Through a half-opened side window of the bus, Karan looked out. An unusual quietness gripped the surroundings. The streets, which otherwise would be flooded with young software professionals like him, wore a deserted look. Biting his nails in frustration, he cursed his stars for making him go to the office on a weekend. He fully opened the window. A gentle breeze came to his rescue, kissed him all over his face and brushed his hair. The passion between them increased with each passing moment. His eyelids were slowly drawing the curtains to further enjoy this romantic tryst when suddenly, he felt a strong jerk. He instantly pressed his hands against the seat in front of him and managed to stave off a certain collision. But the kiss was broken, a reason enough for him to get pissed off.
He moved up from the seat and looked out through the front windshield. His annoyance turned at first into astonishment and subsequently into admiration. A stray dog had brought this mighty machine down on its knees. Out of the blue, that filthy little animal had come in front of the bus, wagging his tail graciously, walking with an elegant charm, as if the city roads belonged to him. The driver was extremely furious, threw a stream of expletives at the dog in the local dialect. To his surprise, neither did the dog run away, nor did he bother to look up. He continued his walk to the other side of the road where his comrades were waiting for him. The driver had largely underestimated 21st century Bangalore; even stray dogs here understand only one language –English.
“I salute you sir”, Karan exclaimed waving at the dog as the bus passed by him. The co-passengers looked at him weirdly for this sudden display of absurdity. He ignored the glances, took a diary out from his bag and wrote ‘Street Dog – master of his fate, captain of his soul. Had I been the leader of this country, I would have definitely bestowed upon him one of those bravery awards’.
He put the diary back in the bag. He searched for earphones in his pocket and disentangled them. Tuning to Bob Dylan’s ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ he plugged them in. The surreal music appealed his soul. In the next few moments, he felt his conscious slowly ebbing away, and then, all his thoughts came to rest. His mouth was wide open and drooling. His body was oscillating with each movement of the bus, rejuvenating itself before the onset of another day of hard labour at his workplace.
This trip to the better world ended when he half-heard the word ‘Garepalya’ in his sleep. He opened his eyes, blinked, and blinked again. He gazed outside. Yes, the conductor indeed had called out Garepalya, short for ‘Garvebhaviplaya’, a suburb in south Bangalore where Karan’s office was located. He immediately got up from the seat and stretched his arms to take a deep yawn. He moved his hand across his face to wipe off the spittle.
“Ten minutes late”, he observed as he checked his watch after getting down from the bus. His forehead wrinkles looked more prominently than ever before. He held his bag tightly and ran towards the entry gate when suddenly his eyes narrowed upon the small paan kiosk that stood in front of the office.
“I am going in that shit-hole only after having a couple of fags”, he declared and proceeded towards the shop.
He was one of the nine analysts hired to monitor and improve the Customer Service unit of a large multinational firm, a job he hated to the core.
“Gold-flake King – Full Packet”- he demanded and handed a crisp green coloured note to Billa Kaka, the paan kiosk owner, a bespectacled man in his early fifties.
“One whole packet in the morning”, Kaka inquired. His yellow teeth gleamed as he spoke.
“Just give me the box”, Karan responded in a slightly irritable tone. He snatched the box and lighted the first cigarette right away. He took a puff and immersed himself in the smoke to find a temporary relief from a terrible stench that saluted his nostrils from the pile of garbage right adjacent to the office building.
“What a beautiful place for photojournalists”, he imagined as he took another puff. The photographer only had to take a few photos of rag pickers, women and children, publish them in a magazine and live merrily. This is what photojournalists survive on, poor people, hungry people.
He had emptied half the packet when his lungs declared themselves full for the morning. He decided to smoke the rest of pack later. He bought a chewing gum from the kiosk and headed towards the office lift. The liftman had already seen his identity card and even before he hinted anything, pushed the button for 7th floor.
“Good job mate, your boss would be so proud of you”, he said in his mind and chuckled at the thought. The lift system in the office was pathetic. They ascended with such an aching slowness that made one certain that they would get stuck between floors.
“One two three … eighty-seven eighty eight … Ah, Survived again”, he sighed as the lift opened in front of his office.
