Thursday, November 30, 2006

Two Dozen and counting...

Dedicated to all the crazy 'uns at MICA.. who took the time to throw a bday bash for me..

For the magic of the night...

I shout one BIG....

Hallelujah to the eggs that ran out of stock
And to the tomatoes that refused to go rotten for the sock
Hallelujah to the kind soul that baptized me with waters warm
And to the magic of the moment; its craziness and its charm
Hallelujah to the denim I wore
That saved my rump from those birthday bumps
And to the synchronized chants under the moon
Cronies by the side and that crazy old tune

I know it’s a bad take on stuffs trivial and a sad attempt at rhyming
But it’s high time that I said it out coz its all about right timing
If it sounds crappy, so be it.
Coz a couple of those kicks hurt
And if it sounds mushy so be it
Coz the cake was so tasty that I licked my finger dirt.

(Cant you just say a simple thanks
And spare us the misery of singing how bullets rhyme with tanks…
*some one screams*)

That’s one thing I refuse to do
To get away with a plain thank you
Coz the day was blessed and so am I
Blinded with the brilliance of guys like you

Hallelujah alright!

And after 2 dozen years, the poet in me riseth
And I stand rambling on how it was always on my blood
Someone get wise and knock me on my head

Friday, August 18, 2006

Its My..Ca

There is stillness in the eye of the hurricane. And the stillness spawns a culture. When a mere red-brick wall separates barren lands from sprawling lawns, the masonry spawns a culture. It’s the culture of the oasis. It’s the culture of MICA.

Cut the romantic intangibles. It’s about the rational tangibles too.

It’s about the searing debates over the never-fully-read prereads pitching up the mercury another notch even in the conditioned climate of the classroom.
It’s about DCP, ACP, BCCP, ACCP and other assorted acronyms that take life as the desperate eyes of the tutor darts around.
Its about the spontaneity in giving five minute lectures on a powerpoint slide which you have never set your eyes on before in your life (When did we make that??!!)
It’s about The Holy Book of Kotler which gets worshipped in the daytime and doubles as a pillow during those humid nights.
It’s about a chance at double masters in entomology (10 million and still counting!)
Its about vibrant discussions on Rumsfield and Rakhi Sawant over a cuppa coffee at the chota.
It’s about sleep that takes a vacation and zombies that roam around half-naked having midnight walks and chai and cheese parathas at 3 a.m.
Its about spraining your fingers pecking away at the laptop and then spraining your wrist at the T. T. table.
Its about the guy who commits the insane act of announcing his outing to the city and ends up bringing supplies for about a hundred others.
Its about the jam sessions that break out at a moments notice and the dirt that gets kicked up in the war zone aka the football field as coin-sized rain-drops lash on your back.
Its about the audience, half of which swoons while the other half moans as another world- cinema classic lights up the open air theatre.

Its about the midnight parties, dunkings and pelvic thrusts to the yo-mica chant
Its about the heavy head and heavier feet as you dance away the blues till dawn and then some more.

Its about the bitching and back-biting and all other assorted cold-vibes with the life-span of a moth-fly, alive till the next bear-hug around the corner..

Its about the odd loner, alone in the crowd, but never minding that as solitude is bliss and when life beckons, that too is at arm’s length
Its about two dozen months spent sustaining and surviving each other, unaware that somewhere deep down inside, there lies a smithshop taking unsolicited orders forging memories.

At the end of it, it’s about staring at the stranger in the mirror and wondering “What the hell was all that about?” and catching you smiling at your reflection.

As another monsoon arrives and another crop of newbies walk beneath the arches with awestruck eyes, fear not. The past is not lost. It just gets added upon.
Coz ultimately its about the tire swing at the chota which remains with its tales to tell.

Wait! Strike that all out. Damn the trivialities. There’s more to it than the specifics. All those add up to something potent. Something huge. Vocab fails at this point. What does one call it?
Culture of the abstract? Culture of the absurd? ‘Life’ itself?
Beats me.
One can only watch the beauty of the little things and wonder.

Song of the Hour: Namak (Omkara)
Coz it goes way beyond the 'item song' tag.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Stink (Stories of the Damned)

The walls of the shack seemed almost on the verge of caving in. The mud-plaster had holes and crevices all over it. The stench of the dead rat was at its peak. Birju opened the door by a crack. Some fresh air seeped in. It felt heavenly. The draft was quite cold. He decided that it must be around midnight.

He badly wanted to take a piss. But he couldn’t risk it again. The idea of leaving his daughter alone did not seem so nice. And he couldnt piss in here. He didnt want to add to the stink. He would wait some more time for Iqbal. If Iqbal doesn’t come by the hour, he would have to risk going out.

