January 04, 2013

#JaAnedo India

It just seems like yesterday that I was dancing on the streets with friends & fellow Indians, the national flag wrapped around my shoulder, face paint dripping down to my throat from all the screaming & dancing. We had won the World Cup. We were the World Champions. I remember every match so clearly. I also remember putting all my projects on hold and attending as many matches at the stadium as possible. I remember partying till the wee hours of the morning with boisterous Irish supporters after the match against England. I remember my throat aching from all the screaming and shouting. I remember tears trickling down my face as the nation celebrated the victory. I remember Sachin Tendulkar being carried on the shoulders of the young brigade of India. This morning when I woke up, these memories seemed so far away and distant. I have to go back and play the recorded video of the finals that we played against Sri Lanka to actually believe India having won the World Cup. Because frankly, the current Indian team doesn’t look like a team that can beat a club side. I would like to consider myself a hardcore Cricket follower. I consider myself a die-hard Indian cricket fan. I am the person who would still cross my fingers and toes praying for an (unlikely) Indian win, even when we need 13 to win off one ball. I expect the bowler to bowl a no-ball, the Indian batsman (read tail-ender) to strike the ball over the boundary for a Six. I believe that the free hit from the bowler would also be struck outside the park and the two batsmen in the middle (and the million followers and supporters) to celebrate another Indian win. Call me crazy; call me stupid, this is me, till I woke up this morning. This morning, I didn’t bother reading the newspaper, obviously the sports page. I didn’t bother about what ex- cricketers and selectors had to say about the current state of affairs of Indian cricket. I didn’t bother reading about excuses given by players, mocking statements given by opposition captains and players. I felt like I had to vent out my frustration and instead of reading, I felt like writing this piece. We are a cricket crazy country. We idolize our cricketers and treat them like Gods! We shower them with moolah and brickbats, we are generous that way. We all have a take about the game, about our players, about the board, about the selectors and the coach and the pitch curator, so on and so forth. We also have a really bad case of short term memory loss. We don’t believe in introspection, we believe in living in the present. 4-0 in England, 4-0 in Australia, and who can forget the many earlier series losses outside the country on India’s every overseas tour. They knew we couldn’t face the pace and bounce. They knew we couldn’t play the short ball. They knew we couldn’t take 20 wickets. They knew it all. They also knew we had the money, we had the IPL and we had the richest board in the world. And our players knew how to talk, more than how to play the game. They knew how to market themselves than to be ambassadors of the game. They knew how to be fit and loyal to their respective clubs than being proud of representing the country. They knew how dumb and loyal we are- the supporters of this team! Agreed, the team is going through a transition phase and some of the regular players are either out retired or injured, but that does not mean the current crop of players should take their game so easy. Every team undergoes a transition phase, the Australians (the most powerful of the lot) had to go through their phase, and look at how they are playing now. New Zealand seem to be under all kinds of crap at the moment, but one look at the way their players play and you wouldn’t for once doubt their efforts or their commitment. Winning is important, agreed, but I just hope we put up a fight and lose than not try at all! We like our Sachin’s, our Sourav’s and our Sehwag’s. But there has to be a time, when we need to let them go. And when I say let them go, I mean it in the harshest of ways. There is no point hanging onto someone’s past. Hanging on to someone who has won matches for you, but past their prime at the moment. Who would like to see Sachin getting bowled, match after match, to bowlers who will eventually make their careers with his wickets? Why would you have young, talented individuals warming the bench & quenching the thirst (read Egos) of aged players who lack fitness, ability & the motivation? The questions are abundant, but I don’t see answers coming up anytime soon. I am old school when it comes to preparing for a game. I haven’t played cricket at the most serious level, but I have played enough cricket at junior levels to tell you this is no way to prepare for a game. We didn’t have technology like they do today; we didn’t have a chief coach, a batting coach, a bowling coach, a fielding coach, a physio, a massage therapist or a video expert, who can provide all analysis and details of your earlier matches! All we had was severe passion towards the game & the determination to make it BIG. While the opponents have done their homework against India, we are more focused on providing our time & effort towards the next ad shoot. While the opponents come early to acclimatize to the conditions, we feel inclined towards marketing individual brands more. While other teams play as a unit, we tend to play well at least ONCE so that we get the calling card to play for IPL. While other teams practice their cricketing skills, we practice our soccer skills and our modeling skills (or the lack of it). Gone are the days when we could claim that we were Tigers in our backyard. We could get thrashed out of the country, but at least in the sub continental conditions, we were a threat. I guess, every team is now getting the better of us. If we don’t do something drastic & serious about this, we are going to be quite the laughing stock- if we aren’t already! I could probably write another 100 pages of a word document, if only I didn’t feel angrier than I was when I started writing this article. So, I say #JaAnedo India, stop thinking you are better. Stop thinking you could get away with anything. Stop thinking people will forget. Stop thinking & start playing.

