another trip. Another experience. I hope I come back motivated. To write.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Life, Travel and Stories

Being so busy that a break feels awkward. Travelling so much that your city doesn't feel like home anymore. Then where is home? what do we want? Why do we work so much? What's the ultimate motive of everything? Questions questions. With lame answers. Rather, stereotypical answers. There are so many things we want to do. Or don't want to do. Money - whether you agree or not, at least to earn bread and have a roof on our head. And to travel. Yes. That's very important.

Travel. Gather stories. There are so many stories in different cities, different towns. Every person is a story walking on two feet. At times four. wherever you go. And they teach you so many things. They teach you to live, to be happy, to be content. They teach you something you never knew or imagined its existence. They teach you the difference between the good you and the bad you. They teach you to be you. 

You are taking a walk in some strange city, or sipping tea at a quiet joint in some small town. You see women and children passing by, or playing. A kid is selling tea, a woman is rolling a bidi, a priest is doing pooja for some foreigners, a man is breeding bees for honey, someone is distributing clothes and food in the temple, some people are feeding the pigeons - you notice this while sitting at one of the ghats in pushkar. The lady rolling the bidi offers you one too as she sees you staring at her. The priest can't help giving you a cunning smile when he sees that you are observing the rituals. The kid sees a tea cup in your hand, thus doesn't come near you. 

But most of the people around you are curious. Because you are sitting there alone, doing nothing. You are talking to strangers, letting them cheat the foreigners, sharing their simple life, eating from their plate, letting them see your so called fancy phone, buying one more tea as the kid passes by again. Yeah fuck acidity, that smile is worth anything. The pigeons stink but they still give you a perfect picture when they all fly together - hundreds of them. 

Yes, it's a different life. Something you wish you had had. They might also be wanting your life. Just might. Or maybe not. They are happy sharing their story. Don't ask you yours. Even if they do, it's never about your life. And why do we want their kinda life? Because we see happiness lurking around there. And that content feeling. And peace. And for all these things you travel. And gather stories. To learn something from them. To learn how to live. And be happy. You take the learnings and go back home.

Happiness and Peace - That's our ultimate motive. For that we can go to any extent. We may cry, laugh, stay alone, go out, travel, drink, smoke - anything. And yet it runs away from us. We may get it for a while but that's that. It lasts like a temporary phase. After that you are again chasing the peace. You again travel to a new location. You go back to get some new learnings, to find a new kinda happiness and a new way to attain peace. And life goes on.

Sunday, March 01, 2015


It's been so long since I wrote something on this blog. I don't even feel like calling this a blog anymore. It's more like a "taken for granted" device for me. I come here, rant, vent out and leave. Without bothering about who reads it, what people think. Not that I write something offensive or malign anyone here, but still, writing senseless things all the time is worse than writing a hate post. At least a hate post will be worth reading.

People change. I say it every time in different words and tone when I write my thoughts. Yes, people change. Differently. But the impact is mostly the same. Every time someone misquotes you, you get angry. And lose trust. The cycle gets repeated. Every time something happens, you realise that there exists a new kind of trust. It was always there in you but you never realised it. You never realised it until it broke. And it cannot be mended again. 

You be with a person for years. At times the relationship does not remain at the same level. You have your own set of differences and priorities in life. But yet you are connected. There are some things you would want the person to tell you. There are some things you would want to know no matter what kind of relationship you share with them. Just because you have had a special bond in the past. You deserve to know some things. And when you find out that they were hidden from you, you lose that trust. 

The impact of losing trust can only be felt. It can never be described. You scream, you cry, but there is no way you will get it back. The worst thing is, you will no longer get it in anyone else. It kinda dies at that moment. And never comes back. 

When I look back in life, and think about all the incidents when my trust broke, and just for the sake of respecting the relationship, I ask myself what if the person comes back to me seeking forgiveness? Well, the person must think he is wrong to seek forgiveness at the first place. But still, being highly optimistic, if that's the case then what will I do? Will I forgive and let go? Or will I be firm about the decision that I have taken? My mind favours the latter. But the heart is still a bit partial towards the former. The reason is simple - if I am getting the thought then somewhere it's still there in my heart. All I need to do is let one agree to another. 

We set boundaries for ourselves in our mind. There is a tolerance point for everything. Most of the times people around you know that point. In some cases they are too dumb to realise it. But when you come across the specie that knows exactly what the point is, and yet pushes you beyond it, then dude you are screwed. And if you give in, then that's the end of the life you once dreamt. The person will step over you from hereon. Again and again. And you won't be able to do anything about it. Till he does something irreparable. And that will affect you more than it will affect him. He is just losing you, but you will lose something more than him. You will lose the trusting ability. And that's the end of one aspect of your life, forever.

There is no solution to this situation. I have rotten in it, so will you. I am trying to mend myself. If I do, I will let you know how I did it. If you have done it already, wait for a while before telling me. I am not yet ready for it.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Duryodhana - Villain or Victim?

"What do you think about Duryodhana?"

"He was a bad guy."

When asked, this was the only answer I got to hear from people who have read/watched Mahabharata. We see what we have been asked to see. The good and the bad are defined well in advance. Everything comes in a box format. A box of right things, a box of all the things wrong. We choose what belongs to which box as per our convenience. We are easily scared. We call our threats bad or wrong.

Every villain was a victim first. Some chose the difficult path of trying to change what others thought about them. Parashurama was one such person who chose to change the world in the right way and became God. Most chose the easier route of Adharma that caused wars and destruction. Their acts have been defined as results of their karma and every outcome has been called Niyati (destiny). If you believe in this theory, then not a single person was a villain or a saint. Karma and Destiny chose them as scapegoats and humans ended up hating or worshiping them. Just to ensure that people kept worshiping the gods, they called themselves destiny. 

