Saturday, June 2

An Ode to Ganga ( Hindi)


I grew up in Patna, a capital town on the banks of river Ganga. The river Ganga with flows with a composure through the city showing her aggressive side during the monsoons. My childhood was marked by visit to Darbhanga house, kali temple, that stood on the banks of the river. Ganga held poetry and a certain mystery for me. I would love to go down the slippery stairs, only to be greeted by a polluted river that was still to be packeted in bottles andd put in Puja. Never quite understood the inconsistencies of this river.

My mom ( I have inherited - appreciation of the Hindi language from her, to my mind I have never met anyone who can write quite like my mom). once wrote for my hindi debate - " Aab Ganga ka ganga jal mandiro kee sampatee naheen raheen, woh to junta janardaan ke jivkoparjan ka sadhan ban gaya hain.

My mother dymistifed Ganga in one moment for me. and yet Ganga with her mysteries, her absorption, her inconsistencies continues to inspire me. Have tried to contain my thoughts on the river Ganga in this poem.

Writing Hindi poem after nearly two decades. Could not use Hindi fonts, dont have it.

Ganga, itnee lachaar, itnee grast kyun ho ?
Srijan kee dhyotak, praan ka sanchaar ho
saundrya, sadhna, tyaag, matreetv ke bhavana ho
phir itnee garima raheet, itnee stabdh kyo ho ?

Mujhe bhee sikhnee hain tumse ye lay ganga
ye roop tumhare,   haridwar ke jananee,
patliputra ka pay, preyasi benaras ke,
kabhee vidyut tarang, kabhee pralay ganga


Tere bahaav mein darshit, ek aasaktee ganga
tere shannt dharo, mein rishiyo ke viraktee ganga
shareer to miti hain, iska ek lakshya hain ganga
paap- punya rakh aur anchal pasare matree tulya ganga

tumhare kinaro per jeevan sanchay hota hain
kheto kee hariyali, bramahno kee daasi banee ganga ?
kitno ke moondan janaue kiye hain maa ne
pran dene wali, kyon sanghar kee pyasi banee ganga

ganga yeh tere panee mein mishrit kiska rakhth hain
woh to apne pariwaar ke liye ek ghara bhar raha tha
haste rahein use dalit keh, jab woh gira tere seene pe
uskee maut se hua tera chehra kitna veenbhast hain

Ganga tere dushan mein bhee brahmvaad ka ant hain
simaat raha hain sansaar, dekho vishwa ek gaaon hai
jahan hote hain janaue, waaju bhee waheen honge
vidyut nekklenge tere har lay se, wohee moolmantra hain !



Sunday, April 1

My FB friends analyzed


It’s a pity that you use the blogger to analyse the composition of FB friends. I don't like FB notes; it isn't half as literary as a blogger. I have about 400 friends on facebook, an eclectic mix of friends from school who are doing me very proud , the people I made centre of my universe at college, excuse of a B School called TISS ( it was a very fun place) , work colleagues, school teachers ( long ago I used to be their pet) ex- bosses, blog friends, some lost souls I confided in on drunk nights at Bandra ( near strangers who became friends without any web of references) , folks who took the poetry course with me, script writing group. (I haven't sent or received FB requests from the salsa class mates, I guess embarrassment on both sides was considerable or for that matter my gym, you have to hang out long enough or be moderately successful there to earn a request).

 Before I get into my behavioural categorization here are some revealing statistics 

  • I have an astounding number of friends who are HR professionals, an astounding number of friends who are from my town (and I thought I embraced diversity!)
  • I have precisely 3 close friends, one who I am very close to and the other 2 who I am very close to in my mental space, who I think know what I am thinking and feeling and what I meant when I said " I hate spinach" ( what I meant was I hate my bland spinach - like life)
  • I have 8 people who would qualify as family on FB and so that I don't divulge what a mess I have been ever since I let them go, I stick to updating on UP elections, weight loss and hectic work schedules. If they read between the lines they are perceptive.
  • I have like few friends I have never met physically and we are connected due to mutual interest in poetry and Literature
  • Most women friends have beautiful relationship with their mothers, they post their pictures with them with a frequency that should worry the others around them, may be its one peace that one eventually has to buy.
  • Few friends from school and college who I haven't met in a decade or so look like their parents who I remember very vividly from the Parents Teachers Association meeting - What happened to them?
  • My junglee jawani moment ( the most shocking thing I have ever done ) - er actually...... those drunk night friends are happily married and peer through their family photographs like near strangers, the tenuous bond formed over booze and loss long forgotten.... they are someone else. They hang on to their jobs and EMIs, their brick like stability worries me. Is it possible to live like 3 different people in one life?
After careful analysis (mostly demographics and appearances and deep observation of posted photographs) I have come with few categories of friends. (I should be forgiven for any sort of generalisation, stereotyping etc. etc. it’s not you, it’s the life you lead. I am sure there is a real person with real issues underneath all our happily posted snaps)

