Sunday, December 19, 2010

A story in four poems

Poem 1
In this heart, you lie alone
Rotting and hurting from the deep wounds
That won’t travel any further
But adamant in its stance...

Poem 2
The journey that ended a few miles ago
Seems faded underneath a line of dust
Some words travel back and forth
As you sort them out into neat boxes

Poem 3
From a distance, the sun waves goodbye
As a gap opens up beneath the surface
A long lost memory restrains itself
From being remembered once again

Poem 4
Slumber that comes ever so sweetly
Transforms into a square bitter pill
Like routine, you suffer the harsh swallow
And disappear into the aorta that’s still beating...

Monday, December 13, 2010


Forgive me my mistakes
That's all I ask
As the night clears out
I'll put back on my mask

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Srijit Mukherji's Autograph

For those who know Srijit, and right now plenty of people will claim to know him better than they really do, his directorial debut carries an undeniable stamp - that of Srijit Mukherji. Autograph has his expressions, his nuances, his lines and even his sense of humour. It even reflects his taste - with the poster of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind - stuck on the wall of an apartment.

Starring two people,(Indraneel Sengupta and Nandana Sen) who should not have really been in the movie, the actual man who takes Autograph to a different level is Prosenjit. The 'banglar' hero, the man who, after years of acting in loud T-shirts and scarves around his neck, has come so far that he's almost believable. You want to reach out and touch him. You want to tell him how you think he's fabulous. He wasn't always fabulous.

Autograph, which is Srijit's story, is about a young aspiring film-maker who pulls off a fabulous film only because his vision never betrays him. In the process of course he loses pretty much everything that he would have perhaps held valuable at some point - love and self respect to begin with. And that young film-maker doesn't really give a shit. The problem is, the actor couldn't pull that off. If Srijit was playing that role, he would have, in a heartbeat. Instead the director chose to play a cameo, appearing as a driver in a dream sequence.

Nandana Sen, the leading lady, needs to retire or do something about the four inches of makeup on her face. Her whole persona is contrived, which is perhaps something the director couldn't really do anything about. A graduate from Presidency College (despite being obsessed with Antigone, which is pronounced rather badly in the film) cannot be traipsing around the room in bizarre cut-off tees and saying stuff like 'yay' - even in 2010! And as for the 'aspiring film-maker', there is something inherently wrong with the way he throws his dialogue because I can't grasp the fact why you'd be shrieking a question to a person who's less than three feet away from you. Mind you, he wasn't shouting, he was shrieking and that too, badly.

The cameraman of course deserves a hug and an award. He's made the film look as stylish any Indian film can be. It has the right kind of shifts, light, fade off and barring a few strange abrupt cuts, each frame is worth staring at!

I want to come back to Prosenjit. I used to hate him. He looked like a wannabe Aamir Khan (even though Aamir has done equally bad films) and couldn't pull it off.
I stopped watching movies with him in it and then altogether all kinds of Bengali films because he seemed to be in most of them.
And as he says in the film in question, "I am the industry!" Prosenjit really became.
But now I get it. I saw Chokher Bali - not really the best film I've seen. But, despite Aishwarya stealing the show, it was Prosenjit I couldn't ignore. Then there was Khela. The film hasn't done too well I hear. But I loved him in it.
And then there is Autograph. A flawed man who is not beyond love and respect, a super star who loves munching on apples and looking at his own posters, single malt and cigarettes - Srijit clinched the deal when Prosenjit said yes to playing the lead.
And for that, all of Srijit Mukherji's friends are entirely grateful because after him, many cowards will nourish the courage to chase their dreams, no matter what!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Golden Song

Once upon a time, in a rather disturbed universe, there was a story teller. He travelled far and wide, telling tales to anyone who would lend him a ear.
And when he was too old to travel, he settled in the far corner of the planet, alone, amidst the trees that never tired of his voice.
One day, he went for a long walk. And as he reached a river bed, he saw long stretches of dark mud that was wet from the water and gleaming in the sun.
The story teller picked up a twig and for the first time in his life, began to write. He wrote a song that ran into a hundred lines.
And as soon as he was done, the song turned into a golden bird that flew away instantly.

