Don’t have a husband? Hmmm, then you must be a whore?


It is easy to judge people based on few pointers that we know about them. I don’t know about other countries but Indians have mastered the art of judging a woman by just one factor – whether she is single or married. And if you are a single, independent woman living alone in a city then they have empirical evidence to prove that you are a whore.

I have read about it, watched TV shows about it, but this reality struck me home only yesterday, right in front of my apartment.

I am a journalist for a magazine (Governance Now) in Delhi and live in a rented apartment in Delhi with two friends. I am 29 years old and unmarried, which is a cause of problem to many. We have a normal life which includes work, friends and a general everyday life which anyone in a city would be involved with. We have few male friends who come to our house, that too not very often. No more or less than any other normal place in Delhi.

However, my neighbour has developed a problem with us and routinely complains of us making noise (we are not at home the entire day for making noise and we never make noise. We are past the age of loud parties anyway). Once we ordered food and the delivery boy rang her bell instead of ours by mistake. She threatened to call the cops for disturbing her. On many other occasions she has gone for fighting matches with my roommates while I was at work. Somehow, you can say it was my luck, I never came in her range of hatred.

Until yesterday, when I was waiting for my roommates outside my apartment as I did not have my key. My landlady, who lives on the floor below, who keeps a set of our keys with herself, was also not home. While waiting on the stairs, I got a mail from a friend that she got through Columbia University, US for an MA. I got excited and called her and in my excitement, raised my voice to shout out a big “congratulations” to her. In a moment my neighbour, a Ms Geeta Mehta, was out telling me to lower my voice as this is an “educated society” and that children were studying for their exams. I looked at her, waved my hand and mouthed an “Okay” and continued speaking on the phone in a lowered voice.

However, Ms Mehta was not convinced and went on to say that we create a ruckus in the building all day and that she knows “what profession we are involved in.” “Guys come and go here the whole day, thats what you do,” she said.

I told her to stop this nonsense but she continued. In the commotion that followed, in which she ranted that we are prostitutes and have converted this place into a brothel, I asked her to “shut up and fuck off” because I was very disturbed. For which she replied, “This is what it is, you are worth just a fuck!”

I am an educated woman and belong to an upper middle class society. My parents are both doctors and brother is pursuing his PhD from Georgia Tech University, USA. I am an Engineer turned journalist and have a post graduate degree from one of the best universities in the country, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

My family has IAS officers and engineers and professors. If this is happening to me, living in a gated community in a posh South Delhi locality, I can imagine what millions of women who are not as fortunate and are trying to etch out a career path have to go through each day. Single women are just one type of othering that happens in our society. We are other people who just don’t fit in the mould.

I don’t have to go far. This woman, Geeta Mehta, routinely harasses and abuses my landlady who is a single mother, having lost her husband a few years ago. For her too, Ms Mehta has the same diatribe – that just because she is alone she is sleeping with all and sundry and earning her money from prostitution.

I am disappointed in the world today. There is seriously no country for single women.

This is our neighbour Geeta Mehta. Calls herself a ‘professor’ who teaches in MBA colleges. Is not even fit enough to be human.

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To the love we never had Part II


She wondered about her ex. Yeah that’s what a person, with whom you shared your life, your emotions and your body comes to be known after you are no longer together. The common parlance which reduces all of that to an alphabet. A syllable. That’s all it is reduced to. Probably it makes the hurt seem less of a burden to carry. It is just the burden of a single alphabet. A single syllable.

She still longed for him. She still longed for the days she could endlessly chat with him. The times when they took short trips across the city. When they ate on the streets. She drifted to those days. She wanted to feel the happiness she felt then. Try as she might, she could not. Isn’t the universe based on efficiency? the survival of the fittest and all that jazz. Why such convoluted relationships, then? Her eye brows came together in thought once again.

“It is okay to not trust someone,” he told her matter-of-factly

“Huh?”

“I mean come on, we have both been through a lot and it is okay to not trust someone now”

“I am delighted at how black and white you think everything is!”

Was it about trust? She wasn’t sure what was it that kept them aloof. Unlike the yester years, they had nothing to talk about. Nothing to say. There was nothing in common except the failed love they both wanted to forget, so of course talking about it was out of the question. There was no conversation and the endless cups of coffee were not helping. It was good that he knew about the lack of conversation. It put her mind to ease. There was no pressure to make small talk and she hated small talk. On the other hand, the silence between them was deafening.