August 13, 2010

Flower Girl

As she cut the heart-shaped cake placed on the table, their eyes lit up. The youngest of the lot, also the most shy, turned her tiny little face to glance at the cake and the towering grownups who had decided to pay her and her friends a visit.

They didn’t have visitors often. They had a routine. Wake up- school- common lunch- continue with school- come back- study-pray and then sleep. It was the flower girl’s visit they craved for. They would have loved to have the flower girl come there often. She came once a year, smiling and glowing with such elegance that it was hard to forget her. She’s the one who’d make heads turn, wherever she went. Am sure she was the brand ambassador of Iodex (or at least the soul responsible for their sales) what with all the crick in the necks she has been responsible for over the years.

The flower girl was a thinner, more beautiful version of Santa Claus. And what more, she didn’t keep them waiting till December. It was August, the time she blossoms. And the fragrance lingered for a whole year. The cookies tasted lovely, the savories had an extra crunch, the juice overflowed and to top it all, her love was everlasting.

She came with her entourage of reindeer, who were more than just happy to share her magic. “Am just being selfish”, she’d say. But we all knew she was just being way too modest.

It takes a lot of heart to do what she does. Though she’s not the only one in the phase of this planet to do what she does. But it still is a wonderful gesture. Its things like this, which makes her a wonderful person, a nice human being.

This is for the flower girl. A friend, a warm person and an amazing soul.

Happy Blossoming.

July 14, 2010

Short Series: She

She walked in, hair swaying in the wind, eyes glancing across the half crowded coffee shop, with a bunch of red roses gripped tightly in her hands. A cat whistle shrilled from across the table where she rested her grip on the flowers. A couple of gawky teenagers couldn’t hide their excitement and let their jaw drop (along with the glass of cold coffee) at the sight of the flower girl. She looked up, sharp eyes, lined with kajal, the type that makes the eyes look even more expressive than how it is on a lazy Sunday morning. On second thoughts, the morning face, Sunday or otherwise always wins ‘pants down’.

The flowers found a place on the table and one got to see her fingers, beautifully manicured, the ones that would have experienced the choicest of creams, lotions and moisturizers, the ones that always smelt fresh and felt divine. The ones that were always not too far from sanitizers. The ones that had mehendi on them?

Ah! She is married. About to be married? Or her friend just got married. Yes. That should be the case. Phew! That’s a relief.

She sat down at a table that could accommodate only two people. She is expecting company. The electricity just went off, thanks to the heavy rain. A few drops of rain cascaded down her forehead and fell on the table. She carefully took a tissue from her bag (didn’t even bother looking at the pile of tissues folded and placed on the table in a triangular shape by the waiters) and wiped her face, gently, not ruining the kajal. The heart skips another beat. She folds the tissue and places them next to the flowers.

“I’m there”, she said on the phone, that seemed to have magically sprung out of her bag and planted itself to her ears, when the mind was too busy deciding on her relationship status.

