Thursday, December 04, 2008
This is what we need:
1. A uniform civil code. Scrap reservations. All are equal under law. No more religious processions through the streets.
2. Compulsory conscription and basic training for all for one year, to be served between the ages of 18 and 21.
3. Constructive opposition in Parliament. The Opposition should exist to question what action the ruling party has taken on its election manifesto and promises. A quarterly 'report card' to be circulated to the press - regional, national and vernacular.
4. A more active judiciary, which will be ruthless with the Babu-Neta lot. CORRUPTION = TREASON and punishable by DEATH.
5. Operational autonomy to the armed forces, which includes paramilitary and police, BSF, Coast Guard etc. Chiefs of staff to meet regularly. National Security Advisers and Defence Minister to compulsorily be ex-armed forces, of the rank of Brigadier or equivalent.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Why won’t you?
You can, can’t you?
Whether it’s you and me
We all have a price
Some paid grudgingly, some willingly
Some bought, some sold
Some rusty, some gold
And then we feel
Our senses clouded
But do we feel when free?
What do we feel when free?
Do we feel free?
I have felt trust
I have felt lust
Sometimes I want to be evil
Sometimes I just want to hold her
But is it she?
Am I hers?
Is she mine?
My mother calls
She asks me what I want
My friends call
Let’s do this and that
Let’s do it all
My woman sighs
She was given to me that night
I could see her fright
Her eyes white…
I felt her tears as she cried
But then I must go
I don’t know
I earn a wage
But I’m confined to this cage
Is it me?
Is it me?
Am I free?
Was it or was it not to be?
Who wrote this prophecy?
Who wrote my destiny?
Is it mine?
Do I belong?
What of free will?
I want to eat
I want to read
I want to sleep
I want to be free…
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Yet, at its centre, it remains very hollow; the lilting piano seems plaintive, the clarinet quintet a tribe of sycophants which hang on every word, or note, of their master.
The rest of the orchestra combines in servitude to be most slobberingly obedient.
Where, where is the power of an orchestra? What it lacks isn’t uniqueness; in fact, it might have too much of it. But nor is it a celebration of the piano in isolation. The piano is the Mona Lisa of musical instruments; she, most achingly beautiful at her loneliest. She mightn’t be the dutiful wife, nor the temptress. The piano is virtue itself.
And what of the violins? Must they come in late, an afterthought? What was Gershwin thinking? No, no, no! I must have violins. I must! But why, when their only purpose is to provide a note or two?
But why Gershwin, did you neglect the trumpet? The trumpet remains the faithful page; he announces most honourably the advent of the maestro. Then he fades. Gershwin has instead, killed it. Killed the page boy. That naïve instrument.
Through it all, Rhapsody in Blue has you sitting not quite on the edge of your seat. You sit up, and listen. But may you rise? It is disturbing. It moves you not until it reaches the climax, wherein you’re most awkwardly perched atop your seat. And then, it has you rooted. It is illicit. Which is why it works. And why it fails.
And you shall listen again…
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
See where you’re going
Why’d you stop running?
Why’d you start?
There’s that look
The one at which I melt
You hold the power still
To make me cry
And then you ask me why
Like you don’t know how
You smell the same
You still have that walk
You still stand close
You let my hand brush your ass
Your nails are still the same
When you sip your drink
Your big eyes over the rim…
I look at the lipstick marks
When you set it down
And then you know what I’m thinking
Why’re you with him?
Did I push you away?
I still miss your ass, by the way
And not just in bed
Was we too hot to be?
When did us stop needing we?
Livin’ in each other’s pocket
It worked best that way
Burgers and fries on my bike
Walks in the evening
The swimming pool at night
Coffee later, with you on my lap
My hand on your ass…
Your sing-song voice
Biscuits and tarts at the bakery
Little baby-doll dresses
And tea on the lawn
It terrifies me to think
I let you go
Someone I love so much…
Am I The Fink?
Those fingers again
But I learnt to live
A sip for courage
Two to reminisce
Three, and we’ll kiss
You’re the girl
Who should’ve been my missus
I’m lost now
I have nothing much left to offer
Maybe you miss me too
What do I long for?
