Friday, December 13, 2013

Dasht-E-Tanhai

This is one of Faiz Ahmed Faiz's great works. A desert of solitude, a mirage formed in a lover's heart. Achingly beautiful words.

Dasht-e-tanhaai mein, ai jaan-e-jahaan, larzaan hain
Teri avaaz ke saaye, tere honthon ke saraab
[larzaan=quiver, saraab=mirage]

Dasht-e-tanhaai mein, duri ke khas-o-khaak tale
Khil rahe hain tere pehlu ke saman aur gulaab
[khas-o-khaak=dust and ashes, saman=jasmine]

Uth rahi hai kahin qurbat se teri saans ki aanch
Apni khushbuu mein sulagti hui maddham maddham
[qurbat=closeness, aanch=warmth]

Dur ufaq par chamakati hui qatra qatra
Gir rahi hai teri dildaar nazar ki shabnam
[ufaq=horizon]

Is qadar pyaar se hai jaan-e jahaan rakkhaa hai
Dil ke rukhsaar pe is vaqt teri yaad ne haath
[rukhsaar=cheek]

Yun guman hota hai garche hai abhi subah-e-firaaq
Dhal gaya hijr ka din aa bhi gayi vasl ki raat
[subah-e-firaaq=morning of seperation, hijr=parting, vasl=union]

I was first introduced to this ghazal through Iqbal Bano's rendition of it. A trait of a great ghazal singer is his or her ability to infuse life into the words and bring out the emotion behind the ghazal. Iqbal Bano's voice captures the haunt of the solitude very well. The way her voice dips and rises in each harqat lifts the ghazal to greater heights. You can listen to it here.


I recently came across another version of the same ghazal. This was rendered by Meesha Shafi in Coke Studio Pakistan. This one is a more modern rendition and has psychedelic overtones at the end. Meesha Shafi had a tough precedent to follow and does a decent job at that. You can find it here.




Thursday, December 05, 2013

A Veil Of Colors

Pleased to share my latest published short story with all of you. The theme for this month's Spark magazine was 'Flashback'. The story is about how an incident in a man's past affects his life in the present in more ways than one. Read on.

http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=6520

 A Veil Of Colors

She sat on the ground, leaning forward and staring at her creation with great intensity. Smudges of blue streaked her beige pant, one that wore marks of earlier battles too. A bowl of water, muddled with colours her brushes had emptied into it, lay on her left. A flourish of the brush and then she would move onto the next colour, committing to the pool yet another of her choices. On her right lay her instruments of trade. A box full of tubes filled with colours, that had been squeezed out fully or partially. A case full of brushes of various thicknesses. Canvases stacked up behind the box, of different sizes. The top of each canvas peeked out from behind the box. A pair of intense, inquisitive eyes stared out. Above that was a branch of a tree, from which a bird’s nest dangled. A mop of hair was right in front of that nest. It would remain a mystery as to who that hair belonged to and which bird was trapped inside. This room to me was always full of mysteries.

I walked into the room quietly, making sure I didn’t disturb her. I looked at the work in progress and then looked back at her. She was wearing a green sleeveless top. Her slender left hand rested in her lap, the brush poised to strike. The music system was playing strained notes of a sitar.  Raag Kalavati, it must be, I guessed.

I stepped on an empty bag of chips. She heard the sound and turned towards me. The features of that face I had come to love came into full view. That aquiline nose, those lips flush with life, the rounded jaw, even the hair tied into a disheveled bun.

“When did you come?” she asked “I didn’t notice you.”

“Just now.”

“So, how was it? The session…”

“Good, I suppose. We talked about my time at the school. The first three years I spent in Mussourie.”

She gave a terse nod and went back to her painting. It was a habit of hers. Switch on, switch off. It was back to forgetting that I was in the room at all. The evening sun was beating down on her painting. I realised I could see some streaks of colour, but nothing more. I wondered if I should close the blinds.

“Is that it? Are we done talking?” I asked. My voice must have sounded a bit testy because she immediately snapped out of her focus and looked at me.

“No. Please. Go on. Tell me.”

I couldn’t shrug off my irritation that easily. I strolled to the window and lit a cigarette.

