Saturday, December 20, 2008

Why i am still a hindu: as revealed in a bad dream

This is a real dream i had after i went to sleep, somewhere around 8 this morning.

We want to talk. It is really late. But we are feminists. We are not supposed
to be afraid. We are walking down a dark midnight kerala road.  I start getting
more and more afraid. I want to feel safe. Lets go where there are some people, 
shyly i tell her. Did she want to walk on? I don't remember...

We see a huge bulding. And even as i say, lets go in, i realize that it is a temple.
Celebrating a midnight festival. Inside the temple in an auditorium made of granite
stones, there are women in bright blue and pink Benares sarees
(aren't dreams supposed to be black and white? But i am so sure i saw pink).
And there are also those letchy, orange, hindu swamis, reputed to having killed many.
We step in without thinking, and the swamis welcome us warmly, making me feel queazy,

We sit down on a cold granite seat, under the thick dark starless sky. We see a
huge temple pond before us. And in it there are these specks of light floating.
Something huge is about to happen and all the rich temple people are waiting.
We start to feel guilty. I feel it most coz i am the one who manoeuvred this move,
away from the rape fantasies of the dark, midnight road.

I know we ought not to be sitting here. We who have renounced our crazy religion,
that tells us that we are second hand citizens. That strips us of our healthy humanity
and yet prods us to hate and kill. We try to read an intellectual magazine, which
materializes from nowhere, in some show of feeble resistance.

She lies in my lap. At that moment i find her way too attractive and
i realize that i want to sleep with her. She plays with my hair. The temple
awaits its festivities.

Suddenly i spot Farida's face in the crowd that has formed before me.
She still has her sweet flick on her forehead. It looks prettier than usual.
But Farida looks like a ghost and she looks terrible SAD. Her face is pale,
and she slants it sadly to one side.  Her eyes are flowing downward with
sorrow. And she sits there refusing to look at me.

I feel i have done her immesnse wrong. Like i am a scrawny, brown,
broomstick man, who can do nothing but hide his face in shame before
his jilted lover. The way i always have felt with her, especially towards
the end. Now that comes back a hundred fold and the dream becomes
a nightmare.

I want to get away, away from the temple. I tell the woman with me that
i want to leave.

We are on the road now which suddenly turns into a long glass-
framed airport corridor, which is endless. The woman with me
becomes a ballerina in a white billowy skirt and stands talking to a man
in a velvet suit. I am left alone in the corridor.

The glass frame is so transparent that it almost feels like i am standing
in the open, looking at the sky. And i almost forget that i am trapped.
Suddenly i remember, panic and wake up -

Friday, December 19, 2008

student politics

i must describe her before i sleep tonight. starting with the huge college tree,
that must be deaf by now, listening to all that noise, for the last half of a century.
we sat under it on plastic chairs..

i must tell you about her muddy chocolate skin, her smooth eyes,
the sparkle of her intellectual spectacles.

she denied knowing bhojpuri, though i never asked her.
she denied that she was an intellectual,
though i did not even suggest it,
and she described herself as a kid of the modern world
she did not want to be dry, grey, stay stuck in libraries

yes she was intelligent and her mind never stopped working
(and her tongue never stopped talking)
but she did not want to waste it on a teaching career
(smart kid) lecturing  students who knew only
to bunk classes.
she wanted to use her brain to bring in the moolah,
yes that is what she said
coz she wanted a great and comfortable live
and help her poor father out

yes i am reading derrida right now
no its not part of the course, 
but  i feel fascinated with the way he talks about language
m'am its true what he says, why should we call this tree a tree, m'am,
we can call it a dog, cant we?

but i am not going to get into all that

do you think event management will suit me?
or should i try and be a radio jockey?
and eventually i can start my own channel,
like anil shrivastav of thodi catty thodi meeti?
or is it better i try for the corporate sector?

what do you think m'am?
am i disturbing you?
do tell me if you have any work, like
preparing the mark lists or attendance sheets,
shall i get you some more tea,
from the canteen?

you know i am very traditional,
i believe in guru dakshina, you
are my guru m'am, i am waiting
for you to guide me through !!!

