Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The hyper national love for Army

#JustSaying The Indian Army ( and by correlation Navy and Air Force) as an institution is perhaps the unifying force of a nation , which has always been a loose federation since times immemorial . It was founded by the British and has stood the test of time , courage, honour and many upheveals . From a force raised to safe guard the interests of colonial rulers it has transformed itself as the defenders of the sovereign Republic. Justifiably, it makes us proud and we should always uphold the sacrifices made by the soldier on a very high pedestal.

But does the association of the common citizen with the military in our country extend beyond a jingoistic fervour and misplaced focus on our perceived arch enemy , Pakistan . Do the national subconscious hold the army as a part of life . Do we remember them in peacetime and try to integrate them into our daily lives . The answer I believe will be a resounding NO . The fact is, we treat our army no better than our cricket team .

Most of the Indians will not be able to bowl with a proper round arm action or hold the bat properly . A majority doesn't have any idea what a googly is or what constitutes a hit wicket . But most of us are prone to make comments on team composition , batting order and how to bowl wicket taking deliveries . Just like the avid cricket watcher , the average citizen also discusses military strategy, right time to attack and the use of army , in the same manner and with the same expressions of anger and agony.

And then there is always the group of people who don't believe in limits of decency and start using the army as a tool of their hypernational fantasies. With the proliferation of social media on the internet and mobile , these people have their field day in showing their faux nationalism by spreading rumours and using tragedies to garner "likes" and "shares" . Only a few of them really cares for or are deeply affected . To most of these pseudo nationalists and superficial patriots, glorifying the army or over-the-top reactions on soldiers killed in action are just a way to atone for their nonchalant attitude towards the army in their personal spheres of life. More like the cheating trader paying obeisance to his God. It lifts up your spirit and absolves your inner self of any wrong doing.

I would like to ask some simple questions to these people who shed crocodile tears over the army and hope they explore these questions with an open heart and an unbiased mind .

1. Why did you not join the Army ?
2. OK, if the pressures to get a job made you skip joining the Army then why didn't you join the Territorial Army later ? What stopped you ?
3.Why did you not send your son/daughter to NCC ?
4.How many of you were or are fit enough to join the Army ?
5.How many of you support compulsory military training for all Indian nationals for a period three years ?
6.How many of you will agree to make it a mandatory requirement for getting jobs, admission to IITs , IIMs and Medical colleges ?
7. How many of you will petition the government to make army training mandatory.

The very common reaction would be that one doesn't have to join the army to love it or speak for it . Yes, yes the same way one need not hold a bat to play cricket and win games . The same way , one need not bother about littering personally to keep India clean . The same way one need not toil in the field to understand why farmer's commit suicide . We have made everything in our lives as a spectator sport . The sight of others' blood thrills us . And when our own blood is spilled it riles us. We are comfortable with others doing the job for us . And because they do our job , they deserve sympathy . Mind it, mere sympathy not empathy.

There are many people who often exhort us to follow the Israeli model of aggressive defence strategy and attack enemy countries . How many of them would bother to emulate that in their personal lives and send kids to the NCC, for starters . But my saying all these won't change anything . When the leadership of the country is immoral and cheats us with false promise then it is always the breeding ground of such foolish sentiments which holds the view that whether in war or in cricket , we have to win against Pakistan . The rest doesn't matter.

This is the way the world moves on.

Things have to change, they always do;
for, this is the way the world moves on.
Somewhere there, in the glare of lights,
we all face our moments of truth.
To climb uphill and find the old cottage
still standing there, makes you happy .
But wait , how will you feel when you see
the lock on the doors , hanging heavy .
Spread across on the grassy lawns,
the tell tale signs of long absence .
No one's been here for many days
and perhaps nobody lives here any more.
When you turn your back and find no one ;
except the shadows, keeping pace .
Maybe , it's not fair , but no complain ;
for this is the way the world moves on.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Let me kneel down and worship you