For your lovin’ ?
Or for the chance to love you?
I still want you
I’d take you any chance
But would it stop you asking
Friday, October 03, 2008
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
India, the land of the Indus, a cradle of civilisation, a land of milk and honey, a lumbering global economic elephant. India, independent India, exists as a post-colonial ideal, a Gandhian philosophy which doggedly persists despite a fractious identity crisis – one of belonging to a greater ideal; the ideal of the state. Does it transcend the ideal of faith? Is your identity the colour of your skin, your faith, or the land of your birth?
These questions have no definite answers, but neither can they be kept hidden forever behind a veil of ambiguity. "You are who you are" may sound terribly clichéd, or deeply philosophical, depending on your point of view.
India was once a gaggle of princely states. These states traded, went to war, acceded or seceded according to the prevalent economic climate. Western colonialists came, witnessed a vibrant country, were enchanted by the mystique and spiritualism, the wealth of the land, and the culture of its people. But, sensing political opportunity, what was once simple trade turned into a power struggle. Wars in Europe were waged by proxy for control of the colonies. With so many axes to grind by all parties concerned, it became a question of who had the best arsenal; military and political strategy went hand in hand, and the British, to their credit, proved the most astute. And so was formed British India, ruled by an iron fist by a bunch of goras and political sidekick 'darkies'. The irony of all this was the birth of the nationalist ideal – a united India, with the noble intent of self rule.
A returning lawyer from South Africa burned with a steely resolve, one which would never see him or his brethren grovel at the boots of the white man. He went on to inspire a nation to rise as one, to be self-sufficient, strong in the face of adversity, and to bear penalty which would be untenable for most. What inspires such a man in the first place?
Was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi a saint? A saviour of men, or mankind? Or, instead, was he an astute political manipulator, a king-maker, who, with an oath of penury sought to wreck a debilitating political methodology upon his opponents? It took a misguided fanatic to kill Gandhi, a tragic end to the life of one of the most significant personalities in history,and one who did not realise his ultimate dream of a united, free India.
Whatever his motivation, Gandhi was a leader of men, but, like many great leaders, he left a following who were a rudderless ship. The Gandhian ideology disintegrated pretty quickly after he was shot dead.
His legacy instead, was one of persistent protest; of dharnas, andolans, and bhook hartal. None managed to save the India Gandhi wanted; a land which incorporated and embraced the warrior tribes of the arid lands of what is today Pakistan, to the demure intellectuals of India's Gangetic plains, and all south of this. "Mother India" as envisioned by Gandhi instead fell prey to the politicking of the time; Partition was Britain's parting shot to an unwieldy colony. And so Hindustan and Pakistan came into being.
Religious identity was confused with national identity. Two countries were born, and left to their own vices.Communalism as such, was born in Partition. Never before had religion and religious identity been the primary bone of contention among the people of India.
Pacifism was Nehru's primary policy; the horrors of Partition and the wounds they left would never really heal. A Kashmiri Pandit himself, Nehru would not commit to an all-out war to stake an Indian claim on the land. Kashmir is a wound which has festered since.
But let us step back a moment; Pakistan was created as a Muslim state. Why, then, did so many choose to remain in India? The decision of Partition was one by representation; and, unfortunate as it may have been, every Muslim should have been made to adhere to it. Every single Muslim should have been forced to leave Hindustan, the land of the Hindus. Would that have been vindictive and vengeful, at the time? Does it sound terrible to say so today? Doubtless, it does. But hard questions and tough decisions are the need of the hour.
Today, India, the secular, democratic behemoth which is India, cannot control a rogue state from perennially instigating violence and communal tensions across the land. Pakistan has turned Kashmir cancerous. Will its amputation save India?
The need of the hour is a tough, uncompromising leadership. While this country should open her arms to all who wish to live peaceably, she needn't spread her legs to those who don't. India doesn't need a police state, nor should it continue with its current impotent governance. Evicting every Muslim from India today isn't the solution.
