December 22, 2014

Dear PK haters

WhatsApp is basically killing my patience. I'll be more specific. WhatsApp groups in particular are contributing a great deal in ruining my perfectly good mornings. The murder of patience began the day families decided that privacy was basically dead with 'Good Morning' and 'Good Night' was anywhere between 5 a.m and 11.30 p.m. 
Then came the revolutionary types. Armchair revolutionaries. The ones who shared 'Kraantikari' posts in these groups hoping to spark a social change. Many issues have fallen prey to this phenomenon. The NaMo craze and politics in the lead. Next came religion. In a country that houses peacefully(?) around 330 million Gods, you would think people's religious tolerance would be sky high. 


It is these WhatsApp groupees that make me sick today. And the reason is foolish and dark, both at the same time. The latest in the group forward is about how PK is an anti-hindu propagating movie with a script that indicates tolerance towards all other religions. Then the Indian girl - Pakistani boy love story angle is being majorly frowned upon. 

A little something about PK here:
PK is the story about PK's journey to find an object that is infinitely precious to him and is the only way he can get home. On his quest, he is introduced to the idea that 'Bhagwaan' can only help him. He pleads to all Gods, not knowing which religion to appeal to since he had no idea of his religious allegiance as he was not branded physically by any mark of a particular religion. His journey is honest and his prayers are heartfelt. The observations PK makes about religion, God-men and humanity in general are veracious. Objective, but definitely not baseless.

When an Indian Girl falls for a Pakistani Boy after her initial hesitation in associating with him after finding out about his home country, the filmmaker is trying to bring across a point that her heart overruled her head. When PK rolled on the floor of a temple or took part in the Moharram procession, the filmmaker is depicting his character's relentless faith in all the religions. There is not one instance in the movie where God as a supreme being is questioned. What is brought to question is how God-men cash on people's blind faith and fear to craft a niche profit making business for themselves. In the movie, the plot revolves around a God-man who calls himself the representative of a popular Hindu God. The writers drafted the story that best suited the idea that took shape in their head. To brand it as communal and being opposed to only a single religious group is cuckoo talk.

What is baffling is that the people giving wind to this controversy are the people I know personally. This is communal. It plants the seed of silent hatred in the minds of people who usually do not create opinions every time they watch a movie.       

My point here is that movies are the tools of independent creative expression. And to top it all, PK is a lovely sweet movie with a simple yet strong message. Just let it be! Please do not kill it's buzz, not just yet. 

This is 2014 people, we are fighting on a crowded planet for survival. It does not take a lot to coexist and live happily. I admit you are a religious person, be fair and non-violent and spread happiness. Religion is for faith, happiness and observance. It is about convenience, not violence and hatred.
And next time you walk out of a movie theatre, leave the negativity behind and take back with you all that is positive and good.  


December 18, 2014

Be Human

What I don't understand is how can an act of hatred be considered Godly or an act committed in His veneration!

How do you look the children in the eye and kill them? Not one, not two but a 130+ little innocent children. They are the future, these children. How do you destroy your future and make it seem like an act of religious observance.

This is bigotry. Terrorism in its most heinous form.

When terrorism killed children before this, it usually was part of a larger incident. An unfortunate incident that targeted other human beings, older human beings. I do not comply with any pattern of killing people and endorse it as okay but I want to point out why this time this attack makes more noise and why this attack concerns me more than other attacks that have happened in the past.

Listen to me terrorists,

I don't see the point of your 'war'. Your cause is lost on me. When you kill, the generic God sheds a tear. He teaches humanity and love and co-existence. 

Listen Indians and Pakistanis,
This is not an isolated incident and so it will not be dealt with in isolation. There will be anger. But the show of solidarity, love and understanding that was shown with the hashtag #IndiaWithPakistan in the last 24 hours makes me sigh. Did we really need an incident so heart-wrenching to bring it to the fore? But let this be the first and the last time something like this happens. Keep the flame alive and let it burn you. Unite to punish the forces that killed our children. Create a force so strong that the thought of harming people and children especially must instill fear in these terrorists. 

Lets make a better world. 

October 22, 2014


Diwali is not Diwali anymore.
It is a struggle for normalcy. A struggle for coherence.
It is a dark endless pit of dismay. Of possibilities too.

