Monday, January 26, 2009

Republic of Children....

The metro station on a Monday morning is usually crowded, but I didn’t expect the crowd today. Republic day hai.. who will be out anyway? I thought... smug in my belief that not too many people will have gotten passes to the parade like I did. Journalistic superiority you know,…
A river of humanity flowed out from the train at 8 a.m on a Monday morning at Rajiv Chowk metro station. But unlike other Mondays, everyone was moving towards a single exit- the one leading to Janpath and onwards to the Republic Day parade at India Gate. Green DTC buses waited outside for a select few, as thousands of people walked the distance from CP to the India gate lawns to watch the proud celebration of 60 years of India as a Republic. Armed policemen direct the flow, as the roads branching from the main route confuse some. At Le Meridian hotel, the river divides into two streams, headed to different sides of Rajpath, different enclosures. Suited officials and various defence service personnel add to the melee of security men, with the Delhi police still the clear majority as the surging crowd tries to hurry... It is almost 9 a.m, and the seating enclosures are still 10 minutes away. A smart alec in the crowd comments, “pehle yahan hamari parade ho rahi hai aur ye dekh rahe hain phir Rajpath pe hum parade dekhenge.”

I am directed towards the national Archives of India, as my pass allows me seating at a specific enclosure and no other. At the archives, the crowd parts again, thw two streams heading towards their destination finally, but through painfully thin , regulated lines. Wooden logs act as barricades. People have to show their passes before they are allowed through. The crowd swells, impatient, a few go through before a burly policeman places himself as a bulwark to stop the flow. “arre sab ke passes check karo. Ek eke kar ke hi jaane dena kabbhi pata chala koi terrorist ghus aye,” he shouts to his colleagues. Hearing the dreaded ‘T’ word, the crowd understands that they need to cooperate. Anxiety to reach the venue battles with insecurity and people patiently show their passes before ducking under the policeman’s arms to the other side. A long walk still lies ahead, along with a gauntlet of security. Show your pass, identity card, get scanned by the handheld metal detectors, enter the little tent specified for a body check as a surly and obviously harried lady constable checks your pockets and runs her hand across your body to ensure there is nothing hidden under your clothes. As uncomfortable it is, you cannot decline because this is the last way to ensure nothing untoward goes in. young boys and men hurry in the opposite direction clutching their wives’ bags and mobile phones to put them back in the cars as they too are not allowed inside. A growing pile of full water bottles and food packets indicates that yet again, we didn’t look at the printed instructions on our passes and newspapers that said clearly that nothing will be allowed inside. The wife of a highly decorated retired soldier tries to talk the security personnel into allowing her bag inside. Refused, she gives it to her son to return to the car.

Finally we are in after yet another pass and body search at the entrance to the enclosure. This time, the presence of a pen and a notepad causes consternation to the lady constable till I show her my press card to push the fact that the items are essential to my presence at the august occasion. As a journalist, I cannot be expected NOT to record the events.
Excited faces surround me. Children run about in the fashion of childhood as the adults take to the chairs. Animated conversations can be heard everywhere. This is the enclosure for the press, and defence personnel, and anyone with contacts in either world. I finally see my colleagues who had decided to drive down instead of braving public transport. I fall into a seat next to them, a three year old boy on my neighboring chair. He isn’t too impressed by the flags flying on poles all over Rajpath, or the flowers bedecking the presidential enclosure right across, his cap, for the moment fascinates him more. I smile at the child, “do you know what is happening here?” I ask. He nods his head hesitantly at first, maybe deciding whether my face was friendly enough for an answer. His mother prompts him. “I came to see the lions, and there will be elephants and giraffes” he says. “Lions?” I ask. “Yes” he says emphatically. “There are lions and elephants and giraffes in the parade”. His mother smiles indulgently. “I brought him here last year too, but he slept through almost all of the parade. I told him about the brave children who will come on elephants though. That seems to have stuck to his mind.” “See Sukrit, there are two lions right behind us” I say, pointing to the Sarnath pillar emblem that is erected right beside our enclosure. He twists in his seat to look at the pillar, and dismisses it. “No didi, there will be real lions.”

