At last ! I dated Maximum City !!!


I don’t know whether I love or hate this city. I hated it when I landed. Rains , jams , traffic, people, everything, irritated me and now when two days have passed and I have travelled most of the city I don’t know whether I still hate the city. The men here are still nothing to talk about. Women look equally sad. However, there is something about the city. The houses, the sea everything just mesmerises you. I just can’t describe how much the houses here have fascinated me, especially those old apartments which have this stamp of the past glory. 

Bombay always reminds me of those 80’s bollwood movies which had all arty people like farooq sheikh, Deepti Nawal, Amol Palekar etc. Surprisingly, Bombay still looks the same. It can change its name to Mumbai but it cannot change its identity attached with the name ‘Bombay’. It also reminds me of my visit to Calcutta and the colonial architecture which also gets replicated in this city. The major difference, Calcutta being a dying city with its past-glory hangover and leftist burden while Bombay a constantly changing, developing capitalist city. 

Coming from a place like Delhi which I literally breathe, it is hard for any city to match until and unless it’s Athens ;) ( Let me tell you Greek men are Gods !!! ). 
So, what confused me the most ? The city which enchants the whole of nation and many parts of the world does not seem to impress the people here. People are away from the limelight. The way they dress up or carry themselves show that they are still untouched by the showbiz. They are super composed people. Even when their language seems that they are fighting and abusing, they are quite simple and cool.

Me being a woman and lover of short dresses, I can tell you I loved the city, the way it behaved with me. There is just no concept of ‘male gaze’ or even ‘female gaze’ here. Women can travel at anytime wearing anything without being scanned from head to toe and being scared for their lives. No matter how much I love Delhi, the truth is, it is one of the most unsafe place for women. I personally have experienced multiple things which are not easy to forget. In the past days, I travelled alone in public transport wearing whatever I wanted and not being afraid. I just love the city for that. 

There are not multiple places or locations for sightseeing and the turbulent sea just follows you wherever you go. Street shopping is more like Delhi’s week-day markets and nothing compared to Janpath or Sarojini. But they do have huge showrooms with some of them being really good. However, I really think the people do not use the clothes of those showrooms or I become blind when they use them ;). Bombay being a city of celebrities you do would bump into one or the another. Ok ! I am not that easy to impress and don’t get fascinated by these celebrities ( The last time I was in total awe, was when I met Sitaram Yechury ! ). My kind of celebrities are different. 

So, landing in the city with all kinds of preconceived notions and prejudices, do I want to visit it again ? I think, I might. To meet my friends, to travel alone in public transports and to lech at Sea at Worli sea-face during night. 

I will definitely date the city again ! 

A Short Story of Y 


Y was very sad. Being one of the last letters of the language, Y always felt excluded. He thought that my friend X has a life, he becomes so important during christmas. No one can do without him during winter holidays. My other friend Z also feels that he is superior than me. Being the last alphabet he feels that the world ends with him. In fact nowadays, he boasts of having two names Z and Zee. This is not fair ! Am I the only one without any importance ? 

One morning, he suddenly started getting so many calls. He was being called everywhere. He was surprisingly happy but wasn’t aware what is happening? Then he got to know that there is this new SMS language which has evolved in the market and Y from being a ‘letter’ now has attained the status of a ‘word’. Y has pushed out W and H from WHY and has emerged a solo winner. As important as other questions of inquisitive humans, he was now the question of answered/unanswered answers.

And with this new identity of a question Y lived happily ever after.

The Planchette


“Ok, I know how to do Planchette. Who will do with me?”, Rimi asked. Sherry on the other hand was very scared of getting involved with all this.

“I will”, Adi answered.

It was 12AM. Rimi and Sherry both were in the hostel room of Adi. Girls were not allowed inside the boy’s hostel so, Adi paid some bribe to the peon and brought both of them inside the hostel.

Adi’s room all over was plastered with pictures of Che Guevara, Hugo Chavez, Bhagat Singh, Fidel Castro and Martin Luther. After all he was Secretary Of AISA, student wing of the mainstream left party.

“Array yahan bhi”, laughed Rimi pointing to the pictures. “Is there any part of the wall left in your room? Where will you paste picture of your future girl friend”, mocked Sherry.

“Let it be yaar ! Now stop all this ! Come to the point. Let’s concentrate on planchette”, Adi screamed little irritatingly. “You know, we don’t have all night devoted to ourselves, you people need to leave before every one starts waking up. So let’s start… ASAP”. He added.

” Ok ! Ok ! There is no need to scream ! We were just trying to lighten the atmosphere”, Rimi replied while taking out the planchette board from her bag and a pointer. Sherry was staring at the board with amazement. The light brown wooden board actually looked little scary. There were alphabets written in Old English font in a semi circle on the top of the board. Each alphabet looked as if it’s trying to tell a story of its own.

Below the alphabets, were numbers. Numbers were eerie, even more scary. They looked as if they will just shout and reveal the date of your death !

