Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Penning a thought

  
Inside my head there's a wild riot-
Of dreams, expressions and a sudden thought.
I cast about for words that rhyme-
And string them together in no time.
But what if they do not make much sense?
Rhyming can go to hell..I drop all pretense.
Forgetting all about the work at hand-
I'm magically transported to an imaginary land,
Where I am free to spin marvellous tales-
About gallant men and picturesque vales.
There's never a dull moment or a forlorn me-
Whenever I write...it's pure ecstasy.




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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dishonour

Whether it was a prize at the annual day function in school or in play-acting, they had always taken pride in her achievements.
Then why was she considered a disgrace to the family now?
'Why?'- A single word escaped from her lips as she struggled to free herself from his iron stranglehold.
'How dare you marry into another caste?' her father roared in answer.



P.S : Murdering your daughter in the name of fake honour or snatching away her right to decide the course of her life is the real act of disgrace....not only to a family or a community but the entire nation.


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Sunday, August 15, 2010

For thy sake

Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.-Adlai Stevenson
I remember cribbing about the way we celebrate Independence Day on this very same page, last year. Like I had mentioned before I always fail to see any merit in holding a flag-hoisting ceremony followed by eardrum-splitting patriotic music(which includes songs from Bollywood movies) being played for the rest of the day. Add to that the innumerable sms forwards stating 'Feel proud to be an Indian. Happy Independence Day' (Happy Independance Day/Happy Independenz Day) that you start receiving as soon as the clock strikes midnight on the 14th of August. Clearly reluctant to shoulder the guilt of not responding to the text messages and thereby openly disregarding the significance of the most important day in your country's history, you hit the reply button and type in a 'Happy Independence Day to you too.' Sometimes without realizing what independence actually means.

How our opinions modify with the passage of time! Right at this moment I feel a little bit ashamed to think of how blissfully ignorant I had been in the past.
For those of us born in a country free from the shackles of a colonial rule, it will always be a near-impossible task to fully understand the meaning of the word 'independence'. What our history books or random news paper articles have taught us over the years can never compare to the experience of coming face to face with a sign saying 'Dogs and Indians not allowed'.(Pahartali European Club had such a signboard and was targeted by Surya Sen and his associates in 1932 for this reason)
Sitting inside an air-conditioned room fully equipped with the amenities of a modern-day 21st century lifestyle, it is an all too easy task to complain about the government's irresponsible handling of the CWG funds or laugh at the Independence Day celebrations all over the country.
But do we ever pause to think about the brighter side? A constitution that had awarded all the men and women, rich and poor, of all religions the right to vote from the beginning- how many times have we actually felt a surge of gratefulness towards the architects of such a constitution?
Even in France, the women had earned the right to vote only in 1944 and the liberal U.S. was characterized by legally mandated discrimination against African-Americans for centuries.
We have our fair share of corrupt, power-crazed politicians and bureaucrats, scandals breaking out over misappropriation of government funds, internal troubles and security threats, places like Kashmir and the north-eastern regions in a state of perpetual political unrest. We have more problems than we can afford to deal with. But then which country doesn't?
An Independence Day celebration is a way of looking back and remembering our glorious past. Even if we do not buy ourselves a flag of the nation(to dispose of it the very next day), even if we do not sing along when the national anthem is being performed or help circulate sms forwards, we can celebrate just by recalling the fact that our country remains one of the few to have earned its independence through non-violent means. Remembering the ideals of those great men and women who had sacrificed their all for the greater good, keeping in mind our rich cultural heritage and principles of secularism and equality we need to draw strength for the future.
For the future will be what we make of it. And harsh criticism, an attitude full of scorn and sarcasm will never help in shaping a better tomorrow.