He looked at Saroja. She was still lying in the corner. It’s been about seven hours and she hasn’t moved one bit from that fetal posture. Birju closed the door and shut it tight tying the rassi to the wooden post.

The lamp would last for another couple of hours. And after that…? Where the hell is Iqbal?
The room was getting colder by the minute. Birju searched the mud-wall for holes that were letting the night air in. He pulled back his hand suddenly in recoil. Something had stung him.

Licking his wounded finger, he sat down near Saroja. Looking at her face, he felt that his sixteen year old had aged many years in the past few hours. Her eyebrows were furrowed as if she was terribly confused of some dream she was seeing. He reluctantly let his eyes sweep over her body. He checked the wounds closely. A whimper escaped his throat.

Why did they have to use their nails and teeth?

He wiped away a quick tear with the back of his hand. He leaned back on the wall and cried out hoarsely. He cursed God. He cursed himself for being able to do nothing while, one after another, they had mounted on his daughter. He cursed them for letting him live on. He cursed Iqbal for saving him and Saroja from that burning gali. He cursed Iqbal as he was nowhere in sight and he badly wanted to piss.

Cant go out yet... The burning chadar... They may be waiting outside... Screams of Saroja... Lurking in the darkness... A boot on his face... Like shadows... A knife on his neck... Dark shadows.

Birju looked at Saroja. She was still sucking her thumb. She hadn’t done that in the past twelve years. He suddenly felt sure that they had somehow scratched at her mind too tearing apart its threads of sanity. He was sure that when she wakes up, she won’t be the same again. He just knew. But that might be a blessing. When you think about it, insanity might be welcome after all.

Iqbal had told him that the whole town was burning away. They weren’t alone. They were ravaging every gali; searching for their preys. Tomorrow the roles would change. The preys would become predators. And then the roles would change again. He didn’t care. He didnt care about anything anymore. He just wanted to piss.Outside, the crickets were chirping in chorus.

Why do they have to make such a terrible noise?

Birju closed his ears. His feet brushed on something cold. He looked closely. It was the rat. It was lying, stone still, its grey eyes staring at him. He thought of throwing it away and then thought better. Iqbal hasn’t come yet. Birju knew that hunger would slowly creep in like the night cold.

If Iqbal doesn’t come by morning.. or noon.. or night..or the day after.. and the shadows out there keep waiting their wait. Food. We would need food. No, let the rat lie there. Just in case.

He moved to the door clutching at his groin. He badly wanted to piss. He opened the door by a crack. He saw some men in the distance, walking towards the shack.Birju squinted his eyes. Thank God! Iqbal was in the lead. He eased his breathing. Well. Now he can piss. At last.

His eyes swept to the corner where Saroja lay. She was still busy sucking her thumb. On the mud-wall, a lizard sprinted across and caught a moth-fly. Birju stood mesmerized watching the sight. The predator. The prey. The fly doing a final twitch. A papery wing floating down the air. Birju sat down on the bare floor weighed down by a sudden thought.

Its Iqbal out there. Not some Ramnath or Laxmiprasad. But Iqbal...

He looked through the crack of the door.

Yes. They had her for lunch. Now they are having her for dinner.

They were now in the courtyard. Why. They have even brought a van to take her away. To do her again. And again.

He saw a couple of men wearing white. He saw the red cross painted on the white van above the glaring headlights.
Red stands for blood, right?
His sweaty hands touched the axe resting by the door.

How does blood flow? I know. It flows like piss. Hot warm piss.

He looked at Saroja. It seemed like she was begging to some monster in her dreams.

Its okay, my gudiya. Baba is going to make things right. Nothing will happen. Everything is going to be alright. But first let me have my piss. Alright my doll?

There was a knock on the door. Iqbal was calling his name. Birju raised the axe and pulled the door open halfway. His groin was wet now and yellow fluid seeped down his legs.

It felt heavenly. It felt perfect.

Through the half opened door, the first head stuck inside.



Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Delayed Obituary

Its been dead for a long time. An obituary is overdue.
Life's been a whirlwind these days with some recent developments. Was chasing a dream for quite some time. The prey has finally fallen into these lucky hands. Got inducted to MICA and the euphoria makes me use the word 'creativity' in every other sentence. Ergo, not in a sound mind to actually put the word in display. It should take another month for this to wear off. And then back to blissful insanity once college life starts. Cant wait!
Meanwhiles all of you who happen to stumble on this page, take the time to visit my recommended blogs and some more from my comments page. You wont regret. Iam sure. Peace to all. C ya soon. As soon as I rise from the dead.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Minor Matters

Another Women's Day has come and gone with its share of surveys and soundbytes.
'Crash', a movie exploring racial tensions just had won the Oscar.
'Brokeback Mountain' has lost it out after winning all the other major awards. And right now its all poised for an Indian release.
Whats the common thread here that connects them all...
Nothing much. Just some minor matters!

