Writing Meditation – Day 1

There is something about writing that we have forgotten: It’s an art. Which means, it can help us in the time of a psychological crisis. That one can seek its refuge as and when one needs emotional healing.

Some of us see writing as an expression of knowledge instead of pursuit. We assume that a writer has ideas which she puts into words. With that assumption, writing seems no different than speech, and in fact, no different than an inherent talent. This is why, we get swayed by professional writers, authors etc.

This is only the partial picture.

Writing is a tool through which a writer tries to make sense of her thoughts. As you would notice, thoughts are mostly chaotic and random. It is a writer’s job to catch them, untangle them, shape them and make them visible to the world. For instance, a writer would write a love story not because she perfectly understands what romance is, but because she wants to.

I can assure you, it’s going to be a beautiful journey. Shall we?

Daily Exercise:

Recognise your thought. What are you thinking exactly at this moment? Once you can clearly identify it, write it down on a piece of paper. This step is important. The thought has to come out in the physical world and find a place for itself. Don’t use a phone or computer, otherwise it will go from one kind of invisible world to another. Simply write your precise thought. It can be one sentence or more. You do not have to worry about grammar or your choice of words. Only be honest and clear. Congratulations on the completion of your first assignment.

The Veils of Power

Veil is not a recent invention. Veiling women has been a tradition in many societies both in history and in present times.

For instance, in many Hindu cultures, particularly among Rajputs in the north and west, there has been a predominant purdah practice for women where they are supposed to hide their face from men. 

But, here is the crucial point.

Most people today, at least in the educated circles, identify it as a problem. Nobody claims that purdah is empowering these women. People don’t write books romanticising this practice. These women don’t march to symbolise their purdah as their identity. They don’t demand a right to cover their face when they go to work for TV, media, universities, police etc.

All because we, as a society, have more or less understood that veiling women is a silly idea even if it comes wrapped in the traditions or in misinterpretation of scriptures. That’s the simple truth. Nobody in the history of mankind has ever gained any power by veiling themselves. We know that. Don’t we?

I wish Muslim societies too could think along these lines.

Before Trilogy

Artist: Unknown


We seek love.

We may pretend all day that there are more important things in life, but, deep inside, we know the truth. We know, we are imperfect beings, full of insecurities, who seek acceptance in this cruel world. And when we don’t get it, we take other paths, hoping that they would take us to the same destination.

Success, money, fame, charity – what are all these, if not ways to make people love us?

Often, we convince ourselves that we are working towards our dream, which has got nothing to do with others:

• It is a higher call.
• It is my passion.
• It is what makes me happy.

We keep telling these sweet sounding lies. But the truth is, it is not just about us. All this would mean nothing if there were no one to appreciate it.

Life is, but a quest for love, and we all choose our own unique ways to do it.


Movie: Tamasha (Director: Imtiaz Ali)

There is something archetypal about this image: the archetype of a lover.

While a lover finds all the beauty and pleasures in the companion, it is exactly the same thing that leads to ugliness and suffering. That is the duality of love.

But then, there is a choice. Either you can treat love as a straight line where you travel from good times to bad times and end it right there, or you can go through a circular path from good to bad and bad to good repeatedly.

Such is the theatre of love. Such is Tamasha.


Artist: Gurdish Pannu

Heer was a Punjaban, Sohni was a Punjaban, and so was Sahiba. Wasn’t Anarkali a Punjaban too? This cannot be a coincidence.

So, why does beauty (and a lot of it) seem to reside in a Punjaban, to the point that the two become inseparable. Is it her sparkling eyes? Or is it the curviness? Or the vanity painted allover her face? She is beautiful and strong and confident – she knows it. And such is her beauty that only painters are able to do some justice to it; and they too fail, often.

It shouldn’t be difficult to tell how smitten I am with her. And it shouldn’t be difficult to tell that I was a highly elligible candidate when it came to falling for a Punjaban. Did I? The answer to that question requires far more space and time than either you or I can afford here.

A Case for God

It is natural for humans to seek certain constants in life. That’s why they build homes, have families and indulge in work. Of course, they do like change, but only around certain areas, not all.

Now, the question is: Will these constants last? And the obvious answer is, No.

So, what does one do in that case? Where does one go to seek consolation when there is no one around to give any hope?

Well, one finds God.

Someone divine and away from the possibilities of getting corrupted or dying. Someone you can always rely on, because he won’t leave you, ever. How can he? After all, he does not exist. But, that’s the whole point. The god does not exist, but he has to.