“We spoke about my first few years in Don Brasco. My parents always thought getting me into that boarding school was the high point of their parenting efforts. All those details I had forgotten came back to me. Those initial days when I was put in Ludlow House. It was a completely new world for me. I took me a while to get to like that place. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone. A lot of the new boys who came felt that way.”

She uncrossed her legs and got up, gingerly walking over to the kitchen. I took a drag of the cigarette and took a good look at her painting, now that she wasn’t blocking the way. A smorgasbord of colours presented itself to me. It was as if someone had painted an ocean of yellows and reds and most of all, blue. Waves upon waves of color overlapped over each other and fought to dominate. Blue, however, seemed destined to win. In the midst of this ocean floated two seeming innocuous, but rather large eyes. They were writhed in sad despair, shedding silent tears that filled the ocean around them. The painting was beautiful and haunting.

I wanted to kiss her, tell her that she was magnificent, that she had breathed pain and life into the canvas, that she was gifted, and that her talent was going to take her places. I did nothing like that. Instead, I went walked right past the painting and grabbed the ashtray behind the canvas dropping heaps of ash while holding onto my words.

“Tell me more.”

“Great friendships were forged in the first year. As they say, adversity bonds people together. So it did with us. Harmeet, Vijay, Anand, and …” My voice trailed off.

Silence filled the room. I could sense her eyes bearing down on me.

“Tell me, how do you know what to paint? Where do you get the inspiration for all these?”

It was my favourite question that I never got a straight answer to. There was pain and melancholy in her work, but the source never revealed itself. I was left to wonder if she had some past hurt that manifested itself. Every time I saw her work, she became more mysterious to me.

“And, Saurin?” she asked, answering my question with a question.

“You know who, Sakshi. Do you really need me to tell you?”

She paused, knowing fully well that I was talking as much to myself as I was to her.

I extinguished the cigarette and said, “Shantanu.”

“Yes, Shantanu, my best friend in school. That very antithesis of who I was. The quiet, unassuming, mysterious Shantanu, who answered in monosyllables, but read in tomes. Always first to class, always prompt with his work, difficult to indulge in our games of mischief. That Shantanu, Sakshi.”

I realised I had walked all across the room as I continued with my soliloquy.

“For months, we sat on the same bench. I copied his homework, grabbed from his plate at lunch, teased him, but he never complained. When our Christmas vacations arrived, I began packing to head home. Everyone seemed to be.”

I stole a glance at her. One look and I realized that I must have been building up a frenzy.
“But Shantanu wasn’t. He had no reason to go back, no place to go back. He had been orphaned when young and was now being supported by his uncle and aunt who had little affection for him. I felt miserable when I heard that. I made a decision then to take him along. No way was he going to spend his time alone here.”

“Shantanu protested as much as he could, but I was too dominant for him. I made him pack his bags and head to the station with me. Being on time was never our strong suit. I went over to the platform with his bags while I waited for him to buy his ticket. The train was already on the platform, ready to depart. The train horn went off – It was time to go. I looked nervously towards the gate. There was no sign of him. I ran hurriedly in search of the S3 coach that I luckily found. Our plan was to take turns using my reserved seat. I threw the bags in and went back to the door.“

“The train started to move. Just then, I saw him stumble onto the platform. I smiled and waved at him. He saw me and doubled his speed. This was not looking too good. The train had picked up quite some pace. A little longer and he was going to be at the edge of the station. I held my hand out so I could pull him in. He ran as fast as he could. His hair bobbed up and down and the spectacles on his nose threatened to fall off. But he was catching up. He was going to make it. I stretched my hand out some more. I closed my eyes to blink. When they opened again, his hand was lodged in mine. We had done it. I smiled at him and pulled harder. But …”

I took a deep breath, steeled myself and continued.

“His hand slipped from mine. I saw him drift away from me and tumble onto the station. The momentum had been too much. The fall made him tumble several times. I was told later that he had cracked his head open with the fall and the internal injuries had been too much to survive. All I remember is that look of shock on his face when he tumbled.”

“I let him down,” I said, realising my bad choice of words, fighting against the silence in the room. No answer came from her.

“Didn’t I? Have you nothing to say?” I went on, the object of my affection suddenly becoming the object of my antagonism.

“For years, I have felt…” I grasped at thin air searching for the right word.

