Them.

While I sleep, the world around me is awake. Not today though. I am awake too. But only in the body, not in the mind. But then was I ever?

These people, the ones out here – they know something I don’t. They look at me and exchange glances. They stare me down. I look away. But for how long? And where? They are everywhere. They point towards me when I don’t look. I can feel it. Or is it my imagination? They pause while I walk by. I walk faster. Rushing along, not sure where I am headed. The road is straight, lined with concrete on both sides. Trees grow from within the concrete. The people – they’re all moving in the opposite direction. Only I walk towards the horizon, the horizon where the Sun didn’t rise from.

They don’t look at me. They stare through me and yet their gaze is piercing.  I look away too fast. I can’t read their eyes. Is it pity at my ignorance? Anger that I don’t bother? Or is it angst at how I am spending my life? Caution that I want to join their tribe? Or are they curious? Do they not see me as one of them?

I know I am different from them. My necessities are luxuries for them. They might have lesser than me but their smiles reach their eyes. They build a life while I simply redecorate. I have all that I want and more than I could ask for. What do I do with these though? Why are we really living? Or is it death that we await?

Graciously Yours!

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Moo Points?

My week started on a bad note – regular household issues – oh yes, we bachelors have those too. No maid, cook screwed up the food quantities, delayed to work, no transport, traffic and oh, the heat! So coming up, are a lot of moo points. Take it or leave it, but do read it!

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As I strode purposefully towards the main road, following my Mom’s advice to calm down, cars and bikes zipping past me, a cab honking at me for taking up road space (well, the footpath could give me a sprain, they’re that bad), I saw a cow ambling at 10 am in the morning, barely moving enough to place one foot ahead of the other, ten seconds at a time.

Cars conveniently circled around her and went their way, not even bothering to honk. Why me then? Why was I expected to be on the footpath when this cow could do whatever she liked? Why did I have to chide myself for being late for office at 10 in the morning when this cow could just loiter around, literally doing nothing!

“Eat more meat.” “Focus on your calcium intake.” “What about carbs?” “And when will you take those multivitamins?” So much talk about food and food preparation. If she’s hungry, she doesn’t even have to go to the kitchen to whip up something or Swiggy food! She can just regurgitate food ingested earlier and chew it again! Not that I want my ingested food back in my mouth, urgh, but just sayin’!

She can be white. She can be black. She can be brown. Or even a mix of all three. And she’ll still be loved for who she is. Why? Why do I have to then worry about being tanned? Why can’t I just be I loved for who I am?

Oh and here in a country where Hinduism is largely significant, she even gets protection for just being who she is – a female. Talk about harming a cow and behold the furore that will persist. While we two-legged women carry around pepper sprays even in broad daylight – for the exact same reason – because we’re females.

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And that’s how I ended up with an existential crisis conferred upon me by a lone cow, walking at her own pace in the middle of a road, refusing to make way for the world rushing around.

The heat fried my brains, I guess.

Still,

Graciously Yours!

Pakistan vs Terrorism.

For the longest time in my living memory, people around me, including me, have referred to Pakistan as the terrorist state, the country which perpetrates terror. But in my heart, call me naive, foolish or whatever you may, all Pakistanis weren’t terrorists, all elements related to Pakistan did not get synced with terrorism. Yes, Atif Aslam has a beautiful voice! Sana Munir is a budding author. Shahid Afridi never grows old. Fawad Khan is a looker. Oh, that blue-eyed tea seller! And so many others who have tried to establish a name for themselves but happened to have been born in Pakistan.

My heart says there are countless Pakistani citizens who condemn what the Army and Government are choosing to ignore. They condemn the nefarious terrorist activities being conducted in their country but are as helpless as we are in the face of uncontrolled elements in our own country of living. There is absolutely no excuse for all of those people who, irrespective of their caste, religion, country, gender, and colour, encourage activities which will consume lives and spread unprecedented, uncontrolled fear in the hearts of innocents. Be it a Hindu or a Muslim, an Indian or a Pakistani – if you support terrorism, you ought to be wiped out. No God has allowed us to take lives, you say. But no God allowed you either, we say. There isn’t much difference between the angel and the devil, wars have no rules – it’s the side that matters.

