Selling the Taj

I have self or partnership published two or three books, contributed to various anthologies and done various other writerly stuff, yet commercial gains are almost negligible. Perhaps I don’t write well or that my stories are not trendy enough. What could explain my failure as a writer? A talk with my author relationship managers at publishing houses has me convinced that they take great pains to reward their writers with a good product but if it doesnt work then who can we blame? Rightly so, or writerly woes? Keep track of sales, market your books, write about it in facebook pages and blogs, mention it to every next person you meet, give it out for reviews, as gifts, be seen in literary festivals, network, be part of clubs and academies that writers frequent, what else? Dance with my book at somebody’s wedding? I will even do that if I could have made my book sell one million copies and earned one million less half a million money out of it.So there:

“umpteenth, dumpteenth sell on this blog, empty dumping syndrome of a fall(from grace), all the publishers men and all the writers horses couldnt make this story sell even a copy after it was told”

Here you go(It is like selling the Taj Mahal):


You want a sample taste? Ok…


When love turns into a clouded dream,
Moon is pale, stars are dim,
Mars not male, Venus not feminine,
Life on earth is mere science, less magic;

When love doesn’t drizzle on mind,
Flowers bloom pretty only to wilt,
No hidden message of gloom in cuckoo’s trill
Nature is routine, not ruminative poetry;

When love is given to analysis,
Flesh acts in desired intent, not an offering
Eyes plain expressive, not burning lamps
Body is an abandoned ruin, not temple;

All love stories leave an epitaph on
A mound of memories of buried feelings
Deadened by years of intimacy
Resurrected by few words of dignity.

I will write one for mine when I am eighty.
I am preparing its grave and it is quite deep.


Catching the trend–horror

Surprisingly, it seems trends are setting new trends. The corporates seem to be indulging the trendsetters like never before, cajoling the nuts to dance with them as unthinkable as it may have been earlier, letting the weird in through their haloed doors with a warm smile like they were family. Corporate social responsibility is the new trend and I wouldn’t be surprised if this trend becomes the norm.

How a trend becomes a norm isn’t up for analysis in general but how CSR becomes a trend isn’t even up for discussion. It is an enforced way of life that became a trend, and is posed to become existent till it becomes an existential problem. The corporate houses henceforth will actively function to uplift their less fortunate brethren, to play with them, indulge them and encourage them to become leaders of their own corporate houses or restrict themselves to whathever roles they choose for themselves as players. And these unfortunate brethren would love the opportunity for an alliance with the superstars and hail them as kind and very humane. So corporate houses would turn more and more empathetic till business as it is known to us ceases to function, in its place crops up several talent hunt houses that seek opportunists and provides them a platform, showcases their talents and creates a stage for them to do their gig or jig. In the end, profit sharing becomes the business, and community making becomes the trap. Everyone makes a honeycomb existence where the Queen bee rests and ideates as to how to keep the workers busy in helping each other build this empire bigger and bigger.Sweet honey gets compartmentalised and stored in its various pockets, everyone is empowered enough to develop a sting when needed for defense and the Queen is mothering them all to shine in golden hues under the shining sun’s rays oblivious to the dangers of some wild forest man with his guile or hairy bear coming to raid the kingdom with fire and smoke or simply a thrust of his big hairy arms where you cannot reach him to sting his thick skinned entity. Either that or…

…when these honeycomb corporate house residents stop being kind to each other because of its Tower of Babel causing madness in them with noise pollution, honey becoming hard to produce because of concrete invasion of wildlife, or workers turning catatonic in view of delusions of love, kindness and sweetness of their own making, things will fall apart. Then trends that stopped and became a way of life will now become chaos that dictates lives, where begging, prostitution and mad wanderings will become evident unless some selfish b**ch decides that she wants a team of players who will bring the wildlife to invade the concrete houses with its empty cubicles and overrun the concrete jungles with green dreams of lantana bushes, creepers, snakes, waterways and weeping willow trees that send adventitious roots into the water, making a Venice out of the whole world.

THIS IS A PIECE OF FICTION OF AN UNEMPLOYED SELFLESS BARD Who is fated to be the QUEEN And the B**ch in the story, because some joker thinks he rules the world and is having fun watching all this.