The announcers begin to talk about the wreath laying ceremony at the Amar jawan Jyoti, and I turn to my colleagues. One, recently returned from the US, has never seen the parade even on TV. The sounds of the bugles playing ‘the last post' startle `her. As all fall silent with the signal for two minutes of respect, she asks, “yeh kya ho raha hai?” I press a finger to my lips and hold up two fingers of the other hand. “oh”.. is the only response as the bugles announce the end and our third colleague, the senior defence reporter joins us. “It’s about to start!” I squeal, causing my young neighbour and a few children sitting in front of us to stare rather uncomprehendingly at me. My age apparently makes it ineligible for me to act that way at the Republic Day parade.

“Wait till you see the president’s bodyguards. All the men and horses look like a wave coming at you” I tell my colleague (henceforth referred to as C) in a high state of excitement. “See there are horses, now a lion will also come” says little sukrit, firm in his belief that the parade would indeed have all the animals he desires. He points at the horses, and asks his mother when the other animals will come. The president is escorted to her dais, the gallantry awards are given out.
C, the senior reporter (M) and I discuss the award ceremony and the merits/demerits of the awardees. We also try and gauge the level of applause for each. “MC sharma should get a lot of applause from Delhiites” says M, but it is Sandeep Unnikrishnan who wins this contest.. “He was so good looking!” says C, at the picture of the deceased major in the RD Parade booklet we’ve got.

By the middle of the award ceremony, my little neighbour realizes that he is hungry, and bored. A three year old’s squeals add to the announcer’s voice. “Mamma mujhe kuch khana chahiye.”

The beginning of the parade silences him. The first is the three Mig helicopters that spray flowers on the assembled crowd… “If ure lucky u’ll get one..” says M,. and I laugh as a rose petal comes right in my lap.
My little neighbour also lets go of his tantrum once the parade begins. He watches in fascination as all tanks roll by… and shouts at the missiles. “dekho flight!!!” he yells, as the brahmos missile comes by. The marching contingents and the floats draw similar responses from the assembled adults; including me... we clap with the beat as the bands go by.
The marching contingents bring out the childish fascination of the adults and they break out in applause for the marchers.
By now, two more children sitting right in front of me have noticed our enthusiasm. “dekho didi, camels aa gaye” they yell as the BSF camel contingent comes into view. The camel contingent animates Sukrit again, but while the adults applaud the beauty and precision of the contingent, he wants to ride the camel and take one home.

I point to the rhino in the Assam float. “look sukrit, there’s an elephant.” He corrects my mistake. “That’s not an elephant”.. Mea culpa... I thought I could fool a 3 year old.. and then HE points to the actual elephant model right behind the towering rhino.. “see.. That is an elephant.. par yeh chota elephant kyun hai?”

Its finally the fly past that elicits a universal response from the audience... “woah look at that!!!” “Those copters look DEADLY!”(this from M, who otherwise claims to be totally blasé about aircraft.. “ive flown in a lot of them coz of work.”) “Did u see how the refueller went?” “god! The sukhoi looked like it was falling down right after it went vertical”(this from a finally excited C).

Flypast over, we part ways. I stay a bit to talk to various people, including the two boys I had talked to earlier. Aged 12 and 7, Ashish and sagar have seen some 7 parades between them, but they’re still fascinated. Ashish Joshi, who claims to be indifferent since he has seen the parade ‘five times’ says that it is the motorcyclists that really excite him. His younger brother on the other hand, prefers the planes. “What is the parade for, sagar?” I ask. “It’s a parade… the soldiers come...” he hesitates. Then... “I will tell you when I grow up” he says.
Outside, there is chaos. Harried policemen direct people and cars. I stop to talk to the Bihar regiment band that played the National Anthem for today’s parade. The band members react with pleasure. “We don’t really interact with people outside the RPD camp. We have been here a month and will leave after the beating retreat” they say, and invite me to hear their performance at Vijay Chowk tomorrow evening. “Different bands play every evening madam. Aap aiye apko achcha lagega.”

