Winter

Winter is like that.

Cold on the outside. So much, that it makes you feel warm inside. With the right company. Or, the right book. Or, with the right view.

It makes you look inside.

Like the way mild rain showers do. Not the torrential downpours. No, they scare you.

Mild rain showers make you wrap yourself up in an imaginary cocoon. And sing songs to yourself. As you walk back to the comfort of your home. Or, the place you can call home.

 

And as you shiver, you become one with the surroundings.

Winters can do that.

Like mild rains.

Not summers though.

 

The winter haze hides all noise. Sometimes, you rub your ears just to hear something. The sound of silence, maybe.

You only see what you need to see.

Or, what you expect to see.

When you stand by the windows in winter, you see beauty. Nature’s silence.

winter

Everything is an illusion. Or not. Like the heightened taste of pakodas. Or, the warm glow of companionship.

In winters, two often become one. As they seek each other.

And as two become one, the world seems like a less crowded place. Not divided by the difference between tea and coffee, white and black, paratha and dosa, capitalists and socialists. Like a nice coffee shop with a community table, which has space for just one more person. And another.

Like that community fire that makes you sit around and share stories. With space for just one more person. One more story.

 

Aren’t wintery places more sought after holiday destinations? Like Switzerland? Kashmir? As compared to the desert of Thar? Or Chennai?

 

Winters bring out the best in everything. Except, the colours of nature. Nature becomes silent. And broody. But broody is beautiful, no? Don’t you see a lot more of model photoshoot pictures where the subject is intense and broody. Not cheerful. Isn’t that the appeal of Ajay Devgan? Apparently?

 

 

I wonder why he wrote it that way. The Winter Is Coming. Ominous. Winter is nice. Winter is togetherness. Winter is the countless night spend together huddled in the same rajai. Winter is multiple rounds of chai-coffee together. Winter is those lazy five minutes of sleep. Winter is the new year picnic with family and friends. Winter is the steam coming off a hot roti. Winter is us.

 

 

 

 

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hum jaane kya kya kar aaye

Another one from the offline archives that never made to the blog this year.

 

Hum jaane kya kya kar aaye
Ye muththi khaali kar aaye
Jor laga ke bheenchi par
Hun ret na kaabu kar paaye

Paani ki tarah sab pighal gaya
In aankhon se aansoo ban kar
Kuch sapne humne tod liye
Do aankhein khaali kar aaye

Ab haath khule par dua nahi
Ab zakhm khule hain, dawaa nahi
Apni zebein khali kar ke
Allah ka daaman bhar aaye

Kaatenge kaise baaki umar
Is baat pe charcha kya karna
Tasveer bitha ke is ghar mein
Hum tumko rukhsat kar aaye

Tum baith wahan khush khush hoge
Hum roz yahan kuch rote hain
Har roz koi kissa keh kar
Hum dil pe marham kar aaye

Moving on… From 2016

It’s been an year. More than that. I’ve not written anything here. This blogging part of my life has stayed dormant. I was busy. Not writing. I ended 2015 with this, and I had to eat my own words in 2016.

2016 was not good. In totality. The year you lose your father cannot give you a victory big enough to compensate for your loss.

I was busy with that phase of taking care of him. Trying to take care of him. Compromising on almost everything else. Even when I was doing other things.

Later, I was busy grieving. The grief still sneaks in from here and there. More so, on the days I sit down to write something. It’s almost like I need to apologize before the conversation can move forward. For everything I did not do enough of.

I haven’t written much about him. I don’t know what to write about him.

The middle class guy that I am, I spent a lifetime living his dreams. All except one. I don’t regret that.

I do regret not talking enough. I regret not doing enough. I regret not being there as often. I regret a lot of those things. Comes with the territory, I guess.

I would like to believe that I made him proud. I am certain some of my actions or decisions did not agree with him. He tried not to make me feel bad about them.

Everyone believes that I was his favorite. I hope I did enough to be his favorite. I hope it wasn’t just because I was the youngest. And the cutest. 🙂

I hope he knew that I loved him as much as he loved me. It’s difficult though.

