Sunday, December 19, 2010

Attempts.. Haiku.

1) No can do.

I can't swim, but I
dip in pools as shallow as
girls on Splitsvilla.

2) It happens.

She farted, sounding
like a Dettol bottle spurt
its last bits of goo.

3) Who doesn't?

He won't agree, but
applause and validation
is what he writes for.

4) Vertical challenge

Don't stare at us so,
so what if he's over a
foot taller than me?

5) Procedure

She looks down, seeming
suitably shy as she gives
the boy's side coffee.

6) Stars

Hugh Laurie, Abhay
Deol, Jake Gyllenhal and
Clooney rock my socks.

Five Point Someone

Here’s the thing with adapting a much-loved novel for the stage. It’s not unlike Operation Pendulum; you either win public adulation purely on the book’s tried-and-tested merit, or public wrath for not doing it justice. However, evam struck a fine balance in their version of Chetan Bhagat’s ‘Five Point Someone’. While staying true to the book’s essence, they managed to hold their own, with apt lighting and a solid cast (Navin, Bhargav and Sudarshan as the three bumbling protagonists performed with flair). The audience evidently enjoyed the show, thanks to its overall feel-good quality and tight script. Barring the length and occasional profanity, which a few understandably frowned upon, it was a treat for all ages. I personally loved the undercurrent of Pink Floyd that played all evening, characterizing the play’s mood. After all, one can never go wrong with Floyd!

A review I wrote. This appeared in the Citizen Reviews section of The Hindu Metroplus.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Trial run.

Blog post #50! Woo hoo!

"Do you think those two'll last?"

Vivek studied the aforementioned couple over his bottle of 7Up, hoping he was sufficiently subtle and sounded sufficiently disinterested. Sreesha whirled around to stare at them, causing Vivek to groan and wonder at the sudden loss of the powerful peripheral vision Sreesha claimed to have. The couple, however, was oblivious. Vivek and Sreesha stood outside the 'potti kadai', the one so strategically located outside the girls' hostel.

"Why do you ask, da? They fit. Not half as bad as the rest in campus", said Sreesha. "No, look at them, they've been having that serious discussion ever since we came here. Could it be trouble?", Vivek said as he averted his eyes from the guy and his stupid new haircut. Sreesha gave the two another glance and said, "No, they're smiling. That means the conversation isn't serious, it's earnest. Anyway you kind of know Kanya, don't you? Ask her yourself, how things are with Naveen." Vivek finished his bottle of 7Up and stood up. "Not like I care, I just asked." He noticed how Naveen was standing right next to the 'No males allowed after this point' signboard, where the lane that led to the girls' hostel diverged from the main path everyone took. He considered pushing Naveen well past the signboard just to see if he'd get into trouble.

Sreesha stood up too, and dusted her salwar. "Kanya!", she called out without warning, to general surprise, "We're going to watch Endhiran man! I have an extra ticket, coming?" Kanya half-smiled and mouthed 'no'. Sreesha shrugged and waved Naveen goodbye, following Vivek as he made his way to the parking lot, staring at naught but his phone.

"Aren't you PSYCHED, Vivek?! Let's throw confetti all over the place, okay?!", Sreesha said as she got into Vivek's car.
Vivek, still looking at his phone, said "Yeah totally. By the way, you might want to give me prior warning before inviting Kanya along next time." Especially to a movie. In the dark. Where she might fully be sitting next to him. Not for the first time, he cursed cruel chance, and wondered why a girl like Kanya was saddled with a total, unadulterated ass like Naveen.

