I am usually very profound.

Be Gentle With Ink

Someone spilled ink over someone’s face today. No, wait. Someone first tell me why does this product still sell in the market? It is the most self esteem-crushing, handwriting-debilitating and painfully cumbersome stationery item that has ever existed in a helpless student’s kit. Try and recall the first time you tried using an ink pen. I don’t know what happened to you. But I had witnessed disaster of the highest order in trying to use this useless blue liquid for the first time. The ink pen wouldn’t work for nuts, so I gave it a few jolts. Generous sprays of the ink went all over the bowl of cookies lying before me. (Weirder things happened later when my mother’s anger got me so nervous I tried to wash those cookies, but let us skip that part).

Ink has done worse. Especially for people like me who were anyway not particularly gifted with calligraphic skills. Place an ink pen in our hands and my writing would go all over the place. I had considered getting someone to file a petition against the use of ink pens when I had answered an English essay paper on the Indo-China war of 1962 with a misbehaving fountain pen and my teacher returned a note saying she did not really mean I needed to write the essay in the Chinese script. The results were there for everyone to see, and I told my mother I had the ink pen to blame. And she taught me a few lessons, Que Sera Sera style. “Remember them for your exams, and remember them for life,” she said.


1. Get a new pen.

Stop blaming everyone and everything else around you for the mess you are in. It is not just passe, it also doesn’t make sense. You know that theory of positive and negative energy thriving in equal measure, or something like that? If something irks you, don’t throw ink at it. Change what you can while staying within your limits (you know how to define them), accept what you cannot. Stop cribbing like a baby. And use your herd mentality for better purposes than “Hey, I heard that awesome dude socked his minister in the face with a boot – how about I spray some ink over the next person I see and high-five the other morons who call me a hero?”. Induce some positivity if you can. If you cannot, shut up and quietly do your own thing.

2. Keep your answer paper clean.

If you try being funny with ink, chances are some of it will spill over on your paper too. Blotted papers blur your own story, good as it may be. So be gentle with ink. When you become the guardian of civility and righteousness for everyone else, how on earth do you intend to monitor your own scruples? If your paper can be read, there are fair chances your story may work in your favour. Clean up your own act before being moral police to your city. Cleanliness begins from inside you.

3. Write to inspire.

At the end of the day, you will be asked only one question: Have you made it large? (No, not that one.) It will actually ask you: Do you inspire? If you do, no negativity can steal your words away. Write, speak and do things that can set a precedent, however small it be. Make a difference with your words and deeds. Violence makes dissonance at best, not difference.

We are not custodians of morality, honesty, law and other such mumbo-jumbo most of us do not understand the meanings of. At best, we can try being good, sensible human beings ourselves. At no rate do we have the right to hurl shoes, slaps, guns, grenades, cyanide, etc, etc, and ink at anyone. Let us all behave like grown-ups and learn to mind our own business, for starters.

PS: Please don’t call today’s scandal the “inkgate” if you can help it. The scandals are going to continue, but we are going to run out of suitable names soon.



So You Are A NoveLost?

This little picture sent me into a tizzy this morning. (Source: Asian Age, Mumbai, 4 Dec ’11). The novel has been ranked third among the bestselling novels in town for the third week straight. Now, you see, I love being modest and all. But it is hard. All I needed was a rude shock to keep me grounded. And pronto! I got one.

I walked into a store to throw some weight around, with this ‘I wrote a kickass bestseller’ look. And my hubris was suitably diminished when I found the book only in a swarm of a hundred other books – sans the distinction or sheen, engaged in a tussle with its neighbours in order to ‘stand out’. For most part of my analysis, I’d like to stick to the bestseller angle. It will help me sleep better. But I need to say this aloud: Writing is easy. Getting published is a tough trek. Keeping your novel from getting lost in this large sea of the literature industry – well, that has to be an endless journey.