“Oh! Another half hour? Shit”, she cursed. The lips seemed so pure, so bright and so sensuous, that one could never expect words other than love, peace, hope, and bliss, let alone profanity. Those lips were meant for kissing, to be kissed than curse. It looked like a painting, perfect, symmetric, orgasmic with the blood red of her lipstick, like the painters final signature.

The waiter walks up to her table and places a candle and she smiles at him. It’s his lucky day. He walks away and she lights the candle with her lighter. The candle light falls on her face and the heart skips another beat. Her eyes shine. The light keeps shifting, thanks to the wind; it plays a pattern on her face. Her nose ring twinkles. The light is blinding, making me turn my gaze away from her for just a moment.

She is trying to catch the attention of the waiter. Unaware that she has everybody’s attention. She does realize it. She signals him to get her a hot cappuccino; you could see her pinky sticking out, while she signaled.

The coffee arrives in what felt like milliseconds. She looked awkward trying to open the sachet of sugar to add to her coffee. She spills some on the table-the coffee and the sugar. She looked up to see if someone saw her clumsiness.

Her eyes met mine. I smiled. She was still for a moment before a gentle smile escaped her lips. The candle light was playing tricks. The light and shadow was just too much to handle. I gently nodded my head to greet her. She hesitantly waved back.

I went back to scribble on the tissue paper, the one I had in front of me from the moment I came into the coffee shop. I wanted to write something. In fact I wanted to just keep writing. I had something to write about.

The coffee shop began filling up. The rain was getting heavier and water was dripping from the roof above. People were trying to squeeze into any available space. Tables looked crowded. Privacy could be forgotten. At least till the rain stopped. The air smelt wet. The voices became loud and conversations from every table could be heard clearly. No one went near her table. She still stood out. Alone, beautiful and mesmerizing.

Ever so often, I looked up to see her. I just couldn’t stop. I would then smile to myself and then get back to writing. My coffee was getting cold, partly due to the weather and mostly because I never bothered to drink it.

“What? You’re stuck? It’s pouring here and what do you want me to do?” she spoke on the phone once again. Frustration was written all over her forehead. I could see the lines forming on her clear face. She shook her head and disconnected the call. And I’m certain I heard her swear one last time before hanging up the call.

She glanced towards the flowers that were on the table. She picked up a tissue and began scribbling something. A note I thought. She tucked the note to the flowers and called the waiter. She handed him the flowers and said something, the waiter nodded. He went back to the cash counter, carefully holding the flowers. She took a final sip of her coffee and got up, hand held over her head to protect her from the rain and strode out as briskly as she had come in just a while ago.

The heart skipped another beat.

Do I go behind her? Maybe just talk to her? Would I be seeing her again? Questions flooded my brain. I was snapped out of my trance by the waiter.

“Sir, that madam asked me to give these to you”, he said handing me the flowers.

“Would love to read what you have written about me. Coffee tomorrow at 4?” it read with a smiley at the end.

November 20, 2009

Click. Or is it Clock? Maybe it is just Click-Clock!

Click- Clock, Click- Clock
The clock went click
Clicking away as the crickets creak
The cricket’s creak and they click like clocks
Click-Clock, Click- Clock

The old man walked with his grand-father clock
Clocking time with each click from his clock
The photographer stood there and clicked
Clicking pictures of the magical clock
Click-Clock, Click-Clock

With every second from the rickety clock
The runner raced against the stop-clock
No one knew the time on the clock
The crowd screamed when they saw the clock
Click-Clock, Click- Clock

November 16, 2009

World Guitar Nights

And while most of Bangalore was sitting at home immersed in the re-runs of unintelligent reality television or getting high on inexpensive liquor (not a bad option really, when you are subject to the typical English weather minus the piercing winds) a select few were witness to two unbelievable nights of fingering.

Now, before you perverted-twisted souls start picturing cheap porn made from a bra-string budget, let me be quick to add, the fingering was reserved for the strings on an acoustic guitar.

