Wednesday, May 22, 2013

CHATTER @ WECHAT



I can think of at least a 100 people whom I would love to chat with, ask questions, know their viewpoints and tell them my own. I am a people’s person and love to have long talks with cupfuls of tea or a few leisurely drinks. So yes sieving through that long list and short listing my top few to share the privilege of WECHAT was a tough assignment. To make things easier I decided to begin the rounds of chat with a divine intervention.

Ever since I was a kid I loved to chat with my friend Lord Krishna. Oh! Please do not get me wrong I am not the religious discourse types, but I like to talk to him about every day things- people, relationships, money, career and the like. One question I have often asked him in the recent years and would love to get an answer via WE CHAT is – why didn’t he enable Draupadi to be strong enough to save herself and instead chose to come himself to her rescue? I understand the importance of having worthy episodes in your biography if you are a God, and also the ethical rightness of responding to a devout cry for help. But wouldn’t it have been a sterling example for all Indian girls to be empowered themselves instead of letting your lousy husbands lose you in a bet, their relatives insult you and then a brother-like God come to your rescue. In the wake of the Delhi rape case I asked this question too often, has our mythology set the wrong precedents so much so that the woman is blamed for crimes against her, giving the lame excuse that she crossed the Laxman-rekha, and all kinds of restrictions are put on women in the name of their safety. We do not blink an eye when a husband treats a wife as his property and why the victims lose IZZAT while the criminals have human rights activists shouting themselves hoarse to treat these monsters with sympathy?
I definitely would ask my dear blue god about his concept of true love? Is the kind of love you and Radha shared possible for humans like me? What is the most important lesson we can take from your legendary friendship with Sudama? Is it possible to have a true friend beyond the class boundaries?

Once Krishna in his charming way gives me some answers I will let him go back to manage the affairs of the world and settle to talk to my favourite revolutionary of all times, the one and only India’s very own Che Guevera Bhagat Singh. His atheist beliefs are well-documented and his beardless and short hair pictures are popular even in the Sikh heartland Punjab. So I would want to ask him on behalf of a lot of my Sikh friends that how does one prioritise when an issue is important to you but it demands disobedience to your religious principles? How much of what we wear or don’t wear consists of our religious identity? This is a common conflict I see in lots of Sikh families where the youngsters want to do away with their beard and kes (hair) and the elders consider it absolutely impermissible. I would ask- How would you evaluate the direction in which this country’s youth are headed? You were just 23 when you made the choice to lay your life for your country and now most 23 years olds would be unable to even give one full day of their busy lives for India, what would you say to them? What would be on your reading list dear Bhagat, in our times and yes would you like to meet Che Guevera some day? I hope he would say yes to the last one because two great revolutionaries, they would surely churn out lots of food for thought for all of us.

Hitler would come next, because all my life I have tried to understand how hatred could drive one person to such a violent extreme. There has been much analysis of love and of individual violence, but the kind of collective violence he engineered is unparalleled in history. Well I would try not to ask him about his strange and funny moustache:-p but I would want to ask him what his regrets are, if any? Does it hurt to be one of the most hated men of all times? Today when the world sits on a nuclear pile of explosives one extremist like you could push the world to its very brutal end, would you do it differently if you had a second chance? Is a person’s family tree so important, is race so important? I would ask Mr.Fuhrer how he managed to deceive a whole nation to participate in his idea of an ideal state.
Referring to some other great conquerors, warriors and political leaders I would like to know his opinions about Gandhi’s non-violence and Martin Luther King’s struggle for civil rights and Nelson Mandela's campaign for social justice.Who do you think is remembered more and fondly you or any of them?

