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Monday, October 26, 2009

बूँद...( In Hindi)

यूँ ही निकल गया था वो,
अनमना सा, जैसे कोई उम्मीद अभी टूटी हो ..
सर झुका था ज़रा सा, शायद अश्क़ छुपाने के लिए,
बहुत देर वो मेरी पलकों पे रुका था,
मैंने ही रोका हुआ था ज़बरदस्ती, वो तो कबसे जिद कर रहा था...
फिर पलकों से निकल के, होठों के रास्ते,
मेरे हाथों की लकीरों से होता हुआ... मेरा माज़ी भिगा गया..
या शायद वो खुद ही एक आँसू की बूँद था...

Friday, October 23, 2009


The musk deer is a funny creature. It has a very strong fragrance emanating from between his abdomen and genitals that nature has given it to attract mates, but he spends most of his life hopping mad trying to figure out the source of that fragrance.

But then, again, aren't we all like that? Don't we all spend our lifetime trying to find something? Most of us spend our entire life without ever coming to know what that "something" is. And those few of us who correctly know what they want out of life, don't they too spend a good amount of time trying to figure out how to get it? We give it different names. We call it the search, fulfillment, contentment, happinness. We seek for it in the form of approval, appreciation, acknowledgement. We even confuse it with possessions, acquisitions, victories and yet, after achieving all that and more, feel empty inside. We try to look our best because we think that's what will make us happy. We try to make as much money as we can so that we can buy all the things that will make us happy. We try to fall in love because we feel having someone in our lives will make us happy. And when we get all this, we still feel empty inside. We feel we have it, but we want more of it. So we start all over again. Then, one fine day, when we are too old to run around, we sit and mourn what a waste our whole life has been.

It is not the quest which is wrong.It is the manifestation of the goal in our minds that needs to be reassessed. We need to delve deeper. The thing that we are searching all around us is within us. All the source of joy, happiness, contentment, fulfillment is situated deep inside us, and we, like the musk deer, keep searching for it in every possible place except where we should actually be looking for it. We spend our lifetime chasing our dreams and aspirations and yet feel worthless because we are chasing momentary pleasures at the cost of something much more ephemeral - the joy of being the great creation that we are. We - each one of us - with our strengths, weaknesses, abilities, imperfections are unique and beautiful in our own ways. There is no yardstick that can proclaim one to be better than the other since that is not how we were meant to be. Each of us is a marvel of nature meant to be appreciated for what he or she is and not criticized for what he or she isn't. The individual as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts because the individual has a purpose. The purpose of the individual - the purpose of our being put up in this world, is not to conquer it, but to be a part of it and add to its beauty. It is only when we think and act in accordance with this fact that we truly feel happy.
Everything else is just an illusion.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Perspective. the faculty of seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship.

During one of our endless chat sessions at the expense of our "billed" time, Ria showed me a sketch that she had drawn recently. The picture, among other things, had a sun in the distant horizon. when i asked whether it was a sunrise or a sunset, she said it's a sunset. i argued that it could as well be a sunrise and that would give a completely different meaning to the picture. Later, I was thinking how just by looking at a picture in a different way, (mind you i'm not making any changes in the picture per se. i am just thinking in a different way than earlier while looking at the picture) we give it a whole new meaning. We all come across text meant to inspire us in the form of forwarded mails, SMSes, greeting cards, wallpapers, t-shirt graffiti and every other conceivable medium of conveying a message trying to tell us to be positive. There is so much of it all around us that one at times wonders if it's just a clever arrangements of words structured to hit a particular spot or there is actually some truth to it.

The answer lies in the sweet spot somewhere in the middle. There is so much of it around us because it is very easy to conjure up words like hope, attitude, ants, mountains etc. and come up with something that sounds a little uplifting. Most of these permutations and combinations are, to a large extent, true as well. It might sound unsettling, especially to engineers like me and other similar logic-driven, solution-oriented creatures that one could simply solve problems by changing one's perspective. But it's true nevertheless. This is because the way we look at a problem, other than the ones we come across in textbooks, decides how we approach it. I am talking about the problems that we come across in our daily lives. The problems in dealing with circumstances, people, crises, opportunities v/s moralities, present v/s past v/s future and other similar things. How you look at something decides, on a subconscious level, how you are going to face it. That, in turn, decides your approach which to a large extent decide the strength of your efforts and ultimately gives you a result. 
It might sound easier than people find it to be but the idea is not to assess the ease, but the very truthfulness of the claim. Having a different perspective may not make your problems disappear, but it definitely lets you prepare better. You can study before an important exam hoping to pass it or you can study telling yourself that you're NOT going to fail, come what may. In the first approach, you would be making the minimum necessary effort which, according to your judgement, should be enough to help you clear the exam whereas, in the second one, you would leave no stone unturned to ensure that you do not leave any possibility of failure. I don't think I need to explain which approach has a higher probability of success.
It is this difference in attitudes that differentiates the achievers from the masses, and the legends from the achievers. It is this attitude that decides, whether it's a sunset - when things are over and it's time to go home, or it's sunrise - full of possibilities and opportunities. They are exact opposites of each other and yet, look the same, as if on purpose.  I think it's a master stroke of the Creator, done as an effort for us to look at it and decide how we're going to see it. He gave us the choice, and he told us the word - Perspective, Drushtikon, Nazariya.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wo jo shayar tha...

