A Sour-Sweet Feeling…

It has been days, since I last wrote something – a story, a character – and it is a sour feeling. I have always derived pleasure in living multiple lives through my stories – imagine, I once lived the life of a prostitute, and once, a housewife, and those 10-12 pages of their lives – my life – were a different kind of high, the sweetest I have felt with life. But, today, it is sour, because for over a year now, I have been carrying stories and characters within me – call it the mind, the heart or the soul, they have always been born from the insides – and once, talking to myself, I compared the process of writing a story to the process of bearing a child. Obviously, without the horrendous pain of delivering the latter, the former needs you to be aware of the feeling a life inside, demands you to nurture it for days – decorate it with details and colour its soul – and finally, deliver it to the world outside. Perhaps, the pain then, is the sour feeling?

I say that because I have been empty for days – I miss being sweet – and all my characters and my stories have stopped visiting me for the time being. An hour back, I was in the balcony of my house. It had been drizzling, I wanted a downpour. Now, I am at a café and the coffee is a little weird – sweet on my tip, bitter at the back – weird, different, I like it.

There’s a couple at a corner – she’s reading something, he’s clicking her – and they seem happy, undemanding, drawing comfort from another’s presence, a warmth that isn’t physical. Perhaps, this is how an old-school love-story will pan out in today’s time. You know, I have always longed-for a story that revolves around letters – weary legs of an old postmaster, yellowing envelopes and postcards, stamps in green and purple of people and places, scribbled words and spreading inks, a whiff of the pages, the breath of a loved one – the patience to wait for a letter and impatience to write another upon receiving one. A medley of feelings blurring into one another, giving birth to a thousand other stories. But, letters are long gone, and with a world of hurriedness around them, perhaps the calmness this couple shares between them are the words of my letters.

And then, there’s this girl sitting by herself in another corner. A little confused with the choices in hand – cell-phone or book – both at times, none the other. It’s interesting how she quickly picks up her phone to type something – smiling, while she’s at it – stealing glances at the screen and the page of her book that hasn’t changed since forever, as she waits for a reply; tucking the strands of her hair behind her ears as the person on the other side begins typing, as if he/she can watch. I wish the other person could really watch her through her waiting – tell her how pretty she looks each time she bites on the inside of her lip as she thinks of a reply, or how her toes dance each time the person on screen begins typing – I wish the other person never pops out of the screen, and let me just soak in the beauty of her impatient emotions.





It’s a train station now, that is my next stop. How different is it to come to a standstill at a place that is the heart of commute; perhaps, for you to cook stories, you need to be at places in a way that you aren’t expected to.

Each time I have felt less alive in life – the times of inner and outer conflict – I have found refuge in trains. Stations are always overflowing with life – both literally and metaphorically – and they are kind enough to lend you some breath, for you to kickstart your own life, nurture your story.

Chai-chai – coolie madam – cooldrinks – B2 – Shatabdi Express platform number – Paani ka bottle – Yatri-gan dhyaan dein – Side-side – Bolo keychain-bolo hand-wash – S5 kidhar hai – chai-chai.

Noise. Chaos. Crowd. Stories.

To my left, a couple stands hand in hand. Her head rests on his shoulder, as he checks the tickets for the nth time. Her fingers are henna-coated, and shiny red bangles adorn her wrists; his arm hangs around her waist, unsure whether to hold it. There’s discomfort in their body-language; still getting used to the each other’s touches. But, through their awkwardness, there’s a strange will to make things work; like your finger-tip on the initial pages of a book – the cover attracted your eyes, the blurb seemed interesting, and in a moment of haste, you bought it – desperately hoping that there are interesting things as you flip through the pages.

To the right, a couple breathes, separated by a window. Their fingers try to embrace each other’s through the window sill, in vain. His eyes are desperately trying to look into hers; her eyes are looking down, by will or by the heaviness of the water in them, I can’t tell. He’s muttering something, she’s nodding. I’ll be back. You have to take care of yourself. I will call you every day. I love you. You love me too. I know that. Please say it. I somehow wish to rob them off this last memory of being with each other. Unannounced good-byes work better, for you have a box full of memories to pick from, each day – you could go back to the day your first met, or the moment you kissed as it rained outside; the conversation you had as she rested on your lap, or the tiny games you played to tease each other. With formal good-byes, the only memory that stays is the last, the sour memory.