“…. Trapped. And after all this, you have nothing to say?”

Silence as usual.

“You know, you don’t have to solve my problem. But a little empathy wouldn’t hurt. Perhaps you could tell me that my pain means a little something to you.”

The causticness in my tone was meant to hurt. I knew I had little right to be mad at her. I couldn’t expect her to drive my demons away. My helplessness manifested itself in anger over her indifference.

“Who said it doesn’t, Saurin? Not everything is expressed in words.”

She took one long look at her paintings and left the room. I fixed my gaze and looked at the paintings anew. The veil began lifting as I sifted through the canvasses. The bird in the cage, the eyes with the flowing tears, the look of pain and anguish appearing from painting to picture. A rueful smile crossed my lips. I realised I wasn’t the only one struggling to escape.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Final Goodbye


So, it is finally here. The second test of the Sachin Tendulkar test series, his final one in whites, his final appearance for the country in a cricket field. It is a time for reflection, for applause and above all, for emotion. You can see the outpouring of emotion coming from all wakes of life - I have spent the past few days reading article after article from person after person whose was either directly involved with Tendulkar or whose life was immeasurably enriched by the presence of the Master in their daily life - a living deity beamed into their rooms.

At this time, I wish I were in Wankhede, waiting and getting to see the Master in play one last time. It is a visceral experience like no other – watching Tendulkar bat on his home ground. I have experienced it once. From the moment that the second wicket falls, all eyes go to the dressing room. You see a figure move, a tiny speck when seen from the distant galleries way above. The shuffle is familiar to you, the adjustment of the handguard second nature. He trudges down with a bat in his hand and the gloves not quite strapped up. As the departing batsman walks back to the pavilion, I wonder where his mind is. Is he thinking about his dismissal or are his thoughts drowned out by the chanting of a name – a single name of two syllables that becomes a cry of celebration and despair at the same time. “Sachin, Sachin”. Over and over, the voices of thousands ring that battle cry that surely has made every visiting player in India smile in wonder. The small figure crosses the boundary into the field, looks up at the sun, does a few jogs and goes into his zone. Oblivious to the burden on a billion people. He takes guard, looks around, shuffles some more and then settles into what must be the most perfectly balanced stance of all batsmen.

The miracle isn’t that he has scored more runs and centuries and played more games than any other player. The miracle is that he has done so despite the expectations placed on him. When he goes onto the ground one last time in Wankhede, I wonder what will go through his mind. Will he let himself go despite a life spent in restraint? Will he allow the world to seep in for a change rather than shut the noise out?

Tendulkar may not succeed in his last game. The odds are against him. With all this pressure, with all the hype, with all the emotion and his own divorce from the game after a quarter of a century at the highest level, the odds are certainly against him scoring big. But again, if he scores a duck, it will serve as poetic justice. Bradman would be proud. It doesn't matter. As Dhoni said, the important thing is that he enjoys his last match. We all sure will. It is a celebration of a career spent in service of the game and the country.

I won’t label myself a sentimental fellow, but I won’t be surprised if I my eyes turned misty sometime over the next five days. Thank you for all the memories, Sachin.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

For Whom The Cell Tolls

Pleased to share my latest publication in the Spark magazine. Their topic for the month was 'Going Mobile' - a look at the various ways in which the ubiquity of cell phones in our lives affects our choices and relationships. I have written a set of haikus to reflect that. Read on.

http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=6429

For Whom The Cell Tolls


An invalid man
Forever bed-ridden, talks
On his mobile phone


A face beams at mephone-world
Smiling, I pick up the phone
“Hi!” an angry voice


A flight touches down
People wake up with glee the
Phones they put to sleep


Sword ready to strike
Tense wait while the screen turns red
A loud cell phone ring


Girl gives boy her love
Girl gives him vivid photo
Permanent regret


I sNt u a msg
I knw Dat u wud luv it
Nly If u NdRstud it


She loved a good drive
She loved a good drive with gin
Knocked them down like pins


Pigs knocked off by birds
Level cleared. Pumped fist. “Hurray”
Baby cries alone

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Religion Without A God

Sometime, in the week of November 14th 2013, I will lose my job. When the little man with a giant shadow takes a final bow in whites for the last time and trudges back to the pavilion to a rapturous applause and a standing ovation, one of my vocations as a Sachin Tendulkar fan will come to an end. When I started my blog in 2004, this was what I had put in the About Me section "... and will probably stop watching cricket when Tendulkar retires." In 2004, I never felt I would have had to make that choice:(. Tendulkar was always timeless. The man was God, not mortal. He would never retire, the straight drives would keep flowing, and I would keep practicing my religion of cricket. But that is not the case anymore. His heart has told him it is time to go. Tendulkar is retiring and now we are left with a religion without a God.