Despite the untimely brooding, Vivek found himself having the time of his life. Ultimate Thalaivar padam experience, he updated his Facebook status from his phone. They walked out of the movie theater, giddy, just like everyone else who'd been part of the yelling, whistling and yes, confetti-throwing crowd. "That was brilliant. Wasn't it brilliant?", asked Sreesha, still carrying her popcorn container. "Yeah. Yeah! When you think about it, all of us in that theater were bound by a single gossamer thread. A gossamer thread named Rajinikanth." Sreesha stared at him, and said, "Or a gossamer thread named Aishwarya Rai. Or a gossamer thread named ARR." Vivek ignored her, staring into the distance. "Man, my body thrills at the thought." Sreesha stared at him again. "Your 'body thrills'? Reading Letters to the Penthouse again, are we?"

Vivek walked Sreesha down to the signboard outside the girls' hostel. "I don't wanna goooo", she whined, "I wanna watch Endhiran again!"
"Yes you might have mentioned that in the car. And before you got in. And right after you got out.", said Vivek, stifling a yawn, "Now go sleep, Sreesh. You have classes starting at 8 in the morning."
"Take me up to the guys' hostel at least, I'll sit and play rummy with Farookh and gang. I've never seen your room alsooo!"
Vivek sighed. She generally got like this, post 9 PM. "There's nothing in my room. Just our dirty clothes, my Hendrix poster and the guys."
Sreesha giggled, ostensibly at some private joke, and then quieted down. "Hey", she said.
"We need to talk."
"Tell me."
"Listen. I'm going to say this before I lose the courage to. I really like you. You're such an awesome guy, and there are so many things about you I've grown to adore. Its adorable, how you call making out necking or, at most, smooching. And how you think Susheela Raman's version of Nagumomu is sacrilege. And how you swear at lousy drivers, and how you're so meticulous when it comes to your writing. You know you've always been special to me, right? You've been my friend for the last 3 years, and my best friend for more than 2 of those years. Let's give us a shot, no? I'm sure we can handleit . How ever it goes."
She paused. He said nothing.
"Okay, I know I'm no Kanya Padmanabhan.." Vivek gave a start. "Oh please da, I know how you look at her. Yeah, so I know I'm no Kanya Padmanabhan, but I'm no dog either."
She let out a small giggle. He said nothing.
"And we've seen each other at our best and worst, so no surprises there, right? I don't know why I'm saying this now. Hell, I don't even know if this came out the way I wanted it to, but there you go. I like you, maybe even more than like you. What do you think?" She looked up at him apprehensively. "I pause for a reply." She grinned, tentatively. He did like it when she quoted Shakespeare.

Vivek cleared his throat. Scratched the side of his nose.

Vivek's childhood bud Mohit always told his friends the story of his cat, who accidentally fell into the washing machine once, tumbled around in it with the clothes, but miraculously survived. Survived to father 9 kittens. Vivek had always wondered how out of sorts the poor thing must have felt inside the washer, with no control, with clothes of all those colours swirling around him. With him. Going where the water took him. Banging into uncomfortable corners.

Now he knew.

He left Sreesha at the signboard. His memory told him he responded to her with something like, "Well. I don't know. Its so.. you know?" and left with a hurried good night. The solid stupidity of his reply made him want to bang his head against the wall.

She was special, there was no doubt about it. At the same time, she wasn't Kanya. No one could even come close. He remembered how Kanya had once told him that they would be each others' back-ups. The person the other would turn to, in case s/he was lonely and sad at age 28. He didn't know why he kept thinking about that, seeing how she A) definitely wasn't lonely and sad now and B) she had said the same on Google Talk.
His phone beeped. He unlocked his keypad, momentarily forgetting the security code, and opened a message from Lolcat. Sreesha's contact name. "Hey... I know I was abrupt, sorry for throwing it at you like that.. Take your time.. But I don't take back what I said...".
He threw his phone on his bed, only to hear it beep again. A message from Kanya. Unreal man, he thought. He assumed she had sent him her customary 'Gud nyt. From kanya & naveen.' mass message, and clicked 'Read'. 'Hey every1. Naveen & me r over as of 2day. Its been a long tym comin, but its stil hard. I'm thankful 2 yu al for yur help & counsel. Thnx 4 bein there 4 me."
He stared at the white lights of his phone. They were pretty lights. Kanya and Naveen were over. Pretty lights, still.