I am grateful that his pain and suffering did not prolong. I am grateful that while his sickness lasted long, he did not have a difficult departure. I am grateful that I was there. I always feel that I would have not been able to come back to my life if I was not there. If I hadn’t seen him leave.

 

So, here’s to an attempt to fall forward in 2017. I hope that when this year is over, I am done with getting my life and living in order again, you can still proudly say –“my son!”.  To quote from what I wrote for Aaroh

मेरे लड़खड़ाते कदमो को थाम ले
वो ऊँगली हो तुम

तुम मेरा कल हो
तुम्हारा आज हूँ मैं
तुम्हारी अनकही कहानी का
अंदाज़ हूँ मैं

And in case you have internet where you are – here’s a pic for you.

dsc_0021

 

***

This is what I wrote on the night of May 6th. The night before he left.

तुम्हें लौट कर आज आन पड़ेगा।
अभी बात मेरी पूरी नहीं है।
अभी मैंने काफी कहा ही नहीं है।
अभी तुमने काफी सुना ही नहीं है।

अभी मेरे सपने अधूरे अधूरे।
अभी मेरी हर दास्तां है अधूरी।
अभी मैंने कितने फ़साने हैं लिखने।
अभी लफ्ज़ मैंने बुना ही नहीं है।

बस इक बार हंस के मुझे देख लो तुम
बस इक बार और सीना चौड़ा तो हो ले
बस इक बार और उस बिस्तर पे सो लूँ
बस इक बार तुमको पकड़ के मैं रो लूँ

फिर इक बार तुम मेरी बातें समझ लो
फिर इक बार फिर मुझपे गुस्सा तो कर लो
फिर इक बार एक चुटकुला तो सुना दो
अभी मैंने कुछ भी सुना ही नहीं है

अभी मैंने कुछ भी सुना ही नहीं है
अभी मैंने कुछ भी सुना ही नहीं है

Nazm- हम में भी बड़ा दम है

कहते हैं बड़ा ग़म है
हम में भी बड़ा दम है

था खौफ कहानी में
पर रूबरू बेदम है

हाथों में सुलेमानी
और रूह में ज़म ज़म  है

हम दीखते हैं तनहा
ये इश्क़ तो  पाहम है

हर ज़ख्म हरा हो ले
हर अश्क़ में मरहम है

गर छत नहीं तो क्या है
सर साया-इ-मरियम है

निकले हैं बाँध सर पे कफ़न
अब कई दीवाने
होना है जो हो जाए
ये जूनून फ़राहम है
हम में भी बड़ा दम है

Movie Review: Prem Ratan Dhan Payo

Yesterday, I subjected myself to this movie. To survive, I tweeted throughout the movie. Rather than write a review and, in that process, hate myself again, I present to you – the storified tweets.

 

prdp

Book Reviews

A bunch of book reviews I had done for thetalespensieve are out.

 

Zen Garden by Subroto Bagchi – Collection of Bagchi’s interactions with some of the finest business and social leaders, entrepreneurs and pathmakers, invited to the Zen garden, where they share their life stories, inflexion and tipping points, principles, driving forces, passion, and success mantras.

“Comes in easy language and short chapters, well catalogued without being prescriptive, and is a great bed-time read.” (4/5)

Dream With Your Eyes Open by Ronnie Screwvala – Ronnie Screwvala traverses his entrepreneurial journey of over two decades in his debut book. More popularly known for having created UTV from scratch, many people may not know about his several other stints across toothbrushes, games, and many other categories (not all of them successful).

Great lessons, extremely conversational, slightly preachy, but a wide view of what entrepreneurship can be!

 

Letters From An Indian Summer by Siddharth Dasgupta – less a novel, more an elegy. It’s a celebration of Arjun Bedi and Genevieve Casta’s love story, through letters and meetings, destiny and serendipity spread over 5 years and many countries.