 The Virginal friend (also the effortless) ---This is a friend who hasn't changed. No greying temples. No sagging arms. No puffiness under the eyes. There isn't an extra layer of fat or a freaking tyre despite two happy children who burst out of their arms. What's more is they are the same too. They remind you of how funny you were once. They state  how you were the teacher's pet without any pang. They didn't have a pang then, they don't have a pang now. They want to talk to you because you are a friend! It’s almost that all these years, these professionals’ ups and downs, the success, the lack of it, marriage, children, life left them uncontaminated. I call them virginal friends because’ their core remained intact. Mostly people who didn't take too much efforts or who did their assignments not to "win" but because it had to be done fall in this type. They meet their parents because they love them (not because they want to wash some acidic guilt stuck to their bodies). They have a concept of “spending time" with friends, family and more importantly themselves. These are those classmates who were not the first benches or the last benches in class, neither the pets nor the habitual offenders but somewhere in – between. They enjoyed school, college and life. They may or may not be successful but they enjoy themselves. They look fab because they are !



The picture perfect --- This friend is always on the verge of being unfriended. The friend’s life is a painful reminder of what your life isn’t. This is every face booker’s nightmare. She is the coolest dudette in the class and she makes a habit out of it every single time. Countless boyfriends, drinking binges, pregnancies and stretch marks apart, she’s stayed thin because she wants to. She goes and gyms. She has a genuine arm candy embracing her like the proverbial shrug that protects her from the chilly-night like life. She has healthy children tugging at her wafer thin waist who make you want to embrace motherhood. She has a job that you know you can never have. (Face it; you were not that bright ever!) Her FB status gyrates from – “my loving hubby made me dinner tonight” to “can’t believe – got promoted again “! Or “they just awarded me happiest face on (where else FB!!) This friend takes off to an exotic holidays (2 of them) a year, tries cuisine that makes you grab the next bread- like  thing you spot. They are successful invariably because that’s most important for them. The FB is their bulletin board where pedestrians like you and I read successful updates of their lives.They remember your birthday and that’s all they remember about you because for them friendship is a process, it’s not a stolen cup of tea at a run-down taprri.

The celebrity friend – The celebrity friend are of two types. One who would be in touch with you because they are effortless - they would love you to hang around or if they are the  picture perfect celebrity friend - you can only subscribe to their FB page.

The Mafioso – The Mafioso friends are people with very happy families. The FB updates are generally about relatives who flew in the town or flew out of it. They make you feel like an orphan. On an average they attend about 8 weddings in a year across the globe. The snaps they post are bursting at the seams with cousins who are look alikes and wear the same content smile on their faces. Their FB updates are usually –“sigh! Little girl bitti gets married” “ oh holidays are over, time to drop off my gorgeous aunt.”  I am sure these friends have personalities of their own, also dreams and desires but they would do something about it if they weren’t dropping or picking up folks. It may be a choice to subsume your identity for the family wedding but that’s what Mafiosos are all about.

Fence   face bookers – These friends have an FB account, they post a picture or two as well but they don’t hang on FB often for anyone to profile them but sooner or later they would succumb to its charms. They are usually apologetic about their maiden appearances on FB.

Heavy face bookers – These are people who hang on to FB all the time (and I did some research and realised that they are not always single). They never get tired of posting. They just live on FB. Everything is up for public consumptions. What they ate, where they want, what they got. “Rains, yet again. “Shit rains and bathroom pipe broke.” ‘Shit rains and more shit” such updates usually come from such people within 3 hrs.   Heavy face-bookers are either closet extroverts or people who are genuinely lonely. Facebook is their way of connecting to the world. They need to connect, all the time.