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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Definitely Maybe

'Relationships don't come with a guarantee card.' a very close friend had remarked on a lonely, rain-drenched afternoon while both of us were returning home from college.
I had been surprised by this declaration out of the blue. So when I asked her what this was about she said 'It's true isn't it?'
Later when I got back home and pondered over her statement I found quite a lot of merit in it.
Relationships really are capricious. There's no knowing when things might turn sour with a friend who has been your constant companion for years. Maybe you were inseparable at school but what happens when both of you graduate and end up in different colleges? Do you stay close as ever or do you look for a new best friend who can spend more time with you?
A couple acting all intimate and cosy this minute might start a fight of epic proportions in the very next one. I'm sure all of you've witnessed such a thing in public and amidst your circle of friends. Divorces have become so rampant that more and more to-be-wed couples are opting for pre-nuptial agreements these days. Marriage is no longer considered a bond of a lifetime or a holy communion of two souls. In fact I'm dead sure most people would feel disgusted to be reminded of things such as 'marriages are made in heaven'.


If we rewind to some twenty years back we'll undoubtedly find ourselves in a society with a different set of sensibilities and values. People showed more patience and understanding back then. And relationships didn't go awry the minute somebody had to compromise with their own selfish interests.
What is THIS rising new trend? It's like 'Ah what does it matter if I lose a friend?....I'll get another one.' or 'What does it matter if I lose a boyfriend/girlfriend..I can always get another one.'
I know I might be sounding like an 80-year old grandma with obsolete ideals but I can't help but be scared of this age of  'instant gratification'.

I know of a couple who had professed to being 'deeply in love' with each other but broke up over a fight on Facebook. Yes this is no cock-and-bull story concocted from my imagination but a true one. People who would flirt incessantly via tweets or status updates have also ended up deleting each other from their friend's lists after a brief spat or a break-up.
Isn't all of this ludicrously funny and alarming at the same time?
Are we paving the path for a future where all of us would be alone at the end of the day no matter how much fun we had at the hottest night-club with a 'hip crowd' the previous night?
People who'd show up if they were promised free food and beer might just vanish at the slightest hint of trouble even before you could bat an eyelash.
As they say, change is the only constant in life. The nature of relationships, the importance of a person in our life, priorities and even likes and dislikes keep altering over time.
But what about our beliefs and principles? should we be too quick to let go of those as and when the situation demands?
It's like we are more keen on giving up rather than face the hardship of trying to hold on.

At times I wish everything in life came with a guarantee card attached. That way I'll know of what to expect and decide on my level of involvement.
After all, real life is not twitter where you become strangers once again, after you've unfollowed each other. No strings attached.


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Sunday, August 01, 2010

Page 3

1

The evening reeks of vodka and beer, sweat and cigarettes and some expensive Chanel or Davidoff 'fragrance' just like any other. The dj-who has been constantly reminding me of Gabriel Batistuta for the last ten minutes, is playing his assorted quota of shit trance music and disco numbers just like any other night. A gang of three girls, who are my age but look like teenagers, are casting him lustful glances like a pack of hungry wolves eyeing a piece of dead meat. 

Malini Arora who has made her entrance about 20 minutes ago has been doing the same. But then she has a more sophisticated way of leching at a guy.
The last time I met her at a similar night-club she spent the entire night downing bloody marys and flirting with the handsome bartender. Although nobody could really tell whether it was Malini 'flirting' or Malini in the mood for some serious boozing. I could. I have had way too many run-ins with her.
At 45 and after 3 divorces Malini Arora,the top-boss woman of the most established modelling agency in the city, has settled into the stage of frequent one-night-stands with younger attractive men.

My editor almost sighs with frustration every time I talk about her.
'If only we could write about what a slut she is...' he would grimace.
We can't. So we make do with pictures-of her dancing provocatively or drinking without a care.
Speaking of pictures..where the hell is my photographer Ravi?
Oh there he is at the other end of the dance floor chatting up a woman in a backless short red dress.

He adores these parties. In fact everybody does-right from the bitches sitting beside me at the counter discussing Batistuta-lookalike to the wannabe models over there who are always among the most scantily-clad in this crowd to the couple of guys on the dance floor who are switching partners all too frequently to that gay moron who could put Bobby Darling to shame but passes off as a connoisseur of high-end couture.

Everybody except me.