The train starts moving and my eyes catch up with another pair that look like they have been desperately trying to draw my attention for long. The demanding eyes belong to a curious face – locks of auburn hair pulled back by a turquoise hair-band; a long nose with careless freckles delivered around it; thick, glossy, lips in red – but, it’s the eyes – buried under thick, circular glasses – that pose with questions and demand answers all at once.

Perhaps I would tell her that the sour feeling is in a way necessary, for you to appreciate the characters and the stories, as and when they come back to you. Or, I would tell her that the stories and the characters never really leave you; there are only stories that you write, and there are stories that you don’t write. And then, there are stories that demand to be written by you, but, at their own sweet time.

The train rushes. I run for it – for her – it’s a downpour.


In case you enjoyed reading this article and wish to read more of my stories, follow this link to buy my debut book, ‘Window Seat’, a collection of 8 short stories. 🙂



Hindi Films – A Kaleidoscopic View

As I sit and pen this article after a super busy day, my nose floats in heaven as petrichor blurs into caffeine and enters my senses; on the outside, the speaker tunes into a folk-number of Ram-Leela (2013), the nth adaptation of Shakespeare’s work and perhaps the most acclaimed in our part of the world. And as I switch tabs, it’s our Juliet who, in the backdrop of Holi, firmly holds the chin of her (just met) Romeo and plants a kiss on his lips – they’ve tasted blood, literally.

My mind almost instantly takes me back to the awkward feeling I had then, sitting between my mother and grandmother, my fingers digging deep in my pockets. ‘Girls’ they’d echoed during the post-movie dinner, ‘do not behave the way “she” did in the movie – so bold, so audacious – there is a limit.’

I’d resisted, ‘so you mean guys have the liberty to do all of that and girls don’t, why?’ They were stunned for a moment, but came back with a bumper, ‘because they’re girls. It isn’t in our culture.’ I had caught my father smiling then, he had always known it was futile to argue with the two women. I hadn’t, and I’m glad I didn’t.



Read the entire write-up on the official blog of ‘Half Baked Beans’, a publishing house based in Delhi –

Hindi Films – Coming of Age Finally!

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Magic – Part Two

‘What makes you like this place so much?’ he asked, pulling a chair for her.

‘Thank you’ she sat, ‘see how dimly lit the place is, just the tiny reds and yellows, and look at all the movie posters, have you ever heard the name of the film whose poster features over there?’ she out-stretched her finger to the right and his eyes followed, ‘and just listen to the buzz at this place, no distinct voice, everyone’s talking and laughing’ her eyes ran around, ‘so retro this place is; so alive!’

He looked at her for a long time, smiling, ‘and what makes you like Veronika Decides to Die?’

‘You really are after Paulo Coelho, aren’t you?’ her chin rested on her palm.

‘Not really’ he shrugged, ‘all these are simple attempts to know the story better – the story that is you.’

‘Okay’ her fingers ran around the glass of water, ‘you’re a writer and I’m a sucker for flattery – you win’ and had a sip, ‘there’s this part at the quarter of the book’ her fingers ran back to run through the hair, ‘it’s about this woman, Zedka, in a mental hospital, being injected and put into induced coma for hours in order to cure her depression.

Others when subjected to this treatment, only experience horror while in the state of Bitterness; she, on the other hand, begins to fly – ‘astral travel’ – she describes it.

The book tells you how her body has been strapped to the hospital bed, her gaze all dull, and yet how her spirit is in the air, being wherever it wishes to, anytime, trespassing through tunnels at the pace of light, flying from one corner of the world to the another

Nothing controls her in her madness.’


She lit a cigarette, as he repeated the ritual of looking at her, long and deep, smiling all the time, ‘what’s your story?’

Her lips curled as the eyes looked around, ‘I was seventeen’ she raised a hand to catch the attention of the waiter, ‘beer?’

‘I hate beer’ his brows rose, ‘rum.’

‘Going hard pretty quick’ she grinned, ‘on my way back from school’ and looked into his eyes, ‘groped – pulled in somewhere – clothes torn – roughness on my body – sweat – stinking breath – pounding – change of breaths – once – twice – five times – screams – blood – I lay on the roadside, naked, bleeding, seventeen.