A Mallu Woman

Yes, you can make it. Yes. Go, go, go. Oh-ho. Damn, no!

The brakes shriek, the car immediately halts, and my body – surprised by the turn of events – momentarily hovers and then sways backwards and finds its comfort in the seatback. I am stuck again, at a crossroad. It has been such a year. And the day. And now, this. The traffic signal, standing shamelessly in front of my eyes, reads – sixty seconds. I wish I had the option to skip the time.

I curse the driver in my head, who could have jumped the signal at the last moment. Why didn’t he?

I shake my head and turn towards the window and see her standing all by herself. Our eyes meet, only momentarily though, before her face turns towards the shop she is standing at. It’s strange how our eyes choose to notice certain people and completely ignore others.

She is draped in a golden-white saree, which is in stark contrast to her perfectly black hair. The hair are curly and wavy, and seem to flow in all directions apart from that one point behind her neck, where they are loosely knitted with a white garland. I wonder how they smell like, and try to imagine the smell of the oil they were soaked in. I close my eyes, for a second or two, and take a deep breath. From here, I can only see the right side of her face and a glimpse of her back, so, I try to complete the picture in my head.

Forty seconds left. And now I am hoping that time could slow down.

“Excuse me,” she says to the shopkeeper, followed by a stream of words sailed in Malayalam. She is only a few feet away, but then, space is neither the only nor the right method to measure the distance between two people. Her contralto voice has found its place in my heart, her identity is still a mystery. I look closely. The brown skin is shimmering under the setting sun.

Who is she? What is she doing in a small place like this? What is her life like?

Twenty seconds to go. Can’t someone stop this timer?

She glances at me. Our eyes meet, again. Normally, a girl would look away. Normally, I would lower my gaze, out of embarrassment. This time, neither happened. We gazed at each other. A hint of smile appears, not on our lips, but in our eyes.

Five seconds…

I have a choice to make. That will decide the fate of our story.

Three… Yes.

Two…. No.

One… It would be really weird if I walk up to her and say hello, right?


The Narrowness of Being!

Let me tell you a story.

When Raza learnt (from his washerman) that Aisha, his wife, had been committing adultery, it seemed like the end of the world. Ammi (Mother) said that he needed to get rid of the unfaithful. Sell her off in exchange for gold coins – she commanded. Raza hesitated. Ammi kept nagging. Corvus Oculum Corvi Non Eruit! A 25 year old man should not have been married to a 40 year old woman. Now go, sell her off! Raza was traumatised. He loved Aisha; he still did; although now, he hated her too. Had she changed? Her body had changed, and so had her behaviour, or even her character for that matter. He could not understand. How did this love remain then–did he really love her or merely the idea of her? Aisha stayed silent and accepted what the family had to offer. Later that night, Raza took her to the slave market, and just when one of the Vikings was going to pay a decent price, something came to Raza’s mind and he stabbed her to death. All things decay. It had to happen. It is only a matter of time, before my sufferings begin. Karma Yoga!

Now, if you ask a child to read this story, he or she would only see a story. But, adults don’t think that way. With specific knowledge or information, they develop specific biases, and hence, they interpret much more than what a child would. In the above story, for instance, different people would observe, like or dislike different set of things.

A Muslim might notice the age of Raza (and Aisha), and relate with that of prophet, when he got married. Some might even get curious about (Shia or Sunni) names.

A Hindu might notice the Sanskrit phrase (Karma Yoga) from Bhagwad Gita. Or relate the scene with Ram and Sita, because of the washerman reference.

A Buddhist might find the final words of Buddha in the story.

A feminist could argue that the woman is being ill-treated.

A meninist could say that it was the man who actually suffered.

A lawyer could worry about the justice.

A philosopher might ponder over Raza’s questions and relate them with Ship of Theseus.

A linguist might notice the Latin and Sanskrit phrases.

A historian could wonder about the Vikings.

A literary critic might observe the inconsistencies in the language and the story.


Adult life is mostly built upon thoughts. Our knowledge often defines our biases, which in turn shapes our thoughts and narrows our experiences. But, isn’t life all about experiences? If we are only going to worry about certain aspects of life–which conform to our ideology and which do not–it would affect our experience as a whole and not in a good way. Since, a child does not do that, he or she is more likely to relish the experience.

A work of art is just like life. It captures the essence of life and offers us a range of experiences. Beholders take what they are capable of or what they intend to. Some spend hours and days, trying to analyse and criticise; some like; some dislike; some get offended; yet there are some who simply experience, which, as you would see, is a beautiful thing.