* * * * *

What do you get when you have four mad guitarists from four different countries on stage in a palatial garden in Bangalore on a rainy weekend? You get music that is pure, potent and orgasmic. You get physically, emotionally and musically stoned!

As you enter the gate of Jayamahal Palace with its strange d├ęcor of serial lights that one associates with rich Indian weddings, all you wish is hopefully it’s only the lights that are shady and not your evening.

After giving your throat the wetness it required with a nice cold beverage, you proceed towards a bunch of empty plastic chairs that are carefully arranged all over the lawn. It was time for the cold elixir to act on your system and the music to flood the starved soul. That, by the way brings me to talk about four guitar masters who entertained, enlightened and intoxicated the audience with sheer talent. Masters who pushed boundaries with such force that was brutal and subtle, sexual and sensual, arrogant yet nonchalant.

Konarak Reddy started the evening with an ‘Aalap’ that was capable of giving goose bumps to a stone. He had the small crowd that trickled in, move right up to the stage to watch him in action. His rendition of ‘Taara’ with Don Ross, was poetry in motion, it had the power to make you float and soar in the sky, for that date with the stars that you’d been craving for. Watching his fingers perform ballet on the strings was a treat for sore eyes. The effortless ease with which he swayed his big frame, the smooth improvisation from Carnatic to Jazz and his ‘Konnakol’ mesmerized the audience and transported them to a beautiful place.

Imagine a Japanese dude with an acoustic guitar in his hands and a performance that was as explosive as an atom bomb. It was ‘Mass Suicide’ aka Masa Sumide. It looked like Masa swallowed a few springs before stepping onto stage. His bouncy movements like a ping-pong ball, in a match between Wang Hao and Wang Liqin and his contagious smile so radiant and illuminating, ensured Bangaloreans got a taste of what Aurora Borealis feels like. Sumide’s music is completely sexual. You don’t make love to his style of music. He makes you feel like the teenage kid dry humping a cushion the day before his big prom night, practicing for what might be a lucky night if he could hold his trousers in place. His groovy, percussive music oozes lust every time he plays. Sumide is quite a performer. Watching him play on stage made the audience seem like peeping toms. He was stroking, sucking and blowing the strings on his guitar with such perverse joy that it was but natural that he had to run off stage immediately after his performance with such speed that would have put Usain Bolt to shame and made him seem like a toddler in the 100meters Olympic finals.

The evening continued and the audience reeling from their first orgasm of the evening, it was time for the ‘Seducer’ to take the stage. You’re shaking, your throat is dry (the many cold beverages that you downed through the evening doesn’t make any difference) and you’re breathing hard. Is that a drop of sweat that just trickled down your neck? You think you need to just sit down and calm those shaky legs. I suggest it’s a great idea.

Szabo is a magician and instead of a magic wand, he is armed with a guitar. Szabo holds his guitar like it was a woman, the last- beautiful woman on earth. He creates music by caressing her, feeling her soft skin, smelling her as she steps out of a nice bubble bath after a long day’s work. His music is sensual; it tickles all the right muscles in your body. His music loosens you up and makes the hair at the back of your neck stand up. It flows and overpowers you and catches you off-guard. And you thought it was that gorgeous woman in a mini skirt standing behind you, who just blew softly below your ear. You like it. You lean back and breathe slowly. You close your eyes and let yourself feel what he wants you to feel. You see his fingers glide over the guitar and make music like you never knew existed, that you never knew was possible by just barely touching the strings. And people wouldn’t disprove when you say that you just saw his guitar turn a shade red from his touch. They are too embarrassed when you look at them and see that their cheeks are flushed with a deep red like a prostitute’s lipstick. You look up to the heavens and pray that it doesn’t rain when he starts playing the Hungarian Folk song. You believe him when he says, he played this track at a concert in Korea and it started raining and the rain didn’t stop for five days. He is not just a musician but a shaman with unbelievable powers. Szabo leaves you high and hard, craving for more, aching for a touch and makes you spell-bound. His job is done and he smiles. You are left on your own with a long lonely night ahead of you, if you are single!

