In My City


I am living what seem to be the last few days here in this city. And yes the reference to the Priyanka Chopra Hall of Crap was just coincidental. It has a life this place like those scary horror movies that claim houses have spirits. Only this city is not scary, in fact it is the contrary. It lives and breathes every day. It sits with you in empty auto rides smiling and hugs the ocean on the Marine Drive from sunrise to sunset.
You can choose to be anyone here because the city is like that old friend who doesn’t judge you. It branches out into parts you probably haven’t seen before and yet holds it back together. There is a reason why the city has been a victim of more terror attacks than other Indian cities. It has this troubling sense of equilibrium; like it is going to descend to chaos any second and yet it hangs on, like an eternal pause. I suppose the terrorists would probably just think it is easy target to bring a nation down but unfortunately every time the city just gets a little ruffled and falls right back into its place as if nothing went wrong.
Unlike Delhi (and mind you it is my hometown and I love the city), people are not looking to pick fights with everyone else. They are instead all about doing their jobs. No wonder it is the financial capital because the culture is that of being industrious. There is no time for laziness, no afternoon siestas (unlike Kolkatta). This city means hard work even when it comes to art and music. It celebrates struggle and gives a grand prize to ones struggling the most. It has so many faces, you tend to lose count. Some days it is that old friend driving you home safe post a night of relentless partying at 1 30 AM. At others it is the boss who works you till the wee hours of the morning. It is also a parent who takes care of you and on many occasions, it is an actor that pretends there is no chaos in this world. The city is like many one night stands rolled into one. Every night you think you know it one bit better and in the morning it surprises you with a new twist in the story.
It is, of course, the people who make this city. I remember a taxi driver telling me this one day he explained why Mumbai is so safe and Delhi isn’t. His logic was that the men in this city come from their homes and earn for their families and send back money. For them, their job is of utmost importance, people are too busy making ends meet to even consider a crime. In Delhi, however, there is no such transience. I have another theory. In the heart of Maharashtrian culture, there lies this inherent respect for women. Perhaps something that slowly erodes as you go up north. Mumbai thankfully has managed to hold on to everything that is good in each culture and build its own humanity.
I didn’t even realize when this city became my best friend until I was sitting alone in an auto, Muhammad Rafi playing in the background and the auto driver quaintly humming “Main zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya”. That’s what it does, this city. It has an eternal friendship with life and you don’t even realize it and it has found a place in your heart.

Age of Treason

We are a hypocritical culture. We have always been one. And by that I do not mean our country. Somewhere in our evolution since the “Early Man” days we have suddenly developed the urge to point fingers and blame people. So because we continue to look to blame, we end up being paranoid.
Few days ago when the Boston bombings happened, a handful of messages were sent to my relatives in or near Boston wondering if they were ok. Minutes later a journalist in Times of India chided the Indian government and the media for its behavior during an act of terror and hailed America as a country who has learnt its lesson and now conducts all its investigations in a fair manner. A couple of days later, the New Yorker posted an article on how a Saudi Arabian 20-year-old student who had gravely injured himself in the blast had his apartment ransacked; he was questioned for hours at end. Everything he did post the blast like running away from the blast site where considered incriminating enough that the Fox News eventually asked his roommate “Did you know you were living with a killer for years?”
 So, Mr Talking-Terms, America has not learnt its lesson. It will continue to harass innocent people from guilty countries, like we continue to blame Pakistan without looking at our own failures. All over the world the result of a terror strike is the same that of blaming a country and hoping the people of the country do not see the gaping holes in the intelligence systems. They fail to see the deeper more complex issues facing these countries; they do not see that in most cases terrorists recruit the Kasabs of the world not with religion but with the hope of a better life and a promising death. America, of all the countries, should be the first ones to understand that it’s not a country but an organization led by a few individuals either for profit or to settle their sociopathic tendencies that causes the carnage of the likes of 9/11. They have been waging a wasteful war, destroying two countries (one of them simply to help a son avenge his father’s embarrassment) for years now. Ironically, they attacked Afghanistan with the intent of capturing one man, eventually ended up killing him in a country that is a supposed ally. Isn’t that the very clear lesson to the country that it is not the country that causes actions but a group of individuals?
We, as a nation, for example, love to chide our leaders at their “soft” stance with our neighbors. We fail to understand that in Pakistan, things are much more complex. The middle class is struggling to stay afloat and keep its kids out of the streets because they know what they are exposing them to. No one in the country talks of the Human Rights violations and breach of ceasefire by the Indian Army during the Kargil war. What we do remember and constantly remind the world of are the mutilated bodies of our soldiers. It was a war. Both sides did things they were not proud of. Yet instead of hating the war in itself and condemning the violence, we look to hate a country when we ourselves have met people from that country far more peaceful and understanding than us. We brand them as exceptions: The “good” Muslims as Obama pointed out. And we hail America for not pointing fingers publicly instead ransacking a young students apartment quietly. This post is sort of why we will never find peace irrespective of the country we are in. I hate to be the Gandhian, but the world is going to be blind soon and the “we” would have done nothing to stop it.