Chats with three men in a row I think I would definitely need some lady to chat with now, and who else but one of my favourite writer’s and feminists of all times- Virginia Woolf. Wow lady! I must compliment you for inspiring many generations of women to have A Room of One’s own !!But dear let me tell you that just like you then women still live in “potentially dangerous space” everywhere in the world. Even today it seems “women are imaginatively of the highest importance; practically completely insignificant.” I would ask her to elaborate on her notion of trickle down patriarchy. I would ask her how we can manage the struggle to recognise women’s unpaid work in today’s highly commercialised work. What made you choose to integrate your creative work into social thought? And on a lighter note I would ask her how does it feel to have her face a wide range of gift-ware and memorabilia like book marks and mugs, does it dilute some of her strong stance or just popularises it?
Next up would be someone I observe carefully every day but have reserved my views about for some time now. The intellectual-looking, possessor of the strongest vocal chords in the universe, the TV journalist-crusader 
Yes I am talking about the same-wardrobe-all-seasons, the same-pitch and tone-all issues person who screams his lungs out because the nation wants to know. I want to ask this person how they decided to compensate for the dearth of real horror genre in India in primetime news. These mighty people must tell me the nitty-gritty of running a kangaroo court on TV screens where just like the brand of coffee endorsing their channel there is instant justice and punishment.
I want to ask them are their panelists (who either silently nod their heads in disagreement or frustration from their tiny window on the screen or ONLY agree with the huffing and puffing journalist of courage) paid or their silence is golden.
I want to ask them, who decide what “breaking news” is. Is it called so because most of the times I feel like breaking my TV or my head when I hear them shout BREAKING! In the race of becoming “your channel got this first” how did you come to presume that the nation really wants to know only your opinion on everything?

I would also love to chat with someone I call a Facebook fanatic. I want to ask her does she think that the earth now rotates on the frequency of her status updates. Why does she think that the world would end if she does not display the picture of her lunch and dinner plates? I would tell her that using infinite smiley faces and cuss words in her updates and comments is so juvenile, has she ever tried using her mind instead? I would definitely like to ask her home remedies for a sore thumb caused by constant typing. Does she know that there is a whole world outside the Facebook home page and friends’ photo albums? I would want to ask her what is her tip for time management, how much time can one waste to take bathroom breaks in the middle of day and night chats? The number of friends on your list is just that A NUMBER or do you think that number is directly proportional to your well-being and “influence”? I would also like some light to be thrown by her esteemed FB self on how many starving children she thinks she has fed by a click? My parting message to her would be- “Darling, facebook likes are the wrong scale to measure self-worth or any one else's worth, remember the last time you looked at the sunset or walked in the park(without peeping into your Smartphone every two minutes),so sign out of  FB and log into real life !”

Once I am done with my vicious outpour I would like to sit down for some soothing chat with two of my all-time favourite writers- Ruskin Bond – the bard from the Mussorie hills and Paulo the Alchemist Coelho. I am sure both these soft-spoken gentlemen would be kind to answer my questions about how to maintain calmness in chaos? How to find the answers and how to choose the right word to express what you have found?

I wish I had enough energy to chat with IPL team owners and fans, cyber stalkers, public property destroyers, the US President and my great grandmother, but I’ll not be greedy and as the cliché goes last but not the least I would like to chat with my favourite costumed crime fighter- Spiderman. I am sure he can tell me why we need to believe in superheroes? I would want to ask him about how can a commoner like me save the world even if I manage to save only a small bit.

And then following his dictum- “with great power there comes great responsibility”, I will not misuse my WECHAT power and call it a day pondering on the lessons I take home from all these eye-opening sessions.


Monday, May 20, 2013

मेरी नानी


मेरी नानी 
सड़कें  कम थी वहाँ
पर दिल  से दिल
के  रास्ते  जुड़ते थे

वहाँ के सेबों से भी मीठे
वहाँ पर  लोग रहते  थे

न टीवी थी ,न फ़ोन थे
पर  खूब  बातें होती थी
कहानियाँ बहुत लम्बी
और छोटी रातें होती थी

उसके खुरदरे हाथों को
मेरी गालों से प्यार था
जब  रूठने पर झट से
वो मुझको मनाती थी
सब से छुपाकर मुझको
अपना संदूक दिखाती थी

उस संदूक से जो मांग कर
मैंने रख लिए -
नानी की खुशबू वाले
कुछ कागज़ के टुकड़े
कुछ रेशमी धागे
दो-चार बेमेल चूड़ियाँ
और यादों की  कुछ बातें

मेरी नानी के घर का मेरे
पास बस यही हिस्सा है !


Sunday, May 19, 2013

morsels from memories

The evening drips
into night
and another
opportunity is lost
of killing
this loneliness.