Reams have been written about Tendulkar’s effect on India, his effect on the game, his standing among the greats. But the real question to ask is: what has Tendulkar’s career meant to you? Was it a nagging constant as a cricket widow, consigned to watching your husbands and son stuck to the television as they wondered how he does it again and again or were you inexorably drawn to watch him cream a cover drive? Were you as a student always seeking to figure out ways in which to bypass the authoritarian pressures of attendance and education so that you could watch him murder the Aussie attack on a sunny Chepauk afternoon? Were you glued to a computer monitor in a faraway land praying for the pirated sports feed to stay honest while he batted, knowing fully well that he has been known to crash servers which never could handle the scale of his fans? Are you a father who gave his son his first bat and told him two things: this is a great game and Tendulkar is the best batsman of all time?

From 1989 to 2013, the lives of a billion Indians have been punctuated with this man’s presence. For Tendulkar fans, events in life correspond with another one of Sachin’s innings. If that isn’t consistency, I don’t know what is. You can strike up a conversation with someone else on one of Sachin’s great knocks and know fully well that the other person will recall exactly where they were and what they were doing at that time. Tendulkar’s dotted career is replete with lines that folks use to connect to one another. It, as I stated before, is all about what it meant to you. So deep was I steeped in his career that at a Mastermind event, I chose ‘Test centuries of Sachin Tendulkar’ as a topic. There are so many incidents that I can recall where a Tendulkar knock added subtext to a life event for me.

Like the time when we played Sri Lanka in the semi-final of the 1996 World Cup. It was the day that the results of our first semester of engineering were announced. Rumor was that the mark sheet was going to be put up in the college sometime in the evening. I got the call when the second innings had started. The prospect of seeing my marks was exciting and nervous, but nothing would drag me away from the screen till Tendulkar was there. He got out and I got out of the house. The disappointment of the low scores I got was nothing compared to the fact that the man and the nation were denied.

What about the other heartbreak of 1999? I was giving my NCST (National center for software technology) entrance exams the day Tendulkar was setting Chepauk alive with a near impossible single-handed chase against the Pakistanis. His back was hurting, he had no support from the other side, but he kept going on like the last action hero. His 136 was worth its weight in gold, but the rest of them could not get the remaining 17 runs. I remember calling home after every paper (there were six of them) to find out what the score was. A bunch of were walking down to the railway station with a radio between us having its volume turned to maximum. The funereal atmosphere was penetrated with the news of the tailenders giving up one by one.

Or the time I was busy watching him do one more chase at Chepauk. This was a fourth innings chase of a target set by the England team. Sehwag had laid the foundation the previous day and Tendulkar was crafting a masterful chase of the remainder. He was on 53 not out when I was put into another situation where I had to abandon my chase of the chase. Our first baby decided that it was time to come out and see the match as well and it involved a sudden rush to the hospital. Among my first questions after the madness of close to thirty-six hours had settled: how much did Sachin score?

I am sure most people have similar stories to tell. How you abandoned another pursuit, stopped your life for a few moments, met with friends to make it a communal experience, deserted sleep to wake up and watch a game in a different time zone – all because Tendulkar had taken guard. In the age of disunity and disharmony, our lives synchronized for a little while.

It was not just his innings, but a little moment in time of a knock that would stay with you. I often dream of a shot he played against Michael Kasprowicz in the Desert Storm innings. The ball was pitched on a good length between middle and off. It swung slightly in the air and was shaping to move away. He was in position in an instant and you could see him have enough time to adjust his shot, bring his bat down, and in a perfect arc, hit it straight down the ground. It was perfection and it stayed with you. How often have you watched the videos of his upper cut against Shoaib or his bullet drives in Australia against Lee? How many such moments of genius have you accumulated in your mind?

