Category Archives: Articles
Hi Daddy! look here I am posing for the camera take my pictures, says the little girl of about 5 years of age standing in the big wooden shoes kept outside the wind mill in Amsterdam. The father smiles and clicks several pictures all in different poses for her little model Hadid. Her eyes were brimming with aspirations and ambitions which were so strong made her believe she was a Gigi Hadid and was doing hoto-shoot. Funny enough then how later that evening I saw a pair of eyes that harbored in them a shard of glass directly piercing through the dreams and aspirations of the future telling a sad tale of desperation and the proverbial “limited means”.
I was sitting in a late night 11 pm tram in Amsterdam and I saw a young lady draped in a long overcoat buttoned till the waist. She looked dazed probably on cocaine or hash. She rode fast on a bicycle along the tram all the while trying to protect her modesty by using two fingers of her left hand to pin the front of her flowing overcoat which had noting beneath it. I observed her from the window of the tram and desperately wanted to have a look at what lay beneath the overcoat. Not satisfied with the leg show I strained my neck and stuck my face on the tram window until the tram accelerated and she was left far behind. However due to the frequent red lights she was able to catch up with the tram and I again caught a glimpse of those white legs.
However, on the next curve she came quite close to the side of the tram and in trying to prevent her bicycle from ramming into the tram she took a right and lost her balance. She fell down on her back with the both legs up and the overcoat parted right up to her panties giving the onlookers a show of much more than she had desired at least at that point of time. The tram went far and that figure on the road fell far away from my line of sight.
Both the events left me thinking about the prostitution industry in Amsterdam or anywhere for that matter. Somehow both the events seemed to be connected as if the little girl with dreams had grown up to become a woman riding the bicycle. Am I overthinking? Maybe prostitution is good and a source of income. Doesn’t it drive tourists to the cities like Amsterdam and Hamburg in turn jacking up the revenue from the tourism industry?
Having said that consider this, in today’s modern era where the major economies are driven by consumption and amassing of materialistic wealth, in that context our body is the most basic object that we can call ours and exert our rights upon. The act of paid sex which is the basis of prostitution and online porn for that matter pays a woman to give up that right for a few hours. Now which girl in a very balanced state of mind would have ever dreamt of giving up that right even for a few moments let alone for a few hours. Thus, it would not be preposterous to construe that this industry harps and takes advantage of a girl’s desperation and utter dire circumstances, sometimes tough childhood and molestation, that might have propelled her to make this as a sole source of income.
The red light street in Amsterdam on both sides of the canal
On the contrary people might want to argue that don’t we all give up our right to freedom when we sign to work for a corporate, to all those I would want to say this “think again guys, did you have dreams in your childhood and would you think you ever dreamed of putting a price tag to your bodies”.
Here is one of the quote from my interaction with a lady who worked as a prostitute at night which will make you think about it over and over again.
When asked “Are you happy and satisfied with your work”?
She took a deep breath and paused, probably to make the answer easy to grasp for me, she said “Try being caged in a glass enclosure with nothing but your make up on, with the onlookers giggling and wagging tongues at you and you would certainly know”.
After 3 months I finally finished “Tuesday with Morrie” yesterday. I deliberately left the book mid-way because after one third of the book I realised that this book is too good to be finished at one go. After all haven’t you always wanted to be with that one guiding light be it a friends, a parent or a teacher who does not preach but simply converses with you and somehow that figure leaves you too soon.
The writer Mitch Albom was Morrie’s student during his sophomore years in Massachusetts and the book is a description of a last few conversations between Mitch and his teacher Morrie. Mitch lost touch with his professor after his graduation day where he supposedly had promised to be in touch with his teacher. He gets busy with his life, trying to chase big dreams “working at a pace that knew no hours, no limits” when one day he sees Morrie on ABC TVs show “Nightline” hosted by the famed Ted Koppel. He decides to visit his old professor and thus begins his conversations with Morrie which are very suitably titled “Tuesdays with Morrie”.
I guess there is something in that name itself that made me pick up this book, the very first time that I read about it at the back of another one of Mitch Albom’s classic “Five people you meet in heaven”. “Morrie” makes me imagine an old and soft figure one talking to me in a husky soft voice which symbolizes words dripping out of a century of soft served ice cream of a life. Sometimes though you begin to imagine him as someone straight out of your 5th grade Moral Science text book who is propagating love and empathy in this world of hardships surfeit with climate problems related to data and what not How would Morrie know this lying on his deathbed in a developed nation watching Maple trees shed its leaves all through the day and ruminating about life. But the beauty of the book is such that it tries to address many problems without even addressing them in any particular form . When Mitch asks him which side wins during a dilemma Morrie quips “Love” and after a short pause completes “Love, always wins”.