I start the long walk back to the metro station.. a rather broken and sluggish crowd around me this time. The concentration, the hurry is gone. People stroll in leisure, papad wallahs and chaiwallahs make a killing. I buy papad from a man in his early 20s.. Introducing myself as a journalist, I ask him a few questions. “Sorry madam main baat nahin kar sakta… abhi toh kamai ka time hai” he runs off.

Ahead of me I see a old- looking man bowing to the soldiers standing guard. “ram ram bhai, ram ram” he yells, waves and walks past them. The soldiers smile back at him. And I run up to catch him. “suniye uncleji.. aap soldiers ko ramram kyun kar rahe they?”
His smile tells me that I’m dealing with someone not very intellingent. But his answer floors me. “We only see them at this time, and they help us so much. It feels good to greet them this way” he says, bowing to an NSG commando across the road, who smiles back.

I stop again to chat with two young boys who talk nineteen to a dozen about how they sneaked in with the crowd and saw the parade. Semi educated, they proudly said that they had full right to see the parade. “ham bhi to india ke hain. Ticket nahi liya toh kya, bachchon ko kaun police rokti hai”, says the older of the two. All of 14, he talks like a seasoned man of the streets. “aap nahi janti didi. Aise hi kitne log chale jate hain.” They go off to enjoy their day of freedom, and I trudge on to the metro station.….

Hundreds of women and children sit around at the station. And huge lines have formed at the ticket counters.. mostly men.. “have you all just come from the parade auntyji?” I ask a lady cradling two kids. “haan ji. Wahin se aa rahein hain.” She replies laconically.. her daughter on the other hand pipes up.. “apne dekhi didi.. kitni sundar thi na?? Who jhanki dekhi thi aapne.. itni sundar thi…mere papa ticket lene gaye hain” her mother shushes her.. I throw her a smile and walk to the platform..
teh metro is full again.. the chattering crowd relaxes, discusses what they saw, what they were going to do.. "lunch kahan karna ha yaar?" just about sums up the day..

Thursday, January 22, 2009


waking up on the floor after a chilly night spent crying is not a scenario i would like in my life. but it happened... the couple of nights i couldnt bear to read another romance that spoke of a happily ever after.. days when chocolate seemed poison.. because of the memories attached..

he didnt love me... he didnt even respect me... it was as if i was nothing but a doll to be played with... he'd made that clear enough in the course of a few weeks... NOTHING i said registered with him.. he did what HE wanted.. my feelings be damned...

i woke up nauseated.... the dream- turned-nightmare still playing in my head.. "i didnt mean it darling.. it just happened. i didnt think when i did it..." didn't THINK!!!!!! so what we had didnt even figure far enough ahead in his list of priorities for a thought of me to intrude..

my phone beeped.. it was him.. "will you please listen to me?? i love you.. and i'm sorry for whatever i did but u cant walk out on us like that"
BUT.. YOU cant walk out on us???? I wasn't the one who strayed.. I was NOT the one who betrayed the one stablity that had been n our lives... us.. and I wasn't the one who turned indifferent to how the straying would affect us...

"i wasnt thinking okay.. i'm sorry.. but u CANT do this.." u weren't THINKING?? u wrent thinking when you turned to someone else... u werent thinking when you lied and told people that I strayed.. u werent thinking when you shared US with a third person...

I on the other hand DO think..
and when i think of how much i changed myself for you, for us... it makes me sick...

Friday, January 16, 2009

the epitaph on Bahadurshah zafar's grave...

लगता नहीं है जी मेरा उजड़े दयार
मेंकिसकी बनी है आलमे-ना-पायदार

मेंबुलबुल को बाग़बां से न सय्याद से
गिलाक़िस्मत में क़ैद थी लिखी फ़स्ले-बहार

मेंकहदो इन हसरतों से कहीं और जा बसें

इतनी जगह कहां है दिले दाग़दार में
एक शाख़े-गुल पे बैठ के बुलबुल है शादमा
कांटे बिछा दिए हैं दिले-लालज़ार में
उम्रें -दराज़ मांग के लाए थे चार दिन
दो आरज़ू में कट गए दो इंतिज़ार में
दिन ज़िंदगी के ख़त्म हुए शाम हो गई
फैला के पांव सोएंगे कुंजे मज़ार में
कितना है बदनसीब ज़फ़र दफ़्न के लिए
दो गज़ ज़मीं भी मिल न सकी कूए-यार में


by William Ernest Henley; 1849-1903

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.