(oh god, now what will i do?)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

c'est la vie

and this is called life..

you wake up to a  morning with such swirling winds
lilting upon the curtains, hesitating near the green door
that opens to the garden that has woken up in haste,

all her yellow leaves untangled, and you read
chapter 12 from book 3 for class 202, in room no
047, to a set of students who don't want to 
listen to anything..and then you come on a 

rickshaw that is so cold and sick, hands like 
ice sticks, and you almost cry reading the story 
of the rajput guard who went mad, not able to 
take shit and the rickshaw mans reminds you
that he has to drop you and go attend
a meeting, you try to whisper to him,
he does not listen. and then in class, where

students get business calls, you control the noise
acting strict.. and they cant believe it, m'am, 
its so cold today give us attendance, let us leave..
and this is called life, the best alone day of the month

is spoiled.. and you just want to get into the sheets 
and sleep, but the metro, the kid..when i meet her 
will i be happier, will the splash of pink on her
lips make me smile..

Monday, November 24, 2008

paradise lost

Psychological impact of violence on Kashmiris in India


Twenty years of violence between Indian Army and Kashmiri militants
has resulted in at least 20,000 deaths and 4,000 displaced, according
to the government figures. But the toll is even greater in terms of
psychological damage to the population. A recent study that looked at
the psychological health found that a third of the study participants
had contemplated suicide, a sign of extreme psychological distress.

The study published in the latest issue of peer reviewed journal
"Conflict and Health" was conducted by organization Medecins Sans
Frontieres (MSF)'s, Simon Fraser University of Canada, and Utrecht
University of Netherlands.

Study interviewed 510 Kashmiris living in Indian Kashmir. It found
over one-third of respondents have symptoms of psychological distress
and women show significantly higher level of distress. Feeling of
insecurity was a major reason for the higher levels of psychological

Survey was conducted in 2005 and includes 270 males and 240 females.
The most striking finding of the study is that one-third of those
surveyed had thought about ending their life in the past 30 days of
the survey. The survey found that there was a difference in the
reasons of psychological distress between males and females. Males who
had self-experienced i.e. if they had been arrested, tortured, or
abused show higher level of distress. Kashimiri women, on the other
hand displayed psychological problem by just witnessing the events.

In the scientific paper the authors explain that "for males, violation
of modesty, forced displacement, and disability were all associated
with a significantly increased likelihood (three times the odds) of
suffering from psychological distress. For women, the witnessing of
people being killed or tortured or dependency on outside assistance
doubled the odds of suffering psychological distress."

The data tabulated in the paper is very shocking when you consider
that 63% of the respondents have seen wounded people. 40% have
witnessed people being killed, 67% have seen other being tortured and
13% have witnessed rape.

44% of the respondents experienced being abused and 11% claimed that
their modesty was violated.

The level of psychological problem was found to be much higher than
similar studies done elsewhere in India and even when the cutoff score
was set to a conservative standard. When the cutoff score was lowered
to the Indian study the psychological distress was found to be over

Though one-third reported having suicidal thoughts, it does not always
result in a suicide attempt. But according to one estimate about
60,000 Kashmiris did commit suicide, last year.

Withdrawing themselves or isolating themselves was the most preferred
way of coping with the psychological problem. About half of them
showed aggressive behavior. Many turned to religion as a source of
support and finding peace.

Even though Kashmir lacks proper mental health care facility, still,
over 60% of the respondents visited the health clinic to seek help.
Some visited more than once in the 30 days immediately before the
study interview, and women found to be visiting health facilities more
than men.

The impact of violence, threat, and alertness has adversely affected
armed forces too. Elevated level of psychological problem is seen
among Indian Army personnel deployed in Kashmir. Past January, Indian
Army hired 400 psychiatrists to help control the high numbers of
suicides in its ranks.

Government should spend more money in improving mental health care
facilities for the people and the soldiers. Those fighting this battle
for Kashmir should stop and see what this battle for land is doing to
the people living on this land.