To be Continued…

Indians are believed to be cowardly. Could have been a concept that grew out of the multiple invasions of its land and consequent rulers being accepted by the native junta. This could be considered an apt conclusion because a country that cannot have its people stand up for its throne’s security and bows down to the invading victor’s kingdom come, must consist of a population that has citizens with weak necks and weaker spines. Bow again and again and again, yet again, till kyphotic becomes the normal appearance of elders who have survived several invasions and bowed to multiple kings of the land.

An insight or a differing perspective to the same truth can be had by allowing us to agree that Indians simply love entertainment. WHY? How could it be otherwise when they know that the shifting of power is a game played by the rich of the world and the native junta that values land, crop and shelter need only wag their tails and guard its neighbourhood territory barking at everyone; and much worse-off individuals fated hence to swim with the currents and slither up to whichever land gives them an opportunity to exercise their survival skills, keep their fangs handy to spread gossip and juicy tales back home.

Entertainment is mesmerising for the average Indian. In its sway he became the believer in much nonsense and magic, surrendered his capacity of critical thinking to pundits who claimed knowledge is something to be acquired by deciphering texts about how to be born, which way to live and when to die( if at all you are allowed that luxury since the story goes that Indians have millions of rebirth). The stories these pundits created and painstakingly put into text form is the knowledge that aam junta was kept away from initially and instead regaled with anecdotes, prophesies and soothsayer’s declarations to invoke magic, mystery and horror– believable since it invoked emotions and ended up being credible in face of wars, famine and struggle of life. Entertainment thus kept evolving and putting these creators or entertainers and their audience in spellbinding catatonic phases when the foreigner was eyeing the land’s treasures with greed and making inroads into the territory with foresight that was the doing of gurus of their land who taught them to be proactive instead.

Hindu philosophy is one of laid-back, recyclable, renewable world in automaton which has only a shining star as Krishna propelling warriors to action with his geet-o-updesha. Till date, In India it is the Geeta gyan that holds fort in executive exhortations( God knows who Geeta was, perhaps some washer-woman who pushed her drunkard husband to get over his stupor and claim his family share and then put him to work cultivating the land for fruits of labour). No, Hindu philosophy is a beginner of the concept of zero. There was no truth first, nor lies, there was no earth, nor universe, there was no wind, water or trees, everything in short was a big zero before Creation. Can we then attribute the creation of our earth to a writer, the first human story teller or the first person who evolved language and gave it credibility? Language so powerful a form of entertainment that it created this world by its very evolution. And Indians gave in to its mesmerising divisions and multiplications, nurturing it and developing various versions of the same language a hundred times over in minscule pockets of its geography. So much is creativity, innovation and entertainment valued in this country that trends are the precursors of warning for new invaders arriving because that which became popular paved way for the foreigners to cash in on, by introducing their elements of exotic surprise and effecting remixes and refreshments.

A perfectionist is someone who keeps at it, keeps at it, till he gets it the way he wants it. Then he goes ahead and imposes this beautiful technique that works so well on others who would learn from him. In his books, there is no room for innovation, it is either you do it this way or don’t do it at all in my laboratory. Very few perfectionists survive in India and if they do, they suffer the fate of having to do it all by themselves in the end or find imported machines to do it for them which if it becomes a trend invites the foreigner to make home in our country and consequently paves way for his country to take interest in our affairs with the power of its investments. Yet, even machines are defeated by India’s junta’s crude methods of survival and often exasperates the invaders into a fit of rage till they want to change the whole system upside down till they and their machines can function effectively in this country. Because this country is a land of innovators, the jugaad people would find a way around every rule that is breakable and carry out the work successfully, and if you do not ask them about the madness of the method or the lasting impact of its usefulness in the long run then each method is genius. In this land of undiscovered geniuses, that perfected the art of innovation, a ruler had a field day, an invader had no set enemy strategies to overpower, a guerrilla warfare was a way of life; thus a conflict-ridden life cared not who sits at the throne or who knocked at his country’s borders because a common man who fights and wins a battle each day with his own handy weapons of survival declared himself king every day.