Every era had a villain loathed by people. Gods were born to kill them. Every Indian epic talks about one (or more) such villains. These villains were as intelligent, knowledgeable, learned and strong as gods. But they were the victims of injustice and partiality. Thus they chose the wrong path. Ravana, Karna, Hiranyakashipu, Duryodhana, Shakuni - name them and you will find the references about why and how they were the bad guys. Many authors have written about Ravana and Karna and tried to justify their actions. Most of these books call them good guys. Jain Ramayana in fact talks about how Ravana ended being reborn as their first tirthankara.

Mahabharata is probably the only Indian epic that has plenty of key characters with black, white and grey shades that changed the course of history. There have been plenty of books written by various authors about Krishna, Draupadi, Arjuna, Karna and the war of Kurukshetra. In each book, Duryodhana's adharma was highlighted. But what really made him a bad guy is overshadowed by his actions. Duryodhana was the reason why the great war of Kurukshetra took place. He manipulated in the game of dice with the help of his paternal uncle Shakuni due to which Pandavas lost everything including their wife Draupadi. But what was really his story? Why and how did he choose the path of Adharma over Dharma in spite of living among people who knew and preached Dharma. 

Duryodhana was the eldest of Kauravas. He was born to Gandhari and Dhritarashtra. When Gandhari accepted the marriage proposal, she was unaware about Dhritarashtra's blindness. She accepted her fate and went ahead with her decision, blindfolding herself forever. Gandhari's brother was unhappy with her marriage to a blind man, but kept quiet as his sister was going to be the queen of Hastinapuri post marriage. When the time came to choose the King, Dhritarashtra, who in spite of being the eldest son of the King Vichitravirya, denied the throne of Hastinapuri because he was born blind and Pandu was made the King instead. Shakuni, Gandhari's brother felt betrayed and swore to destroy Hastinapuri's prosperity and peace.

Time changed, Pandu went to a forest for hunting and ended up killing a sage and was cursed that he would die the moment he touched any female. He decided to renounce the kingdom and live in the forest as a hermit with his two wives Kunti and Madri. Dhritarashtra was the king now. Pandu would never bear any children through his wives due to the curse and it was certain that Dhritarashtra's child will be the next king. But again, destiny had something else in store. Kunti's son was born first and as per the rules he would be made the king when he grew up. 

This was the beginning of shaping up of Duryodhana's future. Pandu succeeding yet again agitated Dhritarashtra and Shakuni. Shakuni, the biggest manipulator, decided to create hatred in Duryodhana's head towards his cousins Pandavas. Duryodhana and his brothers bullied Pandavas, tried to kill them, humiliate them from time and again. Shakuni always told Duryodhana how Pandu and his children are the reasons he would never be the king. How Dhritarashtra was incapable as a king as he was blind and if Duryodhana didn't get rid of Pandavas, he would lose the throne to Yudhishthira.

At each stage of his life, he was fed with hatred, jealousy and envy. When Yudhishtira became the king of Indraprastha and Draupadi's palace was created, Duryodhana was filled with envy. His humiliation upon falling into the trap of one of the illusions of the palace made him hate Draupadi and he decided to take his revenge. 

At first, he tried to duplicate Draupadi's palace and failed. It irked him further. He was ready to attack Indraprastha when Shakuni stopped him and said that he had a better idea that will not only make Duryodhana the king of Indraprastha, but also make Draupadi his servant. 

Disrobing of Draupadi was the gravest sin that was committed by Duryodhana and supported by Karna. Some of the books say that Karna was the one who suggested that Draupadi should be disrobed while Duryodhana ordered her to sit on his lap. A lady could sit on the lap of only her father and husband. It was considered an insult if another man invited a lady to sit on his lap. After Dushassana's attempt to disrobe Draupadi, she cursed the Kauravas that all of them will be killed in the great war of Kurukshetra. 

The war was fought, Duryodhana was manipulated by his Uncle Shakuni through the war. By this point, he was blinded by his ego and power. He didn't fear anything as he was confident that he would win the war. He had strength by his side. Greatest warriors had sworn to protect him. These warriors were invincible. But slowly they all died. On 17th day of the war, Duryodhana was left alone. All his brothers were dead, Karna was dead, Bhishma was on the bed of arrows, Drona was dead. When Gandhari decided to make Duryodhana invincible, Krishna manipulated. That resulted into Duryodhana's defeat. 

Draupadi cursed the Kauravas that they would die and rot in hell. But a lesser known fact is that Duryodhana goes to heaven after his death. When Balarama comes to know how Bheem defeats Duryodhana in the mace fight, he curses Bheem to rot in hell for breaking the most important law of mace fighting that a fighter cannot hit his opponent below the waist area. He tells Duryodhana that he will go to heaven as his death was caused by committing adharma. 

If you think about his life, if you look at it from his point of view, he was nothing but a mere scapegoat even before he was born. His father supported all his actions, never stopped him from committing wrong. The blind king never bothered to create cordial relationship between his sons and the sons of Pandu who were his responsibility after Pandu's death. His Uncle Shakuni became the reason of his death just because he felt cheated when his sister was married to a blind man. The war of Kurukshetra was inevitable, but he became the key reason behind it. His entire life he was made believe that he was being victimised. He was a mere puppet in the hands of those with ambitions, hatred, grudges and manipulations. Because he was born for that and because he was destined to be so.

Was he a bad guy? Maybe he was, but he was made one and not born one. Karma and Destiny played their parts in changing his life from what it could have been to what it was. He committed adharmas, but you cannot overlook what led him to commit those. Again, it's not a justification to one's actions. It can never be. He was a puppet, in the hands of what was already destined.

PS: This post was originally published on CampusGhanta.