“My divorce isn’t final yet”

Well acquainted with the divorce laws, it was not news to her. Considering he was married only recently, divorce of course would take some time.

“So?”

“I am just telling.”

She realised that it was the divorce. She needed his divorce to be final to make a claim at him. Somehow it was still a married man across the table. He did not seem her own.

She thought of her ex again. The burden of the syllable still weighed on her. She longed for that comfort with someone. Stirring the coffee while staring hard at the cup, she wanted to give up.

He broke her stupor by a peck on her cheek. Startled, she broke the cup and created a mess good enough to miss the moment. If there was any moment. He looked embarrassed. She looked pissed.

His divorce wasn’t final yet.

To the love we never had


He stood smoking by the window, the wind curling his hair and smoke all at the same time. She sat behind him smoking too, making sure the window takes away most of it. The yellow streetlight made them look eerie, sitting by the small turn of stairs outside her apartment, blowing curls of smoke in the wind. Not talking to each other. Not even facing each other.

Suddenly he turned and after what looked like an effort to form words, made some sound.

“You really dont want to know? I like that you dont want to know,” he said.

“You want me to know?”

“I got divorced, dammit. I left her. It is over. You dont want to know why?”

She smiled. Sent out another bit of smoke which the window was too eager to take away

“Again, do you really want me to know?”

“It did not work out. It just did not.”

“It never does.”

“Why do you think I came to you? You of all the people whom I haven’t spoken to in two years?” He blurted

“It’s not gonna happen.”

“What?”

“I am not going to be your rebound.”

xxxxx

There was a look. A surge of expressions that clouded his face. Was it disappointment? or was it hurt? or was it disappointed hurt? She wanted to give a name to those expressions.

Meanwhile the cigarette had breathed its last. He threw it and left. If he felt that words wouldn’t really mean anything at that moment, he was right. She didn’t try to stop him. She didn’t feel like.

Walking back to her apartment, a little of the past two years showed up in slight flashes. She laughed. Surely, who ever was scripting her life above seemed to possess a sense of humour.

Two years ago, when they had parted, it was the day before his wedding. It was the day before she asked him why he was getting married. A day before he told her he was going to commit the biggest mistake of his life.

He committed his mistake, with a fanfare which put a lot of weddings at that time to shame. She fell in love with a youngish guy and forgot all about him. Well, to say the truth, she forgot everything about everything. The love enveloped her completely. It was unbreakable, for eternity. Unlike his marriage. Completely unlike his marriage.

Who knew a marriage of compromise and a love that was eternal could meet the same fate?

As she entered her apartment, the phone rang. She didn’t recognise the number.

“Hello”

“Is that the only relationship possible between us? that of a rebound?”

“It wont be utter committed love, I am sure.”

“Friendship?”

“Yeah Right.”

In the silence that ensued, she didn’t realise when he slipped in “I will see you tomorrow”

Sometimes even when you know you are heading into danger, going in with your arms wide open seems to be the most logical option.

“Coffee house?”

“Coffee house”

xxxxx

In the morning, while taking a bath, she took a long hard look at herself in the mirror. Tweeked her eyebrows and shaved her legs. Checked herself twice before leaving for work. Spent two minutes finding out the right earring to go with her red and black kurta.

She left only after she was fully assured that she looked good. Beautiful. However, she didn’t skip a beat while walking to the bus. This wasn’t the excitement of love. Not even sex. She knew what it was not, but wasn’t sure what it was. Probably the excitement of doing something so out of the limits that it leaves only the deed as worthy of any mention. She was crossing her limits. Her bare, vulnerable limits.

Perhaps this was the cosmic way of teaching her to learn from her mistakes, by making her commit a last horrible, horrible mistake. The words echoed in her head all day, “a last horrible, horrible mistake”

xxxxxx

When she looked at him from the doorway of the coffee house, his eyes gave nothing away. The soft eyes that had always been a matter of concern before, looked harmless right now. They seemed bluer today.

The Coffee House was full of people and the attendant asked her to wait before entering to avoid being pushed in. He was there, sipping coffee. She could see him.