As the dust settles down and we reconcile ourselves to a new reality where there will be a different number four playing for India in whites, the presence (or absence) of Tendulkar would be understood. The batting records are beyond challenge, but to measure him on account of his batting records is like looking at the maximum speed a Ferrari can reach. The whole is more than the sum of the parts. The whole in this case, is a true gentleman who has shown the way for how genius combines with hard work, ego can be subjugated in pursuit of excellence, a man dedicated to his art sometimes surpasses it.

Cricket is my religion and Sachin is my God. Atheism awaits me now.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

My Darling Nicotine

I am pleased to share my latest publication with the Spark magazine. Their theme for the month was 'Attachment'. I approached it from the point of view of addiction. I have written a song on Nicotine addiction, set to the tune of 'My Darling Clementine' (or 'Ae dil hai mushkil' if you are a Hindi movie song buff). Just remember to say Nicotine the way you would Clementine and it will all fall in place
Here is the original link to the publication: http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=6337

Also reproducing it here for your reading pleasure

My Darling Nicotine


(Sung to the tune of ‘My Darling Clementine’)

In a jiffy, I whip out one
That piece of beauty is mine
And inside it, lying softly
Is my favorite Nicotine


Chorus:

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling, Nicotine!
When I light up, you light me up
I love you, Nicotine


Those fried lungs, those chaffed lips,
Those stained teeth are mine
What is mine, by now is yours
As I am too, Nicotine


Chorus:

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling, Nicotine!
When I light up, you light me up
I love you, Nicotine


When I meet you, always with me
Is your best friend Listerine,
Your smell lingers, even when you are gone
Always with me, Nicotine


Chorus:

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling, Nicotine!
When I light up, you light me up
I love you, Nicotine


I love you, but you kill me
Why the loathing Nicotine?
I need to patch up, it’s time to break up
Let’s part ways Nicotine


Chorus:

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling, Nicotine!
When I light up, you light me up
I love you, Nicotine


How I miss her! How I miss her,
How I miss my Nicotine,
But I kissed my little children,
I forgot my Nicotine


Chorus:

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling, Nicotine!
When I light up, you light me up
I love you, Nicotine

Thursday, September 05, 2013

A Tale of Two Kiddies

My article this month in the Spark magazine comes from my experiences as a parent of two young kids. If you have been in the same boat, hopefully this will resonate with you as well.

Here is the link to the original publication: http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=6243

Reproducing the article here for your reading pleasure

A Tale of Two Kiddies

Parenting is not a perfect science. However, if you survive raising an infant (and the measure of the success is that the infant survives you to become a boy or a girl), you’d say to yourself: what is one more thrown into the mix? My wife and I are blessed with two young boys. Let’s call them A and N. This article is to talk about the joy of handling two young kids. There is no pre-requisite that you need to have two kids in order to read and enjoy this piece, but those with two young ones will hopefully relate and learn from this. Since I claimed that parenting is not a science, nothing in here has to be empirically proven for more than one family. I will claim to be an expert parent. So is the chap next door.

Here is a little back-story to set the stage. Our first-born, A, arrived into this world in the last legs of the year 2008. They say the birth of a child is a life-altering moment. You know it’s coming, but you can’t gauge how it will shake up your world. Imagine yourself driving around the freeway on a cold morning in Chelyabinsk and you see this flash of light across the sky. You know that something huge is happening, but it is only when the shock wave blasts the glass off windows and knocks you off your socks that you know it has hit you. Baby. Meteor. Same thing.

A is a fantastic son. He has to be. He has our genes in good abundance. Through his initial years, he was a guinea pig and a teacher for his parents, helping them find their way to through the maze of parenting choices. And then, just as life with A settled into a steady manageable rhythm, N arrived. That was completely antithetical the arrival of the first born. Everything was well prepared, everything was in order. The first might have been as tense as landing a spaceship on an asteroid. The second was as smooth as landing an airplane at Dubai. A year has passed since we moved on to this four-person dynamic in the family. It has had an interesting effect on all concerned. Here are some learnings for parents who choose to go through this experience.

