Sunday, 29 April 2012


You have so many options in the month of May. You could pick up any glossy and you can see bikini clad girls, sipping cool drinks, frolicking near the pool. Or else you can go the nearest cliff and jump off it. You could book yourself on a private charter flight filled with Gujaratis with cook in tow headed for the Alps. Or maybe you could pack your bags and head off to Auroville at Mother’s ashram. Never to return back to the life you had left behind.
 No I am not saying you ‘eat, pray and love’ and lose yourself. But there is something remarkable about the month of May. I will tell you about that in a minute. But hey do you remember the time when we used to travel by trains (I still do due to my fear of flying)? Many north bound trains pass through Ratlam junction that is somewhere in the middle of the country. The month of May is a bit like the Ratlam junction. It comes somewhere near the middle of your personal journey in the year, especially at a time when your batteries are running almost dry and there is need to recharge them. You think of various options including whether your relationship with your partner has enough fire left in it or you would rather see the glossies and the girls and set out looking for new pastures. Ditto for the women who throws out your travelling bag at you with the terse one liner ‘ get out and pasture like a goat anywhere and spare me this one month alone and away from your stupid daily demands!’
And then you can also take time off this month and wonder the 101 different ways possible to murder your boss! Believe me there is no tax on letting your imagination run wild. This exercise might just liberate you from the repression that has always enslaved you since you were a child.
May is also a month for special bonding. You have always complained that you never had any time to catch up with what all your children have been doing throughout the year. So this is your time pal. But make sure when you spend that quality time with your kids that credit card has been freshly minted and packed with dough. After all real bonding with children only happens when the credit card swipes and the computer games, I pad, blackberry etc flow in one side and your hard earned money exits the other.
Oh! Oh! The month of May! So many promises, so many dreams……all turning to dust!
So here’s the sensible thing to do this May. Go out and buy my book THE TERRORIST and have a great read and I promise that you will not walk away feeling cheated!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Here’s a thought. If you really want a fair contest then change Delhi’s name to say Aryanagri or even better to Punjarbanjatilsthan (in deference to the Punjabis, Gujjars, Jats and Banias living here). New Delhi sounds too sophisticated like say New York, especially when Mumbai, Kolkatta, Chennai are dripping with nativity, son of the soil flavor. That should restore the balance and I am not trying to be funny.
As it is the divide between Mumbai and Delhi is so deep ever since that moment in history when Shobha De, who as we all know can look into the future, declared at the ramparts of Red Fort, sorry Marine Drive , that Delhi was no better than some forgotten, social backwaters, frequented by people who would lisp when speaking angrezi. What of course she forgot to mention then in that brilliant moment of visionary enlightenment was that the roads in Mumbai then, now and in the future have been specially designed and laid out to shift your spine by a few degrees either side. But have no fear. The real debate, as it has always been, is between the ‘peoples’ of Mumbai and Delhi.
Good roads, flyovers and a metro service are irrelevant talking points because the real issue are the peepuls sorry the ‘people’ of the two cities and no prizes for guessing that Mumbai wins hands down on that score. So while the crude Delhiite makes a ‘maabahen’ of everything the sophisticated Mumbaikar only wishes to check your ID to see whether you are a migrant.
But we are really skipping the point. Take the case of the irrepressible Indian who when in New York wins the award for the best self effacing, well behaved and polite migrant import to the United States and then the same man back to mera desh ki dharti on a short visit hails a taxi at Indira Gandhi International airport, peels a banana and throws the skin on the road as the taxi speeds away.
Then point I am making is, is there really a species like a Delhiite or a Mumbaikar? Or are we wearing masks which we take off at the time and place of our choosing?
Or could it be that if everyone on the street is walking in white shirt and blue jeans we do the same because who wants to be pointed out? So is it free will or enforcement that makes a better citizen? You decide.

Monday, 23 April 2012


Some men practice it. Other’s don’t – they couldn’t care less about it, the most notorious among them undoubtedly Bill Clinton and most recently Abhisekh Manu Singhvi.  A seedy ‘CD’ laid bare the erudite lawyer’s preference for squish ejection, but the more pertinent point being does an adherence to oral hygiene define whether one is ‘good’ or ‘bad.’
Seeing the way the poor man has been pilloried by the morality keepers of our country it would appear that the Taliban had taken over the country and introduced a strict regime of do’s and don’ts, especially of the oral hygiene variety. And this is what amazes me how we react, repeatedly, almost as a Pavlovian reaction, whenever somebody else’s sex life comes under the scanner. We are quick to point fingers and condemn but in the same breath we sneer at the lack of democratic freedoms amongst our neighbours.
But are we any different? Most of us have watched these salacious videos on You Tube but in the cold light of the day we appear on news programmes and pretend we haven’t watched them but are ready to hold long discussions on the ethics of the act itself. At times like this when we see the morality keepers hold sway it makes one wonder whether we really are a mature democracy?
If the man has exploited someone sexually or promised favours hang him by all means. But if he is cheating on his wife or does not brush his teeth and rinse his mouth who are we to put him in the dog house? Let these issues be sorted out between Singhvi and his wife. Let’s not go down the American path where many are completely uninhibited in their private lives but expect a strange kind of rigid morality from their President!  