This used to be my Grandmum's and Dad's favourite festival, they wanted the family to stick together atleast during the festive week. Dad usually was the one who made it happen. My most fond memory of him is of an over enthusiastic man going on a crazy-ass shopping spree at a mall with his whole extended family let loose. He gave! Happiness and gifts and a ridiculously optimistic fervour. What Dad could not attain was permanency in stature and well-being. It never was the eternal Diwali he had wanted. This loss of permanency triggered his weak heart and two years living a life he most dreaded, he passed away, suddenly but peacefully. He is survived by his wife, my mother, whose life is a constant struggle for survival. And she wades through, donning a brave face.

We appreciate hard work a tad bit more, mother, uncle, aunt and I. We fight stigmas, together. We heal each other with words, deeds and gestures. We learn new strange things everyday. And that, desertion by people is imminent, both by the dead and the living. We cry over loss a little more, now that reality sinks in harder than before but we also laugh a little more heartily because we know this is the time to live!    

I do not know if it is the fear of an eternal night or the promise of a new dawn, hope is all that we live by. No matter how bleak it is today, Recuperation is in place. 

And Dad (I know you are reading this, because I am pretty darn sure heaven has free unlimited WiFi),
To tell you that I miss you is a solid understatement, it is like a void. But you are finally celebrating your favourite time of the year with your parents, I know you are happy. We are good, a little broken, but mostly good. I am taking newer decisions, better decisions hopefully. If there is something you do not approve of, send me a sign, Make a cloud shaped like a NO or something. But since I am your daughter, doing stupid things is not really possible. Mum's good too, you know what's troubling her, FIX IT please! Nandu, Soni and Golu say Hi to your picture every morning. Say hello to Baiji and Dadosa from us, and be well, all of you! Be our angels. 
Miss you, Bye.

September 13, 2014

An Honest 10 Books list

Everyone is going high-end literature buff with this task of listing their favourite ten books, or atleast that is what it seems to me. Books entered my life much later than usual, at the age of 19 when I read my first full fledged novel/book. But in my life so far, I have lived with academics and being a civil services aspirant. So now, I have two lists. The first one is from my pretentious self, the second list is from my nerdy self. These are the books that remain with me even today:

(in no particular order)


1) The Harry Potter series by J.K.Rowling
Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban in particular, because it was the first book I EVER read.

2) The Shiva Trilogy by Amish
Shiva is my favourite mythological character and Indus Valley Civilization is my favourite period of study in History. I had to love the series.

3) The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
The book blew my mind. I finally realised that I had an inclination for conspiracy novels.

4) Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
This book took me a month to finish but it was nothing less than magic.

5) Windmills of the Gods by Sidney Sheldon
Love for the book, more love for the genre

6) Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding
Bridget is basically me.

7) Lord of the Rings by J.R.R.Tolkein

8) Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L.James
For Christian Grey. Also, it is Beyonce certified.

9) White Mughals by William Dalrymple
Grand. Epic.

10) Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
"Do you want to fly so much that you will forgive the Flock, and learn, and go back to them one day and work to help them know?"


1) A Cultural History of India - A.L.Basham
2) Oxford Disctionary of World History
3) Quantitative Aptitude - Dr.R.S.Aggarwal
4) NCERT Textbooks
5) Machiavelli's Prince
6) Medieval India - Satish Chandra
7) India's Struggle for Independence - Bipin Chandra
8) Civil Service Chronicle
9) Early History of India - Romila Thapar
10) Tinkle

I have a few books on the waitlist waiting to be read:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Empire of the Mughals by Alex Rutherford, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, Discourses by Karl Marx, Chanakya's Chant by Ashwin Sanghi, Love in the time of Cholera by Garcia Gabriel Marquez and The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald.

Do I need to add more to my to-read list? I'd love some suggestions! 

September 6, 2014

Lost a parent. Found my God.

AGNOSTIC  /aɡˈnɒstɪk 
A person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God.

I have been an agnostic for as long as I can remember. Coming from a family of staunch believers in divinity, I was the oddity. None of the relatives understood what I was. Honestly, I did not see sense myself. Praying was a matter of convenience, remembering a higher power happened when I was in trouble and needed an out.