The book although devoid of twists and turns keeps the user hooked though the authors ability to capture the rawest of human emotions into minimal words. Read it slow and don’t mind keeping this masterpiece half read, as Morrie says ‘Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.” You wont need a context when you pick up this half read book again as your own life will provide you all the context you need.
Hindutva and Saffronisation are the rancorous topic these days with almost every Tom, Dick and Harry offering their opinions and suggestions. The most interesting topic occupying the front of the Indian tabloids is our Government’s plan to have all the Gau maatas of the country “Aadharised”. Sounds preposterous isn’t it, well it is true and Indian Government has actually mooted a plan to identify all the cow maatas by a 12 digit number by the end of this year.
Article 48 of the Indian Constitution mandates the states to prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves. This is keeping in mind the religious sentiments and is a sort of our way of paying back the maata for all the good she does for us. Right from the childhood Indians have made a feast of cow’s milk and various by-products of it so naturally a feeling of association and forbearance sets within our hearts. After all Indian’s are so large hearted people. So banning beef and cow slaughter in the country is still justified at large but having an Aadhar for all the cows of country is giving way too much identification to the poor thing.
Hindu scriptures describe cow as an animal that are closest to the humans and they are said to feel the pain and suffering of their masters by shedding actual tears. But that in no way guarantees a right to the policy makers to spend crores on this plan in a country where one third of the population is still below the poverty line. This also belies the Government’s development and economic growth plank on which it rode to an astounding victory about 2 years back.
Stats say that the states where the cow slaughter was banned have registered a decline in the cow population further underlining the Government’s overreach with its ambitious plan .Disappearing grazing land including feed and fodder, healthcare and unplanned urbanization have negative impacts on the cow population thus declining cow population is more of an economic problem than being just a religious issue.
Lets focus on the right issues as I am sure any cow today would be happier to see an improvement in the quality of the country’s poor than having assigned an ID.
Long back during one of my night walks when the mind is too tired to fascinate about a bright future or reminisce about the long gone past I wondered what if someone switched of all the street lights or just for a few seconds there be no artificial lights around us. What if just for a few minutes the moonlight is all that we have to guide us forward. Imagining darkness all around seems fascinating to me and I pleaded to God “please, if you can”.
I was brought up in a small town surrounded by villages. Days started with school at 7 and the nights ended with the 9 pm news hour. To imagine the world without the lights seemed so much strange to that small town kid. Now imagine that kid all grown up and in one of the busiest metros of India, Gurgaon. It seems that this city never sleeps and it never actually does. It is said that evening here starts after 10 pm and end at 5 am.
In midst of all this I wondered why is it that people who work relentlessly all through the week found it so pleasing to go out on a Friday night. When the entire week people complain about tiredness, exhaustion and sleep deprivation suddenly become all charged up to let their hair down at the nearest night club for the whole night. This must be more tiring than 9 hours spent at work every day, isn’t it.
People have become less interactive and less patient. The days have gone when we used to go out with a friend for an after dinner walk or a light chat after office which used to be refreshing and did away with the day’s stress. Man has got to be social but with less and less chances of meeting new people the weekend nights offer a great way to meet people and chill out for a while even if it comes at a cost of loss of sleep and thus more stress.
We have got to revert back to that original lifestyle. Who would deny that Monday mornings, just after weekends, are arguably the most tiresome and lazy. Parties and night outs are good if done once in a while. Mind’s natural state is relaxed which can be achieved by just shutting the light off or listening to some music it’s the stress that you actually go looking out for during weekends.
During those weekends when you feel there is nothing to do when actually you have much on your platter. However slow you want the weekends to be, how so ever early you rise or how much longer you run from your routine extra, you find that at the end of the day the
time flies past. It is like those rows of trees, those small brick houses outside the window of a train that seem to run behind at a constant pace, no matter how you crane you neck out they just go behind you and dissolve into an infinite oblivion. To do away with this feeling of running ahead of my weekends I try to slow down but in vain.