But, burning the Indian Tricolour and raising the Pakistani flag by members of the 'minority' amounts to sedition. Worse, harbouring and breeding militant ideologies. Can the Indian administration stand back as mute spectators? Will it resort to a few token arrests? Will 'police brutality', where a couple of do-no-gooders are shot dead, be the only response?
Unfortunately, such is the case. What is needed instead, is a trial and a hanging. Due diligence to all the procedures of law should be followed, but a hanging is a must. Hang Geelani, if that is what it takes. And, to maintain the secular ideology we love to parrot about, bring to book the perpetrators of the Hindu-instigated riots in Gujarat.
While popular culture and fiction sees us make much ado of our military traditions, our martyrs and their sacrifices, it is beginning to rankle. For a developing nation to commit such vast resources to simply maintaining a border, a compromised one at that, makes little sense, politically or economically. It is a social question too; must the cross of Kashmir be borne by every Indian? Does preferential treatment of Kashmiris, in terms of rehabilitating them with employment, land, reservations in educational institutions etc, make sense? In my book, it does not.
Yes, we have further questions of secession. What about the North-East? What about the South? Again, Nehru is to blame for wanting to divide the country into states on linguistic grounds. There have been further divisions since; Bihar and Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal. Now, Vidarbha wants autonomy as well, and wants to secede from Maharashtra. And these divisive elements have all spoken a common tongue. How long can this be allowed to continue? Once again, the administration needs to toughen up. Aimless politicking by renaming streets and towns has to stop. Religious festivities and temple donations are not governance. India needs schools, hospitals, proper roads, and food for all. The rest will follow.
Politicians siphoning unaccountable billions of tax payer money must end too. Corruption is modern India's biggest curse. Corruption is tantamount to treason, and should be punishable by death. For every unlit and pot-hole-riddled road that claims a life, there is a string of corrupt politicians and government servants. Add up India's road deaths, and the figures are shocking: over one lakh people die on Indian roads every year. What about deaths due to negligence in government-run hospitals? What about infant deaths because of spurious drugs and vaccines? What about deaths because of starvation, while on average 60,000 tonnes of food grains rot in government godowns? What about deaths because of derailed trains? What about deaths because funds appropriated for relief are siphoned off after every earthquake/flood/tsunami? At least a million a year, would be a conservative estimate.
Do our politicians, then, deserve a right to life and liberty, luxury and pomp?
Is anarchy the solution? No. Anarchy only breeds a monster which will rear up once the current menace is dealt with.
Once again, due processes of the law can provide the solutions. Let there be a fear of punishment, a stigma, which will cause the next corrupt politician to think twice. And it needn't matter if the politician in question is male or female. Bring to trial, incarcerate or execute as deemed just. But do it. This de-lousing is the need of the hour.
India 2020 will either be a vibrant and dynamic land, which merges hi-tech with myriad cultures and tradition, or a bastardised has-been, steeped in mediocrity and a debilitating fear psychosis.
The time is now.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
I who have lived
And so borne the right of passage to be here
To revolt even,
For I care not what they say
I care not what you think.
It is true
The lies are true…
Come now into the light,
Stand up and be counted,
Claim your worth
Weigh yourself in measures of truth.
Sucked have we been,
Fucked over repeatedly.
Enough is enough
I want anarchy…
I want to hold their heads
Stroke their offspring…
I want to experiment
With knife and bullet and syringe and tea
Even fire, and water, and ropes from a tree.
A killing of beings
I hate totally.
I want anarchy.
Them a fungus
Sucking blood from you and me.
Them a disease.
Screw the lot.
Beat them burn them skewer them grille them
Relish the meat with me.
Join in my anarchy
Monday, May 26, 2008
Irani chai, bun maska, broon and kheema, and bun omelette. I sit and stare into nowhere, just soaking it all in. The sunlight streaming in highlights the dust in the air. There are a few flies about, and the marble-topped tables have been scarred by lovers. The formaica ones have been wiped thin. Cheap stainless steel cutlery and coarse china cups and plates are de rigeur. The waiter has the clichéd checked duster over his shoulder, and the owner-manager picks his nose contentedly.