Let me kneel down and worship you
like a pagan does to his goddess ; 
in the deep interior of 
a prehistorical cave.
Let me chant 
those primordial sounds
of veneration in your praise .
Let me adorn your nude body
with wild flowers of your choice.
Let me offer myself as the sacrifice
at the altar of your burning flames.
Make me realise how
it feels to be subsumed in the fire
which you carry in your curves.
Take me to the extremes of this world
and taste the chalice of forbidden nectar.
Break me into droplets of ecstasy
throbbing within me
in eager expectation of being released.
Complete my journey ,
I have already come too far.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Random 21092016

I believe in fantasies. I really like the charm and power that fantasies weave around me . The make-believe world of fantasy is a safe place to visit , without any need to bother about any one . But to many people this is a sign of immaturity . I have found that people often laugh at me with derision and dismiss me as a frivolous joker , because I believe in fantasies. To people at large , fantasy is just practice of escapism .

But then I wonder, why do people become so defensive when you speak about religion . Isn't religion the biggest fantasy that we believe , practice and live in ? I know this question will again make some people uncomfortable . And maybe treated with another derisive dismissal .

Whether we agree or not , it is a fact that life is not fully made up of harsh reality . There is a big space for fantasy in human minds . And this is what differentiates us from other animals . Instead of only being guided by experiences , we create them in our minds and try to use them in navigating through the maze when we lose direction . Or decide on the direction we want to take .

Reality also differs from person to person . In some cases realtity mimics fantasy and very often fantasy is just an attempt to present reality in new clothes , to make it suitable for use. So I say , believe in fantasies , try to use them in the positive way . But never get carried away by them . And please, please keep them personal . Don't try to force them on others . As long it remains your own , there is no conflict .


One positive thing to emerge this year has been the monsoon. . Rainfall has been good , overall across the country. Maybe , a little too good at some places. And the prediction by the much maligned Metreological department has been proved to be true with rains extending to the month of September.

Even three weeks into September , good amount of rains are blessing us. Right now Mumbai is getting drenched by steady rainfall . Hope the reservoirs are filled and the effects of drought for two consecutive years are mitigated to some extent.

A big round of applause for the Met department. We have come a long way from the days when people sceptically dismissed their observations. With satellite support and advanced imagery , they are now much more reliable . At least more than the politicians.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Fully fiction

The sunset never looked as beautiful . We sat there on the wide roots spread overground under the shade of the large tree. Lots of birds on the branches above were chirping away excitedly after coming back to their homes . But it didn't sound like a cacophony . Instead it all merged into a background music to the most wonderful scene that was unfolding before our eyes.

Just in front of us , only a few meters away the green carpet of grass sloped down, gradually on to the plains below. Till the banks of the river that flowed . The river was just visible as the water shined under the fading light. The other side of the river was barely visible. The orange glow of the sky darkened with every passing minute . We sat there , speechless. Not knowing what to say. Both of us never realised when our hands sought each other and the fingers clasped .

Those memories of the last hour of our meeting will always remain etched in my mind forever. We had gone there to part from each other , to break up , to end the relationship that was taking us nowhere. But it made us realise how much we missed each other. And that feeling still continues . Even after so many years

Give me a reason to forget

Give me a reason to forget ,
give me an excuse to forgive.
All that has been said
about me by those who hated me
without knowing what I stand for..
I am not a Messiah , I know
to carry the burden
of sufferings on my back.
I will not rise from the dead. .
I am a rebel who will die
his unsung death on a bed
with the knowledge that
he can't change the world..
Nothing that I say will matter ,
to anybody ; this world will have
its own way with days and nights ,
good and bad , light and shadows.
So maybe I need to forget it all
the memories that haunt me,
the little things that bother me ,
after all , they are not anything
that I should own.

Friday, 16 September 2016

I will plant a sapling here

I will plant a sapling here
and give it all my love.
I will watch it grow
into a big shady tree
with strong branches
covered with green leaves
where birds will make their nests.
I will water it everyday
and sit under its shade.
I will play with children
around its trunk.
I will not live forever
and neither will my tree.
But as long as we live
we will be together
to face the changing seasons
and spend the passing years.
In the scorching heat of summers
or in the cold winter winds
we will get drenched in the rains
and smile in the flowering spring.
I will plant a sapling here
and love with all my life.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Filter Coffee

The aroma of filter coffee drifting its way to my nostrils makes me wide awake and hungry. The only problem is , it's not emanating from my kitchen . My neighbours are a South Indian family who have it everyday around this time . Perhaps the morning pick me up . There is something very special and magical attached with this smell of filter coffee. Something very sexy yet innocent with that exotic attraction which comes from loving something which you don't know completely .

