December 12, 2011

Death of a hero

Another hero dies and takes away with him a part of me.

As I read the news of Mario Miranda, one of my favourite cartoonists pass away, I cannot help but wonder what conspiracy is afoot. The last couple of months have witnessed the loss of people who are an indispensable part of my growing years, an inspiration to my creative spirit and to say the least, a companion to an entire generation. Jagjit Singh, Bhupen Hazarika, Dev Anand, Uncle Pai and now Mario Miranda.

Each demise was like a pebble thrown in a placid lake, disturbing the comfort zone I was living in. I realized, death has a knack of stirring memories that often sit quietly in a corner of the subconscious mind.

I recollect picking a cassette of Jagjit Singh’s album from didi’s huge music library and listening to the heavy vocabulary just to feel her presence around. I never thought the same songs that once so bore me would become a point of connection and comfort me after didi got married. Surely, when she left, I lost a companion, but in listening to her favourite singer, I found another.

I remember how every outstation trip meant picking a Tinkle from Wheelers on the railway station. The tales of Suppandi, Shikari Shambhu, Tantri the mantri along with the riddles and puzzles made for such a joyous journey. All thanks to Uncle Pai. And then, sometime in school I discovered Mario Miranda. I actually gave cartooning a shot after I saw Mr. Miranda’s distinctive style put to best use in a full page ad. The cutting of that page is neatly tucked away in one of my diaries.

And for a nation obsessed with cinema, how could you miss a legend like Dev Anand. Though remembered jokingly for his slouch and bobbing head, Dev Anand impressed me as a person whose spirit was undaunted by age. Add to it some of the most unforgettable songs from his films that continue to cheer me up on a bad day.

Not having these people, who shaped my sensibility in one way or another, is like losing a part of me that was so intricately attached to their body of work. It creates a vacuum that is difficult to fill.

In the words of Santosh Desai, “When people who make us who we are die, we grieve as much for ourselves as we do for them.”

A tear is shed and life goes on. Though deep within you know, it’s not like before.

December 05, 2011


It was huge. Well lit. The entrance itself was grand enough to intimidate. Flashy banners screamed names of brands she’d only read in overpriced magazines. It looked pretty. On second thoughts, pretty snobbish.

While driving down the parking space, which looked like a never-ending twirling ride, she read something that reaffirmed her sense of the place.

“Most people may not have heard of these brands. But then, this place is not for most people.”

Clever line, she said to herself. As a writer, that’s the first thing that came to her mind. But wait, there was much more to those words. There was a categorization of a brutal sense that she did not appreciate.

Euphemism – that’s the word she was looking for.

Euphemism (n) - Substitution of an inoffensive term for one considered offensively explicit.

She’d read it a hundred times in school; appreciated many examples of the same from countless poems. But unlike those several times, today it didn’t leave her with a very happy feeling.

She felt uneasy, probably unable to decipher which side of the bracket she belonged to. She entered the large atrium nonetheless. Manicured women, spendthrift men and difficult kids – it had the usual elements that make for the drama called retail therapy.

But remember, this mall was not for the usual shopaholics. People walked in and out of the obnoxiously expensive stores - checking price tags, expressing surprise in hushed voices and longingly looking at the stuff they wish she could afford. Suddenly, the uber- cool mall culture seemed like a conspiracy to stop people from being who they are. Why would you want an overcoat that’s meant for the London weather? Why would you need a soap that costs more than your pair of jeans?

Surely, she didn’t belong to this bracket, even if she could. After an hour of aimless walking that left her with tired eyes and feet, she headed back to the car. There again, in front of her, she saw that line; like a swear word written in beautiful calligraphy.

“… But then, this place is not for most people.”

November 08, 2011

November Rain

The drama in the clouds

Blurred escapes

The sweet surrender

No words can match up to the magic of monsoon.

August 29, 2011

Notes to myself

How little does it take to be happy?

A perfectly made cup of tea
A new coat of nail paint
A random post written as perfectly as it could be
A picture that transports you to another world
An unexpected kiss
The sweet smell of flowers in the house
The play of shadow and light on his face
An unusual buy

We always remember things that make us feel miserable. How seldom do we soak in the thousands of moments that bring us joy.

Notes to self: Devour every beautiful moment. Stop cribbing.

July 07, 2011

Sipping tea while it rains

Funny how a little drizzle
is enough to start
a flood of thoughts


This city is of extremes. There’s so much to see, to hear, to feel. It keeps her senses on high alert. She doesn’t want to miss anything. Everyday, she keeps dealing with the overload.

Then, one day, the city’s sharpness gets blurred.

She forgets her glasses at home. On purpose.

(An attempt to write 50-word stories. This one is exactly 50 words.)

May 12, 2011

Colour me happy

My fondest memory of a birthday gift remains to be a box of camel oil pastels. With a typical scenery of a beautiful sunset showcased in enigmatic shades and expert strokes, the box promised to be something I had never seen before. With eyes that shone as if I’d won a million dollars, I slid the case open. My heart skipped a beat as I saw a spread of 24 breathtaking colours. For an 8 year old who always wished to have more than those 12 basic colours for her drawing classes, this was like a double promotion. For minutes, I kept staring at those wax jewels. Then held them closer to my nose to inhale that characteristic whiff that felt oh-so-comforting. This was it, I said to myself. ‘I’ll become an artist someday,’ I proudly announced to my folks, thinking that with this gift the power was purposefully bestowed upon me.

The new box opened up a whole new world for me. 24 colours. TWENTY FOUR colours!! I meticulously rearranged the box and divided it in 2 sets, exclusively putting aside the 12 new shades I’d never used before. As much as I was fascinated by the colours, I was curious to read their names. So there was a sunset orange, a blue-grey, a mint green and some others. With every name I read, I actually imagined the colour in its rightful place. How could they’ve come up with such exact descriptors, I was amazed to see. Then, as a challenge, I went about observing everyday things and coming up with my own set of shades.

For beginners, there was the Sindhi Kadhi colour – a mix between yellow and burnt orange. Then there was the very fresh Chutney green, which was unlike any other green the new box offered. Winters brought with it the Jaipuri Razai blue, while summers were spent slurping the kala-khatta colour off ice golas. A trip to nani’s house meant revisiting a Lifebuoy red and a Bajaj Chetak blue. And school was all about the chalkboard grey (or was it a dirty green?) and ofcourse, the Sisters with their faded muddy brown sarees.

With years, my love for the name-game has only grown stronger. Not to say, now I have a new colour vocabulary altogether. From the Deep Kiss Pink to the Lonely Lavender, from the Old Book Yellow to the Dried Rose Red – there are colours that have chosen to stay with me, while there are some that have just thrown a hint and left never to return.

There are so many more colours to explore, so much more to ‘tag’. And someday, I’d love to capture it all and stack it neatly in a box to be able to pick one everyday and live the colour I wish. But for now, I continue to occasionally stop by stationery shops and take a closer look at the colour boxes to read the names on the wax sticks.

I’ve realized, you need to think out of the box for things that go into it.

March 04, 2011


She remembers how she would always try and avoid the rituals around festivals. The socializing, the pujas, the fasting…Ma would constantly pester her to take an active part in these things as she would be expected to continue the tradition after marriage. ‘Oh please!’ she would scoff and walk away. All of it looked very artificial, very insignificant to her.

Then, she got married and moved to another city.

Now, in this strange new place, she doesn’t have any family around. Nobody to see whether or not she is practicing the family rituals.

Like every day, she sits to have her morning cup of tea with her husband. He opens a new pack of Parle-G and offers her. She refuses...

‘It’s Shivratri. I’m fasting today.’