Back home – a well to-do family – educated people – screeching eyes – the clothes put back on – a veil. Nobody spoke for me. I was never allowed to speak for myself.

So I picked up a couple of bags’ she rubbed her hands together, ‘and have since been living all sorts of lives that come to my mind. I turned into a high-profile prostitute some months back; money issues alright, have to support my education, but it’s more about the experience.’

‘Catharsis’ he said.

‘Hey you know about that!’ she smiled, ‘in a way yes – enacting the troubled past again, to bring it to a closure – emotional vomiting.’

‘Now I know where all the melodrama comes from’ he smiled, ‘emotional vomiting.’

Her face tilted and hand reached up to the head, ‘what to do, dev babu’ she laughed, ‘jeena yahaan, marna yahaan; iske siwa, janaa kahaan.’




‘I like this place better’ he said, resting his back on the brick-wall.

‘And why is that?’ she settled on the stairs of the lane.

‘What place is this?’ he looked around, ‘a couple of stairs within an unfamiliar narrow lane, in a random city of a huge country that is a part of a world with an undefined shape, amidst millions and millions of galaxies’ he eyed the sky, ‘look, a shooting star – how tiny is our existence when you zoom out completely, yet how important it is to fill the void of our lives.’

She smiled looking at him, ‘I’ve been thinking about this’ she rested her back alongside him, looking at the sky, ‘how convenient are your stories – someone who lacks something, meets the other who offers him that something and in return, takes up what he had been lacking in the first place’ and came back to looking at him, her hand in the unruly hair ‘so simple, yet so magical, each time.’

‘That’s life’ he looked at her, ‘didn’t we manage to meet?’ and nodded, ‘I’ve always believed that there are some forces in the universe that lead us to someone we had never been looking for – it sure is magic.’

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it’ her finger pointed at the sky, another shooting star, ‘Roald Dahl.’

‘Stop doing that’ he shook his head, ‘playing with your hair as you talk to me’ and looked at her, ‘or perhaps you can – I’ve this little traveller breathing inside me who wanders around admiring the most stunning creations in the world – you doing that seems to be helping my cause.’

‘Why is it that every time you speak, the only thing I wish is to kiss you?’ she got up and leaned against the wall, ‘like every fucking time-‘

He pulled her arm and closed her eyes…


Shhh. Gimmie your hand. Now close your eyes, go on.


‘What are you doing?’ she laughed.

‘Melodramatic since ages, right?’ he said, ‘guess the movie and play along.’


Now step up, he continued, now hold the railing. Keep your eyes closed. Don’t peek.

I’m not, she said.

Step up on the railing. Hold on, hold on. Keep your eyes closed. Do you trust me?

I trust you.


He opened her arms and whispered in her ears, ‘Visions of Paradise had always been waiting for you – this is your moment.’


All right. Open your eyes.

I’m flying, her voice cracked, the sky full of stars, I’m flying.


‘Does this make you feel as free as Zedka’ he murmured.

She nodded, crying, ‘thank you.’

‘Shhh’ he kissed her cheek, ‘this is the ‘astral travel’ you’d been longing to take, all this while’ and held her arms wide open, ‘embrace your freedom – you were always meant to fly.’

She closed her eyes, laughing, crying, ‘who are you?’

‘Doesn’t matter’ he kissed her cheek, again, ‘all that matters is that there’s magic.’

She nodded and turned her head. They kissed.




She got up in the morning and finished reading the rest of his stories, as he lay on the bed, sleeping. She then tucked her up inside his blanket, her back sensing his diary…


Why can’t I stop reading her body?

She’s asleep with my stories in hand, breathing into a page, a particular word.
Why do I lust for that word?

All I wish is to part the shirt and kiss her collar-bone,
or snug up in bed, close to her, kiss the creases of her neck while sniffing through her hair.

Why do I lust for that word?
Why can’t I stop reading her body?


She gasped and flipped a page…


 Is she the light?
Her lips aglow from the thousand stories she’s yet to read.

The lights of her soul play with her body,
rising past her breasts and dipping on the ladder of her ribs.

But it’s the navel that draws me to her,
as if it houses all her secrets – the tickles and the moans.
A fine touch and it trembles – the revelations of the light.



