Fix It

frostThe hardest promises to keep are the ones you make to yourself. You can’t blame anyone else for breaking it—if you do, you are punishing yourself twice over. Just a few days into the year, and find myself running dry of words, how am I going to keep this blog running? Since I wasn’t keen on doing either, I looked up remedies to overcome writers block, and I was left wondering what kind of ‘block’ I fit into, when this one line caught my eye.

Your outline has a major flaw and you just won’t admit it. You can’t get from A to C, because B makes no sense. The characters won’t do the things that B requires them to do, without breaking character. Or the logic of the story just won’t work with B. If this is the case, you already know it, and it’s just a matter of attacking your outline with a hacksaw….
…There’s nothing wrong with taking a slight detour, or going off on a tangent, and seeing what happens. Maybe you’ll find a cooler transition between those two moments, maybe you’ll figure out where your story really needs to go next. And most likely, there’s something that needs to happen with your characters at this point in the story, and you haven’t hit on it yet. (Read the complete post here)

And it got me thinking. Why do we struggle with detours? Change is inevitable and as much as we like the predictable, we’d never know what we’re made of if we’re never tested! Sure, we have everything we need to sail through our life today, but we always run the risk of becoming co-dependent in our independence. So when someone asks you the Selene Gomez questions in life, you need to have an answer for yourself, no one else…

Who’s gonna walk you through the dark side of the morning?
Who’s gonna rock you when the sun won’t let you sleep?
Who’s waking up to drive you home when you’re drunk and all alone?
Who’s gonna walk you through the dark side of the morning?
It ain’t me

When you have no one, it has to just be only you!

Look And Leap

leapFor a really long time, I found myself in a limbo. I was nowhere close the person I planned to be when I was young. Yet, I like what I’ve become—the blood, the sweat, the tears, the bruises and wounds, I wear them with humility. It’s really easy to yearn to be something we’re not, but let’s face it—most of us don’t know how to reach the pedestals we created for our coveted selves. These castles in the air need solid steps to reach to. And these are more like escalators; you can only go one way. When you fall off somewhere, you’ll never come back to where you were. And that is the trick to being content, you make do with where you land. If you are lucky, you’ll have someone to tell you that you are perfect the way you are, with all your flaws and shortcomings. If you are luckier, you’ll figure it out for yourself!

“Something Just Like This”
(The Chainsmokers with Coldplay)

I’ve been reading books of old
The legends and the myths
Achilles and his gold
Hercules and his gifts
Spiderman’s control
And Batman with his fists
And clearly I don’t see myself upon that list

But she said, “Where d’you wanna go?
How much you wanna risk?
I’m not looking for somebody
With some superhuman gifts.
Some superhero,
Some fairytale bliss.
Just something I can turn to.
Somebody I can kiss.
I want something just like this.”

Oh, I want something just like this
I want something just like this

I’ve been reading books of old
The legends and the myths
The testaments they told
The moon and its eclipse
And Superman unrolls
A suit before he lifts
But I’m not the kind of person that it fits

She said, “Where d’you wanna go?
How much you wanna risk?
I’m not looking for somebody
With some superhuman gifts.
Some superhero,
Some fairytale bliss.
Just something I can turn to.
Somebody I can miss.
I want something just like this.
I want something just like this.”

A Verb Called Love

0070 (2)Love is a verb, a word that makes you do and feel things like no other emotion does. It is really a neatly laid bouquet of synonyms that makes you feel and do a lot of other things too. Right from admiration, affection and respect, it covers everything from sacrifice, guilt, jealousy, greed and even hatred. It’s always around, in some form or another, even when we choose to be alone. We all have a preconceived notions of what kind of love we deserve and desire. Most of it comes from what we feel around us. Everyone has an idea of their perfect love that they hold on to dearly. Some of it is requited, most of mine stays unreciprocated, unappreciated even. Have you found yours yet?

“Crazy Dream” — MLTR

The party’s on the room is crowded, your conversation is so polite
And when you dance you keep your distance, no one’s gonna walk you home tonight
You’re searching for perfect love, you dreamed of when you were young
You’ll find it or you won’t have anyone

Why not forget your crazy dream, about a love that can’t exist
‘Coz while you dream so much you miss, you waste a lifetime

Just take a look below the surface, his golden hair will be turning grey
Though in your mind you pictured heaven, even heaven has a rainy day

No one can touch a dream, so forever you’ve been on your own
You’re older and you are still all alone

Why not forget your crazy dream, about a love that can’t exist
‘Coz while you dream so much you miss, you waste a lifetime