*****************
TV sets blaring
windows ajar
every home
waits for
a bit of life .

********************
The spider webs
in the balcony
the birds
returning to their nests
the lonely soul
seeking shelter.

************************
Each day gone by
each moment past
the grainy residue of love
salted
in the corners of eyes.



Saturday, May 18, 2013

Kabandh


This story first appeared in ALPHABET AND YOU Issue 2.


Ever since he was assigned this new account with the huge corporate client from Gurgaon, life had become difficult for Vrijesh. The executives handling the advertising account from their side would tell him that their one-eyed new boss was a hard task master and he insisted that all meetings and presentations should happen at their office and not at Vrijesh’s ad agency.
He gathered from office discussions that he was a single man, whose work was his life. He had lost an eye and most of his original face in some childhood accident so along with his behavior his looks were intimidating too. Vrijesh was reminded of a demon named Kabandh with no head or neck with one large eye on the breast, whose story his grandmother would often narrate to him in childhood.
Today this Mr.Kher had not called him but Vrijesh wanted to see him because after he and his team had spent almost 8 weeks of hard work on this account, he was informed that their work was not good enough and they were no longer interested in hiring them for their campaign. This was a huge economic as well as moral blow to a small office like Vrijesh’s.
So today he had taken it upon himself to go meet this Kabandh Kher and put across their case. This man was ugly with all the scars on his face and despite Vrijesh’s half an hour long impressive soliloquy just kept staring at him and then quietly handed him back the files.
In the corridor Vrijesh furiously thrashed the heap of papers at the wall, there it was an old newspaper clipping marked in red.

Indore, 9th May, 1995,
In a stray accident in a local park at Mahavir Nagar today a 6 years old was crushed under a large iron slide. He was discovered by the gardener hours later in a critical condition. Residents had earlier also complained of older boys from neighboring colonies harassing the younger children and destructing the park property.
A nearby washerwoman says she had seen three older boys swinging and jumping on the slide a few minutes before the accident most probably occurred. The three boys are yet to be identified. The injured boy Kabir Kher, studies in Shishu Niketan and lives nearby.

“Kabir Kher” – Vrijesh instantly remembered that afternoon vividly, he, Raju and Mohan were there. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Why boys will always be boys ?.

Until my daughter started pre-school and I witnessed her increased interaction with kids from both the genders I also believed as majority does that gender roles and stereotypes and more so gender related violence happens only after the kids are past a certain age,starting from pre-teens to their adult life.

Much to my dismay I conclude that subtle gender violence happens ,is taught, propagated and supported or at best ignored even at ages as young as four or five.

The world is talking about rapes after the horrific rape and killing of a young girl in Delhi in December 2012 and a few other equally violent rapes of young girls as young as five in Delhi and other towns in India.We talk about domestic violence, economic inequality based on gender and so many other discriminatory practices which unfortunately still prevail in India.I wonder why there is so little talk about how we bring up our boys.

Scene in a neighborhood park
My four year old little daughter and another girl are making sand castles, a boy slightly older knocks off their castle twice.His mother sits on the bench across and just smiles.The girls for some strange reason or inbuilt "don't get hurt/molested/raped" syndrome walk away from the scene of confrontation and move to play on a slide.The bully follows them and prevents their play even there.Now as I get up to intervene the mother rushes and sheepishly pulls him away saying," oh! you know how it is ,boys will be boys"
Scene at a family reunion
A few cousins playing together and the boys pulling the girls' hair or throwing toys.The girls go crying to their moms and the mother of the boys or the grandmother say,"Oh  ladke to aise hi hote hain,zyada a shararti hote hain"( boys are like this,they are more naughty.)

Have you ever noticed how Johnny in the popular nursery rhyme Johnny Johnny yes papa ,just laughs ha ha ha when his lie is caught by his father,do we have the same standards for our girls?

When our children sing

Peter Peter pumpkin eater
Had a wife and couldn't keep her
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well!


Imagine the kind of husband -wife equation we are putting forth,where the husband can or cannot"keep" a wife and then lock her at his will.What kind of an ideal is this for young boys,kiss the girls and make them cry?


