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.