The bird flew far and wide, dropping a feather every now and then. She would fly by day and rest at night - whenever she found a branch that could shelter her tired wings. And she would sing the story teller's song.

And as people slept in their beds, they would dream of a bird with a song in her heart and the song would bring unknown tears to their eyes.
The song spoke of a time that was innocent, when people understood the values that were innate. A time when no one would hurt another person or kill out of hate.

Years passed by and the song travelled across the globe - never changing.

And after ten years, the feather the bird had dropped turned into wondrous trees that bore deep green leaves and flowers that were so fragrant that people were intoxicated by its smell and colour.

Soon, the bird's journey was over and it returned home.
The far corner of the universe where the storyteller resided had not changed. Only he had turned old, barely able to walk.
The bird settled on the storyteller's porch as the frail man poured his evening tea, she turned to him and said, "I have done your bidding. Your song is in every heart now. You are now free."

The storyteller closed his eyes and smiled. "For every story that I have said and the only song I've ever written, I owe you everything."

The golden bird spread its vast wings and took the old man under them. "Then we are both free."

And as two spirits escaped in a sigh from a world that continues to remain tortured, a slight blink of hope reappeared in a few bodies across the universe. And with every drop of blood that was shed, a soul re-entered the universe with the promise of love and peace.

Friday, September 17, 2010

such it is...

They say I live in the past. Wrapped around its little finger, I swing my life around memories that are either dark, clouded or crystal.
What do I do with a present that has no familiar aroma. No old dusty corners I can stare at and smile at for no reason.
What do I do with a future that seems to belong to someone else?
And what on earth could I possibly do with a heart that seems rather useless?

And what on earth do I do with a reflection that I no longer recognise?

Friday, August 27, 2010

F***, what’s this?

My friend, Nandini Mehra, updated her Facebook status message recently. And here’s what she had to say:

Four million people homeless. Thirty-three trapped miners sing the national anthem and smile for the camera. Two new planets are discovered. They're very far away and very hot. A man skins an animal alive for its fur. Ishaan chases rainbow bubbles across the grass towards the baby pool. Claps his hands when he finds bubbles don’t burst, they float on water… at least for a while. The world makes no sense to me today.

The world makes no sense to me either.

It was a rude awakening, things were changing too fast around us and some of us, the not-so-savvy ones, were being left behind. Advertisements made fun of those who didn’t really have the latest version of mobile phones or weren’t ‘with it’ when it came to job interviews, didn’t know the latest pick up lines and were basically still figuring out our surrounding.
The 70s children – we the unfortunate souls – got left behind by a railroad of ambitious brains that woke up one morning as said, “Nothing works without more money or more technology.”

What happened to us? We chased our dreams and found glass mirrors with pretty pictures on them all around us. These were not the same dreams we had initially set out to chase.

What happened? What really happened?
There is nothing to curse about modernity. It’s good for every step we take towards the future. But when did lose ourselves? What did we trade in return of shiny new technology that seemed to make everyone’s lives simpler?

My friends, who were with me, through the years, judging me and then changing their mind, but never leaving my side, we are stuck. Rather desperately in a situation that no one trained us to get out of.
Dear Nandini, sorry for stealing your ‘status message’. Your one statement triggered a torrent of thoughts in my head.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

After thought

Seriously. It happens. Some of them can break your heart so subtly that it takes years for the cracks to show up and more time for it to actually disintegrate and cause you enough pain. And by then, you can only laugh.
And sometimes, you just want to kill yourself; not because your heart is broken but because you've been served - well and proper.
But most of the times, you just laugh.
You could also turn blind.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The ritual

He's been at it for a while now. 20 years to be precise - ever since he was 15. He would walk up to her door and wait there a minute or two and walk back. It was a ritual. A ritual that was his alone. He was rather proud of it.
Even as time melted and things transformed into unrecognisable shapes, he would walk to her door.
She knew. But did nothing.
After all, he was of a different caste. But that little diamond stud on his ear always pulled her heart strings. But she was not allowed; it was against the rule.
And as she walked out that door one final time, looking back only to see her father pat his wife's shoulder ever so lightly as tears welled up in her eyes, she remembered that solitary bystander, at the tea shop, staring. Call it theatrical, but it was even raining that day. The border of her heavy red Benarasi was drenched as the umbrella kept her perfect hair in place.
The long car swallowed her and flew off.
But he was just so used to it. The ritual never stopped. Every day, at 6am, he would walk to her door and stop to pay his respects.