News of the threats to Karachi Bakery, a name that I have associated with the city of Hyderabad since I was old enough to pronounce it, really scared me. The elements of extremism are prevalent in India too and they’ve only just started showing up their painful rear. For a bakery that has for years been feeding people, has thrived on popularity and their ability to churn out the sweetest of biscuits shouldn’t have to prove their patriotism or their citizenship just because their founders happened to hail from a country in Pakistan. Similarly, no other person should be singled out to prove their loyalty to India, based on their religion, place of birth or pre-1947 place of living.

Pakistan and India have a shared history which either of us cannot deny or erase. People who’ve been to the other side of the border have professed of the hospitality and love they’ve received by the common man. There are common man counterparts there too who are sick of false promises, inflation, job insecurity, the daily drudgery of life. If a war broke out, it would not only cripple them, as already seen by the Karachi Stock Exchange crash, it would also hit India hard. In the bleak global economy, India is optimistic. Let us try and remain that way. Our war, as iterated numerous times by the Government and the Defence Forces is not against Pakistan. Our war is against terror, which happens to be an unwelcome guest in the neighbourhood.

 

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A proud moment at the Wagah-Attari border ‘Beating the Retreat’ ceremony.

Graciously Yours!

 

 

Boots.

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She trudged along the gravelled path,

Far from home, lost in the rush of the world,

Her boots worn, her back stooped,

The winds, cold and brazen, cut across,

The skin on her face drooped.

 

Her eyes stung with tears,

That refused to fall out,

She shut them close,

Wanting to push the world out.

 

Alone and desolate, she bawled,

Her cries ringing, echoing in her own ears,

Her thoughts drowning out what little sound was left,

Over clicking boots and howling winds,

She didn’t hear the answers to her calls of help!

Help may not always come in the shape you desired but it will be there, in the most unexpected circumstances, from the most unexpected people. Never cease to believe that you’re cared for, loved by and the pride of someone among the 7 billion of us and counting!

Let those boots take you to places but never forget what coming back home is like. Home, after all, is where the heart is. ❤

Graciously Yours!

 

 

My happy place.

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The Internet, as we all know it, can be a vicious place to be. If you still don’t know it, well, you haven’t explored enough. Right from seeking gratification to fake news, keeping up with TikTok videos and the latest record-breaking egg, medical remedies to tips on how to build your own rocket, you will find it all. It’s brought the world closer together but it’s also taken us apart.

I am sure each of you has had days where you just want to keep the phone aside and not look at what the internet had to offer. The deluge of information can be overwhelming and a detox work sometimes but then you get hit by FOMO! In all of this confusion, what do you really do with those twiddling thumbs?

I try to detox every once in a while but I am left with my own thoughts which do not really help because they’re, if I may say so, contaminated by social media. Everything seems so peachy and perfect on social media that I start questioning the daily rigours I face in life. For once I’d like to know the challenges people face, the scars that are healing, the pain hidden behind those smiles. I’d like to know the people for who they are and not for what they want to project.

So how do you find a happy place on the World Wide Web? One that assures that it will take care of you, it will not let you down, bring a smile on your face. I found mine! Pinterest. And I cannot swear by it enough. It’s helped me through two heartbreaks, endless writer’s blocks, restless hours of melancholy, dried spells of humour, DIY craft spurts and hell, even when I wanted to drool over the hotness we can never seem to find in our daily lives. No one’s competing for attention there, no one’s trying to up the ante further, no one’s liking or commenting and if they are, I am blissfully unaware. All you find are pictures people have pinned on to their boards, private or public, and the algorithms do the rest based on your search keywords.

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Pinterest to me represents the true collaboration of how far one’s choices and ideas can go if one only has the intent of not seeking validation but instead sharing it because they wanted to. I love the quotes, life stories and confessions that you find up there! They restore my faith in humanity. Pinterest makes me come to terms with the fact that whatever be my life story, someone else is also living the same story somewhere out there, if not worse.

In a world of seven billion people, I may be unique but I am not alone!

Graciously Yours!