I’m in Imperfections

I see a broken wine bottle on the subway, and immediately, my heart starts to ache. It must have gone through a lot, I wonder. And now–does anyone care about it? Some curse it and call it insidious, but my aching heart tells me that its agonies are far worse. As I lay my eyes on the shattered pieces, I think of its journey–how it was created, transported, sold and bought, cheered and ultimately discarded–and I feel like keeping it.

I love imperfections, for they make one unique. So, as soon as I see a flaw, I fall in love with it. After all, in this world of ugly precision and annoyingly pretentious perfections, imperfections are rare; and so is beauty.

Unfortunately, we have got rid of a lot of imperfect things. I miss them. Things that seem tedious and ridiculous at first, but turn out to be hilarious in every sense. Have you tried them? Igniting a wet piece of wood? Watching your paperboat float and drown? Waiting (day after day) for a letter from someone far? I call them life.

But, of all the imperfections, I miss the ones in people the most. People that are politically incorrect. That say and do silly things. That carry insecurities in their eyes. That fear. That fail. That laugh like crazy. That don’t judge nor do they care about being judged. That don’t know how dress up or talk or behave normally. That are messy. But… that know how to love without reasons. I love them back–and I don’t know why?

Where do they live nowadays? I have no clue. If you happen to meet one of those imperfect people, let her know that I’ve been waiting.

A Song for Readers

Note: Say it aloud. In fact, sing it. Then go back to reading.


Why do we read?

We read, because,

once upon a time,

When we were small,

and the world looked tall.

Yes, once upon a time…

when solo-ride was a crime.

Once upon a time,

at that precise time,

a story was told.

A story of adventure,

of hero, of villain and of gold.

The time flew,

and yet, that story remained,

As we read it again and again.


Why do we read?

We read to learn, to grow,

to explore.

To travel the world,

leaving behind, our own shore.

To sing without singing

And dance, without, really dancing.

To do all the impossible things,

While sitting on a chair,

like innocent-beings.


Why do we read?

We read, because,

not everyone around us,


What it feels to be us?

To laugh and cry,

for no reason.

To fall in love,

and hate, every season.

But those in the books,

they do.

Yes, they do, and that’s why,

Yes, that’s why… we read, we succeed.


Why do we read?

We read, because,

if we don’t,

a clown (wearing a crown),

insensitive and insane,

would fool us,

time and again.

He changes the history,

and creates a mystery.

While he lies,

and lies every day,

Our books, speak the truth

day after day.

We read, because,

we have to, and,

if we don’t,

wise will become fools,

and fools will make the rules.


and but is important, indeed.

That won’t happen,

as long as we read.

I promise, that won’t happen,

as long as we read.


So, what are you doing?

Go, read, you fool.

The Social Media Circus

“All the world is a circus, and all the men and women merely clowns.” ~ William Shakespeare


I read the quote as I stood outside the gate. Shakespeare? That does not sound right.

“Welcome,” a voice caught my attention. It was the gatekeeper.

“How much for the ticket?” The words came out compulsively. In fact, I wasn’t even carrying money.

“What?” the gatekeeper said and began to laugh. He laughed and laughed, and stopped rather abruptly. “Give me your email id. That would suffice. Here’s your ticket.”

“Fair enough,” I said and questioned the fairness of it, in my mind.

“That’s how it works here. You need food? Give your email id. You need a taxi ride? Give your–”

“I get it,” I interrupted him. “Should I enter now?”

“Sure, sir. Our assistant will accompany you.”

“But I don’t…” by the time I could finish the sentence, a little boy had held me by my hand and was now escorting me inside the circus.

“Take this mask, you will need it,” he said and put it on my face. I did not object. While in circus, do as the clowns do.

There were a number of doors; each door led to a separate colony. We entered the Facebook colony. When I asked the reason, the little boy said, “because you have the ticket for this colony only.”

I felt embarrassed. Wasn’t it obvious?

“Don’t worry,” he said, trying to console me, “this one is the best among all colonies. You will find everyone here. And no restrictions on the freedom of expression. On the Twitter side, for instance, you are not allowed to speak much. And on the Instagram side, no one ever talks. Clowns only talk through their expressions there. So, it’s not for everybody.”

Slight relief. And momentary too. As I entered the colony, the assistant disappeared, and then, all of a sudden, clowns started to appear from nowhere. It’s magical, I thought. I was overwhelmed. My friends, family, relatives – everyone was there. Even the strangers, or the ones that pretended to be strangers (ex-lovers, for example).