His roommate walked into their room. "Dei, tomorrow lab exam da. Finished record eh?"

Vivek groaned and kicked off his shoes. Threw his phone onto his bed. Swore and dropped into his chair.

He looked up at his sympathetic roommate. "Dai. Oru quarter sollu da."

Tomorrow was another day.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I feel a real, tangible sadness every time I sit in class and my English teacher tells us she visits two new places (Egypt last December, Cambodia this December) every year. A sadness that makes me want to jump out of all the yellowness (inside joke) and catch the next bus to Uttaranchal.

I don’t want to go into the details- the restlessness in my feet, the tingling in my nerves (/blood vessels?), the pulsing in my head, that feeling of wanting to scream my lungs out and grit my teeth all at once- but at the end of every day, I tell myself I will have visited all the following places before my hopefully natural death at age 81.

1) Macchu Picchu. Cos it looks beautiful in pictures.
2) Leh. Ditto.
3) Rishikesh. For the white water rafting and everyone goes there.
4) Walden Pond. For artistic succour.
5) Paris. Cos its Paris, and He wants to go there (I think).
6) Istanbul. For the tapestries I hope to get at a substantial discount.
7) Lord’s. Obvious.
8) Wimbledon. For strawberries, cream and because daddy will then have led a full life.
9) Stockholm. So I can stalk Nobel laureates at the Grand Palace hotel.
10) Stonehenge.
11) Australia. Sky-diving at Cairns.
12) Venice. To take fancy pictures in the gondolas.
13) Zambia. Victoria Falls.
14) Khandala. Cos its in that Aamir Khan song.
15) Greece.
16) Italy. After Eat Love Pray. For the sinful food.
17) Iceland! For the Northern Lights and the smart people.
18) Cuba. For a roadtrip, just like the one in Viva Cuba.
19) Lyons. To see the INTERPOL headquarters?
20) Majorca. Cos it was in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Bet you didn’t notice.
21) Vietnam. With Asmita.
22) Basel, Switzerland. For Fed, and the fact that Karla from Shantaram says it’s a nice place.
23) Bhutan. The resorts and the view.
24) Egypt! Pyramids.
25) Shillong. Cos they say Metallica wants to perform there. And it’s the north-east.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The F-word.


Define feminist.

Are you comfortable being called one? Do you wear the label on your sleeve? Is it something you shy away from, or is it something you proclaim you are because it sounds like a nice classification to fall into?

Does being a feminist mean being self-sufficient to a flaw, anti-male and anti-prettythingslikeLVandjimmychoo?

Does being outspoken automatically 'make' you a feminist, or does being a homemaker take away from you being one?

Do you hasten to clarify to people that you're more 'individualist' than feminist, whether/not they ask? Is the term too stifling a cubbyhole for your gender, or do you not want to think of yourself in terms of one at all?


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ten heads are better than one.

What if Tataki had proved to be too strong for Rama?

What if somebody had broken the Shiva Dhanush before Rama?

What if Kaushalya had been the one to ride Dasharatha to safety in the battle against Samhasura?

What if Shoorpanakha had chosen not to see Rama at Panchavati?

What if Ravana had failed to convince Maricha to do his golden deer gig?

What if, WHAT if Sita hadn’t strayed from the Lakshman Rekha?

Ravana would have been known to us only as the multifaceted, Veena-playing Shiva Bhakta that he was, albeit with a roving eye, and not the unfortunate archetype of all things evil.

And we would be able to see Raavanan [(2010), Vikram, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Prithviraj] for the great movie it is.

Why are epics untouchable? Why are we so willing to typecast emotions and qualities when it comes to mythology when we're only too ready to discuss divergence in a person's nature when we're reading Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance?