On this 30th birthday, his mother gave him an ultimatum. Bring a wife home. He took a taxi to the brothel nearby and spotted the prettiest girl and asked her if she would marry him. He was rich enough. She said yes not quite understanding why the dialogue had even taken place.
A few months later, after carefully constructing a past the prostitute never really had, the two were married. She was to never go back to that neighbourhood, that was the only condition. She readily agreed; a promise she has never broken.

Where will you go for your honeymoon? everyone asked. He picked a rather exotic place; I would have taken 'her' here, only if she were mine. They went for three weeks; quite unheard of in those days. After all, a holiday at the beach resort was terribly expensive. But he didn't mind.
His wife had a very good time. She was, as he found later, rather well behaved. She knew how to cook, clean, look pretty and even hold a conversation. She almost went to college, she had confessed to him later. They tried to become friends.

Two years after they were married, he was asked to take up a job in another city. That was impossible. It would change everything - the ritual was not to be taken lightly. He tried explaining to his employers and asked if an alternative could be worked out. No. He had to go. And go he did.

The new city was not new to him. As he found later that 'she' too lived there. Not too far away from where the company had given him a flat. There is God, he told himself.
His wife made the flat as pretty as it could be. And never spent an extra penny than required. She would cook for him, pack his lunch, wash his clothes and wait for him.
Am I in love? she asked herself. But how is that possible? Wasn't it love that pushed her to make some very damaging decisions? Wasn't it love that tore her apart from her family and even her two-year-old daughter. Wasn't it love that taught her how to measure everything against money.
Yes, he is rich and that is good enough for me. As long as the money keeps coming in, I will play the perfect wife. But then again, her eyes would constantly move to the fancy clock on the wall each time he was late.

We need to have a child, he told his wife. Otherwise, people will question us.
We will, only if you want, she politely replied. She couldn't bear the thought of having another baby. What if she lost this one too?
Well, I don't care, but I think we should get one. Maybe adopt a child. That would be the sensible thing to do, he told her. But if you are not ready, I will not ask you till you are, he assured her.

He had found her house. It was a small apartment, ten kilometres from their place. What do they call that place? A chawl, yes. Why does she live here?

He waited one day - just for a glimpse. And also to make sure that he was in the right place. And a glimpse he got. A cotton sari draped her slim body, her long hair, which was now much shorter, formed a tiny bun at her nape. Her skin was as fair as he'd remembered, but did not glow like the moon anymore. Her red parting was fading away and the tiny bindi on her forehead was almost like a life support system.
Why is she here?

And after 20 years of silence, he walked up to her and stood in front of her.
She was not ready to meet him; she was never ready. Looking up to see a familiar face that had aged very little with time, she asked him if he was well.
A rather odd question he thought.
Yes he was well. Now married to a rather lovely girl who cooks for him.
That is a good thing, she assures him. She too is doing fine -her husband lost his job a year ago but they are not pushed to the borders of poverty yet. She works in the morning as a teacher. They are saving up to buy a flat, that's why the cheap accommodation.
Yes, he understands.
Asking him to come by some day for a meal, she takes his leave. Her husband will be waiting for his evening tea.
He lets her pass, watching her walk by him and stopping for a second only to fix her hair.

He walks out of the compound, to the end of the lane and sat in his car. It was all too confusing. But he drove off anyway, the wife would be waiting.
It was just after 8pm, when he reached home. She was ready with tea and snacks. Sitting down with the cup, he looked up at his wife of the last five years. She is truly beautiful. Reaching out, he touched her hand as she passed by. Stopping suddenly, she looked at her husband. He looked tired but happy.
Do you want to go out for dinner tonight? he asked. I haven't really taken you anywhere since we got here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My impatient self