I was given a spot; and so was everyone else. For me, it was quiet at first. Not many clowns visited, and those who did, they ignored me. What to do? Soon, after crouching on my spot for a few hours (for no reason whatsoever), I discovered that the spot was connected to my house and I did not have to get the ticket, every time I wanted to be here. Same was true for everyone, I assumed. There was a door right behind me, which joined the two worlds. I kept switching between the real and the virtual world (as it was written on the either side of the door). But, all the time, one thing kept bothering me. Shouldn’t I be doing something here? So, one day, I decided to sing a song.

Within a few moments, there was a group of clowns standing next to me, listening to my song.

“That is not how you sing,” said one of them.

“But I am just–”

“Not how you sing.”

“Then how…” I said, but by then, the clown had disappeared. I shouted again, he came again, said something which did not make any sense, and disappeared again.

“Make some friends first,” said another one and tied a friendship bracelet to my wrist. How sweet, I said and realised there was no one around. I went back to the real world. But, the door appeared so tempting that I could not resist and came here once again. In a matter of a few days, it had become a habit. I would roam around aimlessly. Once back in the real world, I would realise that I was too tired to do anything. And once tired, I would go back to the virtual world. The life went on.

The colony was huge. Probably the biggest I had ever seen. It was like a wonderland. Clowns kept appearing and disappearing at their spots, in the blink of an eye. Others kept visiting (and revisiting) them.  What was even more interesting was that everyone could be seen here. Everyone. Even the celebrities and other big shots. But their spots were mostly crowded and one could not really speak (or do anything) there.

I met a number of clowns on the way, and I made sure that I tie friendship bracelets to as many of them as I could. To the point that they became suspicious of my presence. That did not stop me and I continued to stalk them (in fact, we all stalked each other).

Every day was entertaining in the virtual world. A lot happened at every spot. Except a few. In these few spots, clowns rarely showed up. And when they did, they only said what they were doing and disappeared again. I am having a coffee. Gone. Got a job. Gone. Feeling lonely. Gone. I, being a naive resident, said okay, each time clowns mentioned what they were doing.

One of these days, I was taking a walk along the street when I noticed a few interesting characters. A female clown, stood at her spot and made different expressions after every few minutes. Many clowns (mostly male clowns) cheered and sang I like it. It was the most popular song in the colony. The female clown appeared and disappeared, but the onlookers did not move. Many waited to tie a friendship bracelet. So did I. But the queue was a long one, and so I moved on.

I kept walking. On the way, a male clown, who was wearing a female’s attire, tied me a friendship bracelet. When I asked him about his unusual style, he refused to admit that he was male and showed a number of pictures (of some other females) to prove his case. Then he poked me and disappeared. What was that? I wondered. “It’s a popular game here,” said another clown, poked me, and disappeared.

On my way back, I realised, a number of clowns talked only to themselves. No one listened or responded to them. Then, there were some that talked less and responded more. They visited every other spot and reacted and overreacted.

What should I do? I was talking to myself when I heard someone say, “take these. Memes are the answer to every question.”

“Is that free?”

“Everything here is free.”

I should have known that, I thought and picked a few from the lot. Turned out, his words did carry some truth. When nothing else worked, memes were the answer. Life was good.

Time went by. The crowd in the streets grew. And so did the noise. Every society goes through a cycle; it ripens and then it rots; the same was happening here.

A lot had changed. Like clowns, a number of other things had appeared and disappeared. Even the famous song I like it sounded phony. There were so many variations to this song now that it lost its appeal. Good manners were a part of history now. Ironically, everyone shouted loud to tell others to stay quiet. Of these loudmouths, most were paid to spread propaganda. They repeated the same words, no matter what the other clown had to say. Then there was moral police that kept an eye on what you speak or how you speak. One was often mocked, abused and harassed, if one did not conform to the norms described by the police.

I had started to dislike everything. The noise and the fights were maddening. So, I closed the door and went back to the real world. Everything seemed quiet here. Normal, as before. Sigh!



देशभक्त बनो बुड़बक


Proud feel करो.




किसलिए पूछते हो? मूर्ख, देश के लिए, और किसके लिए?


महात्मा गाँधी के लिए?


नहीं, वो तो मुसलमानो का चमचा था.




अंग्रेजों का पिठलग्गु था वो…




उसी के तो कीड़े हैं ये सब.


इंदिरा गाँधी?


पगला गए हो क्या? Emergency क्या होती है जानते हो? वही लायी थी.


