August 31, 2008

I Hope I don't fall in love with you

It's just strange. This feeling.
Too fast too furious.
But love every bit of it.
Why does this have to happen?
Why now?
Meant to be?
Another way to get hurt?
Been there. Seen that.
Is it?
Maybe not.
But could be.
Should it?
Instincts say otherwise.
Heart is all over the place.
Mind is a bit clogged.
Fingers seem to be doing overtime.
Smiles & tears are the same family.
Fear is just an angry relative.

August 18, 2008


If wishes were wild horses, they would want to make love to

August 12, 2008

Thanks for a lovely evening

25 kids stood in a semi circle. Innocent faces with a lot of stories. Shy, eager and overjoyed. They stood there with their hands clasped with their own or the girl standing next. They always spoke in unison. They laughed & smiled in a group.

Little kids, they know so much. Little kids they make us understand so much more.

"Happy B'day to you
Happy B'day to you
Happy B'day dear AKKA
Happy B'day to you"

They sang, they giggled and clapped their hands in glee.
It's christmas for them.

Santa Claus had come to see them with a nice big bag. Food & Drinks to quench their hunger and thirst. But Love to quench their life.

Thanks for a lovely evening.
Happy B'day.

August 06, 2008

Do beedi ka samay

I have tried to understand the concept of time for a really long time now. After all these years, I have realised and come to a conclusion that such a concept doesn't exist and it's just a term. My interaction with people from different nationalities, origin, race, and color has given me a better understanding about this term and also helped me a great deal in my research on the theory of 'Do beedi ka samay'.

This theory is a revelation in understanding the behavioral pattern of the human species. Why 'Do beedi ka samay' you may ask?

While working closely with the tribes of Tippasandra, Bandra, Byappanhalli, Kuniyamuthoor, Sundakamuthoor, Kalasipalayam, Murgespalya, Lal Chowk, Subhramanyapuram, Kovilpatti, Kuppakonamuthoor and a lot of other palyas and puthoors, the one common factor that I have seen is Beedi. Everything starts and ends with beedi. 'Hey, come. Sit and have a beedi'. ' Am sorry to hear about your mother. Here this is a special beedi'. Beedi before you go to sleep and beedi immediately after you wake up. A beedi with your chai and a beedi while you work. A beedi in the hand and a beedi tucked behind your ear for future consumption. So, talk about time with these beedi idolizing crowd, time is also measured in beedies. When I explained one of my concepts with them, a wise old man after taking a deep drag on his beedi said, 'Do beedi ka samay'. The gathering said in unison, 'Do beedi ka samay', and there was a loud roar. I was offered a beedi as a token of appreciation.

The wise old man's words kept haunting me for a long time. 'Do beedi ka samay', he would say, while smoking one. His voice would echo in my head. He would also have an evil villanous laugh. The laugh kept getting louder and louder as the days went by. One night while sleeping, I heard the again. The laugh was loud and haunting. I woke up startled, breathing heavily and drenched in sweat. I couldn't take it anymore. I got up from my bed. The tribal mosquitoes didn't like it either. They wanted my blood and I wanted answers.

I walked aimlessly as far as my legs could take me. I couldn't continue like this. Aimless, lost, confused and haunted by the wise man's words, I was losing it. My legs gave way and I fell to the ground. I don't know for how long I was unconscious. A hand was trying to push me. It was shaking my fragile body. 'Sirji, Sirji', I could hear a mumble. I groaned. With great difficulty I opened my eyes. The sun's rays were piercing through my eyelids. I shielded my eyes. After what seemed like ages, I finally managed to get up and sit. My head still aching, my legs bruised and bloody and the voice of the old man still loaded in my brain. I wanted it to stop. I wanted to leave. I wanted...

'Sir ji, Doctor saab ko humne bulaya hai. Woh do beedi ka samay mein aajayenge'. I got up. My eyes popped on the floor, when I heard the man say that. I took my watch and saw the time. It said 6:20 am. I began to wait. Did he mean the time from when he said it? Did he mean from the time he saw me unconscious. God. It was too much to handle.

I was looking at the watch. I was looking at the man. He smiled a reassuring smile and lit a beedi. Ah, first beedi, I thought. He took a deep drag, spoke to me and the others who had gathered around me and then let the smoke out. He stubbed the beedi after that with his fingers. Oh, No. That's one beedi down? I wondered. But instead of throwing the beedi down, he placed it behind his ears. He began to write something on the sand, squatting while he did that. You always smoke a beedi squatting, that I learnt from the tribals, which a french friend of mine still practices till date. After talking to the group for an additional twenty minutes, he took the beedi from behind his ear and lit it again. This he continued leaving regular intervals. Till finally the beedi was over. Ah! Am I getting to understand something here? Maybe, just maybe I was getting closer to the elusive secret behind 'Do beedi ka samay'. I looked at my watch. It was 7:20. One hour for one beedi. That's it. I had cracked it. I had finally cracked the secret behind the wise old man's words.

I was hysterical. I was elated. I was going insane. I got up from the ground and started jumping, screaming, going red on my face. Tears swelling up in my eyes. I held my hands over my eyes, buried my face in my palm. I cried. Like a baby, like a mother who had just given birth, like a father during his daughter's wedding. I cried for another beedi ka samay.

As I looked at the puzzled, quizzical faces around me, I began to smile. I looked at the wise old man who had come while I was crying. He was glad to see me smile. I looked at him and said, 'Babaji ek beedi milega?'.