The Devil Called Consumerism

I remember the first time I visited my favourite ice-cream joint in Baroda, circa 1989. It was a quaint hut-shaped shop, small yet inviting. I had topped my class and my parents had afforded me the liberty of buying two ice-creams that day. I chose a Mango-Vanilla cone, followed by a Chocolate-Vanilla one. I distinctly recall they were priced at Rs. 18 then. There was not much room inside the shop – just two narrow tables, one of which I stood against for support as I took my time to lap up the ice-creams. For the next seven years or so, I visited the same shop no less than once a week, which must have been a total of at least 365 times. But my choice of flavours never changed. There was something about the memory of the first visit that lingered on, and I stayed loyal to the same two flavours. Years later we left Baroda, much to my intense grief and resolution that I would never eat ice-cream anywhere else. (I did not really stick to that.)
Last weekend, I took my wife to Baroda. On our way to the same ice-cream shop, I told her about that unique smell and ambience of the shop, and how it had come to be my first love. But when we reached the joint, I saw something that wrecked my nostalgic reverie. The hoarding was in tatters. The tiles on the floor were evidently not being cleaned. And the smell was gone – probably overpowered by the aroma of a McDonald’s outlet somewhere nearby. On enquiring with the staff, I was told of the diminishing demand of the shop with the advent of various branded outlets in the last decade and a half.
“Impact of consumerism,” my MBA-wife threw in a smart one. I cringed. I looked at the menu card in dismay. The simple, earthly names of Mango-Vanilla and Chocolate-Vanilla had been renamed to ‘IPL Twenty-Twenty Mango Ripple’ and such. God knows what that meant, but it sure didn’t feel the same any more.
I’m quite the victim of consumerism myself, so I can’t scoff at it. But there’s something about this devil that has taken away a prized memory of a place I associated myself with. For the sake of a few such chronicles, I pray that a part of our past is retained. And while the world may subscribe to the classiest outlets today, I still prefer my narrow table to lean against as I take leisurely bites at my cone. At any rate, it is more fulfilling than a ‘Finish your ice-cream in three big bites and win a free trip to Timbuktoo’ contest.


My Life Is A Song

Walking out of my world which was turning dangerously bland,

I chanced upon a desert in a faraway land,

Where the velvet sand was kissed by the sun’s amber rays so bright,

And for miles around, there was not a soul in sight.

Then, in a pleasant paradox to the arid heat,
Lay a large oasis at some hundred feet,
I strode a little closer, and couldn’t believe my eyes,
Sprawled across was a green paradise.

Surrounding a gentle brook that made music so fine,
Stood scores of trees, of fir and pine,
Around which little elves and fairies trotted along,
Humming “My smile is my sunshine, my life is a song”.

I went to them and asked if they were aware,
Of the loveliest place on earth that ever was there,
They motioned towards the mountain at the aft of the stream,

Said, the view from there was a surreal dream.

I scaled up to the peak where the earth met the sky,

Ecstatic, I prayed for wings so I could fly,

Sheets of white were spread all over,

And I wished to freeze, right there, forever!

 A resounding thwack shook me up from my daze,

I turned to see the boss offer a petulant gaze,

He said, “Of daisies and damsels you dream all day,

But if you don’t spruce up now, you’ll jolly well have to pay!”

 Ah, so for the money and the status, I’ll reconcile,

I’ll clear up my work that’s gathered in a pile,

Won’t fuss today that my life is a whole lot of crap,

For I saw the beauty of the world in a short little nap.

A Shackled Soul

The child under censure looks for a freeway,
Paper boats and fables don’t quite make his day.
Scoffing at the fetters that shackle his soul,
He prays to be a man, so he can be on his own.

The distressed young man breathes out of his window,
Smothered by a cocktail of stress, greed and ego.
Sweet nothings of yore left behind, many a mile,
He prays to be a child, so he can remember how to smile.

Child to the man:

I’m done with the sermons on the person I should be,
Why can’t the world just let me be me?
The scores I bring home define my parents’ love or disdain,
You know not the anguish of constant embargos and refrain.
I envy you so, for you can tell good and evil apart,
And you have the freedom to let that special someone into your heart.

Man to the child:

I’ve wings to fly, but I’m dizzied by the height,
There’s not a soul around me on this dark, gloomy night.
I crave for those lazy naps in the noon,
Looking back on a fond era that passed by too soon.
When you fail, your mother does comfort her son,
But as today I fail, all I see is an empty room and a loaded gun.