There is something timeless about Gulzar. There is something in his writing that makes it so elemental, so basic, so rooted in the essence of life that it becomes impossible to restrict the meaning of his lines to a one-dimensional interpretation. Be it the universal pain and wisdom of tujhse naraaz nahin zidagi, hairaan hoon,or the happy-sad longing of chhod aaye hum wo galiyaan or the haunting Mera kuch Samaan, you are quite likely to be humming the same Gulzar song in two very different moods without finding the song not suiting the mood. Such is the man’s grip on emotions that, when he ends his poem “mujhko bhi tarqeeb sikha koi yaar julahe” with the lines “maine to ik baar buna tha ek hi rishta .. par uski saari girhein saaf nazar aati hain mere yaar julahe..” you can almost feel the pain touching you. Even after five decades of songwriting, his work is always reflection of a man who exactly knows what he wants to convey, and, I have a feeling, always smiles after finding such an appropriate expression.

Gulzar’s songs or never just a bunch of rhyming lines with some catchy, repetitive or beaten words thrown in. Every line, every word, every nuance of a dialect feels like tender strokes of a master sculptor working towards creating a greater entity without ever losing its individual significance. It’s sheer genius to be able to write songs likeBeedi and Namak from Omkara, Kallu Mama from Satya, and, I’m sure we all sang this song as kids, Lakdi ki Kaathi from Masoom.

If his songs are a treasure trove of emotions, his other creative pursuits of poetry, short stories and movies are equally poignant. Some of his movies rate among the greatest in Indian cinema. Aandhi, Angoor and Ijaazat are right up there with the greatest and the best that Hindi films have produced. In his long journey, Gulzar has shown unmatched multifaceted creative genius which has touched millions of lives worldwide. His words have been the silent lamp in long, lonely nights to some; naughty and brash youthfulness to others. From deep philosophies in simple words to funny gibberish that bring out the child in you, there is nothing that this man has not touched and, consequently, turned into gold.

It was for these and many other reasons that I decided to dedicate my first PFC post to Gulzar Sa’ab – the man who could well be the reason I got into writing. Thanks for the words Sir!

“Ik baar waqt se, lamha gira kahin..

Wahan daastaan mili, lamha kahin nahin..

The Pyre


It’s a little chilly tonight. The sky is clear, filled with stars appearing like little holes in a black sheet trying to cover a dazzling light on the other side. I am sitting next to my son, who has now stopped crying and is staring rather blankly at the fire, probably waiting for it to die too. I want to console him. But then something stops me. “Death is the biggest truth of life” I had told him a couple of weeks back. Take it as a part of life. Be a man – as I jokingly used to tell him every time he fell from his bicycle and came crying. But that was then.

It’s the same with all departures. You always have things to do, words to tell before you leave. But you leave anyway. It was the same with me. Looking back, there is so much that I wanted to do. So much that I kept pushing to the next day, the next moment. Until I ran out of them. As I sit here, I’m still worried about my wife’s health, my son’s future, my friend’s pension and so many other things. I know there is nothing that I can do about these things now. In fact I know, more than anyone else out there, that there is no point in worrying about these things. But still I find it hard to let go. All our lives we keep building ties that bind us with each other. There are ties of love, promises, duties, responsibilities which stop us from doing so many things. We keep complaining about how little freedom we have because of these ties around us in every form and yet, now that I have been freed of all these ties, I’m longing for them.

I remember my wife’s face today morning. She had been crying at my bedside all night. Her face had become pale. I have no idea when was the last time she had eaten properly. I wanted to tell her how much I loved her and how grateful I was for all that she had done for me all through our married life. I wanted to tell her how sorry I was to have hurt her so many times and how proud I was of all that she had done to help me every single moment. I tried to look at her withered face. A smile on that face meant more to me than anything else in the world. But I could barely keep my eyes open. When I tried to say something, I couldn’t manage to form words. My hands didn’t move.

I had heard all sorts of interpretations about death and what follows it. To me it was the ultimate liberation. I used to think of it as a great light into which a soul would merge, like a lamp merging in the sun. it was the transition from form to the formless, from aakar to nirakaar.