Sunday, 22 April 2012


They sit at the table with me
Murad and Sana oiling and checking their assault weapons
And Suvir who looks back in anger.
I can bring no peace between them
Because they were born in strife, progeny of tumult and violence
Children who felt the stirrings of love and left it at that
Their lives in a cross hair, living on the edge.
Can I complain the way they have turned out?
When I only had breathed the kiss of life in them.
Tomorrow my children go out in the wide world
In the bookstores and drawing rooms of many
The umbilical cord strains to be cut
Their fate now slipped out of my hands.
They swim in the wide open sea
Heading for shores that would amaze even me.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Misssile 'lifts off' mood of the nation

It finally took a missile to lift the despondent mood of the nation. As the Agni 5 lifted upwards we all clapped and cheered, not in the least because we could stand up to the terrorizing dragon in the north but more because we got a respite from  a litany of bad news coming from all parts of the country. Mamta di, suburban, choked trains in Mumbai, little,helpless children abandoned by uncaring parents and a stock market that seems to be in a permanent sulk - you could take your pick what was the worst news headline from them all.
Remember the time when as children during Diwali we used to light up those hawais' or rockets! As the hawai would lift upwards our spirits would soar. Moral of the story it take a ICBM nowadays to cheer about something!
A wise man once said that your joys and miseries are all in the head. That may be so but give us, besides ICBMs', something real to cheer about. The IPL has been a pathetic wash out and even third rate films like Houseful 2 or is it 3 have had record collections at the box office. Well it simply means that the janta is so exhausted and tired of whatever is going on that they are ready to see a pathetic film like Housefull. Decades back, I think in the mid seventies, a completely unknown film called 'Jai Santoshi Ma' became the hit movie of the year. So you can never judge the audience taste, especially when they are bone tired and exhausted by what is on offer!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Freedom for anarchy?

If we are to take some politicians seriously then we should eagerly accept their patronizing, paternalistic, handout homilies on personal freedoms, tape our mouths and shut our Facebook accounts, watch only state television and completely believe that their party rule is a vardaan to their state and country and anyone to question all that is an enemy of the state, an agent provocateur, a person fit enough to be thrown in prison under a wide variety of tough laws that one can choose from.
Quite a mouthful and hey you are wrong if you think I am only referring to Mamta di. Let me share with you one of India's worst kept secrets. Step outside the comfort of Delhi and step into any state outside the capital's borders. Or better still venture even further towards the south or for that matter to the east or the west. Try and speak up against powerful political interests and you might end up believing that south of Sudan is a better place. Sometimes it's a jungle out there and many of the laws framed a long time ago by well meaning men and women are misused to muzzle dissent or for that matter even innocuous opinion.
I would really liked to be proven wrong in my assessments but it is difficult to run away from the truth. Mamta di is a recent phenomenon but the roll call of dishonour of intolerant politicians stretches long and is of old, very old origin in India.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Shah rukh thoda rukh ja!

Controversy thy middle name is Shah Rukh Khan and it may be or not because he is a Khan, but to be fair to the man this time he did not court it in the land of the free and the just. It just follows him and to give him credit he can laugh and joke about it but it could not be the most pleasant experience if you are asked to remove your shoes, socks, belt and switch off your cell phone and body searched as if you as if you were a walking human bomb. Maybe this is the price we have to pay for being safe and free but it comes at a cost. Strip searches only deepen prejudices and ossifies opinions of 'us versus them' or a 'war of civilizations.'
Security with a human touch is not  a far fetched idea. Maybe the US immigration authorities can take a cue from our lowly paid but extremely competent security staff at the car parking at Saket mall in Delhi. These guys will smile broadly, offer a namaste and then proceed to thoroughly check your car. So can the US immigration take a hint? Put on your best smile Uncle Sam when you strip search the next time!

Where's the tender love Mamta di?