A Sinister Silence Speaks – *Conditions Apply

A zipped travel bag lies in the foyer,
In the morrow once again, he’ll be on his way.
Words lose their worth, a sinister silence speaks
Of the abominable coldness that in my snug home peeps.
I try and drive it away, I try and feel his touch,
But as a function of time, our love asks for too much.
The job becomes the mistress, she throttles him in her fold,
An inevitable norm we live by, I am told.
A dozen loaves of bread I deep-freeze for the night,
A table for two, I adorn with candles lit bright.
He returns home beat, says he ate on the flight,
We struggle for small talk as we escape each other’s sight.

Conditions Apply?

Are you lost in that din? There’s a voice in there

That implores you to listen, that asks you to care

For the beneficiary over the benefits, for the jeopardized smile

Of the one you meant to walk with, to the very last mile.


Are you blinded to your past? Of course, or you’d remember,

How your mother tended to you every frosty December,

She’s reconciled with the distances, but a short call won’t hurt –

‘Conditions Apply’, you say, ‘I must make some money first’.


Did you call yourself secular? Sorry, that sounds lame,

For you assign a scorecard against every known name

That merits us on our choices, on religions and finance-

Conditions apply to your concept of tolerance.





A Simmer Of Dreams

Saw her last evening in the front seat of a car,
A young face riddled with a grimace and a scar
A kerchief clenched in her fist, she struggled to speak
As a teardrop contoured along her pale cheek.

Seated at the rear, decked in Prada new,
The mistress screamed foul like an incorrigible shrew
“What an incompetent mutt you make as a nanny,
Gosh, use your brains! Or oh, do you have any?
You were asked to keep an eye on little Grace,
And not to run amok all over the place!
What were you to get anyway in that expensive mall
That you left my child behind for your meaningless trawl?
You do get ‘em all, good food and my old suits,
Why, then, must you act too big for your boots?
The laxity aside, you must have some nerve
To ignore the paradox between what you get and deserve.”

The nanny said nothing, but much did her eyes
Of the simmer of dreams that beyond them lies,
A simmer that sees no equations of affluence
It rises in every heart, like an unsaid ordinance.

“To your mind they seem like trifles,” she seemed to say,
“But such modest nothings are enough to make my day.
Your wallet rings louder, but I wish you would know
That human pride sees no class, high or low.”

The Brook And The Maple Leaf

One little brook wends its way through the wild,
Letting out whimpers like an abandoned child,
It searches for a friend that is lost since long,
Cries out to the maple leaf an invoking song.

“Dear maple leaf, where have you been?
It’s been ages since the horizon together we’ve seen.
Come let us go see the sun set again,
Relive the moments we savoured back then.”

“Dear old brook, I miss you as much,
But we can meet no more, our fate is such,
The moisture in you makes me lose my sheen,
So I’d rather stay snug in the wilderness green.

In my adversity you sailed me through,

I know you care for me, and I love you too.

But times are anew, and you are no longer sweet and pure,

The velvet grass where I lie is a better lure.”


The brook falls still, stricken by grief,
In shock and dismay, turns to the maple leaf:
“Do you forget the day you were in want of direction,
And I had taken you along to your destination?

You now need me no more, then so it will be,
Stay rest assured, you’ll see no more of me,
I’ll flow till eternity and merge with the ocean,
One day you’ll wither, you’ll remember me then.”


The Plan

Of a forgotten year, there’s a memory I recall
Of a few bright stars in the school’s felicitation hall,
I scuffled for space in the corner of an aisle
To cheer for Maria as she picked her prize with a smile.

I asked Maria out but she didn’t care two pence,
Seek friends among equals, she said with insolence.
An injured ego and a broken heart then drew a plan:
‘Tomorrow I’ll be something, for I know that I can’.

In the name of inspiration, arose evasion tactics,
When I stacked heroic biographies and motivational flicks,
And in the dead of the night, a rendezvous with my dreams
Would assure me that success is as easy as it seems.

Days run into years, and years into a decade,
A hundred resolves broken, a thousand others made,
I still sneak out the paper that contains the old plan,
Saying ‘Tomorrow I’ll be something, for I know that I can’.

Life moves in a rut, resolves get difficult to keep,
I try dreaming big, but simply drift into sleep.
Tomorrow I’ll be something, and I know that I can,
But defining the ‘something’ is the next part of my plan.

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