And then last week, I lost my father to an unexpected cardiac arrest. Having lost my grandmother just four months back had left a rather lasting impression on me and I began to treat death as any other 'big' moment in one's life. Papa suffered from a long-standing heart condition. I made myself believe that his passing away had relieved him from years of pain and suffering. I also told myself that no matter what happened, I still had mum to be with and look after. I went about the charades gracefully, fulfilling the duties that were expected of me. Being the only child, mum insisted I light Papa's funeral pyre. Unorthodox as it may be to everyone, it happened and mum's wish stood honoured. The priest argued that women were weak of heart to handle the sight of a dead body, let alone the body being their father's. It was orthodox-talk for 'keep the women out!' 

I stood near Papa's head, trying to take it all in, when it hit me. A wave of sheer realisation. This will be the last I see of him. Ever. 
Then there was His voice in the back of my head. 
Him, singing a song.
"Kya se kya ho gaya...."
Because that is what he would do. 
Papa sang songs to commemorate events, big or small. He did that all the time. He used to say that it was his way of making a memory that lasted way longer than just a few random seconds. In that eternal moment I knew how I was going to remember him for the rest of my life. I was going to make him a part of every memory I make thereafter, big or small. From that moment on, I gained a God. Watching over me. Loving me. Letting me make mistakes. Smiling down at me while I teach mum how to pick a perfect song for every emotion. 

Papa was an amazing man. His sense of humour is as legendary as his anger and self-respect. No man could ever lead a family out of non-entity the way he did. He taught me how to be benevolent by just being himself. We had our share of fights as well because he raised a daughter who would not give up without making herself heard. He believed that people were essentially good and helpful. He may not have necessarily turned me into a believer but I am not a skeptic anymore, because my father is my angel. 

Dealing with the loss of a loved one, let alone a parent, is one of the most difficult things a person has to go through in his life. Living in denial is bad. Worse than that is trying to get over the death. You don't get over someone dying. Instead, you learn to live with it. You embrace it and you let the happy memories of that loved one heal you. The moment when you can think of those who went away and smile at the kindling of a fond memory about them is when you know all is going to be well after all. Its been 7 days and Papa's memory makes mum and me smile more than it makes us weak. He gives us strength to carry on. 

I hope there is internet connectivity and a constant supply of mangoes and pizzas where you are. I will look after mum, don't worry. You just make sure I don't do anything stupid, I know you will point me into the right way when need be. Needless to say, I miss you. A lot. I love you so much.

July 31, 2014

Potterhead. Always.

It is my undying love for J.K.Rowling's extravaganza, Harry Potter that I am not able to get over the franchise even years after it ended spectacularly. The books changed my life in a million ways. It is not just a story of Harry's final victory over Voldemort, it is in fact a tale of bravery, love, friendship, sacrifice, pride and innocence. Each character displays a certain depth and they end up teaching us a lot more than we take from what is just plainly written.

Album Dumbledore taught us that one can always leave their past behind and change for the better. That greatness is derived from the love people have for you and not by exerting power, which he shows by consistently declining the post of the Minister of Magic. 

Severus Snape taught us that love is timeless and unconditional. That once you love someone dearly, you will stand by that. ALWAYS.

Rubeus Hagrid taught us that wild was good. That if you wanted to pet a dragon and raise a three headed dog, it was just as normal as wanting to drink pumpkin juice. He taught us that not everything that looks ferocious is dangerous, 

Luna Lovegood taught us that being weird is cool. That believing in things no one else believes in is possible, if only you believe in your version of things no matter how crazy.

Draco Malfoy taught us what it is to be pushed into wrongdoing against your own will. That living with bad company, need not make you a monster. There might still be hope. 

Bellatrix Lestrange taught us that obsession was a dangerous thing. That obsessing over something or someone was going to get you nowhere except for being dead.

Neville Longbottom taught us that being an under achiever usually ends up winning crucial battles. That dealing with a past that involves parents that no longer remembered him and a grandmother who expects too much from him did not pull him down. 

Ginny Weasly taught us to be tough. That being a girl was not just gossips and giggling and making sparks fly from the wand, it is about casting perfect bat bogey hexes and being an amazing Quidditch beater.

Fred and George Weasly taught us to be jesters. That to laugh and to make people laugh was indeed the best medicine. 
We miss you Fred! :'(

Nymphadora Tonks and Remus Lupin taught us that we always find love when we are not looking for it. That standing together to face death was the most important thing than having to let go for each other's safety. 