Guitarist, singer, song writer, composer, stand-up comedian and grizzly bear dressed in a shirt and pair of jeans, watching Don Ross on stage is like watching a Rock Star. The term ‘Gentle giant’ was coined only to explain a person like him. If you ever thought musicians don’t talk as beautifully as they play, then you couldn’t be more wrong! Don has the ability to make you tap your feet and sway with his music one instant and then make you roll on the floor laugh with his wit the other. I wouldn’t blame you if you laughed so hard that you even peed a little. Some people do have that effect on us lesser mortals. Don’t forget to listen to the story of his song, ‘Dracula and Friends’, a special dedication for his daughter Taara. There is a story behind each and every single one of his songs, each more interesting and entertaining than the other. At the end of it all, you are blown away by the sheer range of his style. Jazz, folk, rock and classical music, you name it and he plays it. He draws his inspiration from just about everything, from the kids on the streets with their baseball caps turned the other way to cartoons on television that his daughter loves, Don is an opportunist, an entertainer and a pure genius.

* * * * *

The crowd begins to disperse, the rain slowly picks up (your prayer worked), and the musicians stand around the swimming pool – cold beverage on hand talking to a meager bunch of people who are high as a kite, both from the concert and the many liquids they generously gulped through the evening. And no points for guessing what the conversations revolved around!

You ride back home, alone, humming some of the ballads and songs you heard earlier in the evening, and strumming an air guitar. Recreating the magic. You are spent by the time you reach home. You look at the box of Whey protein on the top shelf of your kitchen and smile to yourself. You need the strength. Or maybe you might want to save it for next year’s show.

November 07, 2009

Bombay- My love

It has always been on my mind. I just can't stop thinking about it. I belong there. I just know it. What have I done about it? Well, as of now, absolutely nothing. And I just want to kick my butt for that. I have told a bunch of people, that they are all talk and absolutely no shit. I could say the same thing about me now, with regards to this one particular topic.


Where do I even begin? The city of dreams. The city of love. The city of challenges. The city that has taught me the way of life. The city where I want to live. The city that has been home away from home. Everytime I think about this city, my heart skips a beat. A smile escapes my lip and am overcome with emotion. I love this city. I love the smell of this city. I love the people. I love the rains. I love the traffic. I love the old, pale buildings. I love vada paav. I love the late night drunken taxi rides. I love the buzz. I love the suburban train rides. I love getting stuck in traffic at 2 in the morning. I love the concept of being in love with this city. I am in love with this city.


The city that never sleeps. The city that doesn't want to sleep. The city that hates sleeping. The madness. A walk from Mehboob studio to my hotel in Pali hills, made me realize the meaning of my life. I don't think I would want to be anywhere else on this planet other than this city. I have done some crazy things in life. Nothing more crazy than my trip to Bombay with just a helmet. It was just another evening. An evening with cousins at a pub which eventually resulted in taking my bike and parking it at the airport parking lot and taking the next flight to Bombay. A sudden trip that eventually turned out to be the best three days of my life. A trip that resulted in meeting a strange but amazing couple who let us stay at their place for the night- the night that we landed in Bombay. A friend who was more than happy to drive us around town and spend time with us. And another friend, who gave me the keys to her sea-side apartment for a day without having a single thought.


Jo barse sapne boond boond
Nainon ko moond moond

Jo barse sapne boond boond
Nainon ko moond moond

Kaise main chaloon, dekh na sakoon
Anjaane raastein.

I can't stop listening to this song. I can't stop being in complete awe with the lyrics. Shayad yahi hai pyaar. I am in love. Again. With this city. With this amazing city.