He swiped his access card, opened the door to find a vibrant twittering and chattering from the two hundred odd call center executives charge into his ears. His workstation was all the way in the last row. He advanced speedily, exchanging brief pleasantries with the people he knew on the way through. He put the bag on his desk. He removed his laptop and charger. He got up to plug in the charger when his eyes stumbled upon Payal Banerjee, a fellow analyst in his team. Her workstation stood diagonally to his desk.
His eyes were fixed at the peacock blue bindi decorating her forehead. Perhaps for the first time in days, he found an interest to watch another person. He looked up at her little unkempt hair. He had sometimes seen her riding to office. “Helmet’s doing” he affirmed as he scanned her down. She had applied mascara over her eyelashes, which made her charming eyes look even more dramatically glamourized. She wore a plain white kurti. The peacock blue of the bindi matched with the patiala and the flats.
“An ethnic diva”, he muttered, smitten, lost completely in her charisma.
He put his hands at the back of his head and looked at her again, this time concentrating on the finer details. Two bright chandeliers dangled from her ears, radiating such alluring appeal that would get even the toughest of hearts flattened on her. A swan pendant glittered over her chest, the swan dancing in a rhythmic motion with each breath she took in and exhaled. His eyes were glued on the pendant, following its trace when she suddenly looked up. He was caught staring at her breasts. She looked at him with sheer disgust. It was too late for him to turn away. He had to get the matter straight. He had to talk to her. Bullshit.
“Hey, you look good today?” he remarked and immediately regretted striking a conversation with her.
There are only two things in the world that Payal is interested in – Shopping and talks about shopping. She got up from her chair and sat on his desk, cross-legged.
“Hey, you noticed. Thank you. You know, I was looking up online for a wardrobe to keep my shoes. There is a sale going on. I am so tempted. But I am a little worried too; these E-commerce companies sell such sub-standard items nowadays. I ordered a perfume a few days back worth 4000 rupees only to find that it smelled like washing powder”, her blabbering went on and on. She had a glow in in her eyes as she talked about her shopping endeavours.
“Did you apply it today?” He interrupted as he couldn’t take this nonsense anymore. This was the least offensive line he could come up with.
“What? No. Why would you say that? Do I smell bad today?” She blurted all these concerns at once and came very near to his chair. There were just a few inches of gap between them. The aroma around was enriched with sparkles of lavender and jasmine. For the next few seconds, he remained mesmerized by her sensuous persona. But he quickly jolted back to reality. He had to get rid of her.
“Well I wouldn’t say it is bad. I am just a little confused. Is it Surf Excel or Ariel?” he inquired trying to look as stern as possible.
“What? You are such an ass, go to hell” she ranted and slapped him lightly on his shoulders.
“Where do you think I am now?” he smirked. There was no turning back now. Just one more sentence and she would definitely leave him for good.
“Fuck you Mr. Karan. Excuse me, I have to work now”, she yelled, her eyes wider and redder than he had ever seen.
“You were excused all this time. But …”, he shrieked as she pinched him. For a woman for her size, she was tremendously good at this activity. There was no stopping once her fingers grabbed his shoulders. Men are expected to be alien to feelings like pain and suffering. He tried to maintain a straight face all the time. But the snob look soon had changed into a-goat-going-to-be-slaughtered look. He could not take it anymore. He moaned loudly and tapped his left hand over the desk. She finally let him off.
“Don’t try so hard to be an asshole you can never become” she barked and left to her workstation. Her eyes were a little moist. She took a paper napkin and carefully cleared off the tears, making sure that the mascara remained intact. Meanwhile, his shoulder hurt badly. He caressed the area smoothly with his other hand. When he felt a little better, he took his diary out and wrote,” Women are the most fearsome creatures on this planet. Lizards come at distant second”.
He started with his work for the day. A pile of spreadsheets opened up in his system. His job included preparing three daily reports for the management. Each report took about three to four hours. This was just the fixed part of his job. The variable part included meetings with managers, senior managers and various other clients to provide them with insights on the business performance.
“If only they’d pay me more, I could have easily made software that could do all this things. But then, I’d have nothing to do here”, he thought. Staring at Payal was one option of enthusiastic appeal. But he immediately discarded the idea and proclaimed, “I am not wasting any more of my time on her”.