When patriotic fervour in form of impending war news reaches a peak in India, the main propaganda is in form of stories that abound about death of soldiers and their bereaved families having had to face a brutal tragedy for the sake of keeping our children safely harboured in our houses. Their children lost their father for our children’s safe-keeping, they suffer in cold high up in the mountains and bleed to death while we are warm and happy in our homes. Needless to say, our critical thinking is melodramatically overpowered by such situational analysis that juxtaposes our comfort with their professional discomforts. Thus our emotional triggers are set off overseeing the failure in the very handling of a political situation that either blew out of proportion because of ineptness of diplomacy or due to unshakeable faith in the justification of creating killing fields to find territorial assertiveness.

Such stories which circulate in school text books, movies and in current scenario as facebook videos and memes keep the Indians believing that war is good, if against Pakistan then doubly good, if it hurts those who support Pakistan then triply good and if it hurts those who can think then nothing like it. Pilfering room for thought is the purpose of entertainment and war is the ideal weapon to over dramatize the thinker’s pose as ridiculous.

When was war good? Why would a poor dying soldier be reason for glory when it is a failure in diplomatic precedents set by the leaders of the nation? Why would crushing global spirit of any kind make inroads to regain confidence of citizens whose ruffled feathers bleed with the local authority and their own nation’s army excesses under the directs of their Kings? Consider an Indian exclaiming: I love America! Response:Wow! Who doesn’t? And if: I love Pakistan? Then: Traitor! How could you love our severed body part that decided to break off on its own because it thought it could walk on one severed arm? Well, they walked, however much it may have been troublesome for them and whatever may have been their issues they contribute in the same vein as us Indians by giving into primitive drama and emotional excesses that slays their posse of thinkers on gallows for even harbouring thoughts of peace with their brethren across the east of borders of their country?
Indians do not support war, they support invasion? No, they support drama. And the more a leader creates drama that is trendy the more he is worthy of discussion and glory. Indians do not want a sedate gentleman on the post of its throne bearer now, what use is a soft-spoken charming gentleman to a junta of half-naked skeletons with demons in head or to sentimental softies with withering flowers in heart? Will he bring joy to their blooms by talking sense which gives them no reason for inspiration? Would he bring evil satisfaction to their gnawing demons by raising a spectre of patriotic fervour that would make them forget that they are farmers instead believe that they are soldiers who are ready to die for the country for the sake of their belly-hungry kids? Would a junta need a leader who talks about development without exhorting national sentiment but advocating education as the path to self-reliance, sixty years after independence? Is education imparted the right way in this country?
Education is imparted by underpaid, overworked people with failed aspirations or women with a full house to run as family and who eek out time to earn some pocket money and would take no pains to enlighten the students about the fact that they have a head to think and text is not the last word in human truth. No, just the contrary, text is to be devoured as such and delivered as such, thinking is for how to get marks; not, however, how to understand that truth is hidden between various people’s interpretations of history, science, culture, etc. Not to blame Indian teachers or politicians or students or parents, but ours is a country that believes war is good if it is a winnable one, or else bow to the Lord and their superior techniques and diktats. Of course, one can later make their products and truth Indianised and exasperate them and have a sneaky laugh at their predicament.

War is this nation’s ultimate climax in patriotic fervour and is a hit with the masses if the villain is Pakistan. Maybe for a change they can consider this: War is horror show, Pakistan is our potential best friend turned enemy, while some monkey waits in anticipation since he wants to make inroads into our country while we are at this cat and dog fight and hurting ourselves in the process. So far, Indians have claimed proudly that they by themselves have never raised the first hand to slap the other’s cheeks but if the country is slapped as a whole they won’t turn the other cheek. Now they seem ready to slap first, or are they? Well, the sentiment is that the leader who has the courage to slap Pakistan first is always an immortal hero-in-making for this country. The thinkers and intellectuals who want to prevent that and save all of its army from unnecessary bloodshed is supposedly the coward who sits in their arm-chairs and doesn’t share facebook videos about slain soldiers in Kashmir and would be the first one to hide when the canon fires its shell over the neighbourhood’s children’s shelters while the whole country erupts in drama of courage and glory.