35 million women are missing!!

I didn’t get the thread. I read on. According to CSI, projecting the country’s rate of growth from that of the 50’s, the figures fall short of 35 million women. Where did they end up? The statistics were pretty hazy on the issue. But there are the usual suspects.

A lethal dose of chemicals finding its way through the uterine chambers, to an unsuspecting prey, which has just mutated from being an amorphous mass to something with a sex tag.
Migratory birds – Peddlers of flesh and fun who got lost somewhere in the huge chasms of demographic borders.
Malnourished girls, wistfully eyeing the morsels of their hormone-wise better off siblings. Eyeing the extra rotis and sabzi gracing his platter and having sense enough not to comment on that.

The sound of bursting cylinders and the smell of burning linen saris have more or less subsided but the traumas and taunts live on in true Indian tradition.

35 million missing in 55 years! With the zeal of a newfound interest in numbers, I did the mathematics. Its 636363 numbers a year on an average. That’s what I call perfect symmetry. A clear pattern with ominous overtones.

When it comes to the fairer sex, pattern is always a touchstone.
There’s a pattern to their single-minded methodical pursuit of goals unlike the impulsive brilliance of the darker sex.
There’s a pattern to they way the fall in love and fall out of it.
There’s one in the way they empathise with the set characters of K-sagas in the telly world, and eventually grow out of it.
There’s even a pattern to the celebrity suicides which always turn out to be women coping with a high pressure lifestyle.

And these patterns, percentages and pie charts come into the picture when March 8th looms around the corner. When the Shobha De’s, Oprah’s and Ellen de Genre’s of the world draw sharp contrast with their tale of woes of the next door servant girl Kamala or the nameless flower-seller at the city junctions.

How relevant are these opinion pieces? Do they do justice to the role of being eye-openers or is it just clich├ęd verbosity to cover the 6”X3” column in the centre spread in the general spirit of the day?
Does it give fodder for the MCP’s to reexamine their ideologies or does it give a fillip to the bra-burners to revamp their agendas? Maybe both. Maybe none.
Some say you don’t need a single day to sing eulogies on womanhood. Some say a single day could be a start. Agree with both. Agree with none.
Bravos and claps for the hefty gift to the girl child in Budget 2006. Boos and catcalls for the still pariah figure of 33%. A pattern exists in this paradox too.

Minority matters are ubiquitous. Therefore minority MATTERS !
Be it ethnic, racial or sexual in nature.

The frontrunners in this regard were the blacks. They had a well-planned strategy, massive campaigns and charismatic leaders. The beginnings were quite modest. They pushed the envelope and outlawed the word ‘nigger’. African-American became the sanitized version. They slowly but surely defined themselves with their vigour and redefined themselves with their humour, music and dance forms. All’s not hunky-dory for them too. The Ku-Klux-Klan maybe extinct but racial tensions continue to simmer. The thermostat is in the ‘sim’ mode owing to their efforts in being part of the mainstream, in being colourful threads in the social fabric, by working hard, delivering good work and rising to the higher echelons.

The plight is sadder for the sexual minorities. Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transsexual (GLBT) community has been fighting it out for decades. For them, revealing their true selves is tantamount to being branded social outlaws in the least and being potential victims of hate crimes.
Matthew Sheppard, a 22 year old, was beaten to death for no fault of his, for the crime of possessing a genetic trait or a sexual preference, by a couple of homophobic youth. When the murderers themselves confessed that the victim had made no sexual advances at them (not that the act of murder would be condonable then) and that they had done the deed in a fit of something called ‘social justice’, there were thousands of Americans up in arms to defend their action. And the sad part of it is that the incident was not in the Victorian era but as recently as nine summers behind. Fuehrer Hitler had sent the gays along with the Jews to his death chambers. The Jews got a better deal later on. But for the gays of the world, Hitler lives on.

The gays of India have the Damocles’ sword of Section 377 hanging over their heads-a law that threatens to punish their natural instincts. The society watches on through a smoke glass and sees the stereotype of effeminate gays and dyke lesbians and then pretends not to see even that.
I’ve always believed that as long as one doesn’t encroach into the freedom of another, everyone has the right to follow their preferences and lifestyles.
I’ve got gay friends and I’ve seen their eagerness to watch a Brokeback Mountain (and unsure whether it would be a mutilated and ‘social-friendly’ version that would get screened in India). For them, the movie is tremendously important as it tells their story; as it gives creative expression to their longings. And they want the world to see it, to understand that they are no different from anyone else; in the weak hope that things may change and the world would be a bit more tolerant of them. When a community seeks redemption through a singular movie, you can perceive their plight.