तो फिर राजीव गाँधी?


यार उस दुष्ट का नाम मत लो… खुद मर गया, अपने नालायक बेटे को छोड़ गया. अरे गड़े मुर्दे उखाड़ना बस भी करो.


अच्छा केजरीवाल?


अब उस हरामी की बात मत करो.




हा हा… उसकी शक्ल देखी है? ना शक्ल अच्छी ना काम अच्छे.


अच्छा politics छोडो. Bollywood? सलमान, शाहरुख़, आमिर – इनके लिए तो proud हो सकता है ना?


तुम जैसे गधों के चक्कर में ये मुल्ले ही राज कर रहे हैं. देखना एक दिन इनकी population इतनी हो जाएगी कि हम सबको काट देंगे ये.


और लेखक वर्ग?


वो झोला छाप गैंग? उनको तो पाकिस्तान भेज देना चाहिए. Intolerance-intolerance करते रहते हैं रात दिन.


Businessmen के लिए हो proud सकते हैं?


भैया ऐसा है, टाटा जी की ज़ुबान आजकल ज़्यादा चल रही है. सहारा वालों को जेल का सहारा है. और अम्बानी अडानी का तो आपको पता ही है.


और वो झुग्गियों वाले?


हैं? उनके लिए कैसा proud? उनके चक्कर में ही तो GDP down हो रखी है.


फिर कौन बचा यार? किसान?


ये बात की न तुमने… किसानों के लिए proud feel  करो.


पर किसान तो मर रहे हैं.


फिर छोडो यार उनको भी…


खुद के लिए हो सकता हूँ?


अरे तुम्हे तबसे क्या भाषण दे रहा हूँ? खुद के लिए नहीं, देश के लिए proud feel करो.


देश में क्या आता है? ये कूड़े से भरी धरती? ये दूषित नदियां? ये हानिकारक हवा?


तुम कहाँ की बात पता नहीं कहाँ ले जाते हो…


फिर तो बस एक साहेब बचे और हमारी सेना.


अब आये हो मियां लाइन पे.


पर एक राजा और एक सेना तो तानाशाही जैसा सुनाई पड़ता है.


माफ़ करना दोस्त, पर तुमने मेरे सब्र का इम्तेहान ले लिया. देश के लिए तुम्हारा मरना ज़रूरी है. वरना ये गन्दगी नहीं मिटेगी.




भारत माता की जय!


I Am A Liar

Let me tell you something about myself: I am a compulsive liar. I lie for no reason. I lie all the time, every day. For example, if you ever meet me and ask ‘where are you going’, I will say anything but the real answer. It’s more fun, that way. Maybe because, truth is mostly specific, and hence static, whereas a lie can travel anywhere in the universe of your imagination. Now, an interesting question arises here: whether I am lying here as well? Well, you can decide by yourself, or even judge, I won’t stop you. I will still go ahead and make my point.

All of us were raised and educated with certain values, which taught us to speak the truth. You know what? It was a lie. Truth is not important. Who decides what is important? We, right? Wait, you or I? If there is single truth I know about this world, it’s that no one likes to hear the truth. People prefer to hear what comforts them. You would not like to work for a boss who constantly tells you how to do a particular job perfectly. You are more likely to marry a person who keeps telling you that you are beautiful. And everyone does that. Is everyone beautiful? Well, that’s hard to decide, but we can safely assume that everyone has to lie about his or her partner’s beauty, at one point or the other. I am not saying that’s wrong, but that is how it is.

Let us try to see different picture now.

Have you ever wondered, what is the difference between humans and animals? You may come up with a number of answers, but allow me to make a point here. Animals see the things as the things are. If there is food in front of them, they eat it. If they lust for another animal, they have sex. Man, on the other hand, would ignore his desire (which is the literal truth) and think of all the hypothetical values that have been shoved down his throat throughout his life. He would think of right and wrong, and accordingly make his choice.  But the fact remains, hunger was there, lust was there.

The biggest example is that of god. At this point, if you are a believer, do not pray for my well being, but listen to me for a moment. If there is god, where is he (or as the feminists say, she)? I know the debate is endless, but the fact remains, when I will put a gun against your head, and no matter how much you pray, it would only be I who could save your life. I know it will hurt you, dear believer. And it should. But, does that change anything? I think not.

But why did we create a society full of lies, and hypothetical creatures and values?