‘Bad manners’ he bit her ear, ‘you’re not allowed to read somebody else’s diary.’

‘And what if that diary talks about my body?’ she got on top of him.

‘How did reading about your body make you feel?’ he kissed her neck, going down and settling on her collar-bone.

‘Awkward’ she breathed heavy, ‘how would I feel if two years down the line, the rest of the world would be reading about my body?’

He turned her down and buried his head deep within her neck, his hand reaching down her thighs.

‘As much as I would love to be worked upon by you’ she pulled him close, ‘in this moment, I wish to make love to your stories.’

Magic – Part One

‘Are you here for a blowjob?’ she asked, ‘you should’ve mentioned it to my pimp’ and looked at him, then at the door, and back at him, ‘don’t worry, I’ll set you up with the best lips.’

He smiled as she sighed. ‘Cigarette?’ he asked, offering her his pack.

‘No’ she got up and picked up her phone, ‘cigarette kills you; weed is good.’

‘Do you have weed then?’ he looked at her.

‘They will charge you extra for that’ she shrugged, ‘and you won’t be getting a blowjob here.’

‘I’m not here for that’ he said, ‘your make-up is really turning me off.’

‘Is it?’ she smiled, putting her phone down, ‘secretaries and personal assistants is what they love – thanks to porn’ and unhooked her bra, ‘but these are irritating’ and flashed it in front of him, ‘having your boobs right up your chin.’

‘You can dress up the way you wish’ he laughed, ‘also keep the make-up if you like it; make yourself home.’

‘Umhmm’ she voiced, putting her tongue to the paper, ‘what are you here for?’

‘To smoke-up with you’ he smiled, ‘and talk.’

‘Are you a journo or something?’ she lit the joint and walked towards him.

‘I’m not here with a camera’ he took a puff, ‘this tastes awful.’

‘Yeah cigarettes are really tasty’ she grinned, ‘too much money you have then; paying a prostitute and using just the tongue, not the rubber’ and smoked, ‘you could have easily reached me through the day, it would have cost you nothing.’

‘I wouldn’t have had a chance to walk through the labyrinth walls of this building then, the mannequin just near the couch has such good hair; or smile at the two beautiful women of foreign origin sitting outside this room, or, for that matter, witness this glossy room; there’s so much colour in here’ he lit his cigarette, ‘not to forget your pimp, I just loved his glasses, I mean who wears tones of yellow when it’s already so bright here’ and looked at her, ‘and perhaps you wouldn’t have been the same in daylight.’

‘I’ve only had clients either high on lust or alcohol’ he smiled, ‘you’re the first observer.’

‘Do you light up this room like this daily; and yourself too?’ he asked, ‘the colours are all blurring into and hurting my eyes.’

‘What to do sa’ab’ she closed her eyes and made a face, ‘it’s just an attempt to beautify my berang zindagi’ she laughed, ‘I’m a big fan of movies; melodramatic since ages’ and looked at him, ‘are you a Devdas or something? Your heart is with Paro, and so, you won’t lay a finger on me.’

Chandramukhi always fascinated me more’ he smiled, ‘Veronika seems to be doing just that’ and looked at her, ‘Veronika – what made you pick this name?’

She got up to reach a drawer near the mirror, pulled it out and her hand fetched a book to him, ‘I’m a student of literature through the day’ she said, ‘have gone around reading the best writings around the world, but no character touched me the way she did.’

Veronika Decides to Die’ he read the title, ‘Paulo Coelho’ he said, flipping through the pages, ‘never put a hand on him post The Alchemist; found it really overrated.’

‘Keep this one with you’ she smoked, ‘we’ll talk once you’re done reading.’

‘Oh you’re okay sharing your books?’ he looked at her, ‘I never do that – hate the idea.’

‘I love sharing my books’ she shrugged, ‘even if they come back with all sorts of underlines or scribbling, folded-edges or covers spoiled by tea-stains’ and sat beside him, ‘how about this logic – someone borrows a story from you – a story that you’ve already read – and when it returns, this story has been a witness to a thousand other stories, that it tries to reveal to you’ she said, handing him the joint, ‘that is how the stories travel, not the books.’