These friends of mine were all set to pop beer bottles when Brokeback wins the Oscar.
I don’t know whether the beer bottles ‘crash’ed or remained unopened as the Academy settled for a dubious upset. There is no conspiracy theory here. ‘Crash’ is a classic but many say, it still falls behind Brokeback Mountain. The Academy doesn’t question its cinematic brilliance.
The reason for the upset could be the sense in giving the nod to a movie which everyone can relate to, though I’ve heard love is universal and Brokeback with its theme of unredeemed love, even more so.
Or the reason could be that Brokeback raised eyebrows by being ‘different’ and the largely conservative Academy intelligentsia thought twice about endorsing a movie which goes against American social mores. They billed the movie brilliant but when it came to awarding the movie, they couldn’t push themselves to the act. And as they didn’t want a stain on their liberal tag, they settled for a safer bet in ‘Crash’.

I saw the wistful look in the eyes of my gay friends as they smiled sheepishly; as if they didn’t expect anything better as snubbing was status quo for them. Despite that, it seemed they had silently hoped for a personal win. I made a date with myself that come March 10th, I would hold hands and give them company and cheer along as I watch their movie. Don’t need to get sentimental. The film is a classic I’ve heard.

And when I heard the news item on Tripala Kumari, an 18 year old girl who was killed for resisting the Draupadi-act, of sharing wifehood with four brothers, I realized that the plights were the same. Its just the premises that change.
Society hasn’t learnt to ‘live-and-let-live’, to respect a fellow human for what he/she is as a whole and to stop nitpicking at the oestrogen in your body, the pigment levels in your skin and the sexual trait in your genes. I dare say, much dubiously though, that times are changing and it’s high time it did.

As March 8th dawns, while the girls get busy celebrating their day, while the second citizens of the societies toil it out through another day and while the Indian gays do the last digits of their ‘Brokeback countdown’ as they call it, I, being the incorrigible flirt at heart forget the other two for the time being and wish all you beautiful ladies out there a wonderful Woman’s Day.
Let the day bring tidings of good times ahead.
After all the partying, before you wind up for the day, say a silent prayer, thanking God for creating you as the wonderful being called Woman.
And if you still feel you’ve been given a bad deal, just thank your fortune for sparing you the triple threat of being born a black lesbian!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Colour Me Red

It’s been 48 hours and I still cant stop crooning an Arabic lilt. The bug caught me when I was roughly one hour into a movie and the story seemed to be drunk - Unsure of where it was going. As usual, there was a respite and a song started playing with digital clarity through the fine-tuned speakers. And the rhythm stuck.
When the lights came on at mid-point, the story was still languishing along. As I stood on one leg waiting for my turn at the men’s room in the theatre, reveling in the fumigating smell of the toilet, I caught myself humming that tune again. I returned with packs of crackling popcorn (at Rs.20/- per packet, that was multiplex robbery), back to my buddies waiting at L 1-4 seats. Couple of them still drooling over the gori mem in the movie; the other couple over the not-so-gora south indian hero.
In another 90 minutes, the final credits rolled. I passed my verdict- not good enough!
Don’t know whether it was the over hyped promos or the over done revenge thread – Either way I felt disappointed. The rickshaw wallah quoted a prince’s dowry. Got shortchanged- for the second time!
That night as hum-paanch-lukkhas crammed into a mattress piece for three, as the fan refused to settle down for anything but the top speed (and switching it off would have meant sweet lullabies from the mosquito-mummies, which I could definitely do without), an eerie thing happened. All five of us started humming that Arabic note together.
One is chance, two is coincidence, three is weird but when all five start to sing the same piece at the same instant (without any conductor twirling his baton), that’s absolute goose bumps stuff.
But then we covered that up with a nervous giggle and sang on. The tune had stuck..
And when we started dissecting the movie – a cut here, a stitch there- I knew. The movie had stuck too.