(The author is the Editor of news website:

Published in
Asian Tribune, Bangkok, Thailand
Ghana News, Accra, Ghana
The Guatemala Times, Guatemala
Citizen News Service (CNS)
Bihar Times, Patna, Bihar
Zim News, Harare, Zimbabwe
Defence - Pakistan
My News, Delhi
News from Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
The Bangladesh Today, Dhaka, Bangladesh
The New Nation, Dhaka, Bangladesh
News Blaze, USA
Pakistan Post, Karachi, Pakistan
Bihar and Jharkhand News Service (BJNS)
Op-Ed News (OEN)
News Track India, Delhi
Media for Freedom, Kathmandu,Nepal

Saturday, November 22, 2008

tell me what is the time?

even gmail has themes now.

if there is a theme for my life, then this is it..this is it..

the sketch of a careless clock. the long needle is twisted like in a dali painting...the small one does not exist. and i am sitting against a wall where this broken clock hangs like a giant's shadow.and the look on my face looks absolutely desperate.
but there is a bottle of fun in my hand and around my neck there are long necklaces with junk, party jewels. and there is an eerie voice somewhere in the painting, i dont know how to paint that, which keeps repeating in the worst monotone that can ever be imagined: tell me, what is the time? tell me what is the time? tell me what is the time?

oh i have to cook !
i have to make that stupid silly sambar i promised my family and they believed it like stupid silly people.. B even took care to arrange the hing and the sambar powder on the kitchen shelf, with the sullen and silent reminder that i better make dal or else!
or else what? nothing. i will just fall further from the status of being woman, human, mother, wife...
as if i care !!

omg, i have to finish writing that book !!
he will call me today i am sure, with all those smiles and that kindness, which is far worse than axes that break your head. and i will feel my stomach throbbing with what i now recognize as the worst attack of squeamishness or guilt..
but everything passes.. the conversation will end, i will squeeze the end button like a ripe pimple, and i will throw the mobile into the heaps of clothes on the bed - btw i really have to wash my clothes or what will i wear to college on monday? - so that i wont even hear it when he calls me next time, and i will forget all about it !!!

i have to correct that thesis on english language teaching in yemen. that man has been begging and pleading for those last thrity pages: madam, i am writing you again, after waiting for more than three weeks...
as if i even complete reading it! or far worse, am i beginning to get some pleasure making him plead?

i need to get an hair cut. i need to make those life changing calls that i promised to jane, jeena and jessy (and of course, tom, dick and harry) and i need to at least reply mails that have been patiently asking me for the nth time, whether i can find some time to write back at least once, so that they can make some move, some decision, take a position, go hit someone, etc, etc...

i need a new painting on my lonely wall that feels no commitment to no one or anything at all. i need a real clock there, with real solid needles, that show the time. and the eerie ghastly voice needs to be replaced with the mechanics of tick tick tock...

and at any given point, i need to be able to give the right answer to anyone who asks: tell me what is the time?

Friday, October 31, 2008

bday rant

mind all confused. if there is a mind, its all confused. if there is confusion, it is in my mind all scattered.
if there is a scattered, confused, scattered, it is mind, mine.

these days..they endlessly pass through doorways, subways, metro buses, auto rickshaws, college corridors, like an unreal movie-ghost in a real-life play feeling totally spaced out. my mind.

this you that i search in the spectres in my real life in the phantom of a corridor in a mind all emptied out...

laundry done, dishes washed, floor mopped, cartoon channel disconnected, home work yet to be done, little table arranged at the window, little feet should stop dancing for a minute, then i can give you a kiss....

with one weird, wired, wicked, mama-mind all gone today on a holiday, far away, where no one can see where ...

the connections come loose in a switch board, in the city where there is a search patrol on for stories that you will never write, the manic brain in twisted mode, gasping for your name in the skies...

oh god please can't you make it this time, everything depends on the verdict that you deliver, am i lost or am i losing it...this humble, humiliating, honor-less waiting and this


all mixed up

Sunday, September 28, 2008


you feed rotis to cows. we eat cow-meat with rotis.
you eat rice with rotis. we eat rotis with rice.
you sing bhajans when we sleep. we sleep when you are screaming bhajans
you kill ravana on Dusserah. we ressurect his brother on Onam
you celebrate the glory of light. we celebrate the hope of darkness

a new post: for you

a new post about hope, in an ocean of vultures, with the eyes of television cameras sneaking down on our terror, making headlines.