“Guys, look here now!” Rimi’s voice brought back Sherry from her wonderland. She lighted a candle and placed it on the table. “Adi, you need to put your finger on the pointer with me and no matter what happens don’t take your finger from the pointer”. Adi laughed and shaked his head in affirmation.

“Both of you recite with me… ANY HOLY SPIRIT PASSING BY PLEASE COME”.
“ANY HOLY SPIRIT PASSING BY PLEASE COME …ANY HOLY SPIRIT PASSING BY PLEASE COME…ANY HOLY SPIRIT PASSING BY PLEASE COME……………”

All three of them with bated breath kept on repeating the same chant. While the girls really believed in it, Adi was getting restless. “Listen ! If nothing happens in a minute, I will leave it”, he said annoyingly. Rimi ignored him and kept on repeating the lines. Suddenly, the pointer started becoming heavy. Both of them felt as if something is happening. Excitedly, Rimi asked “Holy Spirit are you here”.

Now, pointer started moving, creating words from the alphabets.

“Y-E-S”

Adi now was super excited and asked “what is your name ?”. Pointer again started moving and making a word .

“A-D-I”

“Wow ! You have my name . That’s very cool ! “. Without any provocation pointer again started moving.

“D-O-N’T Y-O-U K-N-O-W? I-A-M Y-O-U !!!”

“What nonsense? What nonsense is this? That is the reason I don’t believe in all these things” Saying this he threw the pointer in a fit of a moment . The board came crashing down with a loud noise. “What are you doing Adi ? At least see the time before you make such noise”, while shouting Rimi took his hand to see the time. Adi’s watch stopped at 12:20. “What happened to your watch now?” Rimi saw the time in her watch but, even her watch surprisingly stopped at the same time. “What is this?, Sherry what is the time on your watch?”. Sherry was not wearing a watch. She checked her phone. It showed 12:20.

Suddenly they heard footsteps in the corridor. Presuming that warden might come to check the rooms, all of them got silent.

Outside the room, three boys were talking amongst themselves. “Why is this room always locked?”.
“I don’t know exactly but I have heard nearly ten years back, a guy sneaked in two girls inside the room but unfortunately, the room caught fire because of some candle and all of them died in that accident. And you know what? Around 12:20 some kind of weird noises are heard from this room. Actually it is said that they died around this time”, second replied.

“What was the name of the guy?”

“Adi”. He replied.

Friendship ? What friendship ? You are just my Facebook friend .


I made my first friend or best friend in first class. I remember we were group of four friends who always used to hang out with each other. Eating lunch together, playing together, sitting together. It was fun. For us, the definition of friendship was being together. I remember that once we decided that during summer vacations, we will send letters to each other. We all were in fourth standard. Yes, and we did send letters to each other in our broken English and Hindi handwriting. I talked with my friend on phone for the first time in fifth or sixth standard.

Today, when I look back I think I had great friends who like me were committed to that single definition of friendship. We might not be able to meet today for our own reservations in our life but, we know that bond which we made as children will always be there.

I joined Facebook in 2008.

Since then, I have made so many friends. Correction. Facebook friends. This is a new kind of friendship. For this kind of friendship, you are not supposed to meet in reality. Even if you see people in real, you cannot greet them. However, on Facebook, you can like her/his status, comment on them, like his/her photos and claim to be best friends. This propaganda of friendship is not just for the world but also for your benefit. But it is also true that we want to make ourselves worth of being a friend on the portal. After all Facebook is all about friendship.

I have made myself wonder on my own hesitation and pure reservation in meeting or greeting a Facebook friend. They have so many times slide past me without recognising me while I try to connect that Facebook profile pic to the real person in flesh and blood. I really wonder how this happens?

I daily get so many requests of friendship and to be very frank I do not understand why do they want to be my friend in the first place. I think even now I have more than 150 requests pending and double that no might be the number of friends I have. I know I will never meet them, may be I don’t want to meet them. Then, why do we make these friends? What exactly is the truth behind these virtual friendships ? Are they merely for a propaganda of friendship? Are they just show-off or the world has truly manifested the elements of friendship in how much you are friends with your friend on Facebook ?

Whatever it is. Facebook has actually changed the definition of friendship. There are four kinds of friendship which have been defined/ created by Facebook. First, there are friends whom you never want to meet ; Second, friends who do not want to meet you ever ; third, friends who are “friends with benefits” who can be used in need and last, but not the least your real friends whom you keep on meeting but need to prove that on Facebook by tagging, posting pictures etc.

I don’t think I enjoy Facebook that much but may be in this lonely world devoid of real friends as they make themselves available only on Facebook, we feel worthy. May be we feel desired by so many people. May be this is a new public sphere which let’s us create our ideologies and ideas in which friends can pitch in and participate without losing their time.

Or
May be it is just an escape from the real friendship of the real world !