Georgie Porgie pudding and pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry




Hindi rhymes are no better ,sample a few here.This one is called BANDAR KI SASURAL

Lathi lekar been bajata,
Bandar ja pahuncha sasural.
Mein aaya bandari ko lene,
Kaun banaye roti-daal.


or this one often taught in several variations

Titli udi , ud n saki,
bus me chadi, sit na mili,
sit na mili, rone lagi,
conductor ne kaha, chal mere saath,
Titli boli chal hatt badmaash.



or lessons like this one in Hindi books


Look at the cartoon shows we so happily let our kids watch where girls play the cooperative games and boys are always confrontational.Where pushing,killing,harassing is allowed and made to appear funny.There is no denying that games,rhymes,cartoons all are fun,but we have to be careful about what kind of images and messages are being given to our kids there.

So when I think of Gender violence now and seeking some kind of equality I think I should pledge to ring a bell  in fact ring all my alarm bells every time a parent ,grandparent or a teacher reinforces the stereotypes by saying Oh boys will be boys !

This is not harmful just for our girls but our boys are also getting trapped in stereotypical images of macho men who are crude,violent and destructive,and those who do not fit in again get derogatory labels.

Lets start to tackle gender violence from where it actually starts from the clean slates of our kids' minds,from the roots of the people they grow up to become.

This post is a part of the Indiblogger initiative for Bell Bajao.

Friday, May 10, 2013

माँ - बेटी - नानी


आज फिर यादें
खंगाली हैं
और स्मृति के
स्थिर स्रोतों से
माँ की हज़ार बातें
नयी हो आई हैं

कैसे माँ की आवाज़
बदल जाती
जब तार वाले फ़ोन से
वो अपनी माँ से
बतियाती

अपने गाँव की
दहलीज़ पर
हमेशा माथा टेकती
अपने स्कूल को देखकर
मुस्काती

कभी चपातियाँ
सेकते -सेकते
पहाड़ी गाने गुनगुनाती
और कभी
चाय के साथ
खुद भी गुस्से में उफनती जाती

अब माँ की आवाज़
में वो खनक गुम है
अब उनके जीवन
में आपाधापी नहीं
पर शायद
अकेलापन है

बेटी से हर माँ
की तरह
वो भी कर  लेती है
मुझसे हज़ार बातें

पर बेटी बनकर
माँ से बातें
नहीं कर पाने का
एकाकीपन है

फिर अचानक
फ़ोन पर सुनती हूँ
दो आवाजें
वही खनक ,वही जादू
मेरी माँ से बतियाती मेरी बेटी
कहाँ मेरी नानी से कम है !!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

कविता



एक चतुर  चोर जैसे 
ज़िन्दगी के खजाने 
की चमक  से 
चुराकर कुछ सुनहरे लम्हे 

मुट्ठी में बंद कर 
छुपा लेती हूँ 
कविता के 
तहखाने में 

यूँ पनपती है 
मेरी दौलत !

Friday, May 3, 2013

HAIKUS FROM NOWHERE


I
wait for summer breeze
ladybird ,look at the crow -
on the cliff of hope.

II
beyond this summer
the showers will be waiting-
a lone sparrow sighs !


III
can you imagine
the first drop of rain falling,
on a waiting palm ?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

1 9 8 4


सरकारी आंकड़ों की मानो
न ही कहीं दंगा हुआ
न गले में टायर डाल
धूं -धूं कोई जलाये  गए

न किसी भीड़ को
भड़काया गया
न ही सैंकड़ो
काटे-मारे गए

कौन सी औरतों का
बताओ बलात्कार हुआ
कौन से बच्चे
झुलसाये गए

"बस एक बड़ा
पेड़ गिरा तो
आस-पास की धरती
काँप गयी "

ये कौन हैं
3 0  सालों से जो
चीखते-चिल्लाते हैं
जो इन्साफ मांगते हैं

इतना भी नहीं जानते हैं
हम सिर्फ सरकारी
आंकड़ों को मानते हैं !

Orange Flower Awards

@IAmSufiZen

COMPANIONS CALLED BOOKS

To Kill a Mockingbird
The Catcher in the Rye
Animal Farm
The Alchemist
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Romeo and Juliet
Frankenstein
The Odyssey
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Count of Monte Cristo
Eat, Pray, Love
Lolita
The Da Vinci Code
The Kite Runner
The Silence of the Lambs
The Diary of a Young Girl
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Notebook
Gone With the Wind
}

I WILL RING THE BELL.WILL YOU?

The Human Bean Cafe, Ontario

The Human Bean Cafe, Ontario
my work on display there !!!!!