Mamta translated means tender love but this tenderness is lost in translation as Mamta di cracks down on the creator of a well meaning, if not insipid cartoon. No one would have noticed it but the draconian action of arresting the cartoonist has placed the cartoon in the same shelf space as the 'Satanic verses.' Cyberspace is aflame with outrage that basic fundamental rights of citizens are being violated but I see the problem a little differently. We are witnessing a phenomenon where national parties are in retreat and regional parties, ostensibly taking up the cause of their citizenry are replacing national parties in state elections. Many of these regional parties are led by charismatic leaders who rule with an iron hand and brook no interference. For many of these leaders even mild criticism is construed as a personal attack on them. The point I am making is that the liberal space and air one breathes under a 'national party' has of late started diminishing under state ruled 'regional parties.'
But to come back to Mamta di. I do genuinely believe that she is one of the most gutsy and energetic politicians in the Indian political class. There is much to admire for what she stands for. But there is an old saying that ' the revolution devours it's children.' That is the danger she has to watch out for. Charismatic leaders are usually surrounded by powerful, vested interests who take away the leader from the very same people form where these leaders draw their strength. Don't let that happen to you Mamta di! Show us the tender love you are capable of!

Presented The Terrorist to Khushwant Singh and sought his blessings

It was a very emotional moment for me when I recently met Khushwant Singh at his Sujan Park residence to give him an advance copy of my book and seek his blessings. A  big thank you to son Rahul, who is a very dear friend, for arranging the meeting. We all shared some fine single malt whisky and Khushwant was as usual at his probing best with flashes of his famous wit when we discussed the state of the country, L.K. Advani and other famous and not too famous personalities. This was definitely a Kodak moment for me!

Monday, 9 April 2012


Like a bird of prey it swoops upon the down and the out
Tearing flesh from bone without remorse or mercy
Another time it stands at the city gates
Hailing home the newly minted hero riding back in a coat of Teflon
Sachin is finished! Sachin is finished! Sachin is finished! ranted the mob
A month it was to the present day
'He should hang up his bat before our fangs come out and we descend in a pack
To do, what we are meant to do, move in quick, ambush, traumatize and fillet the victim
And stick the head on a greasy pole as a trophy outside the city gates.'
But in less than a month the world suddenly changed
The little master bludgeoned the hapless Bangladeshis
And the mob quickly gathered at the city gates
A deafening roar rose from below to the Gods above
Sachin is the greatest! Sachin is the greatest! Sachin is the greatest!
They shouted till they were hoarse
'We can't have enough of him', they pleaded, begged and wept even more
Last night the mob gathered once again at the city gates
'All hail the new conquering hero, Virat Kohli!'
The young buccaneer came riding in wearing a coat of Teflon
Tears of joy kissed the cheeks of the weeping mob
In less than a month the world will change once again….

The buzz in the budget

The little man in the Khadi Gram Udyog Nehru jacket rose to speak
And the well heeled and the mighty sat down to listen
With bated breath and racing heart and blood pressure machines plugged to their chests
The nation froze in anticipation at high noon today
'I rise to present my baaajet!' said the little, big man in perfect babu moshai cadence
Worry lines sprouted on the foreheads of the chattering and the mattering classes
Was the man in a rib tickling comedy show at Palladium mall at Phoenix mills
Or had he just delivered his finest in the hallowed precincts of Parliament?
Alas one would never know
But wait there is more
Pranab da took us on a ticketless cruise liner that sailed from the shores of debt ridden Greece and ended journey in the land of the stuttering but recovering economy
That place dear friends is our motherland itself
Coming out not the least out from a bout of that cursed herpes
In true Vidya Balan style Pranab da spoke tax, tax, tax
Instead of entertainment, entertainment, entertainment
It was of course entertainment of a different kind
That all the big cars, the gold and the travel got taxed and axed
All the stuff I see on TV and can never own
So pleased as punch I drew up my pants
To go shopping for what else but my budget pants
In Pranab Da's socialist glow shining ever so
I ventured out
With a song on my lips and
Nay a worry in my heart

Instant word noodles fresh off my keyboard

Mamta Di's Kolkatta to Delhi 'Kahani'now being screened on poor man's baajet train at 'rollback prices' starring action hero Dinesh Trivedi
Seventies starrer 'Agent Vinod' starring Mahendra Sandhu and Asha Sachdev. Tees saal baad Agent Vinod comes back with Saif – Kareena – Jaani, Saifeena aap dono ke nakshe kadam mein chal rahe hain!
Anna Hazare chup kyo hai? 'Lok' aur sabhi 'pals' ko unki 'recall' value par shaque hain
The daily 9 o clock city siren now replaced with Arnab Goswami's 9 p.m. 'Newshour' opening remarks

Spring in the air and my misstep

Flower beds manicured, a cool breeze rustles and laughing girls everywhere
The Ides of March send a message
Metro above speeding past and down below Gurgaon gangs stepping out
No longer in the shadows, knives in hand, leery
Girl abducted and interrupted
What did I say?
Spring in the air, flower beds manicured and laughing girls….
Girls abducted and interrupted.