She smiled again. Two years ago, she would have dismissed this event as a dream. Or maybe as guilty indulgence.

Two years ago, when every waking moment spent was a blur of love. When every asleep moment meant being enveloped in his arms. When every road forward was with him. Not with the guy sipping coffee in front of her. No, that guy was the past. Gone. Gone as good as gone.

Then, how did this happen? How is she back to where it might have all started? Two years ago, when they had parted, no one had felt a pang of separation. There was no need to. The eerie attraction between them had never materialised to something concrete. The heart had never developed a feeling of belonging. If given a chance, they could have been together. If given a chance. But both of them met their respective people almost at the same time. For her, it was love that hit her out of nowhere and changed her forever. For him, it was a conscious choice of being with someone comfortable. His high school sweetheart. His comfort zone. And although the decision to marry was a forced one, somewhere in his heart he knew he’d be able to sustain it.

To wipe out all of that and come back, again, to the point where something could happen tells you why fact is more interesting than fiction. They were at the starting point again, but with a baggage that might never let anything happen. The futility of the past two years enraged her. It also saddened her. It made her eyebrows come together in thought.

Did someone mention sense of humour?

Note: This is part one of a longish series I want to develop on both the above characters. As and when I feel to write. Stay tuned, if you are curious 😀

The timetable looms large


Isn’t it so obvious that we need a paradigm shift for life.
And there. I made the same mistake again. I spoke for you.
I need a paradigm shift for life.

Everyday of my last three months of joblessness, I have gotten up in the morning and read the morning papers with my morning cup of tea. I have watched the movies that I have always wanted to watch but never had the time. I watched and re-watched runs and re-runs of my favourite TV shows and lazed around the house till I got exhausted of lazing around. I have lived a life at my own pace. Applied at quite a few jobs. Got rejected by many of them. I rejected many of them because of the pay or the location or whatever. on the whole, I lived a little bit of this and a little bit of that, flanked with decisions that were difficult and irritating, I managed to pass time.

It was fine until I was shown the imaginary timetable of life. Get educated by 25. Get married by 26. Produce babies by 28 and another one by 30. Get settled by 30 was watermarked on the timetable in clear unmistakable letters.

I am already behind schedule by donkeys years. What am I to do? Run? Well. Where am I supposed to run to? Where is that one place where the time table does not apply? I figured sometime back that all roads lead to the same place. That everything is the same even after a thousand promises to be something else. So running, I realised or rather figured after some different rational calculations, was not a good idea. Run all you can, you cant escape Mr TimeTable.

Though, in hindsight, I should have ran.

If nothing, by running I would declared my war on this orderliness. I would have declared my leanings to chaos. I would have buried my head in the sand and probably found a new world beneath it. I should have ran even if there was no place to run to. I came to know, very late, that it is the act and not its consequence that is more eloquent sometimes.

Now I am stuck, between trying to run away and trying to abide with the time table. In the course of time people and places have left me. Things have changed and seem to have drifted to the horizon. The only thing that seems to have become bigger and bigger everyday is the timetable. Meeting the deadline is impossible. Not meeting it is sacrilege.

Until there is a paradigm shift, there is a danger that I’d be extinct.

Shunning the FAB INDIA


Description: salt and pepper hair, khadi clothing and a lost demeanour.

If you do not understand what they are saying then it is probably your fault. They are generally found at upmarket places in and Delhi like IIC, IHC and JNU auditoriums and other spurious places in and around Delhi where elitism is reared and cultivated like a milking cow. Where “writings” are renditions and “sexuality” is body politics. Where endless cups of chai are consumed to understand why the author crossed his Ts but did not dot his Is; why the movie maker would not shoot in a particular light (or why he would) and why the women would rather sit at home when they could be partying out really late.

Culture
Music
Feminism
Communism
Ideology

Everything is devoured, consumed and then re-written in academic papers to be read and re-read in academic papers only they understand to produce theories about a society only they live in. A mono-society, like a mono-culture laboratory sample which makes understanding it such a perfectly straight-line job. Objective theories which explain why things happen but never why they are so cruel. Objective theories which are in competition with the scalpel holding population. Let’s see who can be more removed from the blood and the gore?