Each one is the same. The chai is thick and sweet, and you either hate it or love it from the first time you take a sip. The omelettes are fluffy, and the pau, lusciously soft. And they’re all elegantly named; Metro, Café
But what really draws me to these joints, apart from the delicacies on the menu, are the signs on the walls. Intriguing at times, sometimes plain silly, they contribute to the ambience. I make my way to the ‘wash besan’ and am greeted by a ‘do not comb’. But I’m bald, so I take it personally. I get back to my table. The facility holds more chairs and tables than seems feasible, but the waiter traipses from table, to kitchen window and back, threading his way with a delicacy that would confound a ballerina.
I turn my attention back to the signs. ‘Do not gamble’, ‘consuming of alcohol is prohibited in the ristorant premisses. – By order’. ‘Only one cup tea will not be served to two persons.’ Fair enough, you don’t want a cheapskate bunch blocking a table.
Then I get back to the menu. All irani café owners have realised that in addition to the traditional fare they serve, ‘Indian snaks’ should be on the menu. So we get sada dosa, masala dosa, cheese sada dosa, cheese masala dosa, onion uttapam, tomato uttapam, onion tomato uttapam, onion tomato cheese uttapam…you get the drift. And there are permutations and combinations for everything. You take a base, which is a dosa say, and pick and choose your toppings. Best of all, you’ll already find it printed on the menu, coz somebody already thought of it. They need to sort out the prices, you see. But how the ‘ghee mysore rava masala dosa’ costs 23 rupees to the ‘paper butter sada dosa’s’ 24 rupees is beyond me.
Then I turn to ‘Eggs’. Aha. There’s omlet, masala omlet, cheese omlet, masala cheese omlet, and all are available as either ‘single’ or ‘double’ – one or two eggs, that is. Best of all, there’s a ‘bred omlet’. The cook made one daddy omelette and one mummy omelette and they keep having baby omelettes. Clever.
But while irani cafes might be fading away, they will never truly die. They live in the hearts, and stomachs, of millions of people. Student, blue collar, white collar, tout, tourist, film star and flunky, lover, and loser, have all dined, and I say dined, at these joints. You walk out heavier, and your wallet not much lighter, and revel in the delight of tasty, cheap meal. I feel a burp coming on, bred by an omelette!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Where does she go from here?
Her sunny smile and eccentric ways charmed all who saw her. Alive with a naiveté that disarmed me, her socialist ways and contradictory opinions always left me puzzled. A livewire of a woman, her disposition was electric. Big eyes, the biggest I’ve seen, and a nose carved by two swift strokes of her maker’s scalpel, a high brow and a wide mouth completed the picture. She wasn’t beautiful in the conventional sense, instead she could be expansively described as attractive. I first saw her a decade ago. She was a chubby little thing, perennially amused at the follies of her peers. Too intelligent to hold anyone’s interest, she flitted…a social butterfly in her adolescence.
I ran into her on the causeway in our college campus. It’d been over a year since I’d seen her. She greeted me with a typical squeal of delight and a big hug. “what are you doing here?” we both said to one another at the same time. Celebrating our reunion with a cutting chai and ciggy, we caught up over where we’d been, who we’d been dating, the books we’d read and god knows what.
She was thin now; I detected a blossoming feminism which was at once alluring yet somehow misplaced. We exchanged phone numbers. She wouldn’t call, she said, coz she couldn’t. She was broke.
We met most days at , lolling in the plastic chairs at Happy Guys, our on-campus haunt. Over endless cups of tea, shared cigarettes and the daily crossword, we bonded. I watched her metamorphose; the bindi phase, the peasant skirt phase, the jeans and knotted shirt phase and the short skirt phase. She was waif thin by then…but the shrill squeals of delight at beating me to a word were still rendered with a volubility which is simply unmatched.
One evening, I got a call. A small voice pleaded with me to come to Happy Guys, now. There she was. The ever-smiling face was downcast. The voice was monotone. This was her sad phase. She wept. She called people names. She ranted. She stopped.
One afternoon, she skipped in, in her peasant skirt, her tiny anklet clinking, and with a hicky the size of her palm adorning the side of her neck. I groaned inwardly, and dare I say, I felt a twinge of jealousy. But that was her. Ever bold, ever the centre of attention. She could have any man, and she knew it.