Welcome to single parenting
While once you were two parents doting on one child, you now have the distinct pleasure and privilege of managing two kids, turning you into a single parent for large stretches of time. While as a husband, you might have pampered your wife to no end in the first pregnancy, during the second stretch, the pampering you might manage and be valued for is taking extensive care of the first child. While as a wife you might have worried during your first pregnancy about the shape and state of the life in your belly before it pops out, you now partition that stress into accounting for how your older one will cope when the baby arrives.

It will all come back …
…, like a splash of cold water on your face. Almost everything that you knew about handling a baby comes rushing back to you the moment they hand you the baby at the hospital and wish you good luck. The chaos, the twenty-four hour routine, the nights, oh yes, the nights where sleep is hostage to a seven pound bundle of unpredictable behaviours.  When it does come back and you are back to your own familiar and ‘experienced’ ways, you’ll reach the conclusion that with two kids, the stress levels aren’t as high as it was when you had one child, but the amount of work to manage two will shoot through the roof.

The second one is anything but the first!
As the younger one grew to an observant young fellow, we started realizing that all milestones were being hit with a lot of alacrity. Walking, talking, eating seemed to come to N more naturally than they did to A. N also turned out to be quite independent. Is it a matter of survival for the second ones? Unlike their older siblings, they never will get the 1:1 attention of their parents. When left to fend for yourself, you tend to grow your skills faster.

Get the whistle out
The younger one might spend the first year in absolute adoration of their role model. At some stage, adoration will be replaced by imitation. What the older one does, the younger one attempts. And soon, what the older one has, the younger one wants. Thus it begins, leading to the parents spendinga lot of time  in resolving conflicts. There is a saying that with one child, you become a parent and that with two kids, you become a referee. We have our whistles firmly in our lips, ready to call foul at the earliest.

The seven stages of adjustment
The presence of a younger sibling can incite jealousy and can incite protectiveness. Different kids take it to different levels. At the beginning though, there is little for them to be peeved about. Everyone is calling them a ‘big brother’ or a ‘big sister’ and even though they may not understand the privileges and the challenges that come with that title, it ‘feels’ and ‘sounds’ good. Not to mention the various gifts that they get at the birth of their sibling, either out of guilt or nicety or parity. Since the number of hours in the day don’t go up from twenty-four to forty-eight, it is a reality that the time available for them with their parents has reduced and so is the focus that they need to contend with. Some act out, some act in, some simply ignore it. If you have got the timing right and they are at the age when they are marching towards independence, they cope much better.

Obi-wan Can-I-Be?
“You should eat your food. It is good for you”. The moment I heard A pass on this excellent piece of wisdom to his younger brother, I was convinced that you have certain privileges as an older child that can’t be denied. That piece of wisdom came from a boy who has never eaten food unless he is constantly hounded by his parents. But that clearly did not stop him from taking on the role of the elder. The protector. The entertainer. It is a metamorphosis worth treasuring.

The curious case of the little ones
What must it feel like to arrive in a world where three people dote on you? What must it feel like to be in a world where you’ll never get to be the only one your parents focus their energies on? Young ones arrive in this world with this dichotomous conundrum to solve. The young ones get half the attention, half the paranoia, half the pressure and half the experimentation that the older ones were subjected to. You can’t possibly follow their milestones with equal microscopic focus, you don’t fuss about their eating or sleeping to the same degree, you let them cry a bit longer than you did your first born until you are certain they are crying because they mean it and you certainly won’t let your hands singe away to ensure that their things are sterilized to the nth degree. The second ones aren’t the same as the first, and they benefit and lose something by that measure.

The answered prayers
When you have gone through the experience of one child and have had your share of the struggles, you intuitively wish for it to be easier the second time round. If your first one did not eat food easily, you wish the second one will comply. If the first one gave you sleepless nights, you wish the second one will sleep better. Rest assured, your prayers will be answered by the second one. Of course, there is no guarantee whether they will do the things that the first one did well. Never challenge nature’s sense of balance.

The story of parenting two kids will have its own shape and form as time evolves and the two kids grow up from being infants, toddlers, kindergarteners, make their way to school and college. Each episode will bear its own stamp and re-forge each equation. Until then, here’s hoping that your adventure with a pair of kiddies is an equally fun ride.