a new post about mushrooms floating in chicken sauce against the the fragrance of Sikkim steamed rice.

heavy lidded scholars meeting in a dungeon room -
calls coming in about the new blast in Mehrauli, but the meeting will go on..
and then she gets up to speak as her dupatta slips... "lets bring out a parcha about this entire
communalization of terror."

a new post about miss-pink-gums-and-decayed-teeth-daughter,
her first playschool in Delhi - Usha Ganguli 'Shushu' Vihar, we tease her and
she crumbles into your lap in flower-laughter.

whatever the world is today above the head in smoke, sound, screams, anguish,
wringing hands, feeling helpless, switch off the television set please, i want to eat,
whatever the world is evil, monstrous, bad, i remain to watch you smile...child.

do you know every morning the peacocks come to drink water from our water tank?
and your friend's father has a ring tone, which makes a frog -in-the-well noise?

do you know that i still love bottle-green Nutrine sweets?
and that your grandmother wore her first pink chudidar today?

the splash of red was a poster torn out from the worstest place in the world, McDonalds,
and when it fell on the pavement it looked like a painting made in haste.
and then we stamped on it and walked ahead..?

and do you know that there are these people i met, who has this magic syrup,
which lets you see seven million colors dancing in the sun,
like a giant sparkling octopus?

She, India

She don't want to live in this city. Where the neighbors ask her daughter, as she is drawing a map on the cement floor with chalk, if the map is of India or Pakistan.

Its so difficult here. In the month in which they kill Ravan, all over. When saxophones from famished bands compete with devotionals - all remixes of the latest Hindi songs.

But they have nowhere to go. No place that they love better. And she knows that they are actually blessed. Compared to so many others.

They live inside a cocoon of noise. With televisions blaring about the terror ring, educated muslims, every body is afraid says CNN-IBN, both hindus and muslims.

And the muslims are four percent more afraid, they add.

In a few days time, in the ground opposite her house, they will burn down the effigies of her Ravana, she knows, and resurrect their Ram.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


how to carry on a working day life in the midst of such turbulence? 
find and submit attendance lists that are scattered all over the house? 
keep to deadlines promised sincerely with my heart in my eyes? 
plod through giant paragraphs of Virgil's Aeneid filled with pot-holes that i fall into and weep? 
how to get back to writing my book? 
how to stop being obsessive? how to sleep in time? 
how to quit scribbling wicked lines at the back of lecture notes? and being so silly dyslexic? 
how to get along with people who learned to count before they learned to speak?
how not to puke when the volgan is trying to get you to listen to his poetree? 
how to look through noodle strap blouses to see her quiet heart waiting for tender things? 
how to ward of accusations from pain filled eyes that blame you for the state of their being? 
how to brush these cockroaches away from these eyelashes and eyes? 
how not to burst into allergy after he has showed you the underbelly of damp and corrupted lives?
how not to  think of snakes and caves and purple machines droning to themselves in the hot steaming rain? how to touch your wrinkled hand, father, and kiss you goodnight? 
how to secure my daughter from the torture of all their mangled eyes? 
how to keep safe in here? how to live, love, lie and
how can i sleep tonight?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

academics: a confused post

I realize that years of air conditioned life and paneer n kebab parties and whiskey evenings, has helped many of us gain a neutral and objective view, which many others cannot afford. Especially those who live 10 feet away from colonies torn down by gun shots.

Actually i have been thinking and thinking: what are we supposed to do with our elite academic intellectuals, our drinking class, the juba clad men/women, their beards, earrings, salt and pepper hair, their truth experiments..?

Don't they feel afraid and sick in the head and mad?

Most of us don't complain. Trying to negotiate subaltern studies and ambedkar, partha chatterjee and aloysius, all of us are pursuing a dream of the self, in here.

And we tell each other that academics is not about taking positions, about right and wrong, and about social change. It is the unflinching and dedicated pursuit of knowledge. And this pursuit is more political than anything else. We tell this to each other and after a while we come to believe it.