Did I sleep with her? No. It would cheapen what we had. We talked about it though.
She grappled with demons. Well-meaning but misguided, I always wished she’d keep her own counsel. Her gullibility was at odds with her intelligence. Her “why me?” phase extended beyond the regular time frame I had gotten accustomed to, and became a worrying facet of who she was. Fond of her drink and with an abiding passion for marijuana, she escaped to an imaginary world where her siblings weren’t suicidal, her house wasn’t prison, and her lovers were people who cared.
In my mind’s eye I’ll always picture her walking the desert, her hair loose, in no hurry to get anywhere. That was her; expansive, free. And monochrome.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Everybody’s got their fantasies, right? Nurse, biker chick, teacher, coffee shop lady…the list goes on. But give this a thought – hot lady race car driver.
I mean, she could colour-coordinate her underwear. Would make life super easy for me.
Yellow, for example: careful hunny, I’m gonna start chumming soon.
Green: go for it
Black: you’ve been out drinking with your buddies. No oil change for you tonight, boy.
White: go real slow…mmmm....take your time…
Red and yellow candy stripes: bring out the oil bottle. Oil on curves. Yes yes!
Chequered: last night was amazing!
The worst of course, would be a blue. Move over, chump, and make way for somebody else. Wonder if that’s how the phrase ‘feeling blue’ came about….?
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Now before I act as firestarter once more, let me make it clear that what I say is all taken in the present context. We’re not going to delve into India’s history and culture. So bear with me, ok?
In the current situation we are in, in India, we’ve got potential. Oh yes, we do. I love how we all ‘work hard’. Great spirit we Indians have, I tell you. But, we also quietly put up with crumbling infrastructure, exerting even greater effort in order to cope. Productivity is not something we’re concerned with; instead it’s simple quantum of effort. The point is we tried, didn’t we, and for that we deserve credit.
So while we go on slogging our asses off, aspiring to our white good lifestyle, we are automatically tuned out to the larger issues. I’m no communist, and I think socialism is too idealist to ever work in the real world, but then why do we have the situation we do? Why do we have extremes of wealth and poverty? Why do we have a ridiculously indexed scale of measurement for every good or service we require?
In my simplistic mind, we can lay the blame squarely on our political class. And it’s our fault. Yours. Mine. After all, our ‘leaders’ are of us, by us, for us.
For over half a century now we’ve been bled dry by an autocratic and dynastical lot. Politicians - netas or mantris in common parlance. I didn’t do too well in Civic studies in school, but certain things are abundantly clear to me.
I grew up in a sheltered environment in a small town, where I could ride my bicycle and climb trees. I learned to drive while barely 12, and enjoyed an active and healthy childhood. We didn’t have too much, but we had enough. There was good food and a roof over our heads. I had two pairs of shorts and t-shirts and a pair of shoes. I got a new pair every year on my birthday. And it was the same with all my friends. Our cricket set was assembled over a number of years, and the menagerie we comprised took great pride in challenging a similar bunch of scruffy kids from around town. We were the ‘shigwa’ bunch, regularly at loggerheads with the guys from ‘butchery’, so called because they were from the mohalla around the slaughter house. The maidan where we played changed with the seasons; dusty in the summer, hard packed and rocky in winter, and with waist-high, itchy ‘congress grass’ in the monsoon. But we played. From late afternoon till sun down, for more years than I can remember. We even organised our own league, and enjoyed shared lunch under the imli trees in the long summer holidays.
Until one summer, when we were forbidden to play on it any more. A bunch of do-no-gooders, not much more than five years older than us told us it was private land. A builder, the local MLA, had taken it over. A modern complex, a hideous three-storey angular building would come up over the year. The neem, banyan and imli trees were hacked down.
We sulked home.
That evening I raged in self-righteous adolescence about how it was ‘not fair’. My father told me to not make a deal about it and shut up and eat my dinner.
My friends and I were at an age where we’d begun to experience cracked voices, pimples and morning wood, and would be damned if we were going to take this lying down.