I've seriously begun to question my patience. And while a whole lot of people jumped at this opportunity to advise me as to how I should meditate, join a gym, do some yoga, take long walks etc, to calm my erratic mind down, I refuse to any of it.
What I really need is to go home, which I am in a while but it just seems so far away. I've been constantly missing things of the past - memories that can always be reenacted. I miss eating out with my friends, having long conversations, lapping up drops of rain and extremely nonsensical stuff that I am very good at.
Has it ever happened that you find life moving too fast but nothing really seems to happen?
I think i am at that bizarre stage where I am finding it hard to keep pace but am always wondering what is really going on. I have very little to account for... Damn it.
In 2 1/2 years, I will be 35 years old. And very little to show for.
Some of the kids from the past are coming back into my life. And they are doing so well for themselves. Sometimes I wish I never left that - should have perhaps continued working for some more children who could do with some help.
I miss those couple of years with Zana and Ross and the whole film-making process. I can never really relate the whole experience in words. It was rather fantastic.
I've been impatient since then.
Jobs have come and gone, and I am actually, finally, doing something I really enjoy. But even so, at the end of every day I wonder what have I really done for that day?
I miss true Bengali food - the stuff that's made at home. The ones we don't have to worry about because they might be doused in oil. I miss my grandmother's luchis, something I haven't ever been able to get out of my mind. I miss the aromas of mutton curry fluttering into the dining room from the kitchen and we'd know that something good was coming up.
I miss my cousins, my sister - things that people think of much later in life.
Is that God's way of telling me that I'm running out of time?

I can't put up with crass conversation anymore. Earlier I'd at least pretend to be polite. Now, I can't handle it. And I get that in some form or the other all the bloody time.

I miss meeting interesting people. I do meet them at times. But I can't really dare to pick up the phone and ask them if they'd like to meet up for coffee. Do I really have questionable social skills?

I am constantly walking back home and making up my mind that I don't want to go out that night. And eventually, when it's time to hit the sack, I'd think, "damn I wish I went and got Sushi today."
Life is bizarre and so freaking unpredictable that it's predictable.

Harima is on my list. I want to go there as soon as I can. I am missing it.

I need to figure out a way to channelise my energies. It's not happening. And yoga won't do it - so don't go there.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It's a small craving

Albeit the bleary eyes (when single squares look double)that come from reading too much content, I was tucking into a story on Menorca - a beach destination in Spain. The weather outside (in Bangalore, not Menorca because I am not there) is worth the long walks that I've been avoiding for a while. And despite all the lovely things that happened today, I was forced to think of things that ideally, I don't find very appealing.
Do you crave for fame?
I asked myself that. And while it's easy to wave my hand in the air, I do feel a bit of thrill when someone says they've read something I've written and more so if they've liked it.

Now I ask you: Do you crave for fame?
Every day I look at at least 20 photographs, all being scanned to put on the dreaded Page 6. Pretty faces, boring faces, repetitive faces and I wonder - Do they all want to be on that page?

What do you crave for? A midnight snack where you don't have to watch out for the calories? Or maybe a late night movie alone, coffee and cigarette in hand? Do you crave for silence when all you get is a conversation or do you crave for the neon lights as you walk down a dark alley.

I think my mother would crave for some closure. I can picture her staring out the balcony door, looking at her plants, wondering what her two daughters are up to.
I think the immense volume of pain in her heart has transformed into something so intangible that even I cannot reach out to.

I think my sister would crave for freedom. Ironically, she has it all. She is free from so many bonds that she doesn't really see it. She lives her fancy, Utopian life and perhaps never thinks of us - not unless she is forced to.

I think my father - whom I haven't seen in nearly 8 years - would crave for some closure too. A closure of a different kind. I can imagine him, stuck in some godforsaken city, doing something that he thought he was never meant to do, and praying for the eventual.

I think I crave for just one thing. Every day. And that craving won't end soon.

And yes, I crave for Menorca - among other places.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dining out? Fine then...

Even the non-foodie cannot resist the simple dal, rice, pickle and papad - red rice, brown rice, white rice. Yellow dal, black dal, sambhar - any style. India is united by two things (a strictly personal opinion) - music and food. And with food, it's connected to the rest of the world.
I put forth a simple question today to my friends. What cuisine comes to their mind as the preferred one? The answers were random and from all over the globe.
No French, Spanish, German or Dutch.