Just think. Would our race survive if we let go these values? I think you know the answer. Why do you think people don’t kill other people? May be they do, but not as often. It’s not because they are afraid of law, but in most cases, there is an inherent value that stops them from killing. There would be chaos if all these values disappeared all of a sudden. You may not fear the president of America, but you fear god, and that’s important. God was created so that we could survive. So yes, god is helping us, in a way.

And it’s not only god. Imagine, what would happen if people stopped working? There is every chance that the society will collapse, eventually. Now you know why they keep telling you that your work is important. And why we sing praises of heroes and worship them. It makes us dream to be a hero. Doesn’t it? And that’s how the life goes on and the society continues to flourish. You and I, that are nothing but a lump of flesh, do our duties, not because it’s important for us, but it’s important for mankind. Whether we accept it or not, but that’s how it is.

So, coming back to my habit of lying, I lie because I am human. In fact, that’s what makes me human.

An Elusive Place Called Happiness

A lot of people seem to believe that poor people are unhappy. Clearly, these people have no idea about poverty, or happiness for that matter. On the contrary, if you look at rich people’s lives, you will find that the richer you are, the more difficult it is to have a life of fulfilment. Especially, if you are someone who has inherited the wealth, instead of earning it. In a fictional story, you might become the Batman; but in real life, chances are, you would be a Donald Trump. Anyway, I am not going to talk about rich people’s intelligence. My concern is whether the money affects our happiness, and if it does, then which way?

The most important factor in the quest of happiness is freedom. While your bank balance may give you freedom in buying certain items, it limits your choices in terms of what you will be doing for the rest of your life. Which, according to me, is much more important than the former. Accept it or not, you and I are victims of consumerism. Our principle is lifestyle. So, here is what we do: we surround ourselves with all kinds of things that are supposed to make our lives comfortable. Then we turn blind. We start pretending that anyone who has not got such luxury, must be unhappy. And we keep telling the same lie to ourselves and those around us, to feel good about our life. But, it’s a lie and it will remain so.

Secondly, when you are born (and brought up) with a certain kind of social status, there are certain expectations from you. These expectations arise, not only from your parents and near-and-dear-ones, but even from your own self. And you make your career (or life) choices by comparing your options with the ones you have had in the past. Your expectations are already set. That way you are never going to start from wherever-you-want-to. There is a certain kind of baggage you will be carrying. And you will always do, thereafter.

Coming back to the point of happiness, when you have the luxury in everyday life, most people around you expect you to be happy. They keep telling you that you are lucky to have so many good things in your life, and therefore, you should be happy. As a rich person, you are entitled to be surrounded by fools. As you would realise, this never works. If you try to convince yourself by this dull-witted logic, you will most likely fail. Soon, you will realise that people don’t understand you. And once that happens, the happiness will abandon you further.

You would agree that whether we are rich or poor, we need friends and family to be happy. In short, relationships add a significant value in our lives, and make us happy. But every relationship requires sacrifices, of one kind or the other. That again takes us to our basic values. Have you made sacrifices in order to achieve something, while you were growing up? If not, then you are going to struggle here too. Humility is not something you can buy at a grocery store.

On the other hand, it is rather simple for poor people. For them, it’s easier to find meaning in their lives. Because, if you are poor, every little action of yours leads to an important change in your life. That way, you are more satisfied, and happy too. A poor man knows he cannot control everything. In a sense, he is freer than a rich man. He accepts whatever comes his way, and if something goes wrong, he always has his poverty to blame for. No doubt, there is suffering, but there is no dissatisfaction.

Some people will find the above logic absurd. I do not want them to understand each word of it. Nor am I asking you to donate all your money and live a life of poverty. I want you to observe both the lives closely, and make your own judgment. My only point is, when we have more, we complicate our lives. We forget to understand the essence of life. Which is to live – one day at a time, one moment at a time. And we find ourselves on crossroads, as if no one understands us. It will not happen, if we can just let that baggage go and feel free within ourselves.

मेरा क्या है?

