Monthly Archives: September 2012


The Gwalior fort , sprawling fortress in Madhya Pradesh is song in brown and blue.



Categories: India, Travel | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

The beach, a few candles and a birthday party

[A life is a weave of a million stories. Here is one of the threads in my life, one that was weaved (written) a really long time ago. I thought it needed to see the light of day].

I am quite unclear as to how Jlo got his name. It surely wasn’t because of the J.Lo. Oh
no! If rumors are to be believed, he once acted in a play in which he played the role
of a jailer. He played it so well that everyone started calling him ‘jailer’, ‘jailer’ and soon
it was morphed to Jlo and it stuck.

Four years of college with Jlo was definitely an interesting period in my life. He
just cracked me up. Not just me everyone around. He once followed an ant around
studying how it moved. And if Kiki is to be believed he followed the ant for about 8
hours. Kiki claims that he would have continued to do so if he had not been hungry.
Nothing comes in between Jlo and food.

During our final year we decided to throw JLo a surprise birthday party. The date
was chosen it was to be on the Independence day, a public holiday. The venue was
chosen as the Besant nagar beach. Not exactly an ideal birthday party location but
no one seemed to protest.

The menu for the party was of course a cake and well that was it. It would have been
perfect had the menu not been changed. But being the gracious host that I always
am,I decided to make sandwiches. It is going to be quite difficult to categorize the
nature of the sandwich. For ingredients it had just about everything, tomatoes, egg,
garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, mint leaves, ketchup and for a little color I added a tinge
of turmeric. I packed the sandwiches and the cake in a beach bag and set out for
the beach, a  ten minute walk from my apartment. On the way I realized that I had
forgotten to get birthday candles, so I called Kiki and asked him to get them on his
way. Kiki was most obliging.

Crispin and Punoose had the job of getting Jlo there without any suspicion. All Kiki
had to do was show up and of course get the birthday candles. And what does Kiki do? He
turns up with a box of full of matches! Not a small one, not a medium sized one. A box
with 500 matches to be precise and how many birthday candles, Zero, Nill , Zilch!
His explanation “ I couldn’t find a shop with candles”. And as if that wasn’t enough “
Anyway we need matches to light candles. So I thought we could use the matches as
candles too”.

From then started my troubles. The next person to turn up was
Keerthi. He took a look at the sandwiches and complained, “ Why did you make so
few? Right now there are only 2 for each.”

Well there was nothing to do about it now. The three of us decorated the cake with
the make shift ‘candles’. We were about done when Crispin and Punnose walk up to
us. Behind them Jlo followed with a suspicious look. As soon jlo reached the spot
we broke out in song “Happy birthday to you… “. JLo stood looked at us and asked “
Kiki I didn’y know it was your birthday”.

So much for  the element of surprise!

It took us a while to convince Jlo that it was his surprise birthday party. Finally he agreed
to cut the cake. It took forever to light the candles, oh sorry the matches. At
the end of the effort the cake had a smoked up look (and taste too).

Just when Jlo was blowing out his already put out candles a strong gust of wind blew the beach sand

over the cake. Adapt we did. From birthday cake it became a Mud pie! We

just scraped away the sandy top layer and hungrily dug in to the rich chocolate cake.

When it was time to pass the sandwiches around, I realized I was a horrible cook.
The sandwiches were terrible.

We tried to feed the sandwiches to a dog and when that failed we just threw them away.
That was the last birthday we spent with Jlo in Madras.

In the years to come  we were all in different
corners of the world. But when ever I call him on his birthday we speak about the
beach, the candles, the sandwiches and a wonderful birthday party.

Categories: Everything Else | 1 Comment

Capture the colors


This was actually a contest. But me being me I missed the deadline. Nevertheless, here are my submissions.   We had to capture images  which define the colors RED, BLUE, WHITE, YELLOW and GREEN


This picture was taken in the wee hours of morning in Nottingham. We stepped out of a wild pub to find a deserted street.



This was taken in the Grand Canyon visitors centre parking one winter.


A Masai tribesman, the spots on his hands are the count of his girlfriends.


This picture was taken in Hampi, India. It brings Wordsworth’s Solitary Reaper to mind.