And one food to bind them - Indian.

Many of us haven't been to any of the countries that serve the above dishes. I've tried dutch food and there was a over ration of bread in all their meals. I tried some of their traditional dishes too and like all countries, there was nothing fancy about it. It was simple, made with love and totally delicious.
I think except for the French (who like to be a bit snobbish about everything) every cuisine has this series of 'home stuff' that anyone can enjoy. What better way to unite the world.
Food has no religion. If you don't eat meat, eat the vegetables.
We brought religion into food. And that is something God wasn't expecting us to do. I am quite certain about that.

My earlier post, about fine dining in India literally becomes redundant.
We all want comfort food. Be it at a fancy tight upper lipped joint or at a 'holler across the room' place - we all want to go home feeling happy.
We don't like making reservations most of the time. Many of us like to make sudden plans and walk into a restaurant. We aren't all uptight about that. And I don't see why restaurants should make us feel that way.

I've heard of European restaurants and some in New York that require a reservation at least two weeks ahead - when was the last time any of us did that in our country?
Unless we're planning a big wedding reception or a lavish party to tell our peers that we can afford the best wines for a soiree of 150, when do we call more than 24 hours ahead and actually book a table?

I like my country this way.

And what is most interesting - all the favourite cuisines that my friends shared with me are available at the smallest of joints in our country.
Lebanese food sells for peanuts near Cole's Road. Zak's have done it brilliantly. It's authentic, a little rustic and delicious. Why would I want anything to ruin that?
Harima, till date, has the best Japanese food. And if I can afford that, why would I pay more for something that's close but quite not there yet.
You get the real Tibetan food at a hole in the wall joint off Brigade Road.
Chinese - you get it all over the city. From the North Indian Chinese to the South Indian Chinese to I am quite certain, even Hyderabadi Chinese.
And in Calcutta - Chinese is now part of the local cuisine. You have ilish maach and chicken chowmein (say chowmein, not noodles please)
And Indian food - well, point in any direction and you'll find a decent enough place to eat at.

You won't always find the real stuff on menus lined with gold paper. You find them in kitchens where the cooks, and not always the chefs, make it with love.

What more can you ask for?

We are far behind when it comes to fine dining. There are rules in that game and not everyone is ready to play it. There is strategy, combinations, experiments and a certain percentage of exclusivity. To be a fine dining restaurant, you need the b***s to sell something that a guest will never find anywhere else. It requires confident pretense that people buy into without questioning. The rest are crap and that's no secret.

And that is why a few restaurants will never run out of diners and some other will see very few!

And thank you - all my 20 respondents - for making this piece happen.

Show me the money

A very strong-minded person I know wrote a piece and sent to some of us that discussed how the fine dining culture of the city would disappear fast if we, the patrons, didn't do something about it. And with that article, he brought up an issue that I can't help but agree with. He says that less than 10% Bangaloreans (a statistic he's got from restaurant managers) would turn up as paying customers and I quote: "The owner of the free-standing restaurant noted that while a hundred high-flying socially active people will arrive at a even just a day's notice for a wine dinner that they occasionally host as a business-development effort."
I have always been suspicious of this but 10% is a terrible number.

On the other hand, people seem to be eating out a lot. People who aren't from the high-flying socially active segment. Where do they go? If I walk into a high-end mall, the Indian restaurant on its roof always has people. Regular people. My favourite restaurant has expats walking in and out all the time, even on a Monday evening.
But I would agree with the writer because what he says is true. I have often dined with just two other people where ours was the only table that night.
I think it's time restaurant focused more on the spending crowd than on the visible crowd. The social butterflies are great for PR but they aren't the ones who'll bring in the moolah.

The chef of one Indian restaurant, extremely talented, is rarely seen outside the four walls of his kitchen. He doesn't always hobnob with the 'right' crowd and yet, I have rarely seen his restaurant anything but full.
Indians like comfort food. They will go out one night in six months to try something avant garde. But as something more regular, they will go to places that actually make them feel more at home... And those restaurants never complain about business.