Men and women in salt and pepper hair, with intricate silver jewellery and crisp and shiny Fab India attire discuss the world they live in comfortably removed from its stark bareness. Aloof from its details and cold from its touch.

Please note: A discussion on the “Female infanticide in India” will be followed by high tea in the auditorium halls.
Do join us to add a little perspective.

I want to break free


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It is so good to be free. And freedom is so underated that is hurting, right now my leg the most.

Freedom is not when you don’t have shackles to put you down, when you are free structurally. Freedom is not despite but inspite. When you can free your mind even when there are hundereds of things weighing it down.

It is the greatest freedom to give a fuck. And for those whose sensibilities get hurt by this word, let’s give a damn.

A woman is free when she knows she doesn’t have to become a man to prove herself. A man is free when he knows that he doesn’t have to earn a million dollars to prove himself, both in a society which wants you to stick to the old world. Freedom in a society which allows freedom is well, easy and it doesn’t demand anything from you. Which means that it doesn’t demand your soul to be free. And this is exactly the point.

Again this oft repeated, misused word – soul. I don’t what it means in common parlance and I just take it as a state of pure honesty. A state where you cannot be more you, kind of defines the limits of your existence. When this honest state is free is when you are.

Of my flesh and blood


She removed her bangles one by one and let them fall on the floor. They made a small sound as they smashed on the ground; nothing that changed the feel of that night. Next, she removed her saree, pleat by pleat and let the garment flow around her. With one deft, athletic stroke the bindi was gone. For a second she was taken aback by the starkness of her face in the mirror. She stared at her bare self before stepping out of the small enclosure the saree had made around her, almost as if she wanted her body, more than her mind, to be sure of what it was doing. When she was done, she adorned the white which was now going to be her destiny. It was a hot May summer of 1957. She quietly sat beside her husband and started fanning.

The body had to be preserved till her son came back.

As she fanned, she waited for her son to appear amongst the steady stream of visitors that were coming home to pay homage to her husband. She was anxious but anxiety could wait, there was work to be done. Relatives were eager to cremate the husband. “Should we wait for the son and let the body rot?” was the refrain.

Four days ago, her son had left for Ahmednagar to meet some relatives as it had been long since they had heard of them. Telephones were impersonal so they preferred visiting. She remembered the father loading his belongings in a tonga and setting him off to the station. Four days ago. Today he lies lifeless on the floor and the son who has to redeem him is nowhere in sight.

Thinking of making the most of the time, he had gone off to Bombay from Ahmednagar. It was going to be a short trip, just a day or two, so he hadn’t bothered to inform.

She guarded the body fiercely but her all hopes went away with the sun. As she looked around, everyone, along with the flies around the body and the melting slab of ice under it, seemed to be asking her, “Would she agree to a relative cremating her husband instead?”

Would she?

“No man in this family is going to tell my son, that it was he who lit the torch to his father’s redemption. No one, absolutely no one,” she announced.

With that, she asked everyone to arrange for the cremation and went inside to fetch her sleeping grandson. Five years old, he was the one who will have to take his father’s place today. She bathed and got him ready. When the people chanted “Ram naam satya hai…satya bolo satya hai” as they lifted her husband for his last journey, she was right in front with her grandson.

She took the torch from the Brahmin and gave it to her grandson. As the flames engulfed her husband, she shed her first tear.

Yatraaaaa!


14/3, bogie 14

Jagriti Yatra Special Train

I miss home.

The Jagriti Yatra 2011 took us around the country, 7500 kms to be precise with 450 like minded people on a train that was modified to be our home for the duration of the journey. We walked in to the train like strangers and 15 days and 11 destinations later, we walked out the best of friends.

7500 kms; 450 people; 11 destinations; 1 country

Do the Math.

A night before the yatra, I will admit that I wasn’t too excited. The had just met 75 of the coolest people on the planet and their stories during the introduction session made me feel like a worm because they had done things  in their lives which I could only dream of doing ever.in.my.life. A part of me questioned what the hell was I doing in that room with those wonderful people, without a value add to them at all.  I was sceptical about my role in the journey. After a lot of deliberation, I decided to be on the Yatra just as a learner to assimilate all the traseures that I was going to unearth on the train.