The lost lambs of Facebook – They make for most interesting FB updates. They are people who have a great job, reasonable families. They are people who are neither effortless nor perfect pictures. They often feel conflict within because they are looking for something on FB, the updates usually reads – “painted after a long time….I still have it in me.” Or they post pictures of the last kathak performance at school – “wish my dancing feet came back to me”. Or “ate octopus, man I have to try this recipe.” The lost lambs of Facebook make Facebook nice, interesting and readable.  Because they continue to look for things, they help us look for things, recipes, paintings, dance performances, social commentaries that we would have missed in the information junk. They push the FB update race. Only the lost lambs are people who are lost. Their FB updates don’t have a fixed pattern or method and they can keep you either intrigued or exhausted with their lost behaviours. Exhausted – when the lost lamb is depressed. She would really update all kinds of things to seek attention. “ Marathon drinking session… feeling hung over. Taj Mahal – is it possible to love so deeply? Or “Octopus dinner really is too much. “
You get the drift, right?
The follow –my- heart -brigade – The follow- my-heart- brigade are generally lost lambs who have gone to the flock they belong. When a friend leaves her corporate trappings to start an ostrich farm (?) because that’s what she really wants to do then you get hourly updates of

The ostriches’ are here.
The ostriches’ love being here.
I feel like a bit of an ostrich today.

I have loads and loads of friends who are posting about this one specific thing that they think they have been born to do. Baking, petting, writing, reading, dancing. Anything. But they would give up everything they had to follow their hearts. The follow – my –heart brigade is a specialist and reading her or his updates would make you one. You are lucky if your follow – my-heart brigade is not interested in pesticides. Darn lucky.
There are many more types on facebook. The dormant volcano that erupts on weekends. The silent stalker who goes on everyone’s facebook to know what’s happening in their lives. The hermit who logs everyday but doesn’t say a word but eerily remembers everything you said or did. The social commentator who thankfully reads newspapers and thanks to him you get updated on the happenings around you in a succinct way. Like they say it takes all types to make the (Facebook ) world.



Sunday, March 25

Growing up Vinci

Bringing up a dog is fun. People who have dogs and children both say there’s isn’t much difference. Maybe except one…your dog never really grows up. A dog may grow in size but his mind defies age and he remains " childish' for ever.

Vinci, my Labrador, is perhaps as close as I would get to motherhood. He brings out the mother ( if there is one) in me. My life for the last two years , ever since his tail swished into my home, has been defined around him.  Vinci's food. Vinci's bath. Vinci's mood. My mother despite her pedantic ways couldnt impose an early morning schedule on me. Successive bosses were indulgent enough to reschedule early morning meetings with me. However a half witted boy with paws and tail made me an early morning person cause he wanted to go pee.
I remember how tentative I was in having a dog at home but a little confidence building from friends and family ( I just have a bunch of impractical folks around me) egged me to go meet this lady whose Labrador had a litter. I don't know what took over but here I was huddled with two friends in a car to meet Vinci. Its important to share that I loved dogs all my life but in a firm practical sort of way rather than a mushy spoilt love. I thought that would be my safety valve in picking up a puppy.
I COULDN'T BE MORE WRONG.
They were six of them. Wide eyes. lunatic love. Swishing tails and totally earnest. And they tugged at more than the edge of my flared jeans.
Vinci got selected  being the only male in the litter. I would have a female dog later but that's saved for another blog. At that moment the practical me was not very confident of  a dame chumming over the floor and going through successive pregnancies.(  thank gawd my parents thought differently when I was born, I said a silent prayer for their confidence and upbringing)
The next few days were about familiarizing on dog's life and waiting for my bundle of joy arriving from Kolkatta. K, my driver and I waited at the airport with waited breath for my new guest. We were told that the flight had landed and we rushed to the cargo.

Nothing had really prepared us for what happened next.  Our little dog was barking at the top of his guts. For those who are not familiar with the ways of the exceptional Labradors, it would have been easy to assume that I had gotten a bull mastiff from Kolkatta. Anyways I brought Vinci home. He took to me so naturally. ( Nothing to do with me, labs always do)

In his 3rd month, Vinci was chewing away to glory. Only he thought everyone and everything was edible. I lost many shoes to his teething. Chew balls are passe'.  Vinci was into real things.I ran out of T- shirts because IT would poke holes into whatever I wore, I had to be  proud of his strong teeth.

A work colleague looked shocked at the number of teeth marks I had on my hand. " Domestic violence", I quipped with a wicked grin.

The funniest thing about Vinci was how he would discover things and people around this period. For example a friend of mine had tad too many drink and kababs at my place. And we were having this very quiet moment on my balcony under a lovely yellow light. She had a bit of a problem with her digestion and she farted loudly. ( if you are reading I am really sorry, but this is not about you, this is about vinci). That was Vinci's first experience with a fart. No sooner had it happened, my four month labrador jumped and stood behind her wagging his tail while the rest of us died rolling with laughter.