Why don’t you take a look around, now everyone has settled down?
But you still think you’re seventeen, it’s a crazy dream
So take a chance and take your shot
No paradise but it’s all we’ve got, and I will try to make your dream come true…

Lost in Translation 

077Friendships are the most intriguing relationships of one’s life. We learn values at home but their strength and a way of life only with friends. From passers-by, acquaintances, buddies, mates, partners to soul mates and guiding beacons, each of them leave a lasting impact on the direction your life takes. They drive the course of the river called existence, often helping up cross bridges or stepping over moss-covered pebbles and rocks. All of us have close friends; even the loners. As social animals, it is rather impossible to be a hermit; even a hermit needs a rock to live under. That said, every person finds his own corner, a place that he can turn to at his lowest. However, a cry for help comes with its own side-effects. Setting you “right” and being “blatantly honest” about how you need live your life, and how terrible your decision-making skills are, you are labelled a desperado, someone who loves playing the victim even. Suddenly, you’re business becomes a case study for those you bare your heart to.

We are all stuck in a moment at times, when nesting becomes the bane of our existence. Times when our expectations don’t play out the way we want them to. But there is always light at the end of the tunnel, the night has to make way for the day. And some times, all you need is one good day. When that day comes is all up to you, really!

On A Day Like Today – Brian Adams

Free is all you gotta be
Dream dreams no one else can see
Sometimes ya wanna run away
But ya never know what might be comin’ round your way
ya ya ya

On a day like today
The whole world could change
The sun’s gonna shine
Shine thru the rain
On a day like today
Ya never wanna see the sun go down ya never wanna see the sun go down

Somewhere – there’s a place for you
I know that you believe it too 
Sometimes if you wanna get away
All ya gotta know is what we got is here to stay
All the way

On a day like today – the whole world could change
The sun’s gonna shine – shine thru the rain
On a day like today – no one complains
Free to be pure – free to be sane
On a day like today
Ya never wanna see the sun go down
Ya never wanna see the sun go down

Free is all we gotta be
Dream dreams no one else can see 
But ya never know what might be comin’ for you and me
Ya it’s gonna be
On a day like today…

A Bolt From The Blue

imageSo engrossed was she in the library with poetry, that she lost track of time was late in reaching her hostel. Waiting at the gate, Geeta was hoping the otherwise stern matron would let her in, or maybe the kind old watchman? But she could see no one. Worry soon became fear, but the police patrolling made her feel cautiously safe. As she slid into the darkness to hide herself, she could hear the policeman’s soft footsteps come closer. Just as a blood-curdling scream built up in her lungs, a huge soft hand muffled out any sounds. Before she knew it, he was forcing himself on her. Raped and helpless, she couldn’t muster the courage to file a complaint, all she knew was that he was a policeman named was R. Singh. Dejected, she packed her bags and fled for an unknown destination, unaware that he left more of himself inside her than he bargained for.

A year later, in a nondescript village, she bore the child of hate. She didn’t even want to know its gender and gave it up for adoption. With the secret buried in at the back of her closet, she went on to marry an RTI activist. Jaganath was a nice man, just and fair, but she always feared that her secrets would destroy the happy life she had become cozy in. As years passed on, fear was a constant companion: the petrifying death threats often kept her on tenterhooks. The thought of being helpless and alone again in the big bad world without her caring husband haunted her deeply. Years passed by and one day, without warning, fate played its ugliest card. Geeta and her Jagu were enjoying an unusual leisurely Sunday morning tea session. Little did she know, the 5 minutes that she left him alone to fetch the newspaper will turn her world upside-down. At the gate of his very own house, he was shot dead by a corrupt policeman. Her blood froze in terror and anger. It took all her strength to come to terms with the loss and all the questions. Effectively though, it turned her off newspapers. But, as is true for any respected activist, love, sympathy, awe, and shock poured in through the grief. She never really wanted to be a part of any of the “activism” that followed his death. She was a victim of her own situation, and she refused to be a poster girl for it.

Shattered, she chose to be celibate to his loving memory, until she encountered a man not too young, but neither was he old enough to be her father. He seemed to be smitten with her and eventually she let him sweep her off her feet. She had finally lowered her guard, and poured her heart out to Ashok. But she still kept some cards close to her chest, playing the game of wait and watch, just to be sure that her keeper of secrets was the one she could trust. As the mature romance blossomed with her old man, they eventually started spending a lot of time in each other’s happy company. But fate seemed to be a fair-weathered friend to Geeta. As she prepared a feast of to help reduce the severity of what her closet hid, Ashok asked her to accompany him to the pension office. These small things, he deduced, mattered to Geeta; knowing that she was never privy to such simple romantic pleasures of life.