And the end result is the intellectual who sits and drinks his expensive whiskey, even as he goes on and on about the nuances of nuances. Bull shit.

 to the idea that maybe the university is not that divorced from the larger geographical locality around …of which it can be the most important philosophic organ!

Are we doing this in academics? Or are we divorced from the larger geographical locality around? Are we the philosophical organs of our world?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fiction: Ahmed Shakeb

A fiction by AHMED SHAKEB on the dubious facts that sprung at L-18 BatlaHouse/JamiaNagar/
ZakirNagar/GhafoorNagar/GhaffarManzil/NooruNagar etc on 19th September 2008. 
Event: Delhi police gunning down two terrorist in the wake of largely unsolved cases of terrorist bombing at Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Delhi. //  posted in SARAI readers list -


Something happened early yesterday! It invaded my sleep. I am a trip for a while. I am a trip, quite bad, at the rainy night!
Shameless tragedy engulfs me!

In my fitful sleep last night a dream: I saw the specialist Daya Naik and ACP Rajbir wringing their hands, sweat on the brow, cursing, they missed their appointment with their rightful fame. They are mouthing confused obscenities… ‘…we are heroes too…. will someone listen all you idiots out there!’ But hero is the one who meets death falling in the line of duty, and escapes the flood of questions that might, or very well might not, come on! Not to malign a dead man, how long till somebody starts probing the gray areas of the respectable trail of encounters my hero Mohan Sharma meandered to the screams and kicks of his Kafkaesque puppet masters on the pillared castles at the Hill.

A father rises from the sickbed of his son and smashes himself into the den of vice. He is gored to death by invisible ghosts, two vanishing into thin air, and two perennially buried beneath some sogged sheets. A father, a hero, and the ghosts ……my tv girl please please show me the ghosts!

My trusted chief sits surrounded, swamped, and throws aggressive facts at the byte collectors’ tubes … ‘we recovered a cache of arms and aah and aah and also…’. One imagined idiot without a microphone - this stupid obviously cannot belong to the breed, they don’t ask such inanities - shouts ‘we saw none exhibited after your encounter…isn’t that the happy, right, procedure that you exhibit the confiscations straightaway on a white chador on a dirty string-cot charpoy…yes immediately after your catch?’. Exit the scene. Exit All Fools!

In my seditious dreams my scenes shift like shameless change of clothes by my honorable minister…not so honorable my lad not so honorable, some voices hububbb! In the house opposite, from where the cannons were fed the fodder, people complain of a temporary land acquisition, legal trespassing, and of being blindfolded for those some unfortunate moments. Some said they heard guns booming from one direction only. They might be wrong!!! Isn’t this a dirty confused dream only!

Oh my seditious dream!!! And then I see an opportunist writer lurking in the shadows of the momentous Encounter….s/he thinks, the plot can be more fun very saleable to festival circuit filmwallah (or maybe to hardboiled realist too, why not!) if our Hero actually remains, reinstated, a hero, but because he is hardworking, and very foolish that ways, and in The Encounter lies the scenic opportunity for his corrupt nameless higher-ups and the dirty-filthy cronies down below in the ranks struggling with all their dark underdog skills to keep their vulnerable pot bellies still pointing straight, to finally bump off this much disliked priest of a difficult justice! Or what, my shameless writer thinks, if a plot is whirled around maybe as banal an incident of what the whites call The Friendly Fire ( a title at least Apoorva Lakhia in Bombay would kill for, or maybe even Madhur Bhandarkar would shop happily), and a meaty murky cover-up tale in the follow –
 wouldn’t it make for an ideal new wave bollywood film?

I am butterflies in my stomach. I am sweating in my dreams. This writer bastard surely watches a lot of LA Confidential(s) and The American Gangster(s). I feel a dark force clutching hard at my innards…”confess bastard you condemn this writer, this purveyour of imaginary truths, confess or we will make you vomit your own blood, confess bastard, confess….”