“No software”, he concluded and continued his romance with numbers.
He engrossed himself deeply into his work. To save some time, he brought his lunch plate at the workstation. It was already evening when he finished the second report. By the time he completed his work, it was nine in the night. The office was all deserted except for a dozen odd consultants doing the night shift. Unlike in the morning, his took slow small steps while walking out. He did not have the patience to wait for the lift. Instead, he took the stairs. As soon as he came out, he opened up the pack of cigarettes and started smoking the remaining ones.
“Pure bliss!” he exclaimed as he took the last drag for the day.
He looked up. The night was still young. He gave up the idea of taking a bus and decided to walk all the way to his home. He advanced speedily. The road was empty except for an occasional honking by cars and auto rickshaws. The air was corroded with the emissions from vehicles and nearby factories. He was well used to it. His lungs were far worse. He passed three temples, two signals, a coffeehouse and numerous street vendors. After having covered just halfway through the distance, he was down on his knees, panting, yearning for a glass of water. He had largely overestimated his athleticism.Luckily for him, there was a park nearby. He got a bottle of mineral water and headed inside the park.
The park was well lit and lively, with families and couples occupying most of it. Luckily, he found an empty seat. He kept his bag beside him and sat there, looking at small kids run, fall, laugh and cry. A sudden vacuum gushed through his heart. He tried to remember the last time he felt happy. He could not. Maybe he had embraced this monotonous life so much that happiness seemed a distant dream now. He took out his diary and pen and started scribbling.
It has been eight long months since I’ve started working. I took this job so that I wouldn’t have to bother my parents with unnecessary worry about my future. I do not know what is next in line for me. But neither would I know if I slog in office for twelve hours a day.
The fact of the matter is all of us, the pan kiosk owner, the lift-man, Payal and the other teammates, even my boss, are dogs, tamed to serve a more powerful dog. The only difference between us is that some dogs were more privileged than others. But hell, we are all slaves. I am 22 now, more than a quarter of my life is done and I don’t think I’ve lived my dreams for one single day. I’ve always lived other people’s dreams, first my parents, then the teachers, relatives, friends, ex-girlfriend and now my boss.
I envy the stray dog of the morning; wish I could live his life. Sleep when I want to. Fuck when I want to. Eat when and what I want to, from KFC bones to pile of shit. The pressure of a belt around my neck is too much to bear. I am sick of pretending of being someone I am not. I am lost. I am tired. I wish I had the guts to walk freely and not give a damn about what society thinks of me. I wish I could just leave this stupid job and do something I like. I wish I knew what I am good at, what I should try my hands on. I wish for live in which I am hero and not one of the side characters. I wish to be the master of my fate. I wish to be the captain of my soul.
P.S: I’ll resign tomorrow.
He finished up the passage, rested the pen in his shirt, held the diary in his hand and started walking towards the exit of the park. He came out and advanced slowly, breathing deeply with each step. The road was dead. Out in the corner, he saw a stray dog roaming around. “Lucky bastard”, he said as he passed by him.
In the very next moment, a speeding car came from the other side of the road and hit the dog. The driver didn’t even bother to apply brakes to check upon the damage that was done. Instead, he accelerated the car and swiftly moved out of the sight. The car had passed through the dog right through his abdomen area. Such strong was the impact that the whine of the dog lasted barely for a second. Post that, a pin drop silence. On the spot death. The body was cold. At peace. The eyes of the dog were still wide open, staring forever at nothing in the distance. His face was distorted with the tongue hanging out. Blood was continuously oozing out from his mouth filling the potholes of the road. How much of blood could come out through one’s body?
Karan looked at him for a long time. He was holding his breath all this while. As he slowly eased the air out of his lungs , a putrid scent invaded his nostrils. He covered his nose with his hands. The road around the body had turned carmine. There were a few other dogs at the end of the road. None of them bothered to pay their last respects to their mate. They walked in the other direction, exchanging a few barks between them every now and then. No one looked back. Karan had never been so close to death in his entire life. He looked horrified. But he had to see this other side of life, where solitude was not a choice but the only option. He stood there, gazing at the eyes of the dog. Something hit him, real hard, penetrated deeply in his soul.