Walking into the dingy old office, Geeta realised that she knows nothing about what Ashok did for a living in his youth. Quite taken by the warm greeting and reception he received, she asked him about his work life. He replied gleefully that the was a cop: fair, and just man with a clean slate, and was well admired and respected in his own social circle. The revelation had hit her like a bolt out of the blue. Politely retracing her steps, she decided to walk away from the suddenly claustrophobic place. Walking into nothingness, she made the best possible effort of reaching home without spilling any tears. But once in the confines of her own nest, she let herself flow a river. Why did this have to happen? Why did she let her guard down? Why, oh why, another cop? The questions and the tears refused to stop. Composing herself after what seemed like an eternity, she walked to her cupboard to pack for yet another destination unknown, shattered and bruised one more time in life. She decided to pick the first and the cheapest getaway that would come her way at the interstate bus terminus.

Ashok, baffled by her sudden exit was left confused, angry, and worried. Was it something he said? Did he cross the line? How can she just take off? I hope she’s fine. With his brain on overdrive, he frantically tried calling her, only to reach the automated “This number is switched off” message. Anxious of her safety, he reached her doorstep, only to find the house locked. Dejected and hurt by her stoic silence, he accepted his defeat, but he chose to be persistent — he wanted to know what went wrong so suddenly.

Then a month later, Geeta finally musted the courage to give Ashok his much-needed closure. They decide on a coffee shop, where they could talk without being bothered. Geeta finally explained her moral dilemma to Ashok: He’s perfect for her, but the wounds of her past are too deep to heal. She’s been scarred for life and cannot come to terms with the fact that she can lead a peaceful life with him, knowing he was once a cop. Heartbroken, Ashok walks away, leaving Geeta with her thoughts; shattered again by her haunted past…

And That’s The Way It Ends…

381Ten years made of a year of solid friendship, two years of courtship and seven years of marriage. That’s what it came down to, as we stood before a room full of strange people dressed in black and white, for whom we were reduced to just another case of “Divorce By Mutual Consent”. Ironically, that is what the past two years had become, black and white, with no shades of grey, in any sense of the now uber-popular phrase.

Looking back, the last seven years have been a turmoil; we both ended up being people we never were, possibly a sign that we both refused to see from the start, that we were never meant to be anything to each other but close and caring friends. However, it would’ve been wrong to say our relationship was platonic; the courtship had moments that I continue to cherish, but that is a story that will stay between him and me forever.

Although I married a not-even-close-to-perfect man that I truly believe I needed and had in my life, he was my first many things. And even though there will be people better than him, he will continue to be my first everything as a young adult, and for that I choose to remain eternally grateful to him.

With all of that behind me now, and after feeling everything from affection, to respect, to utter annoyance, disgust, and even hatred, I have come to terms with the episode that I endured, the longest and possibly the bitterest of my life. The journey of healing has been difficult; the social setup we live in make it very suffocating to be ourselves at times like this. I fell, I stumbled, I limped back on my feet, but most importantly, I learnt how to take care of my dignity. And I learnt how to ensure that the relationship I was in was never maligned; it may have ended, but it left me a much mature, grown up and better person. I still may not know what I am looking for, but after him, I know what I categorically don’t want.

Being married to a rather possessive person, it meant for 10 years, friendships became warzone in the relationship, and such relationships were being practised as secret cult meetings. Despite it all, and although they are not physically around, I had my “guys” whenever I needed them. When I chose to feel loved, it rained affection.

And I am glad, despite all that happened, he and I still have the maturity and blessings to continue being each others 2 AM friends, a promise I made with no malice, guilt, or regret. I’m happy for him too, being the person who broke him down, and made him cry (Yes, I do feel the pain despite being wronged through it all), I’m glad I can still wipe away his tears and be there for him. After all, weren’t we supposed to stay like that anyway?