‘And each of those thousand stories change from person to person – all being musings to your imagination’ he smoked, ‘I already like the idea.’ He unzipped his bag and pulled out some pages, ‘some of the stories that I tried writing.’

‘Are you a writer?’ she beamed with the pages in her hand, ‘so that’s the reason you’re here – looking for a story.’





She was asleep in her bed; him looking at her, smiling. Her hands clutched the curled pages, she’d gone to bed reading his stories; he picked out a pen and the diary from his bag. Her theory of stories seemed to be working…


How well do you enjoy the nothingness?

The unkempt bed or the wrinkled bed-sheet,
the shiny dust particles over the pillow or the wind that kisses the window.

Do you wish a presence to make love,
or do you allow the lights to make love to you?

How open are you to yourself?
How well do you enjoy the nothingness?




‘Weed really works’ he got up from bed, it was morning, ‘how long have you been looking at me like that?’

‘Not you’ she shook her head, ‘the lower part of your face – the wide jaw-line and the stubble – you can’t imagine how have I resisted kissing you all this while’ she said, ‘I’m sorry if that’s too much to hear right at the start of the day, but that’s what these pages have done to me: it was as if you were speaking to me, the lower part of your face reciting these tales to me’ and ran a hand through her hair, ‘I need more stories’ resting her hair on one shoulder, she continued, ‘zeher ho tum, dev babu.’

‘You’re my kind’ he smiled, ‘stories turn you on.’

‘Why no names?’ she asked, ‘neither the stories, nor the characters.’

‘I’m not good with names’ he got up, ‘and perhaps names are only a pretence, something that a story never requires; they carry a baggage along, of races and castes, boundaries and religion’ he paused for a moment, ‘also, in a way, they turn you passive and control your imagination – if I can relate this character to someone living around me, why limit it to an unfamiliar name – stories don’t deserve such shallow treatment, they’re meant to be spiritual’ and smiled, ‘but yeah, names don’t come naturally to me.’

‘I need more stories.’

He examined the walls for long, ‘are you the artist?’


The walls of her room were all painted with characters – those from comic-books, or from the movies; to the left was The Joker, his hair bleached in green, next to him, were The Powerpuff Girls, blue, red and green; a cartoon of Gabbar Singh found his way, wide-eyed, at the top of Charlie Chaplin, who stood smiling, colourless.

‘The girl who used to stay here, before me’ she walked up next to him, ‘I’ve been filling colours to her sketches.’

Rangmanch to yahaan hai’ he said, running his hand over the textured wall, ‘I simply love these’ and turned to look at her, his face filled with pride, ‘Badshah ke navratna mein tum shamil ki jaogi.’

Hayeee!’ she exclaimed, ‘I already am a courtesan of his land.’

‘So you want more stories?’ he looked at her.

‘So, you’re coming back tonight’ she smiled.

‘You’re taking me to your favourite place in the city tonight.’



Friday Musings

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How do you like your tea?
I like it as my chai, high on masala, so much that it hurts my throat; never the one that feels like water, or its complement that has so much of milk that it makes me feel that the tea-maker loves me more than my grandmother.
I like my chai on the roadside, close to this plump woman in a luxurious car who sips it right from the stained saucer; or this old man who smokes a bidi, his head tilted; the screeching tyres of the speeding four wheeler, or the lifted hands of the over-cautious man who felt the car would ram right into him; the man on the machine, trying to mend the ill-fitted dress of this lady, who ignores the demands of a poor girl.

I have never liked my chai as much as I’ve liked the people sipping it.

Tell me, how do you like your tea?



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She smokes, holding my stories in hand, breathing into the paper, a particular word.

Why do I lust for that word?
Why can’t I stop reading her body?


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Come to think about it, you’re always travelling – in a random boring lecture at college, while the professor explains which metal takes up what kind of cutting fluid, you sit and wonder how would the snow feel at your feet if you decide to breakout and trek the mountains;
or the sounds of the melodious accordion that an unfamiliar face plays at the corner of a random street of a city that you’re now reading about;
or how would it be like, to step into the shoes of this passionate character in a movie that you watched the other day;
or even when your grandmother asks you to separate the pair of footwear that is now enjoying its private time, one upon the other, you know the myth says that their arrangement will take you to a far off place.

It’s fascinating that at how many places one can actually be while on a couch, eyes wide open, yet dreaming.