However, if you accepts an invitation to attend a wine dinner at the same place more than once, we're assuming that you are accepting it because you like the food. Then why can't people go back at their own time, with their friends and actually pay for a meal once in a while? And if you don't like the food, why accept the invitation at all. Bad food won't become delectable simply because it's free.

I really do wish people would shun the comfort zone of a few cafes and holes in the city and spend the same amount of money on a new place - it's important to keep the cycle in motion or else, as the above-mentioned writer puts it, fine dining in Bangalore is going to die.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The ad-factor

I am usually not bothered or motivated by television commercials. It sort of passes by on the screen while I wait for my programme to resume. If it's a good ad, I might laugh with it or nod in approval but it sort of ends there. And I never act upon ads. I guess it's got something to do with my mother restricting television and talking about the 'bad' influence it casts on young minds.
But there is one advertisement that I couldn't shake off my mind. It's no big deal but yet, somehow, I was forced to think about it a couple of times.
It's this recent advert of a mobile company (and I have no clue which) with Aamir Khan in it. In there, Aamir receives a call that he's gotten himself a job in the city. Ta...da! cheerio everyone...
Don't get me wrong, I love Aamir Khan. In fact, he is probably the only actor I have been sort of faithful to, despite all those crappy movies he'd been part of where his acting skills could have easily been squashed by a mosquito swat. But I love him anyway because he's proven that he can improve and be considered more seriously than many other Bollywood stars.
However, in this advert I can't help but wonder why the company didn't actually choose someone from a small town and redo the whole ad, as it is, but with a more realistic touch. Aamir would have been paid a hefty amount for that job but a regular guy, a normal guy, who doesn't look right out of a cute magazine, could have been chosen in his place. It would have been more human and, speaking on behalf of the company, cheaper.

I think that's what bothers me. Skin fairness creams, shampoos that make your hair look like the flowing Niagara (just much darker), hair colour that can make your life more exciting, body sprays that can give you any woman/man you want, cars that can drive for hours without wanting a refuel, lipstick that never goes away even after kissing - I could go on really.
I think of all the ads, only chocolate comes as close as its promise - it does make you happy.

So I ask - we are moving towards a very logically driven time, if we aren't there already. We understand the difference, in most cases, the difference between fake and real. And yet, corporate houses force their advertising agencies to create this vague illusion that only infuriates us.
Why are we so canted towards illusions? Is that the downside of democracy?

The only products I genuinely believe in are the ones that are not advertised -at least not in our country. And I continue using those products, even though I pay a few extra bucks for it.
See, at the end of the day I want the real stuff - not the promise to turn into a fairy princess by popping a pill. That's why they are called fairy 'tales'.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Forget me not

You're in trouble if you forget when Friday is here. I realised it was Friday twice today. One, when I was submitting my film review (a great time check) and when I saw a friend had graciously put 'TGIF :)' as her Gtalk status message. Or else, I'd have just gone to bed wondering when the week was going to change.

My mother was complaining that she has been forgetting things. I guess at around 60, she is allowed that liberty. I couldn't of course bring myself to tell her that I am forgetting as well - probably as much as she is.
But there is a sort of reasoning behind that, I'd like to think. After all, why would God intend us to remember things that don't need to be remembered. For instance, do you really need to remember the car that sped past you without warning last week? After all, those aren't happy thoughts.

Forgetting or the 'Block out mode' which is what I like to call it inside my head has such fabulous benefits. You can forget bad moments,pain, betrayal and insults that you didn't get at the time and by the time you could, you'd forgotten.

The downside however, I believe, is quite nasty. You forget names and worse, faces. No one wants to be stared at as you check your RAM to figure out if you recognise the programme before you. I'd hate it. As for me, I am quite blessed there. You see, I remember people I'd met 10 years ago (not their names maybe) and within a few minutes would even get their names. But, they don't remember me. So, as I try to figure out when I'd met the person last, he, or she, is looking at me as to wonder if I am truly, like I claim, from this planet.

So, I have decided to give that whole 'hey I know you' grin only if I see a person taking long strides towards me, in recognition.