Next day, we congregated. Us, the boys from butchery, even the guys from ‘station’. We knocked the stumps in, and the captains did tip-top to determine teams. The seamers stretched and bowled. The batsmen played shots in the air. The game was on.
Three overs into the first innings an Ambassador pulled up. ‘Aaaeee…gandulog…ithe kai kartat?’ screeched one of the goons. To cut a long story short, it got ugly. They were five, we were 23, I think. Carnage.
There were severe reprimands. It was a first experience with a phrase we coined then, and which still stands good – ‘mantri madarchod’. Mantri madarchodo ne is desh ki ma chod daali.
Now, Raj Thakerey is on another short-sighted populist agenda; Lalu and gang have destroyed any hope for the poor Bihari to begin with; Karunanidhi needs to spend crores on a helicopter coz he’s got hernia; Sharad Pawar is too busy milking cricket for all it’s worth, no matter what the poor farmers are doing drinking pesticide and all. And you, and me, and the rest of us of the Great Indian Urban Middle Class are struggling. Sure, we wear Levi’s and eat Macs and a pitcher or two of draught toh banta hai yaar. But we still spend ridiculous amounts of time stuck in traffic, on pathetic roads, with slums overflowing on to the road, all coz we gotta wait for the mantri madarchod and his entourage to pass by. Bas ho gaya yaar.
Let us all pledge to do our two little bits from today. Let’s vote, to begin with. Let’s be anal with the Right To Information act. Let’s constantly voice our displeasure. Let’s question every dumbass rule. Let’s ask the politician who boards a flight an hour late why he was late, politely, and insist on a fair answer. Come on people. This country is as much yours as it’s mine. I love my India, despite the mantri madarchods.
We owe it to us.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
But I digress. This is not a “I’ve driven ABC” story. No, this is a rant against the sheer paucity of anything worth driving here, at home, in India. Yes, we have Porsches, and yes we have Ferrari coming soon, and Bentley’s been around for a bit and blah blah blah. But, we have nothing which is “affordable”. Nothing which is “fun”. We content ourselves with performance hatchbacks which promise neck-snapping acceleration and eyeball-popping brakes. Ooh.
Why can’t we drive Nissan 350Zs and GT-Rs and Mitsu Evos and Scoobies and Mustangs and Chargers for the 15-20 lakh rupees they cost in the developed world? Why, pray, must we drive rubbish econoboxes for god-earthly sums of money? The recently-launched Fabia costs nine lakhs, for example. And has 72 or 73 or 75 bhp or whatever. Yes, it has fine handling, and a nice gearbox. For a hatch. But it’s no sportscar, for crying out loud. It’s not even a sporty car.
But let me get back to the hot hatches. The ones with the neck-snapping acceleration and eyeball-popping brakes. The Palio Stile 1.6 boasts one hundred bee aitch pee. And weighs over a tonne. And accelerates to 100kph in 11 seconds. And returns 8 kilometres to a litre of fuel in the process. Are you serious? Why would you buy this shit? It’s not fast, it’s not fuel-efficient. Which means it’s a rubbish car.
Then there’s the Swift. Very nice to look at, but then you’ll go and paint the mirrors white and plaster the union jack on the roof. And – this phrase is a personal favourite – you’ll bolt on a fruity exhaust. And wring that ancient Suzuki four-pot to get some semblance of a move on. And fry the clutch in the process, coz that’s what all Swifts do. “Why can’t Maruti get the Swift Sport to India?” goes the average coffee-time whine. So you can have 300 cee cee more and maybe another 20 bhp. Well, they have the now-dead Baleno’s 1.6 lying around, don’t they? And while you’re at it, Maruti, how ‘bout a better clutch?
No, we’re confined to a range of rubbish cars. We have choice, sure, but nothing that’s worth buying. Or owning. Or driving. While I’m at it, let me unleash another left-hook. Buy a bike. For thrills, nothing comes close. No power-to-weight computations matter when you have in excess of 150 bhp and a single tyre to put it to the ground. Even if you weigh a 120 kilos yourself. Sure it’s scary, and hell yeah it’s dangerous, but what the fuck, you die only once. At least you’ll die happy. God bless you, Yamaha.