Hermione Granger taught us that it was okay to be the know-it-all. That pouring over books and being the one who always answers questions, no matter how crazy they are, comes in handy to handle the deadliest of situations.

Ron Weasly taught us that it was more important to be a friend than being that guy who always lives in the shadow of a celebrity. That ginger people are the ones adorned with the best sarcastic humour. 

Harry Potter taught us that bravery and selflessness are the traits of a hero. That losing your loved ones should not let you lose sight of your bidding. 

Voldemort taught us that power corrupts. That if a person knows no love, he knows no magic. 


J.K.Rowling taught us that a string of rejections and downsides in life cannot tear you apart. That pulling yourself together and believing in your stories is more important than anything else. Because 'No story lives unless someone wants to listen to them'

Let me know if there are other characters from the series that have taught you something, or if these characters have inspired you in a significant way. 

July 23, 2014


I wrote this particular piece nearly 6 years back. Back then I wanted to be like Chetan Bhagat, a Rs 99/- wala book writer. You can safely say, I was naive. My naivety will reflect in my rather flat style of writing below. But this short little story is closest to my heart because it made me want to be a writer one day.
Here it is: 
Spolier: It talks about me! :D

DATE – 20th September 1988
TIME – 7:15 am
In a not so well-groomed courtyard sat Mr.Chaddha on his armchair swaying back and forth. He was sipping his favourite Darjeeling cinnamon flavoured tea greedily like there was not going to be a tomorrow morning. He was a portly man in his late forties, though he looked much older, had a pot belly large enough to store food for an entire battalion and had a good natured face with a frizzled moustache. It was exactly 7:15 in the morning of that drizzly September day. The South-west monsoons were on the verge of its end. And so it rained pretty heavily to mark its last. Mr. Chaddha picked up The HINDU and read the headlines.

He tut tutted something about politics going to the dogs and put the paper down as if it had deeply disturbed his conscience and made his heart ache. The expression on his face was terrific, humanly impossible to even form for us normal earthlings, but then that’s Chaddha uncle at his diplomatic best. He pushed the troubling thought out of his mind and went back to slurping his lukewarm morning drink. Wait a minute, enough of him. Because, this is not his story.
No, it is not!

Three blocks away was a hospital – Sita Bhateja Nursing Home, run by a gynaecologist. No prizes for guessing who ran the nursing home, Dr.Mrs.Sita Bhateja. Right then she was in the labor room nursing a woman terribly in pain. The hands of the clock slowly ticked as the anxious parents of the aforementioned ‘lady-in-pain’ waited. Her husband had been informed the minute her water broke and the father-to-be anxiously started for the hospital. It was their first child after all. All this was happening in the Garden City of Bangalore; and the father-to-be lived in the neighbouring capital of Hyderabad, and he left instantly to be with his wife. He knew he would well arrive after all of it is over, but still the excitement and the anxiousness got the better of him. He was overjoyed. This over enthusiastic ‘father-to-be’ is my Paa, more specifically my FATHER. And yes, the lady-in-pain is my MOTHER, my Maa. Oh, now you are getting it, this story is about me – the child about to be born.

Let me tell you how my Ma and Pa came together.
They met in the strangest of fashions. Theirs wasn’t a love marriage. It was arranged as was the tradition at that time in the small village of Rajasthan they hailed from. The story goes that Maa was the pretty maid in her early twenties and she had heaps of prospects peeping through her doorway everyday; she had a hell of a choice to choose from.

‘I’m confused’ is what Ma blurted out after meeting each prospect in due succession. And then…… enter Paa-The dashing young man! He was smitten by the beauty and charm of the beautiful young lady and her confusion made him fall crazily for her. Their meeting was arranged, Maa and Paa saw each other and it was love at first sight. An alliance was anticipated and everybody expected an almost immediate formal announcement of an engagement. But my Grand-dad played spoilsport and like all the typical prospective groom’s sides in India, my grandfather said he would give his answer in a week or so, but Paa found that too much time to wait. Overnight, he boarded a bus, traveled nearly a thousand miles from Hyderabad to Rajasthan to get to Maa’s house and declared his wish to get married to Maa as soon as it was possible. That’s the best thing Paa did because if he would not have made it then Maa was being forced to say yes to another prospect. And if this alliance failed to happen, I would have never existed to tell my story.
Now it was all settled.
Paa said YES and Maa accepted it more than willingly.
And then they had ME.