As I look around, I see a few other piers too. People just waking up to the realization that their worldly bindings do not hold anymore. That they have already undertaken their final journeys without having any idea about the direction or the destination. That they are not going home this time. I hope I get to know these people. I hope I can make some fresh bonds.

There is a strange calmness that I am feeling around me now. All my life I had been worried about things. Worried about future, securing the future of my loved ones, accumulating little possessions and the protecting them but now, I have let go. My favorite watch is still showing time, but I am beyond time now. My house is still intact, but I am one with the sky and the wind now. There is something that tells me that I still have some time left before my next journey begins. I do not mind waiting now.

The fire is out. I once again look at my son. He is so much my reflection at his age. I hope he goes on to live a rich and fulfilling life. He has collected the last remains of my body along with the ashes and is preparing to leave now. With his departure, my last connection with the physical world has come to an end. Even though I know this, there is no anguish inside me. I do not make an attempt to stop him from leaving or to go with him. I do not want to change the course of events anymore. I am not becoming peaceful. Now…, I am peace.

As I think of my granddaughter, I recall the incident when I once told her that people who die go into the sky and become stars. She had, in her childish innocence, asked me if I would become a star too, and I had told her that I would. I had also pointed to a location in sky telling her that would be from where I would twinkle smiling at her. I just hope I am allowed to honor my promise.


Sorry Mumbai

As I play the incidents of the weekend gone by into my head one more time, the bitterness inside finally starts moving from vague and diffused to focused and specific. Even though I have not lost anyone I personally knew in any of the terror attacks I have this lump inside me made of sorrow, bitterness, anguish, fear and guilt. I feel that the people who should be actually held responsible for this accident are not the politicians or government, or for that matter, even the terrorists who carried out the attack. The real culprits of this attack - who have allowed an incident so painful to take place, who have scarred the collective memory of this country forever, who have shaken the very faith of humanity in the fundamental principles of unity and brotherhood are, unfortunately but truly, WE - The People.

We are responsible because we allow the wrong, undeserving, unqualified people to contest elections, to control high offices, and to decide our fate. We are responsible for encouraging a complete destruction of the moral fabric of humanity by our utter indifference. We are responsible for everything that is wrong with us today because WE HAVE CHOSEN TO BURY OUR FACES IN SAND. We have lost our friends, relatives, colleagues in these terror attacks because when someone of us wanted to join politics, we insisted he became a businessman. When someone wanted to be a soldier, we preferred he became an engineer. We are responsible because it does not matter to us who is dying outside as long as we are safe inside. It never occurs to us that if it was them today, it could be us tomorrow.

We are not safe in our malls, parks, buses, trains, airports, railway stations, five-star hotels, cars. We don't know when our children leave for school if we'll ever see them again. We don't know if our loved ones will get back home alive when they leave for work. And the saddest part of this whole situation is that we expect the government and police to protect our families. The official list of people who lost their lives in the Mumbai carnage stands at 178. Even though this number is debatable, each of these people meant the world to someone. Let's just imagine that one of these was someone we knew. Would we still expect the government to "do something" to save them? Let's imagine that our our house caught fire. Would we still wait for the government and the system to do something?

The problem our country faces is not bad governance or poor security, the real problem of this country is the attitude of its citizens. We, despite being first the citizens of this country, are anything and everything before being an Indian. We belong to our caste, community and state so much that we do not belong to India anymore. It's only when an incident like this takes place that a lot of song-and-dance is made about national issues. Once the dust settles, we move back to the apparently more critical issues of who should be allowed inside Mumbai and who should be included in the national cricket team. We are never bothered about how to ensure that the right candidates get to contest elections safely. We don't care if millions of children have to quit education and start working before they turn fifteen as long as our child talks in English. We never check what's under our seats in a multiplex as long as the movie has two item numbers. In fact we, as it appears, would rather be entertained than protected.

It's through this apathy towards the world that we provide wrong elements the motivation, means and support needed to perform an attack on the parliament, on hotels, in trains and ... on our conscience. The greatest strength of our country is not our military capability or our economic robustness. The greatest strength are We - The People. And if we need to ensure a better tomorrow, or rather a tomorrow at all for our coming generations, it is we, as a nation that has to wake up. The government and the forces, even if they try and do the best they can, will not be able to do anything unless the citizen of this country is awake and vigilant. And, on the other hand, if every citizen of this country, in his or her limited capacity, does his bit to ensure that his surroundings are safe, I don't see how an attack as audacious as 26/11 can ever be repeated on Indian soil. It's about time that we stopped expecting others to solve issues that we can look after better ourselves.

Let's all take a pledge today. Let's pledge that we will encourage only the right and deserving candidates to occupy offices of power. Let's pledge that we will ensure that proper security checks are conducted at places which can be attacked. Let's pledge that we will keep our eyes and ears open at all times. Let's pledge to come forward and contribute physically, mentally and financially to keep our country safe.