Forgetting is truly strange. You could tell your girlfriend that you'd be busy one weekend and not be able to take her out. She'd nod - maybe not in joy, but she'd nod anyway. Come Friday, she's forgotten all about it. She calls you and tells you about the dinner reservations she's made for the both of you. If you tell her, "but baby, I told you I was busy? Did you forget?', she's snap back, 'forget?!?! You never told me...'
That conversation could go on.

I love forgetting things. It sort of absolves me of things. And with that, adds a whole lot of guilt. I can forget to wish a friend. If I call a day later and be earnest about it, I've had it. So you say, I tried calling you, but you weren't unreachable. Actually don't bother making those excuses. If friends can't handle the truth - they can talk a nice long walk in the woods.

I remember when one of the guys I was dating forgot to tell me he was doing drugs. We went out for a really long time. And in all that time, he couldn't remember to tell me even once. I don't blame him. I think he forgot about it when he was sober, which was of course a rare situation and I was too stupid to understand the difference.

Don't forget.
The choice is yours and so are the consequences.
Have a good weekend... It's the weekend, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Dream free

How desperate are you - To live, to breathe, to make friends and to survive – with each passing day?
I am desperate.
I want it all. I want the good life, I want to see the world, have a few friends I can really count on and see them as much as I can, brush my hand over a field of poppies if I can.
I want to run along valleys and eat fresh cheese and drink rose wine out of a real goblet. I want to spend many hours sitting on a cold beach, staring at the waves or traverse miles of snow clad mountains – without a trouble.
It happens everyday – in my head.
It’s the most beautiful antidote to the reality we live in. Close your eyes and you’re instantly transported to any place you want. A picture from a travel magazine and you can be there, a scene from a film and it can happen to you, a page from a book and you could be in it.
That’s what they call it. The cynics will label it as a daydream.
To me, it’s my reality.
In It’s Complicated, Meryl Streep’s house was mine. I baked in the same oven – wonderful warm muffins, served with lavender ice cream – and watered the same plants in her kitchen garden.
In Lord Of The Rings – I’ve travelled the exotic locales of New Zealand and in Harry Potter, I went to Hogwarts.
In the Red Tent, I was a woman out of the Bible – nomadic, matriarchal.
Now come the side effects.
People think I am insane – and that I belong to another time and definitely another planet. Most will not admit me into their social circle for too long because after a I point I do appear mad.
Switching off from what’s happening now and moving away to what’s really happening inside my head can be quite a torture for others, but frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Lifestyles of the writer and reporter

With choices comes confusion. It's something little I learnt today. Even in this day and age, when options are aplenty and freedom even more, young people are still wondering what to do with their lives. 10 years back, when we started working, we were constantly battling with disapproval from parents and lack of real options. A graduation from a good university in the US that offered the perfect course was limited to browsing through the brochure that came for free.
But today, travelling abroad to study isn't an impossible dream. And yet, most dreams are jarred because there's too much candy in the jar.
I meet doctors, lawyers and even a politician once who'd said that they wanted to be writers. By writer, they meant journalist. They wanted to pen the truth - follow evidence and write something that would be read by thousands. They wanted to feel powerful from a very different perspective. Of course, none of them really could imagine a life with less money, officially at least. And scamming in the media is not really known unless you've crossed paths with a crooked journalist or two.
What however is relieving is that as younger journalists come into the picture, racketeering is slowing down. After all, how far can a con job really go?

I am not a qualified journalist. I did not go anywhere where theories were laid before me and I was to blindly follow them. Every single line I've written on print has been a lesson on the job. Words you can use or not, libel, plagiarism - it has been quite a process.
Feature writing, which is what I do, isn’t an easy job. You can’t just be a reporter and get away with it. What you need is an added qualification – you have to be a writer. You must know your words well and where to place them. And you must know how to formulate a story. It’s not that I have figured it all out but the path that takes you there can be quite interesting.
Writing, I believe, is innate. You cannot learn to become one. You can take millions of courses, which will make you clinically precise. But you will always lack the depth and connect if you weren’t born with it.
Then again, that’s what mainstream journalism is all about. Facts – the clearer the better. I am not sure how accurate fact checking in Indian media really is but it’s important to get your facts straight, even as a reporter.
Lifestyle journalism is on its way to glory. No longer (barring a few scrooges) does it get the narrowed eye look for old reporters who wonder why this particular beat even exists. And if you want to be part of any of the segments of lifestyle journalism – be it fashion, food, travel – you have to have your finger on the pulse of all activity. Read. There is no substitute for studying to keep abreast of what’s going on. International news portals are a great way to pick up trends, changes in writing styles and even for plain inspiration.
If you’re doing the same thing for a few years and continue to enjoy it with equal passion, you’re set. Just enjoy yourself and let the words flow.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A quote hanger

