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.”