Death


What if I want to die tomorrow. What if I love death?
You must be thinking I am mad. Who can possibly love death? Death needs to be dread. How can it be loved? But, I am not like anyone. I want to feel death. Not through other people but through me. How would it be to touch death ? To see it. To admire it. To even detest it.

Long ago, not very long, just three months back I used to go to college daily by passing through a shamshan ghat, a crematorium. It was never left deserted. It was always full of people. Wearing white clothes. Crying. Sad. Some consoling. It always brought back the memory of my haunted past. My past which still haunts me. A nightmare. A past which forced me to face death. Twice. In a period of twenty days. Twenty days.

One night I had a dream. A dream in which a house was breaking. Falling apart. The day brought hours of restlessness. Then night. Again. Restlessness. Depression. Then next day.
Death.

That was not the first time. Suddenly I remembered a dream. I saw, long time back… My school. Women wearing white clothes. Crying. Howling. After a month.
Death.

Twenty days. Those twenty days were period of depression. Lot of crying. Then after.
Death.

But, this death brought a calmness. A silence. A calm, soothing sleep.

How fascinating is death? One person, who was talking to you before, playing with you, suddenly dies? What exactly happens? When our body is considered a machine, how and why does it stops functioning ? Why can’t a person be brought back? Why can’t this machine be made to re-function ?

These unsolvable questions always attract me to death.
To love Death.
What if I die tomorrow?

Name


And he thought he will always be alone. That day he sat penning down his thoughts. His thoughts. His poems. He started writing. Words started flowing. Grabbed a rhythm. And then a miracle happened !

A girl was born !

Yes, a girl of his dreams was born in his poems ! He never thought he would be able to find someone for himself but, here she was. Staring at him, with those beautiful eyes created by him. She was so beautiful. He got so mesmerised in her beauty that he forgot everything. Now, he had no other work except to write about her. How would she move. How would she eat. How would she dance. Each and everything.

He named her Ghazal !

Ghazal became a poem of his life. He would imagine her walking with him. Sleeping with him. Waking him up. Ghazal got involved in his life so much that he felt complete. Now, he didn’t need anyone.

One day Ghazal came in his dreams. She wanted him to make love to her. He immediately got up and started writing. Creating a beautiful poetry of love. Celebrating her beauty and his love ! He loved his small world. World which has Ghazal in it.

Slowly and steadily, their lives were getting entwined into each other. He created a past for them. How they met? How he lured her to love him? How their parents were against their marriage. How on one wintry night they ran from home to his friend’s place and got married. Everything. Now, they had these memories for their nostalgia. World was so real !

19th November, 1942.
It was a wintry night. He cosied up to Ghazal and asked her to make tea for him. She also got up quietly and left. Suddenly, there was a hard knock at the door. Someone was banging the door madly. Confused, he got up and opened the door. His childhood friend Rudra was standing. He was sweating and was scared to death. Next to him, was Ghazal !

“But is it possible? How can she be real ? She cannot”. Perplexed, he kept on thinking about his muse and her. “We need your help”. Rudra’s voice brought him back from his thoughts.

Rudra came inside with the girl. He introduced her to him. Her name was Ghazal. Shocked ! It was so unbelievable. He felt as if he was dreaming. He prayed he was dreaming. But he was not. He struggled to be normal and asked Rudra and Ghazal to sit. Rudra then started telling him their story. How they met, how he lured her to love him and now, how their parents are against their marriage.

It was becoming more and more difficult for him to believe what was unleashing in front of him. How can my story be converted into real life of my friend? Ghazal was mine. No one can take her away from me. He went back and started reading his poems again and again. Where did he go wrong? Suddenly, he struck on the name of the male character of his poems ‘Rudra’. But didn’t he write his own name? Was he not the male protagonist in the poems? Was he not the lover of Ghazal? But, what is his name? He couldn’t recollect his name. He tried hard but failed. He searched for his identity card. He searched and searched for every paper which could tell him his name. Lost, baffled, he ran out and held Rudra forcefully. “Do you know my name? What is my name ?”. He questioned. Rudra, taken aback, said, “you are my childhood friend. I didn’t know anyone in this city and that is why I came to you. But, I am sorry. I don’t remember your name. I thought you won’t ask as you recognised me”.

Close to tearing his hair apart, he ran outside. He knocked the door of his neighbour and asked his name. He told him that he knows him only as ‘Mehta ji’. He knocked the second door. Same answer. Third. Same answer. Last. Same answer.

Mad, he ran back to his house. Rudra and Ghazal both were not there. He searched the house. No one. He went to his room to see his poems. He flipped the pages. No poems. Just white sheet of plain paper.

7 AM. He got up. “Thank God! It was a dream. Sorry, nightmare!”. “Horrible ! It was”. He went to kitchen and started making coffee. Still sipping coffee, he went to his table and started flipping the pages. Yes, Ghazal, was still there in the poems but his name ?
Blank.
Just Blank.