Well, drama of war is Mahabharata’s popularity’s cornerstone and Duryodhana’s army was rich and powerful when the exiled Pandavas were poor and feeble. The righteous is always the exiled-the docked ship’s army, the Titanic can always sink and be cheered as a multimillion grosser at the box office. The Indian intellectual who is shunning war and consequent bloodshed must find tears for the slain soldier’s bereaved families and if not, turn silent; when actually the junta overlooks the fact that he or she is crying foul even before the game has started. What if he says: “WAR IS FOUL! Period. Do not play it. Do not glorify it. Let not the chosen men in uniform be a victim to diplomatic failure, do not spark the fire if it can be doused. I don’t want our army to go to the killing fields; as it is the drama lovers are shamelessly egging them on to die for their country. Let us foul up the war plans instead and never let it happen so that they do not have to die, not one soldier.” Would an Indian buy this argument? Of course not, the coward intellectual is to be shunned and thought of as mad, when he is not even letting the show go on. Bring it on! Ho jaaye shuru! Picture abhi baaki hai , mere dost… To be Continued…

Why the Writer is our best friend.

Why the Writer is our best friend. How reading interests varies in search of such friends.

The world needs stories, poems and news. They need us too. The stories, poems and news need us to connect with the inner child in us who gets entertained by the images seen in a distorted mirror.

In our innocence, we believe that we are real people, that everything about us is boring, whether skewed or otherwise, and we therefore stress about changing it to fit in a fixed, beautiful image thatwill redeem our life. In such a scenario, when we read, hear or see a story that we connect with for personal reasons we are given a chance to get into the shoes of a character that we’d love to be, hate to be or excited to be or plain scared to imagine. Wow! life has come to give us a glimpse of how boring could actually be mesmerising, how then by our mere existence we are enriching other people’s experiential living.

Many a times, writers/ poets are blamed for being shameless voyeurs or rumour-mongers and unfriended in view of not giving them a chance to be our imaginary puppeteers. Unfortunately, hence by shunning them, we avoid their produce and return to our boring lives and protect it from providing it a chance to change into a fertile something.

If stories, poems and news are the precursors of things to come, characters we make popular dictate the society we create. The more we ignore or hide from them, the more we tend to fall back into the dark ages. Incorrigible lovers like Scarlett of ‘Gone with the Wind’ and the old man lover in ‘Love in the time of Cholera’, both maverick and passionate, both caught up in the winds of change in theirtown that forebodes peace only at the expense of life-changing heart-breaks are unforgettable for readers of romance. Trust me, spunk was never more glorified than by these two characters when it came to chasing the love of their lives, while sparking fires throughout their adventurous journey.

She/He is a writer. It is just not adequate a profession for anyone. She/He must do something more.When I made one of the characters a successful writer in my first novel, AN ETERNAL ROMANTIC, I had no idea that I was just borrowing a trend that was setting in–of every Tom, Dick and Harriet turning into a writer. Though the real hero or the main character, if I may say so, was a doctor, maybe the writer-character took the cake for being the doctor’s point of obsession. What transpires is a fight between love and logic and the resolution that follows, being true to the main character’sfight against her troubled mind. But my writing career is comparable to a little babe’s first few steps in the literary woods. Because I must read more to make more writer friends before I can nail down the art of writing to its very quivering nuances. To become many people’s best friend, I must write a book with characters that sets you, the reader, above his or her normal set imagination. To recruit new readers from the generation of people who identify reading with European luxury or intellectual’s groove, I must identify a genre that will cater to a niche in many people’s mind at once. Genres are many, the trick to capture market is yet an elusive formula.