A Hitchhiker’s Guide To Pune City…

034All of us have something that can hold our attention. Some check out cars, some enjoy sunsets, many while away a lot of time noticing the other gender. Eye candy is something that not many can avoid or ignore. Even those looking for spiritual gratifications have some kind of fetish, so not all that excites people is the sign of a perverted mind. There are a lot of things that catch my attention, and some of them have, quite literally, slipped away as I moved cities. Some sadly, haven’t. One such random musing came to me as I was crossing roads. You see, back home crossing roads was an art I had mastered with relative ease; you’d still know which direction and lane a particular vehicle would come for you to dodge it without being killed. However, in the city of two wheelers (sometimes fondly referred to as Pune), a lot of unlearning and relearning has to be done. While the Mumbai-Delhi battle is usually fought on epic proportions with a lot of offensive and defensive flavour, the Mumbai-Pune turf war has its moments too. Although home is where the heart is, I sold a piece of my soul to the city I now reside in. As is true for the city of dreams, there are a few little nuggets only those who contribute tirelessly to the IT hub of Maharashtra are privy to. Since you are my friend, I will let you in on some of these gems…


  • Auto rickshaws drivers in Mumbai are officially demi gods to me now! Okay, they don’t ply over short distances, but it is one sector that blackmails you with hike-or-strike threats; where bribery is unheard of. Here in Pune, they do you a favour by actually existing. These “social workers” wander aimlessly, only to appear as your guide dog that takes you home. Anywhere you ask to go; they overcharge you by 30-50 bucks. You see, this city has a thriving business of shared six-seater rickshaws, which are at prime locations, such that you end up walking for at least a couple of kilometres to reach to the spot you actually intended to be at. So what makes rickshaw drivers the knight in shining armour? Well, they are will to risk coming back to the place you boarded passenger-less, and in return charge you just a tiny amount. But mind you these are more like the Indian Robinhood ­- Tees Maar Khan (Tees Maar Khan ke fans / use aadha Robinhood maante hain / Kyunki woh ameeron se leta toh hai / Par gareebon ko deta kuchh nahin) – if they find a passenger; they don’t return your dough… And change, what change? They are obsessive self-tippers… You have been warned!
  • Small talk is a taboo in this city. If you exchange pleasantries with shopkeepers, neighbours, the building watchman, cleaning lady, laundryman or any Punekar in general, they stare at you as if you’ve grown three heads (the Pune-stare). Back home, I had befriended several people on onward journeys, some that I haven’t met more than once. Here, even regulars are strangers. So shows like Cheers! can never be set in Pune…
  • The city actually has several IT hubs scattered across corners of a well-rounded city (it is actually round, unlike Mumbai, which covers a vertical geography). The one I work in is the safest of its kind. Bags are checked religiously at all entry check-posts. Company identity cards are a mandate, and there are manual registers for everything. But nobody knows what they are looking for. Being as chatty as I am, I once asked a rather perplexed security guard if she has ever found anything that warranted and mandated all this flimflam. Understandably, I got my standard Pune-stare; she didn’t quite catch the essence of the rhetorical question: You can’t find anything, when you don’t know what you’re looking for.
  • This one came to me over coffee with a friend I managed to befriend locally. Pune by and large is a very well planned city: The roads are fairly wide, with two open lanes on both sides, despite being separated by a two-lane BRTS (Pune Bus Rapid Transit) route along the Pune-Satara Road. This is a supposed 16.5 km exercise that has been in place since December 2006. Now PMPML (Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd) had its heart in the right place, but forgot one teeny-tiny yet essential detail. These lanes alongside the other much wider areas of the city don’t ply enough red buses! Also, these much-neglected and backbreaking buses don’t really cover the length and breadth of the city, and are also a preferred target for vandals (even in the heat of the moment, political vandals don’t harm autos and private vehicles… how thoughtful!). So given the nature of this pure lack of public transport, the number of private vehicles has to rise, right? This, in turn, obviously results in bumper-to-bumper traffic. So how does one fix this issue? Increase the number of buses, right? Not in Pune, no. Instead the local government breaks open the BRTS lane to all vehicles, putting all the immigrants and out-of-towners in a fix. Now that is what I call killing two birds with a stone. Screw the system so effectively, that we curb legit immigration that makes the city better, and ensure that local two-wheeler industry is thriving despite any after-sale service. Oh well, democracy and socialism is way too over rated anyway.