Remember, an attack on Indian soil, is an attack on your home.


yun hi nikal gaya wo,
anmana sa, jaise koi ummeed abhi tooti ho..
sir jhuka tha zara sa, shayad ashq chhupaane ke liye,
bahut der wo meri palkon pe ruka tha,
maine hi roka hua tha zabardasti, wo to kabse zid kar raha tha..
phir palkon se nikal ke, hothon ke raaste,
mere haathon ki lakeeron se hota hua...mera maazi bhiga gaya.
ya shayad wo khud hi ek aansoo ki boond tha.

The Eternal Search

Of late I've been observing people in love. People who claim to be in love, people falling out of love, people who grew to love each other, people who were in love earlier, but not anymore etc. And I've been thinking. I've been thinking what is it? what is it that makes us fall in love and experience the whole gamut of emotions that we feel? what is it that makes us go through all the longing and joy and pain of finding, having or losing someone? is it the desire to be appreciated for what we are? or is it the desire to live the moments which we, so many times live in our minds but seldom in real life? or it is plain inherent animal instinct of finding a mate, a companion, and in the larger context, of securing ourselves by building a group of similar individuals?

I think it's different things for different people. In fact, the definition of love varies across age groups, cultures, societies, and individual experiences. Asking a young college goer about love, you're more likely to get a response laced with romanticism as compared to a middle aged couple who have known each other through the years and have grown to love each other despite, or probably because of their individual idiosyncrasies. When we fall in love, depending upon which demographic bracket we fall into, we look for different things in our partner. when we are younger, we look for good looking partners as sexual activity is very much on our minds. Good looks, on a psychological level, send signals of physical well being and fertility to our minds which are very essential for sexual gratification and reproduction. as we grow older, we start looking for things like emotional security, like-mindedness and financial support. But in a typical Indian society, where monogamy is essentially a way of life, how do people find all these qualities in the same person at different stages of life? To elaborate a little on this, how is it that we find sexual pleasure when we are young, emotional and financial security when we are in the middle age and mutual respect when we grow old, all in the same man or woman? does this mean that all of us have all these qualities in us and show them as and when required? Or does it mean that the concept of a happy, contented monogamous couple is a facade?

i think that the answer lies somewhere in between the two extremes. though there are all the qualities of being a good partner in all of us, we need to accept the fact that nobody is perfect and work towards being a better person in order to sustain a relationship. if we take the partner for granted, as it is likely to happen in case of Indian couples where there is virtually no way out of a marriage (unless there is a criminal angle), the spark dies down. you start getting used to the presence of a person in your life and grow affectionate towards him or her probably in the same way you'd love a piece of old furniture or clothing. of course you have moments in your memory that you will cherish, but you still feel that there is a gap somewhere.

That indirectly also brings us to the whole business of finding the right partner. In the current Indian scenario, though there's a huge shift in the thinking of people towards all things, marriages still remain an arranged deal for most of us. due to various factors influencing the selection of a partner by an individual, going strictly by personal choice is virtually impossible. there are too many people hurt, too many plans shattered and too many adjustments to be made if you try to break away from the norm. so is it best to just wait for things to happen? or rather, just wait for the right 'deal' to come along? my answer would be - no matter what happens in future, your present is all yours. If you venture outside, you might fall badly but if you stay inside, you may never know all the horizons waiting to be explored. so decide what you want to do with today, and do it. because in life, i have learnt through experience, it's not the things that we did that hurt, its the things that we wish we could have done, but didn't.

Awards and Appreciations

watching the star screen awards last night was one big disappointment. almost none of my favorites - johnny gaddar for editing and screenplay, imtiaz ali for best debutante director, neil nitin mukesh for most promising newcomer made it to the stage. the only solace that i could derive was rishi kapoor acknowledging neil's talent while collecting the award for Ranbir Kapoor, the so-called most promising newcomer. next on my hit list are the music people. Tum se hi from Jab We Met didn't even feature in the nominees!! i mean c'mon! here was a song which had everything- great voice, great composition and lovely oroginal lyrics and we have Prasoon Joshi's Maa in he category. Maa was a nice song but it more than just reminded one of his earlier Luka-chhupi from Rang De Basanti.

So what an unsatisfied bollywood worshipper like me can derive from this is that though every TV channel worth it's salt claims to honor and promote good cinema, when it comes to actually doing that, they prefer to rather appease the gods and kings of bollywood. it's frustrating the way some "superstars" bag the nominations and eventually the awards. so now what i'm gonna do is to wait for the award functions to get over. i'll publish my own list of the best of '07 that bollywood had to offer. until then, let 'em guzzle and gorge!