Often, we confuse light reading with trash reading. While both may look like passing a time a while, it is considerably different. The word ‘considerably’ here makes a difference because one kind of reading promotes consideration whereas the other type just boosts the superficial ego. Your guess is as good as mine as to what kind of reading does what. My favourite kind oflight reading in younger days used to be stuff like Asterix and Obelix comics, Tintin series, Robin Cook, Alistair Maclean, Panchatantra comics, Sherlock Holmes, Chacha Chowdhury comics, Hercule Poirot series, Agatha Christie but my staple diet was Enid Blyton for a long, long time; then also Newspapers, reader’s digest and other magazines etc. My trash reading list included Mills and Boons, Sidney Sheldon,Film fare and other film magazines. Thinking of my light reading list makes me wanna go back to my childhood era and thinking of my trash reading list makes me want to find solace in something else, like right now, at this age. So yes, I did read Diary of a wimpy kid, Chetan Bhagat, Lord of the Rings, and Fifty shades of Grey (stuff for different ages now) but I was looking for a writer who could have enriched our children’s lives like Enid Blyton did–someone who could have given their childhood a magical belonging. I know the ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Harry Potter’ series have mused them beyond their boundaries of normal thinking and flexed their imagination to accommodate new magic but where are writers now, who could have given children of this generation, a taste of magic in being normal? My light reading list at this middle life juncture include travelogues, science interestingly put, history with twists of revelations, books that put art related and economics related theories stand on its head etc. I always keep evolving as a reader finding more and more friends to keep.

Fiction Books on history I find, could whet the appetite of a peeping tom rather than that of a curiosity cat. Read two of the more recent ones — E.P. Unny’s ‘Santa and the scribes- the making of Fort Kochi” and “The Ivory Throne” by Manu.S.Pillai. Not long ago, I had also read Raghu Karnad’s “Farthest Field”. Of the three, the History of Fort Kochi by E. P. Unny seemed to be written by the ubiquitous common man of R.K. Laxman’s cartoon caricatures. Like the place, the words meandered through mysterious silent gully(s) with the ghosts of pasts lurking in colonial houses, much like African slaves buried with the treasure of their master’s house as mentioned in the book—‘kaapiri muthachans’. If that’s not enough, Unny’s voice is laced with dry humour of the kind that makes you laugh out loud. If the air around you were humid with the salt of the colonised natives, as you read the book, you will be transported back to those days when ‘sahebs and memsahebs’ were welcomed as saviours rather than tourists. And they were allowed to rule. Now we make a mess out of our quaint kingdoms and blame history for it being this way. Bless the freedom of expression that allows scribes to write such exotic books with a left-leaning tone boarding the right wingers’ flight of fantasy.

As for R.Karnad and Manu.Pillai, they had good books sold under the guise of great books and thus failed to live up to the expectations of this reader’s dimmed senses. But history isn’t about details for me, it is about the changing perspectives which E. P. Unny captures very well in a refined dry tone.

When one gets older, perhaps the genre one tends to read changes from fiction to fact. Have you ever read a science book and thought of it as mumbo jumbo? Have you ever read a self-help book and felt you knew it all and it simply is a lot of bullshit? Thank you. Spare the authors and please do not read any more of those books because you, Mr and Miss know-it-all, know all that is there is to know except science. And science is the mother of self-help, making all your knowledge a lot of orphaned words of self-inflicting harm for which you may need self-help books. Reading Fritjof Capra and Deepak Chopra is like imagining two aliens having a fight with sabre lights. It is fun.

Reading is a multi-dimensional experience. Writing is the pain that births it into existence. Here is to the contemporary scribes! You make me feel rich- the riches I so eagerly want to reap in by doing what you did. Since providence does imprison me in a profit-keeping mercantile mindset, as survival is such a domineering need for the ordinary citizen; it makes one strive for celebrity status in a hurry.

Sometimes, I sense that books are assuming less importance in our lives. Who has blinded the book lovers? Why is it an attention-deficit world? Here’s cajoling tips for reviving reading interest:

Seeing through eyes of businessmen has its limitations. Seeing through eyes of teachers may put things in perspective. Seeing through eyes of writers brings infinite possibilities.

Everyone pick a book. Drop everything else and read. Let the boredom suffuse itself with stuff other people had to deal with. Solve your problems out of an imaginary quagmire and heighten your sense of self-worth. Be, therefore, better prepared for life.

If you are not reading, you are possibly missing something meant to overhaul your perspective. And unless you let that happen, evolution is stemmed.All for good?