No wait, they were still in the process of having me. Maa’s in pain and Paa’s still in the train.

That rhymed. I started training myself in such feats in Maa’s womb itself. So, you could say that a genius is about to be born.

While Dr. Mrs. Bhateja nursed my mum through her painful labour, my attention shifts over to the anxious looking parents of the mum-to-be. They were about to have their first grandchild, an achievement in itself and were bloody beyond happy. Today is the occasion of firsts.

Now, the moment of action. Precisely, at 7.16 am, a minute after Mr. Chaddha tut-tutted about the Indian polity, I was born. Like an angel to curb the negativities of politics which ached Mr. Chaddha’s heart even as he sipped his tea. I was the saviour who was born as the one who would shine as the lone light of hope and the end of the dark tunnel of the disappointing administrative machinery. I was born to be the source of relief to the balding gentleman three blocks away. But, unfortunately for him, I was neither of these. I am a baby, after all.

So, big discussions can wait for now. 

July 14, 2014

Confident and Fat

"Life would have been so much easier if not for the fat."
On an average, a relatively overweight person will think on the above lines more often than not. Say, 12 times a day. Obviously, I am making this statistic up because, let's face it, no one really gives a twit about what fat people think. The obvious corollary to fat is happy-go-lucky, so the 'not-so-fat' normal section of the society operate under the belief that fat people like to be well, fat.

Let me clear this once and for all. We are not Fat People, we are just People. Yes, there are times we have serious body image issues. There's also an added obsession to excel in other areas of performance because "beauty-wise toh beta aap bahut cute hain, sundar nahi!" Our life is one big calorie counting extravaganza and we live off water and air most times. How the day shall be lived will be decided by the ever angry weighing scale and one tip of the weight needle to the right is enough to get us prepared for a water diet. Speaking of diets, we know all about them! The General motors diet, The Banana diet, The Cabbage soup diet, The Grapefruit diet, The Juice fasting, The 3 hour diet, The Skinny bitch diet, The French Women don't get fat diet (You saw this right!).... Been there, done that!

Why this rant now, you must think? I have been fat my whole life. Wait. Not fat, Obese. I pretty much loved the entire 'cute' phase that happened before I hit puberty. After that it was all downhill. The attention was all way too negative and the I went spiraling down into a binge eating spree to help me cope with all this. By the time I was 18, I was the size of a baby whale with serious self-confidence issues. I clung on to anyone that spared time to talk to me, let alone be friends. My intermediate college years were the most difficult. I was not myself, I struggled immensely with my body image and my communication skills were a disgrace. If not for being good at academics, I would have been a nobody later in life. Good grades were my saving grace. It was after being admitted in one of the top colleges in the city that I pulled myself together and decided to turn my life around. One thing at a time.

My first goal was to learn to communicate. Before college happened, I basically had no working knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. Piecing two words together to make a sentence was a task. On my first day of college, at orientation, I remember trying to make sense of everything that was being said about classrooms, lecture halls, courses and stadiums. There was a moment of underlying exhaustion, coupled with panic and distress. I came home and lay awake all night trying to figure out how to get through classes. There were plans, and backup plans, and backup plans to those backup plans. Next day, miraculously, I found my way through the crowd. Because we were a small group in the History Graduate class, I felt noticed. The confidence was there, lurking at the back of my mind. I just had to reach for it. As days passed by, academics helped me get through tough classes and theories. I spent hours at home with library books and a dictionary wading my way through slowly. Steadily. In a couple of weeks, I felt confident walking the corridors. I was recognised, liked even. It was a major confidence boost. I also ran for Class representative elections and was elected. Mighty nerdy, but cool. I got over my fear of rejection in the coming years. I also learnt a lot about communication, language and life in general from Harry Potter (more on that, soon)

I believe acceptance is key. Acceptance and the will to change for better. I have not drastically slimmed down to gain a little perspective, I just accepted my flaws and learnt to excel past those. All this is easier said than done and I am still learning. Having said that, a part of me thinks I am just the best. Slimming down is definitely on my top priority list and I am getting there slowly despite being the lazy person that I am. I am also sure I will overcome my procrastination and transform into a better version of me.

Until then,
Be Fat. Be Confident. Be Fabulous!