The aim of the Yatra is to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit in the youth of India, making them job creators instead of job seekers. For this they take this 450 young people across India and make them meet entrepreneurs who have started their own ventures and have been reasonably successful in them. Although all these “role models” as they are called have made their way in the social development arena, the yatra aims you to look beyond and above this arena.

The target segment is the  youth of “middle India” whose aspirations are a little higher than securing two square meals a day. The aim is to make them believe that their aspirations are realisable. That their dreams do not need a miracle to become reality – that they are miracles in their own special self. The Hindu Philosophy says that the self is as limitless as the world outside; the Yatra turns it on its head – by taking you across the country and making you meet normal people who are doing wonderfully awesome work it makes you realise that the world outside is as limitless and as full of opportunities as the dreams and aspirations you carry within.

The physical aspect of the journey is a lot of things to people. For some it’s inspiring, for some it’s humbling and for many of us on the train, sometimes, it is even irritating. It brings into perspective a lot of things we know and not know about ourselves. It breaks the myth you might have carried with you all your lives and almost accepted as a part of your personality. Quite simply, it asks you, “Are you the one whom you think you are or are you someone else?”.

In a nutshell, Jagriti Yatra makes you travel, it makes you meet different role models and gives you a chance to see your dreams take the shape of reality. It makes you design business models and promises to fund them if they are good. It brings together the heaven and holy earth in trying to make you an entrepreneur and succeeds in it to a reasonably fair level. It gives you a chance to stretch yourself in that cramped train where every inch of extra space is a blessing.

But for me, the Yatra was all this and nothing of this. Not this, not that.

In my opinion, the role model visits on the Yatra were a peripheral but necessary device on the train and played the part that education plays in our lives. It acts as a reason for our interactions, our experiences but never becomes the central part of our existence. On the contrary our existence is determined by our experiences – good or bad that happen as we go through the course of our lives. What Jagriti Yatra 2011 did was to put the best minds in the country (almost :P), who had a similar aim in their lives, in a very small space, in a very different time and space continuum and allowed them to interact freely. Almost everyone on the train worshipped the idea of ‘free thinking’ like a tribe worships its totem; many of them had already carved the path of being different from the rest of the humanity. They favoured their passions more than they favoured the good life and interactions between such people created what I will term as the real spirit of the Yatra.

It gave us a community where no one was a stranger so even though I was apprehensive about making the first move in talking to people, I did that reasonably well on the Yatra because we were all a part of the same communities of Yatris. I did not feel very weird when people came up to speak to me either (as I generally do), because at the end of it – we were all Yatris! It was not a 100 percent of course, but the shared sense of community was overwhelming. It was a comfortable eco-system where having a different dream, a crazy idea was not a problem. In fact, it was accepted as a part of who you were.

Jagriti Yatra makes conversations happen. It makes you open up your heart to people because you realise that somewhere down the line they are just like you. Problems become normative and entities which don’t bother us anymore. When problems become normative, the mundane is left behind. Ideas begin to emerge from this newly created conditions because now we all rise up together on a higher level where the ordinary has no place to be in. Being on this journey makes you want to break existent structures, to be abstract, to flow where the tide has never flown before. This is why I laugh inside when people argue that we should set up standard operating procedures for activities on the train and for the role model visit. The idea is to break the mould, stupid, not create another one! For safety procedures, yes; but structuring any other aspect of the train would be suicidal because at the end of the day the aim is to ignite the spirit of entrepreneurship not develop an SOP on “how to be an entrepreneur”.

The aim is to question, to enable oneself to take risks, to debate out ideas, to open your minds to different perspectives. To see the world where all kinds of people and their ideas exist. The aim is to break-free. RIGHT NOW. So if you are on the Yatra so that you come out all knowledgeable about “how to be an entrepreneur”, this is not the place for you. This is the place for you if you can and are willing to open yourself inside out and analyze your seams.

A conversation, one story can change your life on this journey. I met a man who gave up his high paying MNC jobs because he couldn’t take the growing distance between him and his village friends. Now he lives in the village and has opened a tech-company with his same villager friends and they work on the computers and field together. And this is just one of the stories. I don’t think I will ever be able to use the word impossible in my life now.