P.S.: This is not a sponsored post, though I wish they did sponsor me! If only. *Sigh*

Constant Vigilance.

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Cobra. Bodyguard. Impower. Bullet. What are these, you wonder? Brand names of pepper spray. Why do I know, you ask? Because New Years’ Eve happened.

Unlike so many others in Bangalore, I wrapped up work at 5 PM on NYE to head home! Yes, I wanted to stay indoors while the rest of city revelled out in ten degrees of chill. If finding commute on regular days is a pain, that evening was exceptionally terrible. It took me ten minutes of futile attempts at booking an Uber and three refusals, before an auto driver agreed to drop me home, by the meter. Anyone who’s travelled in Bangalore knows ‘by the meter’ is a blessing. But was I to know what would follow? In the guise of a request for smaller notes to buy gasoline, he borrowed 2000 bucks from me, skipped the gas stations and took a wrong turn. On my insistence to return the money back, he stopped at the beginning of a flyover, turned around to scare me with stories of a fresh murder he’d committed and threatened to put a knife through me. I, obviously, didn’t want to see him brandish a knife, so a couple of futile attempts later I got off the auto, lest he drive away with me. Oh, he wasn’t crazy; he was crazy drunk. I saw him speed away with my money, but more importantly, my composure and the peace of my family and friends. At the end of three hours, I’d found my strength again, a helpful auto driver and with my friends in tow, filed a complaint with the police.

They say PTSD is diagnosed after a month of the symptoms, which generally show up around 3 months after the tragedy. But what is the diagnosis for the deviant thoughts that strike me every time I step into an auto now? What about the anxiety that rushes through me when the auto driver takes a shorter, new route? What about my friends now who keep asking me if I’ve reached home, while I am still stuck in Bangalore traffic? What would I have done if the man had taken out a knife? You’d say ‘don’t overthink’. I try not to. But when I look out of the auto to distract myself, I catch myself reading auto license plate numbers, searching for the one I’d unfortunately ridden in. When I look inside the auto, I furtively glance at the driver in the rear view mirror. When they argue about the fare now, I prefer to get down midway. When I give them a bigger note, I worry if they’ll return the change. This happened in broad daylight – would I have survived an attempt at night? I have seldom felt more vulnerable in Bangalore but that day in the usually crowded metropolis I found no person to walk up to. There were barely any cars on the roads, people were scattered around on a five-point crossing and there was no traffic police guard. Post my written complaint, I expected the police to immediately start a search to nab a drunk driver – after all, I did have his license plate details on camera. But I can’t tell them how to do their job, right? Would the driver have done this if a man sat in the back seat? Would a pepper spray have helped me? Could I have punched him in the face and gotten my money back? What if the driver hadn’t stopped the auto at my insistence? Should I have sat there and argued or cowered at his macho attempts to scare me?

I am not maligning all auto drivers. But nor do I plan to forgive and forget what happened. What I wonder is what had I done wrong? How do I ensure that I don’t get into another such situation? How do you ensure constant vigilance?

Oh, also. Happy New Year! ❤

Graciously Yours!

Cooking up a storm!

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I am 26. I am single. I am a female. In India, that’s enough to set people rattling off about marriage and family planning. In my case, more advice follows about learning to do tasks that suit a woman in the house than one in office. To name a few – cooking, stitching, birthing, being graceful, looking pretty, being an ideal daughter-in-law, the ideal wife, the presentable new addition to the family. These were my bones of contention with a man who would have almost cut me off at the knees, stopping just in time as he rightly realised the bloodbath that would follow. Needless to say, I didn’t take it well. Oh yes, I didn’t take his abstaining well! And I console myself thinking many others wouldn’t have either. Love has mysterious ways of revealing the real you. What do I do to ward off the very things we parted ways over? Do those exact things to prove myself capable, to perfect myself, to console myself that he didn’t fight hard enough for me.