While taking a bus journey, I looked around and found an old man sitting at the front seat ahead of me. He had a mobile phone in his hand that was as old as he probably. The man was in his white shirt and black pant looked about 55-60 years of age. He had a tuft of white hair on his head with a few of them protruding out of his ear. After fidgeting with his phone for a few minutes he opened his messages and began reading them one by one. After reading each message he deleted it. This went on for quite a few messages. So out of curiosity I craned my neck to read what the messages were. The first one read “Happy retired life sir”, the second one said “We will miss you sir” and so on.
The old man had retired after 30-35 years at service. By deleting the messages he was trying to cut the chords that tied him to his past, to those years of service. We feel not looking back or doing away the memories will make us forget the past. We search for all the memories and try to weed them out one by one in a hope that this would save us from the nostalgia. But why do we want to break away or forget the past which was so good. Do we not like to remember good stuff, do we not want to be surrounded by the happy feeling of good times that make us look at the future in a hope of reliving the past. Then why was he deleting the memories.
We humans are the most dissatisfied out of all the creations of God. In childhood, we crave for good marks. Once we have marks we crave for the top position in class, once teens, we crave for a good college and then a good job. And then after all those years at service, in the twilight of our lives we crave for reliving the past. This is why the man was cutting all the chords from the past. He wanted to forget about something that he will no longer have “the daily 9-5 job.” Getting up in the morning and leaving for the job in a haste only to return late in the evening. Cursing the Mondays and looking forward to the weekends. Cursing our daily routine and waiting for the end of each month for our salary. No matter how sad or depressing this predictable life looks on paper all of us live it and most of us crave for it at the end of our careers.
Those 25 years at the job we are all runners who are running at a great speed. We run to see what is at the end of the race and once we reach the final post we long for the race. We long for someone that boss to manage us. We long for the feeling of completing our monthly targets or for that yearly bonus that gives us a free pass to “dine out”. Suddenly we find ourselves so heavily addicted to our daily routine that even the thought of slowing down fills us with gloom. We forget that this emptiness is not a curse it’s what that has been bestowed on us as a reward of all those years at work. Why do we not see it?
Are we so lost that we don’t see the light the end of the tunnel. Do we love the darkness so
much that even the thought of light scares us. Out of all the living beings, only humans walk on two legs and have the ability to choose. Then why do we choose to ignore the voice within is. Why do we fail to see the beauty of “now”?
Here it is once again. Is it because of the air or if it is something about the month that makes boys and girls go head over heels during the month of Feb. And as always being single adds to the despondency. When you go to the market and you see little red heart shaped the “heart” hung around the shops and people buying it, what you do yes you just smirk and your mind says “yes, God saved me some bucks” and in my case God has been saving my bucks since what like college, that’s when you know the month love is here with open arms.
So what makes the month of Feb that entire special after all don’t lovers go around hand in hand the whole year. It’s not like they will only bother you with their public display of affection and that’s the full form of PDA if , if you are wondering the first time I heard that term I thought of it as some kind of mobile device that you can take with and roam around with, only during a designated time of the year. This is a month when you already know that for these 28 days or 29(god forbid if it’s a leap year) you will have to tell yourself and say “Deal with it its Feb after all” and the other months you still can’t run away from it.
Mind you loving is not everyone’s cup of tea. Arreee it requires a lot of hard work. Waking up the so called “baby” from bed that is 10 bucks wasted because a well-loved baby does not get up so easily mind you that baby requires a lot of “love yous ” and “there for yous”. After dressing up for the office it’s now baby’s turn to call you to say “love yous and love you toos”, that’s another 10 minutes wasted. Once you reach the office and begin the tasks you get so much engrossed that you forget that its lunch hour and your baby does not eat lunch without you and you rush towards the canteen just so late that it’s time for the baby to go and apparently she always has a busy day and yet she finds time for you. On enquiring and much pursuing it is revealed the baby was waiting for you for so long when instead what she could have done was go out with her friends, not a bad idea is what you think but what you actually say is “oooo baby sorry let me make you eat with my own hands”. What is a lunch without a walk because lunch is not just lunch idiot it is a way to spend time with loved ones as they say. So after spending a whole 1 hour at lunch you come back to your desk only to find a message on your phone from the baby informing that you forgot to say the parting words that you always used to say and you actually wonder what is the thing you have been doing since long is “wiping your ass”. Anyhow you continue your work till the next time you look at the clock and its evening and you need to go. You have to surprise the loved one after all you know the monster “Feb” is coming. To make things worse they have these designated days teddy, chocolate, hug, propose, and kiss and Valentine’s Day and the poor guy after all the hard work thinks why did they stop at Valentine ’s Day. They should have topped it up with a make-out day.