Monday, August 05, 2013

An Unexpected Visitor

Sharing my contribution to this month's issue of Spark. The theme was the same they had in previous August issues, 'India Decoded'. This year, I have penned a satirical story on the state of affairs in India. As always, questions and feedback welcome.

http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=6107

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Nine and counting

Happy birthday dear blog. Thank you for being around for nine years of low key (as the name suggests), but satisfying conversations. Thanks also to the dozen followers, four odd regular commentators and ten odd anonymous folks who still diligently come about (without being forced to :)) Onwards to a decade of writing on this space!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Game Of Life

It is life, one is taught
When one
Slides down the snake
At 99


Get up again, for
A rout comes before a victory
Pray for the ladders
And brave the serpents


March, one is told
March away, for you shall win
This is the true truth
Truer than the one never told


That your fortunes aren’t yours
To govern
They bow to the whim
Of the capricious dice

Thursday, July 18, 2013

True Grit

I am pleased to share my forth publication on the OneFortyFiction site. As always, the ask is to write a story in one forty characters with a distinct beginning, a middle and an end. It is a challenge I relish. Read on.

http://www.onefortyfiction.com/archives/true-grit

In case you found it too cumbersome to go to that link, here's the story right here :)

True Grit

He had to be precise, yet his hand trembled and the candies came tumbling down. He stormed out of the store cursing his conscience again.

 

Friday, July 05, 2013

A Chain Of Miseries

Sharing my publication from this month's issue of the Spark magazine. Their theme for the month was 'We, the people'. I have explored the slightly darker side of human kind - the feeling of incompleteness and misery that we all suffer from. Read on.

http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=6000
 

Friday, June 28, 2013

When It Rained

His hand reaches out
To feel that drop of water
Yet his fingers are thwarted


By a veil of glass
Outside which
That drop glides like


A memory of her

She, his gift from heaven,
Always within reach,
Never to be claimed

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Keeper Of The Pledge

He once gave her a rose
and promised eternal love.

She now keeps
the brittle flower
in a book with care

Lest his promise
crumble apart.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The City and Nature

My publication in this month's Spark magazine. Their theme for the month was 'Nature'. I have written about how the civilized world, personified by a city is always at loggerheads with Nature. Read on.

http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=5895

Sunday, May 05, 2013

A Day In the Life of a Street

Here's my publication in the issue of this month's Spark magazine. The theme of this month was 'Life on the street'. My fiction, which is seeped in reality that exists around us, talks about a day in the life of M.G. Road, which could be anywhere in India. The story is as real and unreal as India itself.

http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=5690

Monday, April 15, 2013

Quiz-E-Azam: Bollywood Quiz 2013

Recently, I conducted my fourth Bollywood Quiz in Seattle, titled 'Quiz-E-Azam'. This was also my third collaboration with Ekal Vidyalaya. The deal is always the same - I enjoy setting the quiz, people (hopefully) have fun attempting it and attending it and Ekal Vidyalaya gets money and eyeballs to promote their cause of educating underprivileged children in India.

I have uploaded the questions at the following location for all to enjoy.

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=C3FA92574D313FC4!987&authkey=!ALYjqNIjCXb8gtE

Monday, March 11, 2013

My son, the story-teller

I have a guest writer on my blog today. My four year old Aarush entered into a creative writing contest as his school. The following story came out as a result of it. It was 'dictated' to me by him since he cannot yet write. However, the title is his, the story idea is his and all the words are his as well. With a little bit of guidance from me and my wife, he was able to come up with this little tale. My only pre-condition for him was that the story should have a premise, a problem, a solution and a moral or lesson. He followed that structure (though he did seem a tad unconvinced by the ending, and you'll see why :))

As a father, I couldn't have been prouder to see the creative gene show some signs of emergence. And oh, purely incidental to this experience, he won the contest :)

 

The Boy And His Robot

by Aarush Pandya

There was a boy whose parents asked him to help around the house. He did not want to do the work himself. He built a robot to make his life easier. When the boy presses a button on the robot, the robot does the job that the picture on the button shows. For eg. If he presses the button that has a picture of toys, a sucker that is on the side of the robot sucks up all the toys and arranges them. But one time, the boy presses a button and the robot goes out of control. He makes all the things messy that he had made perfect. There is a special switch that the boy has to turn off to switch off the robot. The boy learned the lesson that he should not build another robot. He should do the work all by himself.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