If in gardening, seeds are replaced by stems, flowers are short-lived and fruits have no sense of roots. Resultant garden incurs a high cost of maintenance and more work input. Creativity is the seed. Teaching a mind to grow as a stem from its family tree is asking the world to lose the one thing it requires-evolution. Where a seed can bring revolution, a stem has to fall back on support for mere existence. Create or let someone’s creativity inspire you to grow.

Anyone who supports the revolution, write. Others, read.

And copy-cats steal the material riches of readers’ and writers’ rich imagination simply by picking the flowers and fruits of their produce. Readers and writers may in turn imagine a world without them, just so if the good stories stop coming the world ends up in a dismal setting. Our best friends must be rewarded for keeping it glorious for us. We don’t want bitter people imagining bad things for all of us, do we? Best friends turned enemies make all of us most sad.

Movie review–The Zookeeper Wife( mind you, no apostrophe and s)

The movie pick was a choice that ruled against the Bollywood blockbuster on screens-Bahubali.Bahubali means the one with strong arms. Well, the choice to watch a a woman character with strong arms, feet and sentiments was the reason for the choice.

Setting; A private zoo in Warsaw, Poland. The family, ordinary-rich like most Europeans seem to be–effortlessly rich. But the hard work isn’t obvious in the script, it seemed like a cake-walk to run a zoo, leave alone face its imminent troubles and maintainence.Technical comment about the setting–too neat for a zoo surroundings–the hay too new and fresh, the animals too domesticated and understanding, the family that maintains it though too sophisticated in their
mannerisms and lifestyle which could be possible but the kid too protected, almost asthamtic, all indoorsy and suited and booted. It took away from the film the attraction of seeing a family rolling in the mud withe animals, though the scene where the woman, the wife ie, dirties her hand to facilitate the revival of a still-born elephant calf seemed to catch the grit and grind of running a zoo to perfection and the immediate kiss that follows when she throws her dirty arms around her husband and celebrates her efforts which he appreciates wholeheaterdly was the heart of the movie for me.

The Script: Weak in drama, almost afraid to be scandalous, wary to scratch or rub powerful people the wrong way. But nevertheless a very sensitive and brave topic to put on screen.

The Camerawork- Normal, the lighting too bright in frames, especially daylight and the dark hiding places ‘too pleasant and playful’ pens to create pitiful sentiments.

The editing: The climax could have stopped where the bearded official who comes to examine the insects creates a flip in the heart of the audience sensing a hidden presence and or blown off where the young child creates a furore in the empathetic Nazi officer’s mind by dissing hitler in a loud declaration. But it didnt. It went on to highlight the Nazi officer’s reason for empathetic demeanor in being attracted to the zookeper wife which was filmed in a very apathetic way as if to say , ok we will give the heroine more screenspace to emphasize that she is the hero of the movie.

Actors and acting: For me the hero was the Zookeeper’s husband, ie the wife’s gruff voiced and haggard looking husband who worked out the plans and did the dangerous stuff which his wife supported very well with her affable presence that made little children and old harassed men comfortable. Perhaps the script did not do justice to the wife’s zookeeping abilities as more than just pleasant piano playing feats; a few more of those baby elephant revival kind of scenes may have put her on a pedestal.Also the actress’ acting meant that she came across to me as light-weight as hay in her screen presence, as superficial in her attitude and expressions as well; almost negating the hard circumstances they were living under–implying that she was a bit too dumb for her to be featured in the movie’s title.

Fruity Mumbai Frappe

Coming back to Mumbai after ten years(2006 to 2016 I was away), I have wondered about my earlier stay in Mumbai form 2003 to 2005.

Ghettoed in a residential community that celebrated Durga puja, Navratri, Ganesh Chaturthi with equal fervour and buzz of cultural activities, I had spent my earlier two years in Mumbai like a Ghar-ki-Lakshmi who was too caught up in her own world to have time for any conisderation about the world outside. Everything seemed provided for and offered on platters, where I was the important busy-bee of the house doing groceries, getting kids to behave and grow up at the same time(no mean feat) and attuning myself to habits of cranky and strictly disciplined moods of elders in family, giving the marriage a bubble-of-happiness sense of existence.Then I left for foreign lands and Mumbai’s was a happily forgotten existence.