तंग रास्तों में भटकते हुए,
अकस्मात् एक ख़याल आया।
मंज़िल तो कभी देखी न थी,
रास्ता भी अब खो न जाए कहीं।
ये फुटपाथ गरीबों का,
और ये सड़क अमीरों की,
मेरा क्या है?
कुछ भी तो नहीं…

मेरे हिस्से में आये हुए,
दुःख भी हैं और दर्द भी।
सोचा अपनों से परे, क्या पता,
मिल जाए एक सहारा कोई।
पर वो भगवान् भी है गरीबों का,
और सरकार सिर्फ अमीरों की,
मेरा क्या है?
कुछ भी तो नहीं…

तन भी छोडो, मन भी छोडो,
ये जीवन तो एक अहसास है।
भाव ही सबका रास्ता है,
और सबकी तरह, मैं इसका राही।
पर पता चला, ग़म हैं गरीबों के,
और खुशियां सिर्फ अमीरों की,
और मेरा क्या है?
कुछ भी तो नहीं…

My Idea of Patriotism

Patriotism: A lot of people talk about it, fight for it, or even die, but, few understand. For most people, more than understanding, patriotism is about a feeling, or an emotion, towards their motherland. But, why can’t we make an attempt to understand it? I, for one, would certainly like to try.

The first thing we need to know about patriotism is that it is natural. Like a child’s love for its mother. For example, in my case, I was born and brought up amidst Himalayas. And every time I gaze at those mighty peaks, a sudden surge of emotions occurs in my body and I can’t stop telling myself—that’s my home. I am sure, you also get the same feeling when you see your home. It’s natural, isn’t it? And you can barely overcome that emotion, no matter how hard you try.

Now, if someone were to induce this emotion, or manipulate it, in order to achieve a political purpose, I could not agree with that kind of patriotism. Today, since we live in politically charged atmosphere where anything and everything is politicised, we need to be more thoughtful while taking any decision based on emotions.

Moreover, the idea of patriotism is personal; just like any religion. It should not be shoved down someone’s throat. As I said, I get a blissful feeling, every time I gaze at Himalayas. But a lot of other people, who grew up alongside me, do not share similar sentiment. Is that a problem? Certainly not. They may like or dislike the place, in their own way. That’s their choice. I have no right to make them feel what I feel or how I feel. That would be absurd, wouldn’t it? Yet, there are people out there who try to do exactly that.

While we are on the subject of patriotism, it is important to talk about nationalism. As mentioned before, the feeling of patriotism is mostly natural, but the same cannot be said about nationalism. A number of things induce (or made to induce, I should say) this emotion, starting from your childhood. There is national flag, there is national anthem, and countless other national symbols or activities, that keep reminding you about nation. Most of your textbooks will suggest that yours is the greatest nation in the world (and every nation says that, quite unsurprisingly). That does not mean I object to each one of those exercises. They are important, as we need certain guidelines for the sustenance of an organisation. Isn’t nation an organisation in that sense? I will leave the judgement part on you.

What I am trying to say here is that my idea of patriotism is simple. I love where I belong to. I love those mountains. I love those people. I love the culture they have created, language they speak, the clothes they wear and the things they do. That does not mean I love India (or any other country for that matter) any less. I love them all, but not in the same way, of course. How can others decide what you love and how much love it?

In the times that we live in, there is a widespread issue of identity-crisis. Religious maniacs want you to be religious, nationalists want you to be nationalist, communists want you to be communist, feminists want you to be feminist (already regretting writing this; too late, though). It is not easy to not give in to such demands; it is important, nevertheless.

Here is what bothers me the most: we are often told in the modern narrative of nationalism that not only do you have to love your nation, but also, you are expected to hate the enemy. Who is the enemy? That depends; but, it will always be another nation. How can a whole nation be my enemy—I ask; and there seems to be no reasonable answer.

It is a good time to remember this bitter fact that nations come and go. Patriotism remains. Should I love my mountains any less, if some day China seizes their control? I cannot and I will not. But of course, people then, will tell me that China is the greatest nation; and I will be silent, as I am now. And I will have to pay my taxes to the government, as I do know. And there won’t be any other relation with the government, as there is no other now.

मैं एक पौधा हूँ

मैं एक पौधा हूँ…

मैं वृक्ष नहीं हूँ,
प्रज्ञ हूँ,
लगभग अदृश्य भी,
किन्तु विशालकाय
यक्ष नहीं हूँ.

मैं तो सूक्ष्म हूँ,
निर्बल हूँ,
चंचल हूँ.
हवा के तेज़ झोंको से,
कंपकपाता हर पल हूँ.

कितने प्राणी,
कितनी लालसा,
मैं तो सबसे डरता हूँ.
भान है यथार्थ का,
तभी तो निवेदन करता हूँ.

न मैं छाँव,
न आशियाना,
और न फल दे पाऊंगा.
यदि अपेक्षा करोगे,
तो उन्ही में दब जाऊंगा .

यदि कुछ करना है,
मेरी खातिर,
तो मुझे प्रेरित करो.
और कहो, कि पौधे,
इस निर्जनता से मत डरो.