Gunjasa hai koi iktara iktara, gunjasa hai koi iktara
Gunjasa hai koi iktara iktara, gunjasa hai koi iktara
Dheeme bole koi iktara iktara, dheeme bole koi iktara
Gunjasa hai koi iktara iktara, gunjasa hai koi iktara

August 17, 2009


I woke up to the vibrating buzz from my phone. I was having a very interesting dream. The anchor had just announced my name and amidst thundering applause and a standing ovation, I was walking towards the stage to collect the National award for the best director (also my fifth award for the night).

“Paati Mob”, the screen screamed and I knew this was the real thing and smiled. The call got disconnected in three rings, the time it takes for my Paati (Grand mom) to realize her mistake and cut the call.

The scene began to change. I was smiling with pride and had reached the stage by then. Mani Ratnam was standing there with the award in his hand, he smiled as I approached. As I was about to put my hands out to collect the award, the phone in my jeans began to vibrate. Then it starts ringing again and the sound was resonating everywhere. The anchor was staring at me with her mouth wide open. I could hear Big B and Junior B sitting in the front row twitch and squirm in their seats and curse me for not keeping my phone on silent. And then it rang again. And again. Three rings and it got disconnected.

“Paati Mob”, the screen screamed and I knew this was the real thing and smiled. The call got disconnected in three rings, the time it takes for my Paati to realize her mistake and cut the call.

My Paati has a new mobile phone for the last four months. But she’s still trying to understand how it works. She had always been great with numbers. Be it the ones on her sudoku board or remembering phone numbers. She was good with statistics and scores of cricket matches too. In fact she learnt Hindi listening to the commentary on DD. Her understanding of Hindi numbers is better than most North Indians I know. I remember the time when she used to wake up at 4 in the morning to watch India play Australia in Australia. The match always started at an ungodly hour. She would be up and ready with her kaai- kari (vegetables) spread across in front of her while she settled down to watch the match right from the pitch report and toss. She knew for a fact that I would also be up to watch the game and immediately after the toss; she would call me (I lived in the next house). And would then discuss the strategy of the game and tell me her views on what the wicket looked like and what it might do for the team batting first. I would always tell her that she should have been the coach of the Indian team. Imagine a madisaar clad old lady sitting in the dressing room in front of a laptop making notes during a match. Now that would be a sight.

She loves her 7 children, 8 grand children and 3 great grand children. She is a Rock star. She sings like a dream. She distributes Gokulashtami Bhakshanams in a way that would put mathematicians and statisticians to shame. She loves her TV serials. She loves her cricket even if the match is between Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. For the last four months, I wake up everyday to find a couple of missed calls and a few blank messages from her phone. My name is the first on her address book and she is yet to figure out how to use her phone. It’s a wonderful feeling to wake up to those. Brings a smile on my face.

Paati has a flair for languages. She speaks Tamil, Telugu, Hindi & English with absolute ease. She picked up Telugu from her neighbor in Karakpur. This little girl who stayed next to her house would drop by her house everyday after Thaatha left for work. I still remember the day when I brought my friend home and my paati’s eyes lit up when she knew she spoke Telugu. For the next half an hour the two of them were at it and paati was in full form. Even now she keeps asking me when I would get that friend home again.

There is so much more to my Paati. I could talk about how she religiously gets up in the morning and finishes up the Sudoku from every News Paper. The way she meticulously draws the boxes onto a sheet of paper before she begins to solve the puzzle, the way she makes her thakkali (tomato) rasam, the way she walks around her garden every evening and plucks the jasmine flowers, the way she counts them and walks over to my house to talk to her daughter (my mom) and proudly tell her the count, or the way she calls my mom if she is not in town to tell her about the flowers, the way she sits right in front of the TV so that she could listen to the dialogues better, the way her skin feels all wrinkled and soft, the way she spends time with her grand kids, the way she talks proudly about her grand kids to others.

To my Paati- the most amazing woman I have ever met.

“Paati Mob”, the screen screamed and I knew this was the real thing and smiled. The call got disconnected in three rings, the time it takes for my Paati to realize her mistake and cut the call.