So I cooked the other evening. There were reasons, of course, which had nothing to do with proving to myself that I could cook. Or so I tell myself. I was procrastinating working on my manuscript, at some level of my subconscious. The mood to write just wasn’t right! So cooking. Also because the cook hadn’t turned up. And my flatmate couldn’t be fed take-away with a running body temperature of 102 degrees! So you ask what is the big deal about cooking? Well, there isn’t. At least in my mind. Except, people around me (read: relatives, the ones who call me twice a year – on my birthday and on their birthday to remind me that I’d forgotten about them. Well, I didn’t forget you. I chose not to remember you.) think it is a vital sign of being a good wife. And here I thought I should prepare to commit myself to a partner, whole and soul. I don’t particularly enjoy cooking. Maybe because most of my favourite dishes are best eaten raw! Salads, sprouts, fruits, milkshakes, sandwiches! But like everything else, I like to do it well, whenever I do cook. And lo behold! I cooked the main course for three people with stunning ease and a record time of 40 minutes. Of course, I’m only talking about rice, lentils and a curry, but hello? It was stomach filling, soul-fulfilling and lip-smacking – with a serving of ghee added to it. To all those skeptics and cynics, why do you keep cooking up a storm?

When the time comes, life teaches you everything. Or it perishes you. Why do you have to keep pushing people into a box, trying to fit them into standards, forcing them to keep up with how the world was fifty years ago when you were our age? Why is it still expected of women to be the ones running the house and holding together the fort, while encashing cheques at the month end? What is the man bringing to the table except for the money? Pray, tell me, if it was just about the money, then as a woman with financial stability and an understanding of financial management, why do I really need you men? Maybe a little consideration? Maybe join me as I flunk ‘Cooking 102’? Maybe let’s have a good laugh over how easy calculating ROI is compared to roasting the wheat flour just brown enough to not burn it for the halwa? Maybe let me sit around and watch you churn a chocolate banana milkshake for me? It’s about wanting to run the house with my partner, rather than for him. And if he isn’t ready for it? Well, then he needs to haul his ass from the couch and come stand by my side like a man.

Oh also. I can stitch a button on as good as I can your lips!

Graciously Yours!

What’s in a name after all?

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The SpaceX BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) is now called the Starship! Musk has been known to be creative even when it comes to naming his ventures. At least, the latest ones. Boring Company. Why? Because they bore through the ground to make tunnels! Brick Store. Why? Well, duh. Because they’re selling bricks! Bricks from the tunnels bored! And my favourite? ‘Not a Flamethrower’ because anything named Flamethrower could not have been shipped through US Customs! But would you call him creative? Or just plain? The names are generic, after all. After all, people who came up with the names Dunzo and Dependo – aren’t they the creative ones?

But why are we discussing names?

Of late, news reports doing the rounds involve Uttar Pradesh and the changes in city names by the current Chief Minister of state, Yogi Adityanath. Yogi Adityanath was born Ajay Mohan Bisht, Guess he didn’t like it much and renamed himself. In a political career spanning over two decades, he’s been known to change names of markets, lanes, roads, railway station platforms and cities. Think of the number of platform displays, milestones, letterheads, postcards, envelopes, shop displays and road signs this man has single-handedly changed. Do the agreements and tenders also require to be changed? I hope not! It isn’t as simple as a Microsoft Word Find and Replace function, after all. Think of the amount of trade he has generated just by the stroke of his pen!

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This isn’t the first time India is witnessing such a drive. Our politicians prefer changing working names rather than doing the actual work of bringing about a change. Their claim to name is religion, history, patriotism and God (of no particular faith, of course) knows what not! From Calcutta to Bangalore, Allahabad to Madras, no place has been spared. Be it the Congress or BJP, Trinamool Congress, or even DMK – they all make name changes when in power and cry their lungs out hoarse when in Opposition! If an act is considered unnecessary and expensive, hold the same standards for everyone – whether in power or in opposition.

The plea that the names were given by the British or the Mughals or whosoever is bollocks! They, even if they were atrocious to us, were a part of our past and they have helped shape our present. If not for the British would the union of the states of India have been possible? Or would we still be ruled by kingdoms and factions, warring for more land? Would we have been another Middle East or the world’s second largest economy? If not for the Mughals, the Persians or the other Muslim rulers, would we have the Qutub Minar, Red Fort and the Taj Mahal? We cannot pick and choose our history. Even if we do not accept it, it’ll still exist. Changing the name of a place will not alter the course of history of the places.