Reminded me of the first time I had sizzlers. Someone else had ordered in on some other table in the restaurant. It promised a lot of sizzle and excitement. And it delivered on that very well! But once the show was over, the taste was passable. (2 on 5)

The Death And Afterlife of Mahatma Gandhi by Makarand Paranjape – ““He felt that non-violence during the struggle for independence was an expedient, i.e., resistance to the white man was undertaken in a non-violent manner simply because we had no military strength with which to offer battle.” – Kingslay Martin – Jan 27, 1948

Where the book succeeds in a big way is by asking us – Is Mahatma Gandhi relevant anymore? Or, was Gandhi ever relevant in a post-independence India? Paranajape believes, and so do I, that he was, is and will continue to be. (Rating: 3/5)

Seven Uncommoners by Ridhima Verma – collection of biographical sketches of seven entrepreneurs from across a variety of industries in India.The choice of entrepreneurs is interesting – across gaming and technology (Vishal Gondal of Indiagames and Goqii), hospitality (Patu Keswani of Lemon Tree Hotels), logistics and supply chain (Pawan Jain of Safexpress), construction & infrastructure development (Jagdish Gupta of J Kumar Infraprojects), financial advisory (Mahesh Singhi of Singhi Advisors), facilities management (Prasad Lad of Krystal Group) and legal services (Nishith Desai of NDA).

The feeling that there has to be more, and that something has been left out, is the pervasive sentiment at the end of the read. Nevertheless, the book is a good celebration of home grown successes in a world which is excessively enamored by the Steve Jobs brand of arrogant leadership and perfect solutions.(Rating: 3.25/5)

A Hundred Lives For You by Abhisar Sharma – takes montages from three decades of Abhimanyu’s life. A media man with a penchant for reporting, Abhisar seems to have gotten down to writing a deeply personal book, or so it seems

Simple story, great emotions, good use of the country’s timeline, weak first half, good narrative, few editorial misses, and a very strong father-daughter relationship in the second half of the book. (Rating: 3.5/5)

 

Ladies Please! by Jose Covaco – A no-holds barred take on dating in India from a man’s perspective. Jose, through his series of spectacularly failed (I am not sure if they are real or imaginary, but at the very least they are relatable and everyday sightings) and moderately failed and occasionally successful relationships (because in India, there is no dating; there is only a relationship), bares it all and leaves you with (especially women) tips and tricks for dealing with the other sex better.

I strongly urge all ladies to read the book. Especially, if you want to really train your man. And of course when we talk about training or changing the man, all you are trying to do really is make us better. Right? The book is hilarious in pint size measures, but slow otherwise.(Rating 3:25/5)

 

Movie review: Masaan is so real that it hurts.

A desolate Deepak is sitting with his friends. His friends are trying to console him. Deepak remembers Dushyant Kumar’s lines, his last conversastion with Shalu, and then screams – ee saala dard khatam kaahe nahi hota hai be. His friend says – chup ho ja be Deepak. Chup ho jao be… nahi to hum maar denge tumko, he stammers. And they all hold him close really hard. Deepak is crying hysterically. Another friend offers – abe tum humra bike lo be. Tum le ke jao… From Deepak’s silence, to his friends’ awkward cajoling, to the outburst, and to the friends again. His friends are in tears. But they are not crying. And they are crying – What. A. Scene. After a long time, I shed a tear drop during a movie scene. Not because the movie was gutwrenching. This particular scene was. It was so real that it hurt.

Masaan is so real that it hurts.

Deepak (Vicky Kaushal), a civil engineering final year student from a polytechnic college, finds his love in Shalu (Shweta Tripathy), a shayari lover, one who talks of Badr, Fazli and Ghalib. Shalu gifts him the lines from Dushyant Kumar – tu kisi rail si guzarti hai… Deepak gifts her an audio recording of their conversations along with a set of his favorite songs… gazab ka hai din dekho zara. Shalu is upper caste, whose entire family goes on annual pilgrimages like Badrinath, Kedarnath, and enjoys the food better if it is run by another Gupta ji – apne caste wale hain na, isliye. Deepak is a dom, who’s spent his entire life dealing with the dead bodies, crushing their skulls and wiping off the stench of their burning flesh from his face. Their love takes flight under the fear of the caste divide of a small town (Kashi), and finds closure on a boat ride at Allahabad.