For the ten years interim I was not here I have one line to give–‘topsy-turvy turns life in face of freedom’–first fun, then passionate, then mad, and finally anarchy sets in. If apocalypse can be prevented, life goes on.

My return, with new eyes and aesthetics, make me look at Mumbai like a place I want to run away from into the lap of nature in a better planned city like Kochi, where I was; or Accra, with its protected, privileged life, where rains were fresh, plenty and absorbed in souls as much as by the good earth. In Mumbai I fear the rains–‘where will the waters run, where will they find absorption, where is the sea that welcomes the rivulets with paperboats, why is it so forlorn and withdrawn?’. As I commute, often the grey concrete landscape, much maligned in its browned existence, walls up my open ended approach to life and hardens my raw kindness even before it can ripen.

Then I spy a woman on a pavement, arranging and re-arranging bottles and polythenes, strange rejected paraphernalia on her 2ft by 2ft plastic sheet that she perhaps calls her home–‘a roofless, wall-less home with a dirty tiled pavement (which is public property) as hard ground reality and a torn plastic sheet with reject plastic or rusted metal materials as possessions’. Nearby, her man(if it is her man) sits drowsing with his skewed neck position on a three wheeler wheel-chair,a handicapped fellow who in the daytime may be peddling stuff or begging alms. Then, as the taxi jerks and makes its way through winding traffic I spot a couple of friends eating on a pavement from a newspaper discussing what the weather would be like tomorrow perhaps? Fit for labour and daily wages or not? I see some attempts at beautifying the city with art installations, plantations under by-passes, bridges, at traffic signals etc. The bridges shiver once in a while with firecrackers bursting in chawls under them and rising in dust and smoke to announce the underlings existence and small happiness in survival. The taxi driver harrasses me a bit by trying to transfer me into an auto or asking me a bit more than the deserved fare complaining of private cab organizations taking over the city.I, being a non earning member of the family, do harangue them for the extra charge but cannot help feeling guilty when riding the posh lift up to my home, worrying where they disappear into that night–the pavement dwellers and taxi or autorickshaw drivers, to mop off their sweat of disapproval about our privileged existence.

This Mumbai that I notice this time makes me want to change it, to visualise a better, greener future for it, to adopt it in my mind’s womb and invite a spring season for it that wipes off the dust of despair on the trees lining the foreground of my window’s view. Looking downcast, these trees and shrubs still flower orange, yellow and white as if to reinforce my hopes of better days planned for the city by people with visions that match an artist’s tastes and an activist’s sense of duty.The first step is writing about it. The next dreaming about it. The thrid motivating. The fourth mobilising. The next flowering. The final fructifying.

I want to dream of a Mumbai lined with fruit trees–jamun trees, mango trees, avocado trees, lemon trees, coconut trees, banana trees, papaya trees, gauva trees and olive trees. If there is no oil under the ground let there be oil in the trees to run this city of dreams; if there is no sweetness in people’s hearts in this rush hour traffic of human workers let there be sweetness on trees in this city’s small pockets of the good earth. Tongue-in-cheek ;-p “I hope I can rope in a ‘mota assami’ for realizing this dream of mine” 😉

Poll-u-tion Soul-u-tion

An opinion poll garnered shold be the only way voting happens anywhere in the world. Dil ki baat zubaan pe. Not mann ki baat ballot pe. Why? Because it will solve our pollution crisis. How? Mind control has a remote, heart has no control over a troll.

Similarly, anything operated by a remote if abolished, will remove the troll from posting a love letter and upsetting your life. Satellite control must stop. When it does, man will die–die of heart-break because the one he loved so passionately was after all a remote controlled satellite moon that will never again grace his sky. And then happy fat women will roll on floor and wonder why they are so high.

Then those who believe in God will come down from the sky. And pick up the women and tell them about their life having been a big lie. Bas! Phir life jhingalala…men will come back alive and woo with a vengeance that will halt aeroplanes in airports, trains in stations, cars in garages, autorickshaws in traffic , cycles in stands and women in their flight.

That will make air breathable once again and opinion poll will save the soul of the world by stopping automobile ablutions.