There once was a boy, the king of his world, he had at least a dozen constant faces around him, all the time. When together, he felt he’d seen enough of the world, that he’d understood the dynamics of survival and that the life that awaited him, the rat – race, was a mere milestone that had been waiting for his arrival.

Next, he stepped into this different world that he’d already conquered in his mind. But, what followed was the shifting of grounds, the breakage of bonds, a series of horrible decisions. Our boy lost home, he was caught napping, and thus began the his journey on a road that he was alien to – loneliness – he spent his lunch time in a canteen where hundreds surrounded him, with no one beside him; he loved the theaters, and so he sat there watching movies with unfamiliar faces alongside him; he thought of walking along the streets, but the foreign roads scared him.

Frustration. Anguish. Suffocation. Torture. Worthlessness. You know they always told you about the times when everything in the world seems to go wrong? That is what our boy felt then.


Months passed and nothing changed. He felt as if his life was displaced – hit hard and lost. He felt he had lost himself and thus, began the journey of looking for one self. But where? Was it the mirror, was it the face that he saw in the reflection? Or was it the name that tagged along with him, everywhere he went? Was he a mere fourteen letter entity? He didn’t know. He had to know.

That is when he put his hand on a book with an amazing cover; colours – that is what attracted him to this particular book. He bought his favourite pen; yes he had one, we all had a favourite pen at one point in time, didn’t we?

And thus began the story of Ishan and Aaliya – the former a replication of our boy, someone who had lost himself in the monotony of life, doing things he never wanted to do. The latter being his muse, one who would lead him through the darkness and draw him to light, like the first rays of the Sun that kiss the curves of the clouds.

He clicked pictures of whatever he wrote through the day, and sent them to two of his closest friends. “You’re so good” they said, “we never knew there was a writer breathing inside of you.” They still say the same when they read my work.

Through the 100 pages of that book, Ishan met Aaliya, but they never found closure. It is a different story that our boy thought he’d found home – you know like at the end of a tiring day, when you sit back on your couch, wanting to do nothing, and outside the clouds decide to play music for you, the rain-drops hit the Earth and your being smells of petrichor. That is how he felt.

Then one day, our boy picked up his bag and thought, why not travel? Maybe that’s where I’d get my stories from! Eureka! He danced and thus began his journey through cities, towns and streets. As he walked through tales that flowed around him in the form of faces, he realized how petty his complaints and demands were, when it came to the bigger scheme of things. He realized how foolish he was, wanting to be a king of this new world that he’d stepped in, and how happy he was being just another common man among the crowds.

He never came back. Well, literally he did, but nothing in this world is literal, is it? And thus began his journey, his journey of day-dreaming. He travelled and dreamt and wrote. He used hairs in place of hair; he never knew when to place a semi-colon or a hyphen. But he was still at it, maybe because he felt that if he would have stories to tell, all other things wouldn’t really matter; maybe because he had now begun dreaming, perhaps for the first time in his life.


Today, it’s been two years since he first hit paper with pen, his mind has tenderly noted some things for him –

that one needs to be a little more accepting and a little more tolerant to his surroundings – there’s this huge bellied man he’s now sharing his berth with, and the man is snoring away to glory – perhaps the man needs this sound sleep, perhaps our boy would snore one day too.

that problems and bad experiences only help in building your character. Be happy if you’re in a crunch situation, you’d come out stronger than ever.

that no matter how much you curse your life at this moment in time, but when things would eventually zoom out, you’d see how each piece of your puzzle has fit in the scheme of things perfectly.

that the best teacher in life is life itself – never let go a chance to explore life, pack your bags and just visit places that you haven’t heard of. Share stories and empathize – closure is what each one of us is looking for.


Today, as his body jingles along with the bus, and the skies paint a picture with hues of white, blue, orange and pink, the boy writes this to thank the forces that guided him through thick and thin.

He writes this to thank the journey that he hopes would be ceaseless, for destinations are boring, movement is beautiful.

But most importantly, he writes this to YOU, for he is too selfish to write something to you, he always tends to write for himself, but you being the selfless soul that you are, not only spare these minutes to read him, but also share these with him, being a part of his journey.