Yogi Adityanath is at the helm of a state which has almost 10 times the population of Australia at 20.4 crores but a purchasing power parity of Tajikistan. With 828 persons per sq. km, against a country average of 382, the state has only 2 working international airports and a crime rate that exceeds all other states of the country, when it comes to communal violence, custodial deaths and police clashes. With over a year into the CM role, there’s so much more for him to focus on. But if only he and his troop of sycophants could focus on the atrocities and deprivations that our people are facing today rather than the ones hurled at us by rulers long dead! If we could only focus on paving the way for the future than trying to alter history. Does no one want to build a legacy these days?

Oh but if we are going to continue with this, then can the psuedo-Gandhis drop their borrowed surname as well and come clean? Now that will be altering the path of history, won’t it?

Graciously Yours!

India Amidst Trade Wars.

An opinion piece I penned recently was published on YourStory.com! Yayy! It details the history of trade, the milestones we’ve achieved, USA at the eye of the trade war storm and how India features in it. Feedback is most welcome.


Over the last year, the United States of America under the leadership of President Trump renegotiated trade relations with the European countries, its’ North American neighbours, Asian economies and has now brought India under its’ lens. Post an apolitical stance in the Cold War era, India opened up its’ trade borders extensively to the U.S but no bilateral trade agreement was signed between both countries. Now that we seem to be on the brink of one, here’s what to expect…

Read more at YourStory.com: https://yourstory.com/mystory/india-amidst-trade-wars-jifc8k86l8

Graciously Yours!

 

Wanderlusting blind?

In my last blog post I asked you a question – do you prefer your travels to be meticulously planned or be a blind adventure?  I am still deciding which one suits me more – plucking out memories from earlier trips, deciding which lessons are worth being learnt and which were just flukes of the hour.

I recall a trip to Udupi, a quaint temple town, nestled by the beaches lining the Arabian Sea, in the Western Ghats – a trip I had researched, Googled about, interviewed earlier travellers and jotted down an itinerary to the extent of having even decided the breakfast to be ordered at Woody’s! Yeah, called me obsessed but I was really excited about that particular trip, not that I recall the reasons now, but it could have something to do with beaches! I am a beach baby who fears the seas, after all. Take that for irony! Guess where that led me? The moment I set foot on one of their islands, St. Mary’s, I began looking for that particular patch of lagoon where my friend said he’d played volleyball with his friends and how picturesque the location was. I set foot on the island with someone else’s idea of beauty rather than making up my own mind about what I felt about the island. I led myself to see through someone else’s eyes and thoughts. Not a moment of rest to the mind, not a pause to stand and absorb, feel and think, a constant rush to check the next sight off the list, not standing long enough to even breathe.

But. There’s a but.

Last month, I visited Hampi, known for its ruins of the Vijayangara empire, hippie style of living, a bed of rocks that transports you to an era a few hundred years ago – possibly the heat that plays with your mind. Circumstances made me procrastinate planning for a trip I had sincerely vowed to. Such desperate were the times, that despite three attempts to map out the route of our visits, technology failed to help us chart a plan. So we were left to hang dry with no map references, no lists of ‘Top 10 places to visit in Hampi’, ‘7 things you should do in Hampi’, ‘5 must-try restaurants in Hampi’ and so on! “Oh chuck it,” I thought when a man tried to sell me a ‘Tourist’s Guide to Hampi’. I’ll go in blind this time, I thought. And you know what I ended up missing?

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THIS! I MISSED THIS!

I walked away from this detailed, breathtaking, mind-blazing, still mostly intact ruin from within fifteen metres of it, after reading the sign that spelled out its presence! For freaking Heaven’s sake, this is the third image result that pops up when looking up Hampi and I did not visit it! Such a bummer. But well, we did manage to do a lot of other crazy stuff that cannot make it to the blog for want of keeping your faith in my sanity intact.

So what do you say? Guess I need to find a little balance? And pray, how do I do that?

Graciously Yours!

Raw emotions. Inked.

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