August 04, 2008

Long time now

It was 4 in the morning. He was sitting at the terrace of his house. The morning cold was piercing through his skin. He sat with his hands wrapped around his knees. Like a little boy he was staring at the sky. He had been doing that for a long time now.

He recollected the people he had met a few days ago. The smiling faces, the many stories, the beautiful landscape that he had seen. He smelt the air- it smelt of love & hospitality. He had always been a people's person. He loved meeting new people in life. He had been doing that for a long time now.

He thought about his first crush. The way he used to walk his dog outside her house to get a glimpse of her when she came home from school. With her hair tied in a pony. Her crisp blue skirt swaying in the wind. She would turn around and look at him before she entered her house. He turned away when she did that. He had been doing that for a long time now.

He remembered the day when he smoked his first cigarette. It was on his friend's birthday. There were a bunch of kids from school wanting to experiment. He wanted to blow smoke rings. He wanted to hold the ciggie between his fingers. He had been doing that for a long time now.

He took the tissue paper and started writing. He let his thoughts wander. He let his guards down. He felt comfortable doing this. Sitting by himself, immersed in his words, he could explore the magical world of words. He had been doing that for a long time now.

Getting close to people. That was his speciality. He had nothing to hide, he had everything to share. He walked around with his emotions on his sleeve. And he always had the time for others. He had been misunderstood. He had been blamed. He had been hurt. But he continued. He had been doing that for a long time now.

The hot coffee that he was sipping on was getting cold. The water in the glass was cold. He liked it that way. He went through the text messages on his phone. He smiled, he shrugged, he shook his head. The old lady walked past him. He smiled. He had been doing that for a long time now.

He checked his watch. He observed the chaos on the road. He saw the dog chasing a motorist. He saw the watchman lighting a smoke. He saw the waiter clearing a table. He saw a bunch of adolescent kids discussing about the girl in the next table. He waited for her...

August 02, 2008

A houseboat named Pink Floyd

As the sound from a machine gun rattled in the distance, I was sitting under a tin roof with an afghani. There was hot 'Chai' brewing from a vessel that looked like it had seen and been in the midst of a few dirty wars. "This happens all the time", he quipped between his breath while focussing on the boiling liquid. All the time? I thought to myself before lighting a cigarette. How do they manage? How do they lead a normal life with so much terror around them? I am from the south. A region that had always been a safe zone in the history of India. The region that had not seen any major war, communal riots, terror attacks, nothing. Maybe the region was not worth it, maybe the people were far too evolved right from the beginning, maybe they just couldn't care less, or maybe they cared a lot.

"Your chai", the afghani man offered me a cup with a lot of stains. Was it blood? I just felt I was overreacting and let it be. I smiled and took the cup from the man and took a sip. The tea was sweet. Like how a tea is supposed to taste. Like how all teas taste.

Walking along the lake, I couldn't but stop and think about all the smiling faces that I had been seeing from the time I stepped foot in this land. For a place that has seen so much terror, so much violence and lots of blood and gore, it was the most beautiful place I had ever been to. The sun was shining bright above my head. It was 7 in the evening and it was still very bright. The lake was filled with colorful 'Shikaras' - these boats where tourists and locals alike take time to just sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful landscape and rejoice. 'Indian Palace. Dekho magar piyar say. with music', read a sign. It caught my eye. I moved with my backpack in tow and the camera hanging from my neck. That's where I met Sajid Hussain. Old man, wise man, man who knew 8 languages. There was more chai, more stories and more smiles.

Gulam hassan was a man who always had a lot to say. Always. He was a cabbie. Two daughters and three sons. He would proudly say about his family. He was a real man according to him. A real man is one who doesn't shy away from bullets, from fights, from problems and has a lot of kids. As he starts to talk, he can't stop from showing off his bullet wounds on his legs. Militant attack, he said lighting a cigarette that he borrowed from me. With his cell phone constantly ringing and him constantly smoking, it was a little crazy to see the car just move. There is no concept of road sense in that land. I don't think they even think such a concept exists or is needed. People honk all the time, two wheelers always had three or more people on them. No helmets, no seatbelts, no signals, no accidents. I was certain I would have been killed. But am alive to narrate my tale.

Ak Daleel Loolekh. A story of love. That was the name of the kashmiri movie directed by this person whom I met next. Aarshad was a very interesting person. Calm, composed and measured in his conversation, but gets very emotional when he gets talking about his land, about India and Pakistan. In his words, "I was 14 when on one day after a militant attack, I attended 20 funerals in one day. Friends who played football with me, neighbors, schoolmates, family. I woke up the next day feeling like a 44 yr old and not a 14 yr old. My life has changed since".

In addition to the smiles, the madness on the roads, the breathtaking landscapes and the unbelievable hospitality there was also another thing that was there in abundance. Army - RAF personnels with machine guns and their bullet proof vests. They were all over the place. Tankers, bunkers, wired fences crop out of nowhere in the city. Apparently there is one guard for every 11 people in that land. That is some serious security. People are not bothered by their presence. They are not bothered by the movement of the locals, there is so much harmony in the chaos that I witnessed there.

Smiles, warmth, splendid scenery, chaos, gorgeous women, cold security guards, talkative cab drivers, friendly boatmen, great room service, a house boat called Pink Floyd, mouth watering kashmiri food, friendly soccer matches, interesting conversations, wild imaginations, lots of local talent, annoying clients, solitude, harmony, loneliness, crowds,fantastic poetry, crazy journalists, long walks, late nights, lovely lakes, green trees, love and more love.

Every single person who I met in the one week that I was there, all had a story behind their life, behind who they are now, who they were then and who they want to be from now on.

That was Srinagar for me.