The boy wants to tell you that dream, not once, not twice, but everyday, maybe a different one each day, and work towards it, enjoy the process, love what you do and do it only till you love it, stop forcing things and carrying baggage along. Stop thinking for your journey has already been chalked out, just enjoy the things as they come and leave it to the forces, they’ll guide you home.



Wood Shavings



The poor boy couldn’t really comprehend as to what the texts wanted to mean, all he could make out from them was a combination of X-I-Os – ‘when you read something written over your subject, don’t be a fool and jot down all what is written in there, X-I-Os mean you are meaning what the text means’, his art-teacher’s voice echoed within his head. So, the boy picked up his pencil and sharpened it carefully, so that the ‘waste’ didn’t turn out to be waste…


The writer imagined a premise in his head – that of our poor boy – and picked up his pencil, carefully sharpening it and scattering the wood shavings over the paper that would contain his piece of art, his write-up, that would eventually turn out to be a combination of X-I-Os for our poor boy…


The text-book artist sprung out of his bed – for years now, he had been sketching things that had already been sketched and put up on the internet – for years now, he had been searching for an inspiration, an imagination, to sketch his heart out on the canvas. Today, he had had his imagination – that of our writer and his poor subject.
The artist picked out his set of pencils and sharpened them, not caring a bit about the shavings, and adding a subject for our writer – her long black hair, wavy and shiny; her oblong face, containing a pair of cheeky eyes and awkward nose; her modest frame and over-the-top pyjamas – the girl was going to be our poor boy’s sweetheart…


The musician smoked pot and watched the ash burn, his gave the strings of his guitar a beating and felt the curves of its frame, his head swinging, not because of the drug, but because he was on a desperate look-out for the lyrics of his freshly created tune…
A poor boy – his pencil – his struggle with words – his art teacher – a writer – hi pencil – X-I-Os – an artist – his inspiration – the pencil – a girl – his muse – her music…

the dots connected in the musician’s mind, he picked out his pencil and sharpened the wood shavings, penning down the words and caressing his guitar.



My Girl… My Girl

There are times when the artist within wishes and orders to take leaps – then, there are times when you make yourself sit and watch this amazing documentary about an amazing artist and his screwed up life, and how he challenged the norms of the society, with almost each step he took – then, you sit and listen to this artist’s songs for two days straight, his lyrics, the metaphors within them; his heart-wrenching voice, and the hazel eyes  – the result?
Well, the paper doesn’t seem as interesting as it used to. The pencil feels much better on the walls now!

Spoiling Walls now!
Spoiling Walls now!

Breathe. Travel. Live.

Two weeks and a couple of hours back, I cursed myself a million times as the train jerk-started its 934 kilometre trail. I was a part of an idea – an idea that picked twenty individuals from different nooks of the country and confined them within a-very-uncomfortable-bus (it’s not the bus, it’s your bum, as a fellow individual later pointed out) – I was, as they referred to us, one among their tripper. THE BIG BANG TRIP – as they called it, took these twenty people on a backpacking trip across a major part of North India, namely, Delhi, Rishikesh, Kasauli, Kasol and McLeodganj. (Follow The Big Bang Trip for their upcoming plans and trips here – www.TheBigBangTrip.com )

Today, as I sit tapping the keys of my soon wearing out laptop, the laziness surrounding my being seems to have betrayed it, and an uncharacteristic stream of energy flows through my body, so wicked is its nature that my mother never stops looking at me and my friends refuse to recognize me. Yes, I’m a changed individual. Yes, I’ve grown as an individual. And yes, I’m a proud tripper.

These trippers bonded within the seats of the bus, a big bum finding a perfect match in a small bum; an NRI head-banging his way to glory, accompanied by a fan of the tunes of a horrible Punjabi rapper; brothers from another mothers finally eyeing one another, greeting uncontrollably over hugs and bhais; a silent husband turning into a chatter-box with a junior, the wife later disclosing that, maybe, the former saw himself in the latter; a travel freak hi5ed an incredible cyclist as the tech-freak played their favourite song.

They bonded over awful music and DSLR lenses, thick accents and five tbs of extra sugar, alcohol and laughter, star-gazing and mountain trekking, taunts and flirts, lifelines and tears, inspirations and aspirations.