“I lost my baby!!! My baby!!!!” my cry seemed unnaturally loud to me in the confines of my little room. The cold of the night seems to suffocate me... and I’m too broken to crawl under the warmth of the blanket lying on the other side of the floor. I feel this numbness, this darkness... emptiness inside me... where there was life just a few short days ago...
My baby…
Flesh of my flesh... blood of my blood…
My love
The only remaining symbol of the fairytale life I’d once hoped to have…

I’m a widow... my husband died in a battle that I was never allowed to learn anything about, and all I have left of our romance is a few letters, pictures... and my memories...
He died and I couldn’t save him…

They told me it was impossible for him to live. The war he faced would eventually take him. They WARNED me not to marry him. “His life is far too dangerous anu... You never know when he has to go.” But I held on. To the hope that my love would come home to me... to the belief that this mail order romance will one day turn into the fairytale I had always wanted. I danced with joy when he called from wherever he was that last month... Spent days preparing for the short while he had stayed home...

He wasn’t on my side when I found out about our baby...
It was days after he had left that I came out of my stupor long enough to notice the dates on the calendar… that the nausea was no longer an impact of the mutilated bodies i had been forced to examine to find my love...
I wept long into that night... for the father who would never know his child... for the baby who would only see his father in a frame on my bedside…

That’s when I decided to ensure that my baby met his father… I love him as much as he does… but I knew he would want to hold his baby... he would want to play with our child as much as I did.
So I told my baby to go to his father...
The last token of my love for him...

Flesh of my flesh… blood of my blood…

And now the padded walls of this room are my only solace... they enclose the darkness that is my existence now...

And I have my memories….
My love... with that smile I could never resist… you will teach our son to smile that way won’t you….?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

another one of tinni's poems..

dont know why i'm putting these up.. she certainly didnt giv me permission to... but i just came across these in an old file... and they mean as much now as they ever have...
the dreams of a 'perfect' romance.. of the happily ever afters... of "the one" that we used to believe in as children...

Standing at the window side,
I gazed at the moonlit sky,
A slow breeze blew along,
Caressing my face as it passed on.
My heart danced with joy,
and was filled with an inexplicable delight.
My thoughts carried me far away,
Far away from the real world.
And then i thought about you,
I wondered if it is really true,
that someone, somewhere is made for you.
then why have not i met you yet,

But, it's true, that in my dreams i have created,
Someone who might be like you,
Someone whom i am so eagerly waiting to meet,
Who would carry this dreamy teenager off her feet,
Someone who would accept me as the way I am,
and to my life who would add a new meaning.
It's true that i have never met you before,
But often I have felt your presence near me.

In the early dawn,when the first rays of the sun, brightens up the sky,
when the first song of the koel,
sitting in the vicinity,so beautifully breaks Nature's serenity,
my heart, with delight, soars high,
and i can feel you close by!

When i dance in the rain,
and feel the sprinkle of rain drops on my face,
and when the winds whistle past my ear,
i cannot help feeling, that you were here.

When i walk down the lane, in the evening,
and faraway at the horizon,i see the sun setting,
when the moon starts peeping,from behing the faint reddish glow of the sky,
i find your thoughts encircling,me, from all sides,
making me, oblivious of my surroundings.
Often i have tried searching for you around me,
and felt, i had found you in somebody,
Was it truly you , i wonder,
or is it because, i feel so strongly for you,
that my emotions have overwhelmed me............

A sudden gust of cool breeze,
pulled me back from my thoughts,
i hugged myself tightly,and smiled softly at the stars,

Till, someone above,
feels,that we are destined to meet,
I will wait for you , i certainly will.

sreyashi wrote this poem.. years ago

her writing has Always inspired me... love ya tinni.