In San Diego you can never drive for long without encountering the blue blue sea!





Categories: Everything Else | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Giving voice

There are always two sides to a story. Not necessary that one of them has to be the wrong side and at the same time not necessary that either of them have to be right.

Sometimes all you have to do, all you can do is give voice to the characters. I have been working on a piece for a long time.  It was not an easy one. It took me months to actually put it in down in words and maybe because it may take me more months to figure out who is in the wrong and who is in the right here!

You can read it here.

Categories: Writing | Tags: | Leave a comment

India: Her women Vs her tigers

[It is said that once you have something to say, you cannot ever hide it within yourself. I think it might be true.This write up has been sitting among other unsaid stories for a long time.
To clarify, I am not a feminist and please do not get me wrong, I am all for the conservation of tigers. Having said that I would like to point out that to me a human life comes before all else.]
On July 9th 2012, a young girl was publicly abused on the streets of Guwahati in North East India by a group of about 20 men. A media personal happened to be there with his camera. He did not attempt to save her or call for help. On the contrary he filmed the scene while the men molested the girl. “She was drunk” was his way of defending his action or rather lack thereof.
The police did get there, eventually. They took the girl away for questioning, leaving the perpetrators behind to relive their  act through the footage which was aired time and again by the  local news channel the cameraman represented.A few days later the footage was picked by a national television network. The outrage it provoked forced the Guwahati policemen to break out of their inertia and round up possible suspects.Around the same time as the assault on the girl’s life the Supreme court of India passed a law banning tourism to the core tiger reserve area in India over growing concern in the decline in the number of tigers. The latest census by WWF estimated that there are 1411 tigers left in India. “Whatever statistics may say, fact remains that the tiger  population in the country has practically diminished” stated the Supreme Court bench.
This was met with praise.  Environmentalist applauded the supreme court’s decision.A great victory for the tigers of India.The state ministries were quick to communicate and execute the order.
Thanks to this  the tigers of India will be free to roam their natural habitat, prey upon weaker animals, live a carefree life while the forest personnel keep a close watch on them. Indeed a great victory for the Indian tigers.The standard of living for a tiger in India looks promising. But what about India’s women?A  group of gender experts rated India as  the worst (G20)country to be a woman. Saudi Arabia was ranked higher.
The  survey by the National Census board (2011) it was estimated that there were only 842 women for every 1000 men in India. A sharp decline from the 932 estimated in the 2001 Census. Yet no law makers are clamouring to pass laws to arrest this decline.  They are not even talking about amending the current laws which largely favours the abuser.

Women in India are plagued by a multitude of social issues. It starts right from conception. The preference for sons has fueled the exponential growth of illegal abortion clinics that have mushroomed around the country.  Those poor souls lucky enough to survive the foeticide then have an array of depravities to choose from; abuse, rape, harassment, murder.

Most of the cases of crimes against women go unreported due to the social stigma that is associated with the crime. Only a fraction of it are reported. Of that fraction a portion of it run as  headlines of rape, murder,torture and other insensitive acts almost on a weekly basis.

Why is that the tigers in India get preferential treatment when the women  cannot travel by public transportation without fear of being groped, or preyed upon by indecent men? Why is that when forest personnel can keep vigil for the tigers, the policemen of the NCR( National Capital region) issues a statement blatantly stating that they will protect the women up to 8 pm and after that they step out at their own risk?

A general offence against the tigers under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, attracts a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment or a fine of up to  to Rs. 25,000 or both.  While in the largest democracy in the world, a lone girl had to wait for a couple of days for the wheels of  justice to be set in motion ,when it had taken less than an hour to irrevocably damage her life.If charged her perpetrators will serve up to a year in prison or pay a fine, maybe both.In the eyes of the Indian law the crime of the perpetrators is merely ‘insulting or outraging the modesty of a woman”.
The sad part is, the fine they may pay will be less than the Rs. 50,000 ( Approx $890) that has been promised her in compensation for the ‘misfortune’.

Is the comfort of a tiger worth more in the eyes of the law than that of the life of woman?

Categories: Everything Else, Writing | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

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