The Big Bang Trip - The Trippers
The Big Bang Trip – The Trippers

And today, as I sit and write this article, the problem of not able to jot down my plain feelings into sugar-coated words, remains, much to the annoyance and acceptance of my loved ones. Perhaps the filter that sieves expression is too fine and thick. Perhaps the people, who need to know things, better know them in person and not through a blog-post.

So here I am, doing things that I’m best at, sharing stories of random people I meet on the streets – their stories that shape my life (and somewhere down the line, I hope they shape yours too). Sharing lives of the people that I may never again meet in my life, but the memories and breaths that we shared, will stay etched within, forever…

The Salesman

The lane from the main market stretches to the Dalai Lama Temple, diverging twice on its way, but combining soon after. Cloth covered stalls stand tall on either side of this narrow stretch, supported by bamboos and modest in appearance. Each of these open-shops hold within them, the antiques that provide you with the glimpse of the rich culture of Tibet – their exuberant usage of colours and the stunning works over metal and wood, the calming aura of Buddha just adjacent to a huge animal mask.  Most of the salesmen are well versed in both Hindi and English, but there are a few who know none of these languages.

I bumped into one such salesman while clicking pictures alongside a friend. His arm waved in my direction, inviting me to view one of the many singing-bowls placed over the desk. I walked towards him, politely declining his request, I bought it already, I smiled. Next, he picked up a unicorn and posed it in front of my eyes, mumbling its significance in broken English. It was an enormous horn then, followed by a wood-worked neck-piece and a pair of dice.


The words continued flowing from his mouth, praising his culture and describing the myth associated to it. In return, I obliged him by clicking pictures of each of the art-works that he turned up with. Although we couldn’t understand a single word from our speech, we had developed our own method of communication – the antiques in his hands, the camera in mine, the reflection of a picture in his eyes, and a thumbs-up from both the ends.

Zooming in within the Streets - Buddha
Zooming in within the Streets – Buddha

During this brief encounter with an exile, I could sense an unparalleled longing for mother-land through his moist eyes. A sense of helplessness that had crept into his being – the non-violent fight marched on the tender shoulders of compassion, but the feeling of being caged away from home seemed to have gotten the better of him.

I curled my lips and stretched my index-finger away from the thumb – smile – the camera posed in front of him. He saw his own reflection through the digital screen and laughed, his thumb acknowledging his own self.

The Salesman - Thumbs Up, anyone?
The Salesman – Thumbs Up, anyone?

Apples, dear friend?

At a distance, I saw Che Guevara shining on a yellow t-shirt, his eyes looking up at the sky and no trace of smile on his face. I hurried towards him and asked the man sitting beside the trail of T-shirt about the price.

This-not-my-shop. Go-in. He fumbled and stuttered as I thanked him.

Dejected, I came back out – size issues. And just as I recovered myself from disappointment, this same man asked me to have a look at his shop. A small platform built adjacent to the shop over which, exactly ten bunches of apples lay lifeless. How much? I asked, as he unearthed a sheet of paper lying under a cloth – 60.

I looked at him for a long time – his legs, or whatever was left of them, crippled from below the knees. The struggle of his hands to co-ordinate together and lift the cup of tea that spilled the liquid everywhere before it finally reached his mouth. The latter finally making a hissing noise while sipping the tea.

I sat there on the platform and called out – excuse me! hey, could you please hang on for a moment and buy some apples from my friend? He’ll feed you with amazing apples!

And each time I called out his name or declared him my friend as people walked past us, he broke into a series of short giggles, looking at me, his cheeks blushing red.

So, tell me something about you buddy, I said sometime in the middle, when our business ran out of customers. This man then got up from his seat and hopped towards a bag supported on a wall, picked it and scurried back to me. Exhausted, he then asked me to unzip a particular section and dish out a piece of paper. I obliged. The hand-written letter (amazing handwriting) roughly read…

Hello, I am [name]. My parents are old and don’t have a job. My younger brother is handicapped too. I am selling apples here to support my family. I want my parents to have proper food. If you can help me with some money, it would be a great deal for me. Thank you.


Together then, we greeted people from different countries and backgrounds, not forcing even a single one of them to buy the apples, yet selling almost each unit of the day. Below is his photo, just a portrait, his story stands tall against his ability.

Smile! *Flash!*
Smile! *Flash!*