The fierce sea currents lashed at it, with all their might,
They came rushing forward like galloping horses, rose to a height, A
nd struck it hard, like a python does,
with its deadly fangs.
But it stood firmly at its place- the big, old rock.
Braving relentlessly, the fury of the sea.
A lightning thundered ominously close by,
And the dark clouds, scattered in the sky,
Slowly came together and merged with one another.
It seemed that they all stood together to mock,
At the plight of the rock..
The gusty gale made the sea rumble violently.
It looked as though the waves were saying with a scorn,
Oh, great rock, standing there all alone and forlorn!
No matter, how much you try and valiantly endure,
We will shatter you to pieces, that’s for sure.

Even as this war waged, the rock stood there, resolute,
It knew it had to fight, It could not allow itself to be subdued..
It remembered the tranquil days of the ocean.
When it basked under the warm sun,
And the gently flowing water caressed its feet.
When the seagulls and a myriad of other birds,
flocked together and perched on it.
When the frolicking waves, and the pleasant breeze
Gave rise to lilting melodies.
Even as these thoughts carried its mind far away,
A huge and ferocious wave crashed at the place where it lay.
It made the flame of hope, in its heart, flicker….
But not for long…
The rock kept gazing wistfully at the faraway horizon,
Yearning to see,
in the darkness, a beam of light,
Which would give way to a new dawn, beautiful and bright.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high.....

the taliban may try to suppress education but these girls are putting up a fight for their life..

Women were confined to the household, not even allowed to go to the markets under the taliban, who also disallowed education in any form except learning teh koran. only a select few men were allowed to study properly. Since 2001, when the war against teh Taliban broke out, people, specially women of the battered country are setting out to learn and create a nation.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

hukkas and memories...

i had an amazing day yesterday.. had to go look at hukka bars in the city for a story thats now been shot down.. but i got my day of smoke n memories.. sap got back to delhi yesterday so i convinced him to meet me at the station n hang out with me before goin home... its freaaaky how thin he's gotten.. but then when the choice is between hostel food n your own cooking.. i guess anyone would lose some weight.. anyway... i met him at teh station after a horribly delayed train and frantic calls to confirm that he had arrived/not gone home with out telling me/ not had an accident somewhere... coz the damned train was almost 3 hours late coz of teh foggy weather n sap being teh damned idiot that he is had run through all his balance so he couldnt call n tell me when he's arriving.. n god..... teh train enquiries service ppl are such idiots! they told me taht teh train had already arrived..!!!! n i was FREAKIN OUT coz i couldnt get through and there was no communique from sap..

anyway.. after mutual exclammations of "tu kitna patla ho gaya hai", we went to khan mkt to this hukka place called market cafe.. after an auto ride taht turned into a nostalgia and giggles fest.. and sap refused to wear anything warm...! he spent most of teh day in a half sleeved tshirt except a brioef 30 second interlude when he wore my overcoat.. then got embarrasesed n proceeded to carry it around n use it as blanket in teh auto..

anyway... on our way to khan mkt we saw this reeeeaaallly pretty convertible on teh road with an old sardarji driving it.. neither of us knows what car it is so if any kind soul can provide enlightenment it would be highly welcome...

so.. we got to khan.. went up the spiral staircase at market cafe.. n saw teh menu... read teh menu.. n walked out after seeing the prices.. :)
and proceeded to eat the kabab rolls at khan chacha's..
hung out at the barista outlet for about an hour eating chocolate excess and drinking frappe... i'd forgotten how good it was to sit with someone n be silent for a while... n then talk bout silly things n things taht matter.. and dare each other to aim things at bald men's heads only to pull back teh dare yourself.. :)
then we went to def col market where i also called noor to join us.. went to mocha to wait for her to arrive.. damn pretty place that.. too bad teh smoking section was too full so we had to leave.. sat at mocha for a few minutes and generally chatted bout life.. n then we went to this place called cafe brown sugar.. its in def col mkt itself.. with noor, and had a mint flavored hooka.. sheesha as its called.. took me quite a while to figure out how to pull so taht i could take in the smoke instead of gagging on it..
but.. i finally managed.. sap meanwhile tried to copy this waiter there who was blowing smoke rings..