FIXED IDEAS

1. Everyone is nice unless proved otherwise.

2. No one is out to get you (unlike what you believed or were made to believe as a child)

3. Sometimes we love people even when we hate them. And at other times we love them when we love them.

4. Childhoods can in fact be happy.

5. Good memories are hard to come by. We should pen them down the moment we remember them. We should not write down the bad ones because they only instill revenge

6. Revenge is a useless weapon. It’s a double edged sword that kills both you and your opponent

7. Indifference is a far bigger and better weapon than revenge; it sets you free and makes your opponent feel like an ant.

8. Gut feelings are real; listen to them and trust them!

9. “If she’s amazing, she won’t be easy. If she’s easy, she won’t be amazing. If she’s worth it, you won’t give up. If you give up, you’re not worthy. … Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.” Bob Marley

10.The sick and twisted men in Delhi, who are likely to rape women, will rape you whether or not you smile on the streets. If you are forever in danger, might as well smile through your fear.

11.Never read the books you read as a child when you grow up; the world has destroyed your innocence and you can’t earn it back by rereading childhood favorites

12.Read your favorite novel once every month. It reminds you that deep down you really haven’t changed

13.Be unconditional in love; and stop expecting the unconditionality from anyone but yourself because that then makes it all conditional.

14.Express your fears openly; the more you talk about it the less scary it seems.

15.Faith in God doesn’t have to be explicit, it’s ok to pray only when we are sad because we are all rarely happy anyway

16.Suicidal thoughts are not an effect of any kind of depression. Sometimes they just stem from curiosity.

17.While I am not the best person anyone could hope to meet, I am not the worst either, I have come to believe in the beauty of mediocrity.

18.How we see the world is a reflection of how we see ourselves. Hence, the point number 1.

19.Self pity is just another word for procrastination

20.Having fixed ideas eventually kills you.

21.Scratch the above 20 ideas 😦

From Anne to Sylvia

We walk through our valleys of fear
Into the dying dawn
It’s all just peaches and pears
Until you find everything around was wrong

First it’s hundreds then thousands in the mind
The thoughts of death
Running crazy and blind
“We are not to die”, she said

“Not so quickly in life”
I am in a deeper myth my friend
For you I walked past the knife
Little, of course, can you say to this

You who embraced it like a friend
You who looked past the ignorance
Straight into a peaceful end
You who claimed it away

You don’t get to take what’s mine
Or is it yours too?
For now I will be fine
But one day I shall seek you out

No poetry or prose
Can cut me through the sorrow
Of a burial rose
O Sylvia

You are nothing and everything
You are my dark horse
Wrapped around a noose ring
I will come over, come over one day
O Sylvia, one day’s today today…

P.S: For those who don’t know their story Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath were best friends and they openly spoke of confessional poetry and the idea of suicides that they were constantly plagued with. This here is my tribute to the friendship