So you see if you are a lover feel good because you have been doing a job no not just a job but two full-time jobs. And if you are not a lover cheer up and feel good because you saved yourself your hard earned bucks. And to that I wake up from this wild dream and say fuck that “I am a whole lot richer, i am gonna drink to that”. Now that I must say is a “Happy Valentine’s day” boys.
In the realms of my hands cuddling as if its world is comprised of just the area within the cup of my hand. I came to me on a one fine morning when I was a kid, starting an unknown journey that I don’t know what would have been if not without it. After all I can’t find one instance when it was not there with me if not physically then in my thoughts. It was not long before the days passed when we were always together no matter what the weather or the place, it always came to me. The window sill where she sat while I crammed for my History exams or the treetop in the prayer grounds where it sat smiling while I collected awards and used to see it from the stage wondering would I have the same smile if it won’t be there clapping or those times when I just used to smile just at the sight of it in the morning while I waited for my school bus
I stroke its weathers gently trying to count them as the time passes softly before she flies away to a strange little bird world. After all life is transient and no matter how much we try we have to let go of the best of things and on the other hand no matter how much we try their memories continue to make us smile halfheartedly, longingly wishing how would it have been if only it had stayed.
The rays of the sun are piercing the body now as if trying to melt the outer core and exposing the innards, the innards that have been covered by multiple layers of happiness sorrow and the toughest of them all resolution. She looks towards me with gleaming eyes, bubbling with energy and raring to go. After all new place, life and people await her. I thought only humans feel elated at the prospects of new but here it was feeling excited about leaving the past and embracing something new. I look back at my past and see that I too have run away from people and situations but the fact was in the hindsight I knew she would be there overlooking me from somewhere behind the clouds above.
It flew spanning its small wings high in the sky circling above me getting ready for a long flight that will take it towards mountains that will be hard to scale, that will offer various hurdles and test its limits. I am skeptical about the future but my concerns wither away when I see its determination and enthusiasm.
So I smile one more time before saying adios to the bird who had been second to none and who I don’t want it to turn back to say final wishes because breaking the chains of past and unleashing the ropes of future is what helps in the journey of life.
This independence I let it fly to somewhere………far.
Swiftly and slowly it comes down from the skies, trying to figure out a way to its destination. Weird it is how we always try to go to the top whereas it is determined to touch the ground. It tries to sway a little as if buying time before reaching the destination It reminds me of something that still eludes me. Something that every now and then approaches me in disguise and before I could hold it, have it and feel it, it vanishes as the early morning purple that precedes the yellow that sets in welcoming the golden sun.
It is frail and short and guided by wind. I see it struggling against the breeze so I put out my hand to hold it with an intention to protect it and care for it just then it glides sways the other way and escape my hold. I close my fist thinking I have caught it. But as always it deceives my anticipation and expectations. I eye it closely this time determined to hold it with an act that is more out of fear of failure than the protective instinct. This time the touch is soft and velvet I smile knowing I have caught it. With a feeling of win I open my fist to see and look at my achievement.
I find it crumpled under the confines of my fist. It now looked fragile and afraid. It is white and gets darker near the core as if hiding things in its heart. Maybe the secret of longing eyes and secretive smiles that it encounters in its journey is held in its core. On viewing it more closely I find it comes from a far off place and from an unknown bird that I did not know of before, the guilt sets in.
The breeze grows stronger with each passing second. It begins to flutter on my palm as if trying to take a flight and making one more of those umpteen attempts to travel far and wide before touching its Ithaca, the ground.
I resent ultimately understanding that it is never mine. Its beauty is coupled with the air it flies in, the terraces it land upon and the million palms that try to hold it. I smile at my fate. I open my palm more and more and more until the fingers straighten, to help it take off. It takes off with the help of the wind and goes far and goes wide as if smiling at deceiving me once again. I eye it as far as I can until it goes beyond my reach. I know one day at some point of life when I am sitting at the terrace brooding over the present and future it will come and sit in my lap reminding of something from the past but this time I will not hold but let it fly, maybe I will help it fly.