क्या पता,
उन शब्दों का जादू,
कुछ इस कदर चल जाए.
और वीरानी के इस पौधे को भी,
कोई हमसफ़र मिल जाए.

Are You Free?

Did you decide the school you first attended? Did you choose the sport you first played? Did you get a chance to pick your own fears and anxieties?

Of course, you were small then. Which means, you were meant to be protected, but, I am more interested in knowing, what happened when you were no more a kid?

Was it you who decided your college, or your parents did it for you? If it was you, did you choose it, because you really liked it, or just because, you were told that it was best for you? But, since, you were still a student, the real world was still a step away. When it came to job, did you make a call based on work, or once again, it was compelled by other factors, which earlier used to be secondary, but suddenly became primary? Talking about your job, how many times have you been to office out of love and not out of compulsion?

You may say, this is how the system works, and there’s hardly anything you can do about it. Fair enough, let’s move on.

Did you fall in love because she was the most beautiful girl in the world, or once again, did the choices run out? Did you marry her because you wanted her for life, or it was a societal obligation? Did your kids see this world, because it was your dream, or the parental pressure did the trick?

Remember, when you bought that car? Was it supposed to satisfy your need or maintain your reputation? What about this big house?

My question to you, is simple: what actually do you decide? Is it the food, the clothes, or the electronic device you are currently using? You may not even drink a glass of water from a natural source. You are supposed to buy that. And remember, any consumer product you buy, eventually benefit a few number of people. So, any choice offered to you there, is misleading.

Freedom does not necessarily mean big things. It lies in the simplest of things that we do in everyday life. Doing anything you want to… speaking your heart out… being a lover to anyone… travelling or staying anywhere in the world… eating whatever you want…

Despite all of this, let’s say you do make a choice, but, was it really an act of freedom? Ever thought, whether decisions are your own, or are they affected by the media, advertisements, propaganda and all kinds of lies? Was your mind ever free, or will it ever be? I don’t want the answer; I want you to ask yourself the same question.

There is a way out though. As a matter of fact, the world has become simpler today, and it does give you a few options. And in this case, your options are: either you cut your wings and pretend to celebrate your freedom, or, you may find your freedom inside the prison walls.

Being Woman

Every morning, I wake up and go for a run. When I am running, people notice neither my front, nor my back. It’s rather hard to imagine someone would even do that. When I do Surya Namaskar, I do not have to worry about my clothes shifting from their usual position, to leave certain body parts exposed.

When I go to work (and that also includes sitting in a cafe), and someone approaches me, I don’t feel that the person is hoping to get laid. That their concern is artificial. Therefore, when they show their concern, I know they are genuinely interested, which makes me happy. Imagine, I had doubted the intention of every man, who talked to me, or even texted me?

I travel, like most of you. And quite often, I use public transport. Each time, I get a unique, insightful perspective; and, to me, it remains the best form of learning. Despite all the inconveniences I face in our damaged public transport system, it is still doable, because… no one tries to molest me, or sticks his erected penis against my arse. Imagine, if someone (or many) did…

I have a habit of going to strange places. Exploring new villages and neighbourhoods is one of the many things that make me smile. But sometimes, and just sometimes, I get into awkward situations too. In some cases, where people find me suspiciously strange, they start staring at me, and even share some vile words. In such a scenario, I lose my ability to think. I become a different (or rather indifferent) person. Imagine, if it happened on a daily basis?

I have a terrible sense of dressing. But fortunately, no one (and trust me, no one in this entire world) seems to discuss it. A week ago, I had an altercation with a shopkeeper, who suggested that women should not wear short clothes. Incidentally, I was wearing shorts at that time, but he did not seem to mind it. The next thing I remember, it was raining. God, I love rains. And I love getting drenched. Once again, no one was interested in ogling my body through the wet t-shirt.

Some people say, I have an unusual lifestyle. Perhaps because, I cherish my freedom. I remember, when I was growing up, no one told me to behave in a certain way. No one warned me that I needed to find a good spouse, and be accepted by my future in-laws. No one tried to scare me that if I did not dress up in a particular way, or stayed outside during particular hours, I would be harmed. No one told me to compromise on freedom, because it was the fate of my gender.

In the next few years, I had to make some difficult choices. The one about the career too. And each time, I was able to make those difficult choices, because I believed in myself. I believed in myself, because no one really interfered in my business. My freedom was never suppressed. What if they had? It would have been different. I might have been different, and not for good.

Now, imagine, if I were a woman?

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