The scene shifts again: I see again an almost indecipherable figure riding up the steps of a ghetto apartment going up almost lazy-pace towards ‘his prideful kill’…I almost shout in my dreams ‘oye take at least your bullet-breaking vest oh warrior’. He keeps moving up, while a voice drums into my ears ‘he need not one, there is nothing to fear…regular drill mister!’ ‘But then why such a big gun in the hand?’ “Why, just to put it planted there…don’t we need a case?…backup plan mister, backup!”

The sound continues…. more sounds, the accompaniments emerge, more pitch more sounds and more dark
My dangerous dream having me in the eye of its unabating dark storm!

20th September 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Delhi encounter

This time everybody is talking about it. This time, unlike in the Parliament attack case, there are more voices questioning whether the encounter in Jamia Nagar was fake. So many email-forwards (see here) are coming in and its there in all  the conversations that we are having.

Even in right wing mainstream news papers these facts are appearing. (Presented in a highly apolitical fashion, of course. Just the bare minimum of facts given as now they are too loud to be avoided; with the rest of the paper going on and on about the new and lethal menace called "educated Muslim terrorism.")

I can see the Hindu faces around; all frightened, thinking of the 'Indian Mujaheddin' breeding in the Delhi 'ghettos', ready to strike them from the middle-class waste bins kept in markets and parks. In Delhi, now they keep all the waste bins turned upside down to avoid 'terrorists' from hiding bombs in them. And on the day of the blasts, eye witnesses tell us that middle class people were chasing and beating up anyone with a beard. 

And for many who live outside the (in)security of the Hindu nation with its newspapers and TV channels, life is a nightmare. You are in a closed and claustrophobic lift, moving towards the top and suddenly the lift spouts another room. The room hides a police man and he is taking messages from a huge crowd that has gathered outside; waiting to kill you.

And then you wake up. And for a long time you lie listening to all the noises that Delhi makes. Bhajans in loudspeakers. Metro construction-work going on. Children playing in the parking lot.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Road to Mukherjee Nagar

Rain time. Orange slush. Metro stop. Shops.
Om juice centre. 333, blue line bus. Drishti, the vision shop.
New york, fashion boutique.Chinese bowl,
Authentic Chinese food. Ambition, Law institute.
Girls hostel complex, Indra Vihar.
Chanakya, IAS academy. Big Boss, Men's saloon.
Vegetable seller.Yogo Bobo beauty parlor. Aluminum Milk cans.
Bicycles. Admissions, Scholarships.Trapeze show by street kids.
Lords, Property Dealers; Sales and rental. Blue flags. Blue flags.
Haji Dilshad Ali, Bahujan Samaj Party. Dusserah Function Hall.

the noble truths of suffering

i found this story in green youth. bobby kunju had posted it there.

noble truths of suffering

started reading thinking it is a real meeting, and thinking that it was a real author being discussed. aren't most male authors exactly like that? ;)

spellbound by the use of language. unusual, rich, funny, sad, disturbed.

and the theme captures so much of the present.

CNN. Iraq. human bodies. disillusioned Bosnian author recovering from a breakdown, entertaining a yucky American writer in his small, post-war home. and so many other things...

but i did not like the end.

i don't want to hear the story of Iraq from the side of the american soldier. even in the context of shocked and guilt-ravaged suicide. NO.

and i wonder, is Aleksandar Hemon trying to recover for us the dream of literature here? from the garbage bin of this world, reeking with the smell of contemporary shit and blood?

and should we accept it ?

and if not? how to write? when all you can do is that?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

worst teacher in the world

she is the worst teacher imaginable. starts talking about chinua achebe. thinks of something else in the middle of it, loses track, and ends up talking about franz fanon. the students ask her if she can repeat what she has just said please.

she looks totally bewildered. desperately struggling to remember what she was talking about. achebe or fanon or none or both? she cannot make up her mind. the class awaits her response, like a timed bomb. or so she thinks. it will explode on her face now. and the fear makes it harder for her to think.

but the students are unperturbed. they are used to worse things. their apathy helps. slowly she remembers her role and her lines. which she delivers without relish. almost with a tinge of helplesness.

and when the class is over, the blood rushes back to her face and head. and she feels like she has just escaped the heavy clasp of a suffocating giant.

she is the worst teacher imaginable.