  • Now that I’ve spoken about the social evils and subsequent victories over immigration, let me talk of the most thriving revenue option in the city. You may believe it is having an outlet selling Mastani, Chitle Bhakarwadi, or missal pav, but you are way off. It’s the house rental industry. I talk about this from my happily rented out dwelling. Now,an average person will tell you that the cost of living in Mumbai is way too high, so Pune offers a better deal, but that is pure buffalo-shit. PG accommodations cost just around the same in both cities, and there are houses that you can get on rent depending on your budget. The only pitfall is that the lesser the rent, the farther away is your home from your workplace, which is true for all cities. While Pune does score in terms of ease of travel, cost of commuting here is astronomical! For instance, travelling from Gorai Khadi to Borivali station is around Rs 10 in a bus, the distance being around 6-7kms. Travelling 34kms to Churchgate by a local train is Rs. 15 one way. So in less than 50 bucks you can reach your destination, and even munch on some sukhi bhel from Borivali station. That opposed to a rickshaw ride from Anandnagar to Swargate, which is a happy 6-7kms costs me close to Rs. 90 bucks (make it a 100 if the meter jumps up… self-tippers round the cost to the closest Rs. 10… sigh). A decent vada pav or street food is a distant dream; there are specific pockets that offer something to satiate your gastronomical desires. Hence, you learn to be a pro cook to save up for a rainy day. So all-in-all the city is confused… it needs migrants to earn off rent, but vetoes the need for public transport. Mention the Pune metro, and the Pune-stare continues for another 10 minutes.
  • All is not lost in my whining of the lack of public transport, that is where the benevolence of the IT industry comes to play. School buses make up for the lack of state and local transport in the city, and some of these called Tempo Travellers transport grown up kids (aka IT pros, and yes we are treated as sacks of talent!). These yellow buses take kids small and large alike to the one place they’d rather not be, and the one place that robs the life off them. Just when I thought I’m through living on a clock, stuck to train timings, I find myself in the same trap. Now, I wait for a leaking TT to come take me home and drop me off to work. Sometimes I feel like a captive… sitting in a rickety bumpy bus all covered up to keep the dust and pollution off my face and hair. Just that no one will come bail me out, too much employee turnover for companies to care anyway, there are enough to eagerly hop into the bonded-labour-intensive industry.
  • If you think that a city with IT flowing through its veins (quite literally) will be ultra-tech-savvy. Not in the least! If you go to Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Goa or any freaking where in the country, there is no dearth of information, living on your own is like turning on an iDevice; turn the button on, and off you go. But not in Pune. While the transport system is virtually non-existent, it’s not like there is none of it. But there are no apps that will take you on a joy ride. Nothing spells out anything about the local cuisine, bus routes, bus numbers, local landmarks, hang outs and tourist places. Even the foodie group on FB is a closed one; you need proof of being a Punekar to be initiated into the inner circle. And since no one really answers questions, you just have to earn good karma before you settle in, god is thy only saviour! That said, if you want to learn to survive, the city teaches you some neat tricks on self-reliance and independence. However, all this only applies if you live in Pune city, not some makeshift hippie joints such as Vimmannagar, Kalyaninagar, Amanora, Magarpatta or other areas with thriving out-of-Pune population, where shopping in a mall is not frowned upon.
  • Another interesting and possibly the most amazing sight in the IT City of Magarpatta is arm-chair shopping day. Let me explain as briefly as possible. You see when you move cities, the taste of essentials such as water and milk also needs to be adapted to. That is where mineral water and tetra-pack milk come to your rescue. The city takes its culture and roots a bit too seriously, so I have to endure the Pune-stare when I tell people I buy tetra-pack milk from a nearby mall. If you ask locals for directions and help, they’d probably insist on taking you themselves, but most such plans go south, as it does even back home. So most of us stick to the next best thing – E-tailing. When you opt for delivery at the cybercity, it’s like Santa Claus coming to town. Deliveries happen on specific dates, depending on the number of people who’ve ordered stuff online, and these delivery men come armed with a sizable list and a sack-full of goodies. To avoid being caught by the guards as parking in front of towers in a practice that is disallowed/frowned upon, they hide behind trees on the other side of the road. Then this Santa from his magical sack brings out goodies (that you paid for) in slo-mo. Happy little boys and girls with company leashes around their neck, queue up for their turn. Then these happy people pick up their goodies and trod along back to their grim cubicles only to be stopped by at the check in gate where the bills are stamped. So it doesn’t matter if a bomb is assembled inside the building premises, as long as the requisite stamping is done. This is where O’ Riley’s character in National treasure would’ve taken shape! If only I had the finesse of Ashwin Sanghi, I’d spin this into a copy-book novel (oh damn!)
  • Finally, let me end the rant with the Pune clock. While the IT people work 24/7 (even on weekends… most of them either don’t have a life or are too lazy to look for one), the Chitlebandu clock stands still between 1-4 pm everyday. Come hell or high waters, even god cannot get the shutters open. And he (I mean god) doesn’t even make the vain effort… You see when Lord Ganesha comes to Mother Earth for 10 full days, and descends in this happy city, every Pandal big and small you’d find him take a beauty nap in the afternoon. Even god can’t change a Punekar, so if he can’t beat ’em; he joins ’em..