He turned and started walking away from the scene. At the end of the road, he found an auto standing. The auto driver, sensing his helplessness, asked for double price than the meter reading. Karan did not have the energy to argue. He agreed. As the auto proceeded, he opened his diary once again and scratched the passage he wrote just a few moments back. He then opened a fresh page and wrote “It’s better to die a little each day than to see an abrupt end to your dreams”. He took a deep sigh and looked out. A sweet expectation of unknown happiness took possession of him. The joy, the vigour, the beauty of this madness called life succeeded in getting a faint smile on his lips. He loved his job. He loved his life.
Those memories, their aroma,
Have clotted in my heart,
Made it home.
With sharp claws pierce deep,
Rip it apart into pieces,
Like an excavator digs up the ground.
I no longer adore her,
Oh! But how I adored her,
In fire and blood,
With all I had,
Which was never enough.
Every time I write about her,
Move on, let her go,
May tears rinse away all those memories,
May this be the last remembrance of that journey,
And may these well be the last lines I write for her.
Every time, I fail.
A drop of tear,
Can sprout millions of lives,
Home a number of species,
Flora and fauna,
And serve as their guardian.
Don’t believe me, eh?
Go to a beach,
Gaze at the infinite blue,
For all I know, the oceans,
Are nothing but a big drop of tear,
Shed from the eye of the god,
For his beloved!
I like you the best when you are just up in the morning,
Without a hint of makeup, the raw you
Disheveled hair covers your face,
A mesh more complicated than the toughest maze
I wonder how you disentangle them with your fingers,
To pull them back down your shoulders.
Your hands gently rub those half-awake brown eyes,
Give them a glittery shine,
Like a jeweler rubs his gems to polish them fine.
The crimson of your cheeks,
Reflects a glow of unparalleled bright,
A view more serene, more beautiful than twilight.
The little redness of your nose,
Intoxicates me, from head to toes,
Makes me want to give you, a rose.
Your wrinkled t-shirt and pyjama,
Has a seductive appeal, an irresistible aroma,
Even a cocktail dress wouldn’t carry such a charisma.
I like the unkempt you,
The natural you,
And when your soft pink lips call out my name,
I love you!
In my far and wide reach, in distance and time,
I’ve grown wiser studying large chunks of history pages,
Witnessed rise and fall of civilizations through stages,
A few words of wisdom for you from my journey through the ages.
You live in a city older than history,
Older than tradition,
A test lies ahead. Use your intuition,
Take an informed decision.
For this election, all sorts of people will come to you,
Practicers of political nepotism,
Agents of crony capitalism,
Bigots of religious fundamentalism.
They’ll try various notions to connect to you,
Sari for the ladies, liquor for men,
Paid advertisements, rating Modi ten on ten
Using money they alter the views of a truthful and just pen.
There will be others,
They won’t brag about their might,
Against corruption is their mission to fight,
Their vision is to realize Swaraj as a right
Unlike the conventional parties,
They’ll talk about empowering you,
Know them. Discuss. Tell them about your view,
For various perspectives only can take this country through
This clash of titans is not about personalities,
The future of your country is at stake,
Your choice has the potential to repair it or to break,
Mai or AAP; which side will you take?
I get annoyed to see citizens willing to sell their country,
It pains to see people succumb to the power of note,
This time, ask your conscience before you cast your vote,
Mai or AAP? Give this country a game changing result to quote.
Day by day, I get older and near my death,
In the burden of your sins, your filth, your shit, your pee,
I’m doomed. Atleast hear your mother river’s one last plea,
Don’t let your motherland suffer the same fate as me.