A Dream In Shackles

Here's my short story published in this month's issue of the Spark magazine. The theme for the month was 'Woman: facets and forms'. The story is about a woman and the pursuit of her dream, while being trapped between two worlds.  Read on.

http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=5373

Friday, March 01, 2013

Housing Bubble

This is my third publication on the short fiction site One Forty Fiction. As always, the challenge there is to write a story in one forty characters with a distinct beginning, a middle and an end. My inspiration for this story was the stagnant price of my house after almost eight years; a situation many living through these times in America today might identify with.

http://www.onefortyfiction.com/archives/housing-bubble

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Possessive Adjective

“My love is in the air”. “Yes, it’s Valentine’s day”, said her married friend; pity masking her hearing. The spinster left for the airport.

P.S> This is a story in 140 characters or less. If you know which possessive adjective is being referred to in the story, it'll all fall in place :)

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Elements

My poem, published in this issue of the Spark magazine. The theme for this month was Romance and the poem attempts to marry romance with the five elements. Read on.

http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=5253

Thursday, January 31, 2013

An Epic Tragedy

"India scored 6 before Sachin came in and 4 after he got out. To score 17 runs was way beyond their ability." - Arunabha Sengupta, cricket writer.

Thus can be summarized the story of the lone warrior, in one his greatest epics, a tragedy in cricket that will always make you grimace when you think about it. Sachin Tendulkar, on 31st January, 1999 played one of the great knocks while chasing a target down single-handedly. The venue was Chennai and the opposition was Pakistan. The target was 271 and the bowling attack fairly strong. Wasim, Waqar, Saqlain and Afridi more than make a threat when you are chasing a target of this magnitude with so much pressure on you. Predictably, the other batsmen fell in a heap, with only Mongia managing to make more than 10 runs. Sach was life then. Tendulkar was the only man who could have taken India to victory and bit by bit, with brilliant strokes and dogged determination, he began doing that. His back was hurting and he had limited support at the other end, but he batted like losing wasn’t an option. He picked up the pace after his half century and was able to take all the bowlers apart, including Saqlain. And then it happened. The one shot that all Indians wish would undone. The leading edge that went to the offside and was caught. The heroic effort would end in a tragedy, for the others in the Indian team could not put together the requisite 17 runs. The lone action hero walked away to a standing ovation, but surely with a feeling that he left the job undone. When the awards ceremony was going on, he was inconsolably locked up in the dressing room. An innings such as this would have rivaled Lara’s 153* against Australia, but in some sense, the tragedy added a sheen to it that makes it more enduring. Indeed, his 103* against England at the same venue years later seems fulfilling, but not touching in the same way.

My personal tragedy was that despite watching most of the great innings by the little man, this is one that I could not see as it happened. I was appearing for the national level entrance examinations for NCST (National center for software technology), where we were supposed to answer a series of papers through the day. Lord knows my mind was nowhere near the questions I was supposed to answer. After every paper, in the interim break, I would rush out to a payphone, insert a coin and call home to ask the score. I remember walking back to the railway station with a bunch of folks, one of whom had a radio. Tendulkar had just departed and we were subjected to the ignominy of the Indian loss after that. Tragedy begets tragedy, and mine will be being relegated to watching one of Tendulkar’s greatest innings in Youtube videos.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Fun(k)

My Friday Funk story: We were stalled at the traffic light. The car and I. I had one hand firmly placed on the steering wheel and the other on my forehead, covering the frowns as I was going through the list of things I needed to do at work today. The music rang on unaffected and unaffecting. Then, from the music system seeped out the song 'Main Pareshaan' (loose translation: 'I am worried'). The irony broke the reverie and cracked me up. Sometimes the uenxpected is required to turn funk into fun.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Across The Table

The Spark magazine turns three year old and the special occasion was marked by a Potpourri issue. I wrote up some super short fiction with a theme I had been toying for a while - Four different places, four different pairs of people – one common setting. Two chairs across a table and a solitary object between them. What happens next? Find out for yourself.

http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=5101