"This is part of a longer article that I read last night. It's written by Michael Kinsley a columnist for The Atlantic. His article, called Cut the story, said many things. Of that, this I thought would bring some violent nods from fellow writers...

Quotes from outside experts or observers are also a rich source of unnecessary verbiage in newspaper articles. Another New York Times story from the November 8 front page provides a good example here. It’s about how the crackdown on some Wall Street bonuses may have backfired. Executives were forced to take stock instead of cash, but then the stock went up, damn it. This is an “enterprise” story—one the reporter or an editor came up with, not one dictated by events. And the reporter clearly views the information it contains as falling somewhere between ironic and appalling, which seems about right. But it’s not her job to have a view. In fact, it’s her job to not have a view. Even though it’s her story and her judgment, she must find someone else—an expert or an observer—to repeat and endorse her conclusion. These quotes then magically turn an opinionated story into an objective one. And so:

“People have to look at the sizable gains that have been made since stock and options were granted last year, and the fact is this was, in many ways, a windfall,” said Jesse M. Brill, the chairman of, a trade publication. “This had nothing to do with people’s performance. These were granted at market lows.”

Those are 56 words spent allowing Jesse M. Brill to restate the author’s point. Yet I, for one, have never heard of Jesse M. Brill before. He may be a fine fellow. But I have no particular reason to trust him, and he has no particular reason to need my trust. The New York Times, on the other hand, does need my trust, or it is out of business. So it has a strong incentive to earn my trust every day (which it does, with rare and historic exceptions). But instead of asking me to trust it and its reporter about the thesis of this piece, The New York Times asks me to trust this person I have never heard of, Jesse M. Brill.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Freedom - It's free

Large wooden louvered doors would lead us out into the corridor and then down the stairs into the landing that has even been mentioned in history. You walk out of that college, grasping a piece of that history between your index finger and thumb - hoping to do something sensible with it.
And yet, we walk out doing exceptionally inconsequential things that alters the course of nothing. For years, we follow a routine of some haphazard kind - meaningless. And yes there is pressure, for at least 10 years of your life, and you can't do anything to curb that. Unless you are born with a silver spoon delicately placed between your teeth, you will be made to feel to guilty for your existence - unless you're using wads of cash to shut people up.
So anyway, like me, you'd have wandered around, hoping to find some people you like and some like-minded people to work with - do something that's driven with passion and sense. And you find the one thing that a hundred others would kill to have.
Once that ends, like me, you'll wander around a bit more - doing things that don't make sense, to anyone and especially, to you. So you choose something that's easier. Find a boyfriend. Romance can keep reality out of your head for a while. Once that romance doesn't work out, you wallow and move on. Everyone moves on. Some move on to better things and some, like me, choose nothing over nothing.
Eventually, about eight years later, you'll be doing something that will definitely make you money (not enough though) but you won't find that 'G" spot - the thing that makes you grin, glad and go.
You'd be told various things because at the end of the day you're earning a living for someone else. You're earning on behalf of a large conglomerate that, trust me, wants to talk about everything important but drives you to believe that only the 'fake' survive. Incidentally, the people who've been used to represented the 'fake' segment are real by themselves. Even with all their silly smiles, they are real people, with real dreams, broken hopes and a real story to tell.
From wanting to be a poet for a newspaper at the age of 10, I've perhaps evolved to a stage where I'd like to write something that makes more sense to you - and to me.
There will be no advertisers to be afraid of because I don't have to pay anyone for this. This is my story - for you. To you. In your name. This story will be different from many others I've written.
From spending time alone on one rain-driven evening to raising toast to a sibling who's tying the knot thousands of miles ago - I want to know it all. I want to know your story.