and ended up looking like a smoke geyser.... ;)

anyway.. after a dreamy hour or so of sheesha and conversation.. we headed out again.. noor had to go home.. n we decided to hit CP... the auto ride till cp was chilllllyyyyy... so we were sitting cuddled up in my coat.. n discussing career and college and school.. and then we were singing.. honestly.. with or without you is SO not the same unless its a duet... :)... sigh.... memories...
at CP.. we sat at a Barista outlet again.. n right on the next table was this couple where this guy was SO trying to show off his guitar n vocal skills to his girlfriend.. we watched tehm 4 a while.. got all nostalgic bout school n teh band.. n borrowed the guitar.. and proceeded to sing away to glory for teh next hour or so.. including silly hindi songs like "tu mile dil khile.." hehehe

oh n there was this absolutely ADORABLE little kid there.. who was staring at us a while.. n then came up n asked to play teh guitar.. n teh guitar was too big for him.. so sap n i decided to give teh kid lessons...he's in prep class.. n went away determined to buy a small guitar and learn.. specially since we were trying to teach him the D chord.. but his hands were too tiny even for that... his mum was almost embarrassed.. but the way sap got all excited at teh idea of teaching taht kid how to hold a guitar.. we were both (The mum n me) just standing there watching teh two kids.. hehehe.
we finally left fromj there at 7.. once sap got a frantic call from his roommate in bangalore warning him taht his mum had been calling to find out where he was.. n since he hadnt told his parents he was comin to delhi.. he ran home to surprise tehm...
all in all.. a lovely day with an old friend.. something i hadnt even known that i was really yearning for.. the comfort of intimacy.. of knowing someone who knows you and accepts you.. things got a bit teary a few times.. and we got pretty nostalgic a few times... but teh comfort was always there..
of an old trusted friend u can get high with and sing lullabys in autos...

Sunday, January 04, 2009

This guilt trip that you put me on won't mess me up I've done no wrong
Any thoughts of you and me have gone away
Better off that way
I'm better off alone anyway

its funny how many avril lavigne lyrics have defined my life at various points in time... n to think the guys laughed when i wanted to sing her songs....

old n new...

ive been meeting lots and lots of ppl lately... old school friends who i havent seen in years, new friends of friends who turn out to be more fun than i thought they would... spending a lot of time gallivanting around town... like.. i went to this party on new year's eve where EVERYONE was a total stranger except N.. thanks a ton by the way.. i wouldve had a miserably boring new year's eve if u hadnt dragged me out...
n met school frenz on teh reunion on 21st.. AND i met rohan yesterday.. AND sap's comin in 2 days... i'm gradually getting back in touch with my life beyond college, life beyond CL.. infact ive realised just how much i did not partake of coz all my time was spent closed in a world that consisted of one person..
ive really figured out that i CAN easdily live happily without focusing all my energies on ONE person... and how much there really is going on in the world if u just open your eyes and look..
went to CP yesterday to meet rohan... sat around talkin over coffee and alcohol.. walked around teh place.. saw this army band playing in the middle of CP for some reason..

Bihar, 5th regiment.. it was quite funnny really.. this bunch of ppl just playing away in the middle of an afternoon...
the day was so beautifully misty... we were sitting at central park and it seemed taht teh buildings al around were covered in clouds... it was chilly as the arctic but seemed really amazing to hang out in.. ofcourse after two vodkas EVERYTHING feels nice... :)

anyway.. it seemed that rohan was quite happy to see me after two whole years.. (sorry bro but i HAD to put this pic up...)
and thn i was relaxing at home and sleeeeeeeeping late..
AND i finally started studying for that damned law exam in march.. still have to find out teh date of the paper though...

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! may this year bring to you new beginnings and new hopes and dreams!!!