Okay, Raavanan was NOT perfect, (spoiler alert) a) its silly that Ragini can find Veera's lair with her kajal looking perfect, when it takes Dev 14 days and a literal pull from Veera himself to. b) Dev might be a great cop, but smelt the rat in his department and busted him way too soon than would be superhumanly possible. But it had some solid acting, out-of-the-world visuals, and a pretty impressive story outline. It took me two watches to get to this conclusion, but anyone who isn't expecting to see the Ramayana TV serial etched out on screen would arrive at the same. (Ok, I generalize to make a point, sue me.)

Watch. Enjoy :).

Saturday, June 5, 2010

His Dark Materials.

Am I mad? Em ay dee? Am I dreaming?
Is this for real?
What is real?
Even dreams are convincing enough when they play out. Marvel at dreams, at the brain taking it upon itself to fill in all those details you would never put in if you were awake and making up a story.
Is there just one world, that spends its time dreaming of other other worlds?
What would you give to know your innermost nature, to know why all those atoms in you chose to align themselves the way they did? What would you give to know see yourself, know yourself for what and why you ARE, the way you know fire burns and compassion is good?
Thinking is hard, but I cling on steadfastly.

I have
been a
in a strange


PS- People import their blogs TO facebook, with me its the other way around. I have been doing a fair bit of writing, just not on the blog. Which shouldn't be the case. Samples of '09 below.


She went about in her own silent way, touching all of our lives, skimming in and out of the big picture. She hated to be called for or recognized in public, even if it was to tell her the kolam looked incredible that day, or that the puli saadham she'd made for the temple was out-of-the-world delicious.

Losing your mother that early in life has an effect on you, she'd said, in one of her rare talkative moods. Its hard to impose yourself on people when you don't know what it feels like to be truly wanted by somebody. And then she'd clammed up, flustered at her implication that her early life was anything but perfect. Of course, she wouldn't hear anything against her father, him with the wide brow and the big turban. Him with the unfair eye, who regarded her as a devil-child, who would let her use only the brass vessels at home. Who got her married off as soon as people spoke of her monstrous musical talent.

Even years later, one would catch her humming to herself in the old kitchen, and then stopping abruptly, casting furtive glances at the yard, wondering if her father's spirit had heard and disapproved. But past her fluidity and evident concern for 'periyavaaloda' opinion lay a great diffidence for criticism, one that helped her raise a child found abandoned outside her doorstep, that helped her stand her ground and refuse when her 'well-wishers' spoke of getting her husband remarried to supposedly dispel his Irish curse.

Self-sufficient was she, so much that she insisted on rubbing turmeric on her own feet on the day of her wedding, squirming as her arthritic mother-in-law did it as keeping with tradition, wheezing and coughing. She'd squirmed in a different way altogether when her husband touched her toe, as he slipped her metti and looked up at her, like she actually mattered. Which was why, to her, regardless of her ignorance of the ideal of love and eternal bonds, he was the only one, impotence and the drinking habit and all.

The day she found Aarabi, or rather, the day Aarabi found her was something she'd never tire of talking about, except when her mother-in-law was around. Her love for music had finally found an outlet in her daughter, whom she said was born 'of her heart'. Aarabi started singing at the age of 4, in such adherence to Carnatic style that it was enough to stop anyone in their tracks.

I remember the day I saw her first, sitting backstage at one of Aarabi's concerts. Firstly, my eyes were riveted on Aarabi, and thank the good lord, her soaring, divine voice gave me ample, legitimate reason to stare at her so. As (underpaid, overworked) Cultural Correspondent of a prominent newspaper, it was none of my cheek to wonder angrily at how the mother of such a lovely catch had allowed her to be paraded in full view of public view like this, how she had allowed all and sundry to be witness to such purity, but I did so all the same.