आजकल हर शाम को अलमारी से एक काग़ज़ निकालता हूँ
मेज़ साफ़ करने एक कविता लिखने की ख्वाइश रहती है
लिखना शुरू करते ही काग़ज़ कुछ गीला सा हो जाता है
गौर से देखता हू तो मेरी लेखनी रो रही होती है
मुझसे कहती है इतना दुःख अब से सहा ना जाएगा
अपनी अतीत को भूलके किसी और चीज़ के बारें मे लिखो
जाओ घर के बाहर बागो में, वादियो में, पत्तो में,
फूलों में, कलियों में, ऊस की बूँदों में कुछ नया देखो
मेरी लेखनी के वास्ते बाहर घूमने चला जाता हूँ
मगर इन सब चीज़ो में बस कल की यादें ही नज़र आती है
हारके फिर से अपने मेज़ पे एक नया काग़ज़ लेके लिखना शुरू करता हूँ
इस बार मेरी लेखनी के साथ मेरी आँख भी नम हो जाती है|
An amalgam of beauty, grace and elegance
Clad in white kurti and peacock blue Patiala
The whole bookstore got mystified by her presence
This dainty damsel radiated such a pious aura
A little unkempt hair told she was a whimsical lass
Kohl rimmed brown eyes gave an alluring appeal
Black full rim spectacles made her look an Uber-cool ass
Eloquent lips conveyed an abundance of zeal
Two bright Chandeliers dangled from her ears
A Swan pendant enhanced the beauty of her chest
The dazzle of titan raga sparkled on left hand of hers
While her right shimmered with a silver bracelet
She smiled as our eyes met for split second
I lowered mine instantly and looked at her feet
The butterfly flats appeared simple and elegant
Watching this lovely lady had been a delightful treat
I walked towards her while gazing at the literary fiction section
She was confused with Rushdie in one hand and Kafka in other
I offered help to choose a single book for her collection
Our conversation then went on from one domain to another
I was smitten at her depth of knowledge and understanding
She was vocal on almost all topics and had a very fine diction
We kept on talking from Howard Roark to King’s landing
I thoroughly enjoyed the company of this scholar of great distinction
Our talk got disrupted by a call from her parents
She promised to meet again and hurriedly left in the crowd
If only she would have been there for a few more moments
I would have recited this poem to her out loud.
Let me start this post with a simple question “You are a Modi fan and want him to be the next Prime Minister of India. But in your constituency, the candidate of the Aam Aadmi Party seems way better than others, be it because of his agenda, thinking, qualifications etc. To whom will you cast your vote?” A little confused, eh? Yesterday, I was sitting in a coffee shop with couple of my school friends and one of them posed the same question to me. The answer I gave him is what will follow up in this blogpost.
The founding fathers of Indian democracy never wanted power to get centralized in hands of one person. That is why India was made a parliamentary democracy, wherein elections are supposed to be fought between various parties and the members of parliament of the ruling party and then elect a candidate with the conscience of all elected representatives. On the contrary, elections in US are based on presidential system of democracy, wherein people have to fight within their party to get nominated and then they fight at the national stage.
Earlier, elections were fought on the party lines with a person leading the election campaign. Often he/she was elected as the Prime minister if the party gained a majority in the house. For this general election, I see an alarming degradation and tempering of the policy of parliamentary democracy. BJP declared Modi as their PM candidate about a year back. Even AAP, supposedly a party with change declared Kejriwal as their PM candidate in a statement the day he resigned as Chief Minister of Delhi. Even congress would have appointed a PM candidate, but they did not, mostly due to the fear of the fact that Pappu is no match for NaMo.
A question would arise in many of your minds – What difference does it make if Prime Ministerial Candidate is declared prior to an election? The implications of this question will arise once the predetermined candidate assumes the office and starts working. When people vote for a party, any policy failure is seen as the failure of that government ministry. Now when voting is done for a particular person, the failure won’t be looked as the failure of the concerned department or the ministry but of the Prime Minister.
Modi and Kejriwal are no saints. They would have their preferred tastes and flavours on various issues. The problem here would be interference and the required consent of the Prime Minister on issues relevant/irrelevant to his domain. Any policy or program wouldn’t be looked as the policy of the government but the policy of that person. He will be compelled to look into matters which otherwise only the minister incharge should have taken care of. Another problem, and a rather big one, is how much power are we giving to a person. In the early 70s, a congress leader had an audacity to say that – India is Indira and Indira is India. The same Indira misused the trust bestowed by the people a few years later. Similarly, the blind trust and belief in today’s elections might just lead to another chaos, all handiwork of power being concentrated to a single person.