Suddenly a craven desire for having a cup of filter coffee takes me over as I leave my bed and stumble in my bedroom slippers as I enter the bathroom to relieve myself . But it can't be . I don't have any of it at home ,right now. Last year , I had brought a small pack , more as a souvenir than a regular purchase , from my trip to Coorg. After about three months I suddenly remembered about it , still lying unopened in the closet. I gifted it to Murali and had a cup at his home . But that was with milk and sugar . The regular one .

What I wanted right now was a fresh brew of coffee , boiled from a finely ground powder of roasted seeds . I remembered my father as I washed my face , slapping water over it with my cupped palms . Then as I looked into the mirror , drying my face with a hand towel and brushing my hair back with my fingers , I realised how much I resemble him ,as I age . The receding hairline on my temples and forehead just accentuated the similarity.

There was no way that I would have green tea today as my first cup . Resigned , I tried to locate the small jar of Nescafe from the clutter in the kitchen closet as the water boiled in the electric kettle. I had to do with this . Not the original taste , but well , something was better than nothing . Instant coffee is easy to prepare . Not that I am averse to it but somehow I miss the aroma of the brewed cup .

With the first sip of the dark brown liquid , I made an involuntary sound of smacking as my nostrils gave in to the seductive smell . Well it was not the real thing but at least something nearer. That will do , my mind assured me as I moved towards the small balcony adjoining my bedroom.

Sunlight was streaming into the room through the glass door of the french window. Nowadays apartments do not have the old styled windows . It is more of a sliding glass wall on one side of the room with the other three sides covered . That makes it more lighted and airy . But it also means that you have to keep the curtains drawn or risk a voyeur on the opposite side of the road . Not that it was a problem for me . Because it was me who sometimes enjoyed a good peep show from my side . But nobody was there today .

Holding the cup with my fingers of both hands all around it , I tried to feel the warmth of the drink inside it as I took small sips , watching the morning scene outside the grilled barrier. It was a Sunday and therefore life was a little slow to start . Probably the hottie living opposite to me was also still in the bed . Maybe she was making it out with her husband . Catching up with the weekly quota with a vengeance. I suddenly felt jealous , then smiled inwardly at my thought.

But I was not getting over the aroma of coffee . Somehow it stayed with me . Actually this smell has remained with me since childhood. My father used to have a cup of filter coffee every evening. And he had it in typical south style . From freshly ground beans at home . Very unusual for a Bengali to do so and a source of amusement to many of my relatives who were at once curious and maybe derisive about this small indulgence. But he never bothered about it. I still remember , how after coming home from work and having a bath he would comb his hair before the large mirror fixed on the wardrobe door while my mother stood with the coffee ready for him . In a small stainless steel tumbler on a steel bowl. Typical Anna style , yes he loved it that way.

There was something about South Indian s that perhaps fascinated him. Maybe it was his association with them in office . In our childhood we made no difference between Tamil ,Telegu, Malayalam or Kannada speakers . All of them were Madrasi to us . And the best treat for us was to have Dosa and Idli at Madras hotel , in the town . On at least a Sunday of the month , Dad took us there on his Lambretta scooter and I always enjoyed the typical coconut oil ,coffee and sambar smell for an hour or so . Later in life when we visited Madras before they named it Chennai , I found that same smell overwhelming me . It has never left me. Strange , how the Madrasis themselves have changed so much but I am still with it.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

For You

For you ,
I will leave behind
lots of love
small bits of regret
and some of my poetry.
Read them at your leisure
when you find some time.
Read them ,
they are for you
in their entirety .
Feel them
beyond the letters and words
that stare at you
with the immense longing
to be understood.
And if they resonate
some where within you,
remember me
with a wry smile
playing on your lips .
I will understand
that you have understood.