I sit at the counter with a Red Bull can in my hand throughout the evening and watch over the crowd like a hawk. Nobody forces me to get drinking if they see that I already am. Although this is some shabby energy drink we're talking about. I've been and always will be a teetotaler. Sometimes I indulge in a cranberry lime pitcher drink or smoothies for variety.

'Oh my...if it isn't the ambitious newswoman..' somebody almost coos from behind.
I turn around slowly still seated on my bar stool.

'Hey Malini...' I offer my usual nonchalant greeting, the plastic smile on my face intact.
I get down from my perch and let her kiss me on both cheeks. I do the same, cringing internally.
'Technically I report gossip..not news..so I hardly qualify as a newswoman.' I say laughing.

'Tch tch you are as touchy as ever aren't you?..come on woman enjoy the party. Have fun. Go find a man and dance away the night.' she suggests.

'Yea and miss out on all the fun you'll be having with Batistuta tonight?'- I think.
Outwardly I reply-'I am a picky one. Nobody suits my standards here.'
Her smile disappears for the tiniest fraction of a second but she recovers fast.
'Then I suppose you're bound to hunt for gossip for the rest of your life. Shame.' she says sweetly.
It doesn't even sting anymore. I laugh alongside.
'Okay darling...you enjoy yourself I gotta go catch up with the rest' she says and moves away into the shuffling crowd.
I stand rooted to the spot for a few minutes pondering over whether to go fetch Ravi or move amidst the crowd doing my 'job'.


2
                                                           
Ever since I became aware of my own existence and surroundings, I had always dreamt of being a journalist. I recall imagining myself seated at a cluttered desk working on my laptop writing a 'supposedly' thought-provoking news article or report...with a satisfied expression on my face. My writing will gain popularity with time and some day I'll be able to get my own column. It was just like one of those colorful dreams people my age seem to nurture.

Little did I realize that despite my top grades and a degree from the most reputed university I would have to delve into the murky world of celebrities and page 3 parties and concoct stories about their personal lives for a living.

Yes I'm a gossip columnist working for the best-selling daily of this city. I was never meant to report news. I was destined to 'create' it rather.


I move around aimlessly as if in a trance my eyes scouring the entire hall in search of my lost and most probably 'intoxicated' photographer. But I just can't spot him anymore amidst this madness, this frenzied bout of dancing and meaningless merry-making. There's not enough space, not enough air to breathe right now.
They say these parties offer you a gateway into another world, a fantasy-land where you'll only come across handsome princes and beautiful dames. A place where anything is possible.
You might catch the eye of a rich playboy and ensure yourself several months' worth of free Ferrari rides, elite club memberships and spa holidays in Bangkok. You might suddenly bump into a balding, middle-aged man with zero aesthetic sense or creative ideas but with enough cash to be the owner of a corporation producing saas-bahu soaps or family dramas in other words. Your lucky day. You get your chance to hand him your photo-shoot pictures you've been carrying around with you for months in the hopes of becoming an 'actor'. If you are thin enough to remind someone of a cheese stick, tall enough to make an average guy shy away from asking you out, and can suck up to Malini when she is dead-drunk who knows you might even bag that coveted appointment with her within the next week. If sleeping with corporate executives, political hotshots, and horny celebrities is what your career is made of, then attending such parties will expand your client-base and enhance your rates.

At times I feel I'm caught in a never-ending nightmare where I'm  forced to relive the same experiences over and over again, where I have no other way but to fit into this world of lies, deception and charades. It's not like I never considered quitting my job but then ending my stint here would mean I would have to start from scratch at some other place.


"Taubaan tera jalwaa......taubaan tera pyaar
Tera emosanal atyaachaar"

As the nasal voices of bandmaster Rangeela and Raseela resounds throughout the enormous hall, I smile for the first time in the evening.

'Batistuta has incredible timing.'

P.S: This is my entry for IndiBlogger's 'Emotional Atyachaar' contest. Please vote here if you find it worthy enough.
Side note for Non-Indian readers : 'Emotional Atyachaar' (atyachaar meaning 'torture' or 'torment' )is a very popular track from the cult hit Hindi movie Dev-D.

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