Devi Pathak (Richa Chaddha) falls in love with Piyush at the coaching center where she teaches at. They decide to check into a hotel, only to be raided and harassed by cops shortly afterwards. Piyush commits suicide, and Devi and her father (Sanjay Mishra) finds themselves dealing with a ransom demand from the cop. Vidyadhar Pathak learns to deal with the financial and, more importantly, social setback of it, and Devi finds closure for something that her heart does not blame her for, through a railway job in the interim and a final ritual at the ghats of Allahabad.

The generational conflicts are everywhere, and so is the conflict between progressive and regressive thoughts. Vidyadhar finds her reconciliation with Devi after an initial outburst of anger. Devi closes the loop with Piyush’s parents, and then sends off Piyush in a touching moment, just as Deepak offers her “paani”. Devi wants to flee to Allahabad. Deepak wants to leave his masaan-ghat life behind. Most moments in Masaan exist without judgements. Exist like reality. Like the facebook friend request and the messages sent to Shalu before she accepts the friendship request. Or that balloon that floats through the air like a proclamation of love. Like Devi’s scroll through Piyush’s facebook photographs. Or the friends quipping – “Guptaji hain!” and reminding later on “wo upper caste hai. Jyada senti mat ho jaaana”. Like that carefully and painfully planned music player for Shalu. Like that guy in Devi’s office – seedhe pooch rahe hain. Degi kya? Or Deepak’s – wo last year strike ho gaya tha na, nahi to ab tak humara final ho chukka hota aur placement bhi. Like Sadhya ji’s – har college group mein ek intellectual gyaani type hota hai. Or Pathak ji’s “humko lag raha hai ki is mahine ho jayega”. Or Deepak’s father, in a moment of drunkenness, saying – “sab tu hi to hau”, and in that moment, summarizing the dreams and aspirations of many underprivileged who have pinned their hopes on their children’s education.

Interestingly, as the movie progresses, the concept of time is made irrelevant. When it ends, you have no idea how much time has gone by, but you can feel the amount of life that has gone by. That’s how time feels, right?

Perfect – Acting, Script, Dialogues, Cinematography,Editing and length!

Not too perfect – Ending – a little too good. I was glad that the movie was not a depressing end, but a positive fall forward. But a little too tied.

Gripe – the brother. It seemed to me that Neeraj Ghaywan (director) and Varun Grover (script) had some ideas about Deepak’s brother Sikander, but those ideas didn’t survive the editing table. Unfortunately, a conflict is shown for about a minute, and is not resolved any further. The only minute in the movie that didn’t seem to belong, as an after-thought.

Absolutely gorgeous – the soundtrack. There are three songs in the movie. Look at their placement and how much they achieve in the movie.

 

Overall – Go watch it. Please go and watch it. Did I say please only once? Please please go and watch it. Please.

 

And as a parting off thought – here are a few links –

“”Main jise odhtaa bichaata hun,

Vo ghazal aapko sunaata hun.

Ek jungal hai teri aankhon me,

Main jahaan raah bhool jaata hoon.

Tu kisi rail si guzarti hai,

Main kisi pul sa thartharaata hun.

Ek baazu ukhad gaya jub se,

aur zyaada wajan uthaata hun.”

– Dushyant Kumar

The full version w/ annotations is here

 

“Ho chuki hai peer parbat si pighalni chahiye, is himalay se koi ganga nikalni chahiye”

The lines though I remember of him often – kaun kehta hai ki asmaan mein suraakh nahi ho sakta, ek pathar to tabiyat se uchaalo yaaro.

And a whole lot of other Dushyant Kumar poems

 

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