The one quality that lies essential for any PM is to create a team and lead. That was the system envisioned for our country. Call him weak or whatever you want him too, the fact remains that Dr. Manmohan Singh still is one of the greatest intellectuals to walk into the Parliament. And no matter how much you say that he was a puppet in the hands of “Madamji”, I don’t think she had an intellect to discuss matters of economic policies with him. Indian economy is slowing down even with an economist leading the country. There are limits as to what a particular person can do for this country. I keep on saying this in my friend-circle; we do not need a strong Prime Minister. What we need is a person who is sensible, who has an ability to listen to his comrades, can work with a team of likeminded intellectuals and should have a sense of responsibility towards the people of the country.
It’s a failure on the political class that elections are fought highlighting a single person as an answer to our country’s problem. Even more than that, it is a failure on our part, for we blindly believe our political class and indulge in so called ‘hero-worship’.
What can we, the educated class, do in this election?
Please stop hooting for any PM candidate. Study the candidates for your constituency carefully and vote for someone who you think is the best. Let go this PM debate. Leave it for the media houses. Remember that there is no messiah who can take this country forward. To quote Winston Churchill “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried”. Democracy is a slow process. It will be a collective effort of the government with the support of the people that can take this country to great heights. We do not need a godlike figure to get our country out of poverty and other evils. All we need are sensible leaders, who work hard, execute their plans efficiently and deliver their promises. That’s it! No magic wand. No hero-worship.
एक सफ़र का आगाज़ किया था तुम्हारे साथ
हस्ते गाते अंजाम हासिल करेंगे ऐसी हुई थी बात
कुछ ही दूर चलते ही तुमको हमारी संगत पसंद ना आई
रास्ते की दूसरी और चले गये और बोले की अब ऐसे ही काटेंगे राहें
जाने अंजाने में इतनी दूरियां आ गयी है हमारे बीच में
तुम सड़क के ऊस तरफ से मुझसे कुछ कहती हो
बीच में शोर-ओ-गुल के चलते तेरे अल्फ़ाज़ कुछ खो जाते है
मैं अपने हिसाब से समझके इशारो से तुम्हे जवाब देता हूँ
पर तब तक तुम अपनी नज़र दूसरी और फेर लेती हो
इतने पास होने के बावजूद भी तेरे साथ का नसीब नही है
मैं फिर भी चलता रहता हू इस सफ़र में यही उम्मीद के साथ
की दूर चलके इस रास्ते के दोनो रुख़ मेलन-बा-मरकज़ हो जाये
तेरे मेरे सपने फिर से एक रंग हो जाये!!!
कूछ दिन के लिए ये गतिहीन ज़िंदगी से कही दूर भागे
यारो का साथ, एक गाड़ी और जेब मे थोड़ा सा पैसा हो
किसी हिल स्टेशन जाके सुरम्य सी जगह ढूँढके डाले डेरा
की मानो आस पास देखो तो धरती पे स्वर्ग के जैसा हो
हर रोज़ पहाड़ो के पीछे से सूरज हमें उठाने को आए
आराम से नींद काट रहा तन ज़रा भी ना हटना चाहे
खींचके रज़ाई दोस्त लोग कहे की उठ जा कमिने
देखनी है विभिन्न जगहे, तय करनी काफ़ी सारी राहें
गरमागरम तेज चाय पीकर शरीर को उत्तेजित करके
सुबह की सैर में पतझड़ के पट्टियों को कूचलते हम चले
पर्वत की चोटी से झील के किनारे तक का सफ़र तय करके
बैठ जाए वाहा और किताब पढ़ते हुए आगे का दिन निकले
शाम को अलाव के चारो और बैठके शरीर को गर्माहट दिलाते हुए
ठुसे हम तंदूरी चिकन और पीये हम मदिरा
पृष्ठभूमि में कोई रेडियो पे गाने चलाए
सुने हम रहमान साहब, बॉब डिलेन और शकीरा
मन मे छिपी हुई बातों को निगाहें बता दे
खामोशी में बयान हो जाए सभी कहानियाँ
दिल की आवाज़ एक दूसरे तक पोहचे
बकचोदी में मिट जाए सारी तनहाईयाँ
ऐसे यादगार लम्हे बीतें उन दिनो में
की मस्ती के बाद जब वापिस हम आए
आँखों में वो सारे हसीन पल संजोते हुए
एक और भी रंगीन सफरनामा लिखा जाए.