Vinci had this other quirk. He would love to roll over and sleep on the bed ,  a habit all dog behavior therapist had warned me against. I was to throw this lump of love from the bed everytime he jumped on it. I was to act tough love. Tough love is who I have been all my life. But I just couldnt push him off when he curled in the bed. And after many many nights of power struggle, my dog and I woke up in the morning, on the opposite sides in the bed, I feeling foolish that those soulful eyes once again managed to tell me just how vulnerable is motherhood and he sheepish at having won.

My next move was to buy a bigger bed if I had any hope of getting any sleep.

More on Vinci later. Suffice to say that I will be vulnerable and raw about him for ever and ever. That's what love makes you. Vulnerable and edgy.



Friday, March 23

Resurrected

This blog is getting resurrected

Thursday, March 22

UP elections

Scribbled while swapping a yawning remote, that was year before last I guess, only CHANGE is Mulayam found his vote bank.

BJP is in need of an ideology.
which is not saffron in color.
Mulayam is in need of a vote bank.
which is not green in color.
Rahul is in need of "something to say"
which sounds more than, "my dady"
also the TRP politics on television channel
Ashabhi could help, or could uncle amitabh ?)
Mayawati is in need of a dash of color
in her wardrobe
a course in humility
a ppt on "way forward" in UP
UP is in need of respite
also a better leader

swap

Saturday, March 17

JLT

It has been an entire year of lacking inspiration to write on something.

My 9 to 6 whirlwind existence in a financial services firm ( yeah I still work) renders me ineffective for most things. Gone are the dreams of setting up a kitchen with a oh la la ! inbuilt oven and a sexy red kitchen aid. I have jettisoned dreams of  me ( svelte figure of course) baking muffins in a feminine sarong putting 50 years of Nigella Lawson to shame.

Gone are the happy thoughts of  me sitting near the fire with stacks and stacks of books , a gin in one hand and a pen in another. In this dream, I am 40, I am still svelte and  I am writing witty poems that the world cant get enough of.

1 minute commercial - As i try blogging today with a sweet banana face mask for my extra sensitive skin, my dogs get literary. Vinci  my Labrador has put his chin on the keyboard and the screen is so full of 0000000000000000000. May be he wants me to write a Bond story. ( Men in my life always push me to commercial success over critical acclaim).My pug saki finally decides that banana face mask is edible. As I ward both of them off I lose the tenuous thought I was holding to.

Today my life revolves around managing work ( which has a propensity to become unmanageable) catch up with FB. With FB, my residual feelings of guilt towards friends for not calling them or meeting them have gone. C'mon, they even know what I ate today and I know if they have lost weight or gained it depending on how old their FB snap is ( the older the snap, the more weight they have put on recently !) I wish all my friends well and like someone said  - May your life be as great as you demonstrate it on FB. I was discussing this ( interestingly again on FB ) that all psychometric profiling on preference, personality and extraneous aspects of it must must have questions about FB. If you don't have an FB account that's serious serious angularity. Its almost like you don't have a relationship with yourself.

I read Candence Bushnell last year, she is the goddess of shall we say chick lit ( do not squirm, I also read Mckinsey reports on Future of Insurance Industry and I need to balance the gruesome with  a little something, you get the drift right, I hate it when people spoil my confessions with their judgements. not convinced yet ? Let me fling this one on  you. One of the most successful banker in  Corporate India and an inspiration to generation of women also reads Mills and Boons once in a while. ( Its all about balance)

So coming back to Bushnell who makes me fall in love with myself like fifteen years back ( svelte figure, cathartic shoes, bleary eyed and read Bimal Jalan ). I read " Sex and the City" which I prefer watching than reading and then I read On Fifth Avenue. And I felt a bit like Mindy Gooch. Our circumstances are different , our issues are different but I so related to her fatigue. She was fatigued with being successful yet being a failure deep inside. She was tired of being not so affluent in an affluent set up, tired of work that did not satisfy her deeply, tired of the trade offs she made, the man she married, or the one she didn't. Tired that she couldn't hang her boots when she wanted to. Tired of being the one who has to take care of everything, tired of being strong. If Bushnell can create Mindy or for that matter Miranda, she is more much much more than a chick lit writer.

I want to write a lot more, may be even chick lit story ( I tremendously liked Advaita Kala's Simply Single.) but its my gym time. My personal chick moment.