Wherever you are in your life, physically and mentally, get on that train and shatter a few inhibitions. Look up Jagriti Yatra on the internet and feel free to become a “Yatri” for a lifetime.

Kabhi Kabhi, Shashi Kapoor


I think the first time I confronted the question of “what kind of a man I like” was when I was filling my Orkut profile wayyyy back in first year college. It was a baffling question indeed, like the many things you have a vague idea of but never have a specific list. There are all these cliches that invariably come popping out of you – he should be caring and charming and should “understand” me and also make me feel like a princess and the list goes on. But of course you are never really satisfied by your answers because you always believe that they are not your answers.

And they are never your answers because you are so culturally conditioned to like a certain kind of a man that you can never really break out unless, umm, how do you say, you have tested the waters yourselves? But still you are stuck in a mould. And It is really difficult to break away from 18-20 years of socialisation isn’t it?

There are a lot of things that tell you what kind of a man you’d want rather than just the socialisation. Sometimes it is the kind of upbringing you’ve got, you might like an older man if you’ve had issues with your father as a teenager. If you have lacked a certain kind of fatherly security, you’d look for it in your man. It is a popular theory that all women want to be with the really mean, rugged, adventurous guys who are the studs. It is just a theory and like all theories, it has its loop holes. I wouldn’t go through them, just that I personally feel that girls go out with such men to fill a certain rebellious gap in their system – the guys are out the moment the gap is filled.

So what kind of a guy does a girl really like? And how does she know it for sure?

Let’s answer the second question first – no one never knows for sure but people know something very near to it, which keeps the spark going.

The answer to the first is really tricky. What kind of a guy does a girl really like? Is there a prototype?

I want to write that there is no prototype, that you just know when you see the guy, your guy, that he is the one. I want to write that FINALLY those guys in Main Hu Na were correct, there are violins all right.

It does happen for some, but really finding what you want in your guy is a much more subtle, much more understated process. It is the coming together of all your beliefs in one place. It is like finding the right intersection point for all that you believe in and all that you think is important for you to be you.

It is kinda very simple when you get to know it, really.

I found all the qualities that I wanted in my guy one fine day while watching the movie Kabhi Kabhi especially the scene below

Kabhi Kabhi Climax scene

after which I promptly went to my Orkut profile and updated this:

ideal match: A guy-next-door types…simplicity rocks!

What Shashi Kapoor does here is complete magic – in this movie, he is married to a girl through an arranged marriage and is living his life happily, with a son who is independent, smart, handsome – in short it is a happy family with a beautiful wife, son and with good friends and of course loads of money. He is a great fan of Amit Kumar who is a well renowned shayar and whose book ‘Kabhi Kabhi’ he gifted to his wife on their suhagraat. 

Cut to the scene above and Shashi Kapoor comes to know, on an outstation trip where Amit Kumar has come to pick them up for a dinner invitation, that his loving wife had once been in love with Amit Saab and had wanted to get married to him.

He gets jealous, behaves rudely on the jeep ride to his place and generally is not his own self. He is a fine picture of a jealous man who cannot control his feelings of anger when it comes to his woman, his wife.

Then he gets some drinks, thinks things over and what he says next is something will be etched in my memory for a long, long time to come.

“इतनी  सी  बात  नहीं  समझ  सके …बहुत  ही  छोटे  आदमी  निकले  विजय  खन्ना .

मर्द जात बड़ी ही खुदगर्ज़ होती है, इतनी सी बात और अफसाना कर दिया? यारी, दोस्ती, रिश्ते, नाते, सब भूल गए? अरे यार, वोह औरत जो आपके बच्चे की माँ बनती है, बीस साल आपके साथ य़ू गुजारती है  जैसे पानी खुश्क और बंजर ज़मीन पर बरसता है और फिर मर्द यह सोचने लगे की क्या उसका कोई माजी था, कोई अतीत था, फ़ला आदमी से मिली थी की नहीं, उसे चाहा था की नहीं, ऐसी घटिया और छोटी बातें सोच  कर मर्द अपने आप को गिरा देता है .”

The language of course is brilliant, the conversation between Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor has been discussed by film lovers since ages. People who love good writing, some good prose, all have given their accolades from time to time to this particular piece of conversation in the movie, Kabhi Kabhi.