And then I saw her. Eyes closed, fingers tapping against the impeccable folds of her brown nine-yard, drowning in the music like nothing else mattered. Until that moment, I knew nothing but Aarabi's main piece of the evening, in Hamsanandhi. The raw power of the composition, her versatile voice thriving on the Kakali Nishada, effortlessly jumping down to the Prati Madhyama. Hitting the higher swaras with ease and having her way with the lower ones too. Above all, the presence of her voice and sheer command over everyone present. The way she'd almost tease the accompanists with her intricate neravals, daring them to toy with the raaga as she did. The way she possessively caressed every note, with a kind of flamboyant arrogance, the kind that came only with true, unquestionable love.

But the minute I saw her mother, I felt as though every musical vibe in the hall emanated from her, as though she was why the song existed, as though she was one with the song. Hamsanandi, with its ups-and-downs and resplendence cloaked behind simplicity, was her. She was Hamsanandi.

One very happy married life with Aarabi behind me (a complicated story, I shall leave it for another day, but it has a most satisfactory ending), I knew my initial gut feeling about my wife's mother(/best friend/mentor) was true. She was a star in every way, braving the colds that came with her every rain-dance, the scratches that came with her every game of hopscotch. She would flit in and out of our lives, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, but she would always remain.

This piece comes right after Aarabi's first concert post her mother's demise. I have never discussed with her how Hamsanandi was synonymous with her mother to me, but if Aarabi's (coincidental?) main piece today was any indication, I have proof that my wife and me share more than just a bedroom. Today, Aarabi's Hamsanandi was repressed, dignified, melancholic, strong. Very much like her mother herself.
Sundar, good job as usual, but I don't think a write-up about your mother-in-law will help us much. A dispassionate review of your wife's concert, if you will. Also, everyone at the paper knows you were paid an obscenely low salary 20 years ago, stop mentioning it in every article. - Ed.

-April 9, 2010.

Old 55s.

He passed the Gateway of India, distracted, repenting all those years of pain he’d inflicted on his wife. Repenting his drunken violence towards his kids.

He entered the Taj Mahal hotel, set for a meeting, and vowed to reform himself.

He glanced at the calender. As of 26th November ’08, he thought, he would be a changed man.

He coughed uncontrollably, and looked at the note his daughter left him the previous month.

“Daddy, plese stop smoking if you lov me. Promis?”

His eyes welled up as he reread it, after his wife left him, daughter in tow.

Seeking solace, he fished out a cigarette from his pocket and took a long drag.
They couldn’t stop staring. She had always been the cynosure of all eyes. She had everything, they said.

At the party, everyone complimented her on her diamonds, her lovely sari. Gifts from her husband, she said.

Later that night, she looked at her watch. And wondered if her husband’s boyfriend had left their house yet.

-November 8, 2009.

Because I should stop posting stuff I write as Facbook notes..

Littul Joybundle.

Funny. Smart. Unfairly adorable. HOT. Mine.

Wakes up early to talk to me. Recharges phone (sometimes, after a lot of grumbling). Promises to eat my cooking. Adorably whiny when I'm not sufficiently talkative. Intuitive enough to make up for a million clueless guys. Splits the bill. Listens. Loves. Is honest. Is verbal about feelings. Thinks about future, a lot. Freaks out for the smallest of things. Takes offence for the smallest of things. Melts at the smallest of things. Thinks this is it. Is feel-good, in every possible way. Supportive. Confused. Seeks my opinion. Claims to feel better on talking to me. Reads and recommends books. Is aware of good cinema. Says cheesy things randomly, and means them. Makes effort to learn my mother tongue. Braves public transport for my company. Loves long goodbyes, and won't have it any other way. Secure. Makes everything seem funny. Cheers up. Isn't afraid of showing feelings. Gets irked with unnecessary bursts of temper. Keeps me grounded. Loves. Is loved. :-*

Has my heart. Can either break it/keep it safe.

Risky, but its a risk I'm willing to take.

Its worth it. :)



-December 6, 2009.