Khalbali (Rough translation)
The dawn is stubborn.
The dream is stubborn.
The storm is stubborn.
And so are we…

Rarely does a movie cater to your senses and one that graces your intellect is even rarer. Rang de Basanthi doesn’t claim to be either. It doesn’t have the sweeping elegance of a ‘Black’, the uber-realism of a ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ or the simple genius of a ‘Lagaan’.
You cant pich the movie into the hallowed realms of a classic. But it still manages to work, to stick - somehow.
Blame that on the sheer avant garde performance of the stars, or the pleasant surprise of a relatively new kid, Sidharth stealing the shine from Aamir Khan in an undoubtedly author-backed role (and maybe it takes an Aamir Khan to graciously play second fiddle).
The eclectic mix of vulnerability and machismo of Kunaal Kapoor.
The endearing goofball act of Sharmaan Joshi.
The revelation called Soha Ali Khan
The very dependable Atul Kulkarni.
And the very attractive Alice Patton.
Four youngsters, and the not-so-young Aamir – Youth as they come. With not a care in the world and showing the finger at life. The way they crack up at the non-sensical mumbo jumbo mouthed by Bhagath Singh & Co will make you smile.
The montages of the freedom movement are major speed breakers and the editor seemed to have a cozy doze at quite a few occasions. I still wonder whether the director was part of the Bhagath Singh bandwagon (giving company to Raj Santhoshi and Guddu Dhanoa and succumbing to his better senses eventually).
The five friends in the film finally start sinking their teeth into their docu-roles and taking it a tad too seriously. At this point you brace yourself expecting interesting stuff ahead.
But what follows is kind of a letdown. The way they gun down the defence minister to avenge the death of a fellow mate of theirs is stretching your elastic imagination a bit too much. Ditto the confessions at the radio station and the blood and gore that follows.

Khoon Chala (Rough Translation)
It drips from the body
Embraces the earth
Through the gullies and bylanes
It floods and twirls
To paint a new colour
Blood flows…

So where is the redeeming factor?
Is it in the back-to-arms philosophy?
As one character aptly puts, doesn’t everyone dream of lining up all those politicos ala Fuehrer-isstyle and gunning them down? Changing the system from inside might seem as non-sensical as pushing a car from within.
The movie Yuva was made in the same lines (in a much more believable fashion)- Youth taking a stand and doing their bit rather than cribbing endlessly.
In this light, the recent news about five IIT’ians starting a political party is worth a dekko. Five guys studying in a premier institution with sure promises of a plush job and plum pay packets chuck that away and take a plunge into muddy waters.
What drove them to it? I am stumped. But whatever it was, I salute that.
Policies are made in the higher echelons, no doubt. But India Inc’s juggernaut taps its energy from the youth, from their zest. The role that the below-40’s played in revitalising an ailing economy is no small one. Of course, they didn’t do that for any high-sounding ideal. The reason was simple enough- Selfishness. A wish for a better life, not for the society but for the self. And that stream of thought is indeed virtuous, once you see the big picture. The same energy with a pinch of selflessness could work wonders in the political scene too.
Yuva tagged the moderate line and flopped. RDB tags the extremist line and seems all set for BO success. That is oversimplifying the issue, I know. Hundreds of factors come to play as far as the box office is concerned. But truth is, guns and gore have a charm to it. Providing instant (though not necessarily lasting) solution to an issue. But there are mightier weapons than a 0.47. The pen for instance (quoting a done-to-death quote). Or a keystroke. Coz a fight is a fight is a fight.
Trivia like Dan Rather and CBS being brought down by a bunch of webloggers, and DailyKos getting one million hits everyday despite being a blog (and thus a poorer cousin of the more popular ‘website’) – All these show that there are minds out there waiting to be connected, to be parts of one mighty whole.

Roobaroo (Rough Translation)
Hey dude..
Right now I’ve realised
A spark resides inside
Dawn dawned. I set foot.
And snatched away the sun too.
Its heavenly light thru’ n thru’…

RDB is not your idea of the perfect movie. But still it has something, which you cant put your finger on, which makes the movie, like the music, grow on you..
Maybe you beg to differ. Maybe the whole post is akin to blowing up a very average cinematic venture into something exceptional.
If that’s the case, then this is a simple ode to the moment when me and my buddies sang that note together; to the sheer magic of that night we chatted away shivering under the merciless mercury. Nothing less and nothing more.
If that’s not the case, and if I go by the passionate discussions of fellow viewers, I am witnessing a first-of-sorts. A seemingly ordinary movie triggering off something deep within. Thoughts and dialogues on an issue which was left lying in the back burner for too long; which demands its share of impassioned discussions and concrete follow-ups.
Hope the issue doesn’t get chucked back too soon.
There’s hope for another couple of weeks at least. Time till the next Rahul or Raj starts crooning all possible rhymes of deewana from the saffron valleys and the Swiss Alps.

Winds of change are slow..
But time proves it sure does blow.