But what I can see here is not a conversation – I see a man who is very much a man – it hits him bad when he finds out his wife loved some one else before getting married to him. He is very much the man who gets weak when it comes to the woman he loves. But, he is the man who accepts it as a flaw. And then goes on to love the same way none the less. He is not the extra liberated, irritabily adjusting man for whom, “sab chalta hai”. This man has his limits and he doesn’t try to be some one else.

He is the  simple guy next door, ready to listen to you. Ready to understand you. Ready to cut you some slack but not without his own limitations. Not without his own prejudices.

He is not a saint, but in the process of becoming one. In your eyes, for sure.

Shashi Kapoor, in all his characters that he has played in many of the movies, especially Kabhi Kabhi and Trishul has epitomised the simple guy for me. He does it so perfectly that most of his women admirers I have met, including me believe that this is how he is in his real life.

The guy next door. Oh you bet!

Fight for justice, fall in love and drink Champagne…


It is just an idea this – that if the youth was to be described in just three salient points it would be thus:

a) Fight for justice

b) Fall in love

c) Drink Champagne

I heard it somewhere, someday possibly on a radio while aboard a lonely flight. No wait, where would be radio signals on a flight. May be at the airport where I was too busy observing the people to remember who exactly said all of this.

Anyways, etymology, epistemology, ontology – what do we know about any of them? The bottom line is how great these three features are: succinct, precise and yes, to the freaking POINT.

When I talk about justice it really doesn’t mean that you should look at the youth of the Indian National Movement with envy. That was a great time and if I would have been alive I would have surely stolen out in the middle of the night to give food to the people who were fighting for the independence of our country. In spite of reading so much about nationalism and debates on whether it’s a good or a bad thing, I remain a nationalist. I love my country though may be now I might have my reservations against the Bengalis. But that’s just JNU and my hostel. Nothing serious, as they say it’s just a passing phase (?)

I am digressing.

I was saying that if you are young that means that you will fight for justice at least once in your life. Even if it is with the sabjiwala who charged you extra for the dhaniya. You will fight. You will argue. You will not take anything lying down,  you will make sure that you are part of the change however small that change might be, so that when you become old you will look back at those golden days with fondness. Just as Amitabh Bachchan does in the movie HUM. I love the scene where Govinda and Rajnikanth mock Bachchan and ask if he had ever been in a fight before. Then the director takes us (the audience) back to his dock Days. The way the flashback shows his face turning, accompanied with fast music announcing the coming of the hero thrills me no end.

I love this movie.

So, you will beat up men who tease women. You will help an elderly person get a seat in the bus, arguing with a suited-booted man while you do it. These are all processes of growing up. Of being young, of having a dream that one day you will change this world. Keep it up – you just might one day.  Even if you don’t, this spirit will make you feel more alive and more human everyday than what being practical and disillusioned will ever do.

Fall in love.

What do I say about falling in love. All of us have experienced it once in our lives.  Some people have more than once too. It is those beautiful moments of being young that make you want to invent the time machine and invent it today. Some one comes along and before you know it, life starts revolving around him/her. The greatest thing is what this feeling does to you – makes you feel beautiful and alive from inside and outside.  It is true that at that point life feels possible, above every obstacle and above every roadblock. A normal walk on the beach becomes the highlight of your existence and you seriously don’t mind getting up in the middle of the night if the phone so demands.

Beautiful – this word feels such a gross understatement to what love is that I want to check dictionary.com for synonyms.

But futile isn’t it?  Love is just plain and simple beautiful. Let’s not ruin it by complicating it.

Drink Champagne.

It is not so much about drinking champagne than it is about opening that bottle; the loosening of the cap and the slow rise of the liquid inside. The white mad bubbles and the way they scramble to reach out to the front so that they may be the first to come out.

And then pop! it is all over you and on the floor and only a little bit in the glass.

Cheers!

A champagne bottle symbolises the youth like nothing else ever can. There is as much energy as there is submission. Energy bubbling inside the bottle; submission to the one who is brave enough to open the cap, to take the gust of the bubbly all over him. Who had the strength and purpose to maneuver the drink which refuses to go everywhere but into the glass.

You are alive my friend if you ever fought for what you thought was right, dreamed of some one at night and popped open that drink that needs all your guts.