Tuesday, June 19, 2018


I throw away the shield
It is not going to be enough
I gather sword and spear
For the big war is here

The Nation has become relevant again
It is written on the wall, on every wall,
That I must heed the motherland's call

Every commoner,
On the right side of history
Must turn a soldier
Enough of the shield
Pick up the dagger

For we are at war
Against corruption, against terrorism
Against conversion, against communism

Against objectification of the woman,
Glamourizing of the demon,
Glorification of the invader,
And the enemy who is the insider

The war for the truth
Of inequality of religions
Against the false claims of secularism

The war for hideous, uncomfortable, discriminatory truth,
Against the cosmetic gloss of political correctness

The war for the firm grip of the absolute
Against the elusiveness of slimy mucous relativism

The war for eternal certainty
Of the mathematical equation
Against non conformance for it's own sake,
Born of blind hatred for tradition

The war against
A woman's essence over-simplified
To blobs of flesh and painted hide

A war to rescue the 'Feminine'
From hijacking by 'feminism'.
To liberate women
From the penury of their loin cloth,
Lead them again to yards of yarn
From the womb of the mulberry moth.

Patriarchy lies not in the home,
Nor kitchen, nor lasting umbilical scars
Look, it is patriarchy swaying in pole dances,
And strip clubs and topless bars.

Oppression sags not from the loose bosom of a nursing mother,
It stands firm in the silicon of her calf, glute, cheek and udder.

Sure it hurts, in the cracks and corns
Of a hand doused with washing powder,
But it kills through creams and lotions,
That the miss world sells hard and harder.

They want dirty pictures not to be censored?
Ah, just so their own voyeuristic supplies are not interrupted.
For which father will hold his new born daughter,
And wish, one day my little angel will be an adult actor!?

The war to assert the anthem and the flag
As Break India voices swell and swag
The war to replace pellets with bullets
To cure the wayward son of another mother
The war to find for the nation, a better father
It is for all to see, on that bald head,
The moss of shame gather
The war to break the statue of the pillager
The war to recover the child of rape

The war to strip history
Of it's honey and sugar coat.
War, not to raise,
But to rip the carpet.
Sweep out from its underneath,
Jaws, claws, fangs and teeth
Scattered bones, severed heads and pyramids of skull
Mount them on tombs of pink sandstone and smooth marble
Torn out intestines and gouged out eyes
Make of them, garlands and festoons nice
Use them to light up our ruins, barren and desolate
If not lost glory, for their true story, they long and wait
Renovate our monuments for a tour of nostalgia
Of perfidy, treachery, incest and genocidal mania

The war to clear the fog, show the underdog
That his false enemy is his true friend

The war to end tolerance
After a hundred and one crimes

The war to end freedom
To carnivorous religions
Prostitution of the press
Students turned rogues
Losers turned heroes

The war to save the Holy cow
from the jaws of dog lovers, pig lovers
Snake lovers and crocodile lovers

The war to expel misplaced wars
From people's home to the battle zone
From cracker sparks of a festival of lights
To smoking wheels racing into late nights
From sunset powders
Of a festival of laughter and colour
To the deafening bleat
Of sacrificial goats and bloodriver

The war against the selling of the gospel
And the business of charity

The war to enthrone pluralism,
Of a hundred Gods and a thousand idols
Against the tyranny of the mullah and the pastor
Who shove the shadow of their only god, jealous
Down the mouths of all men and nations
Through contraptions most obnoxious

The war to end
From the blaring loudspeakers,
The beseeching curse to bring
destruction upon idolators
The war to sound bells,
Conches, trumpet and bugle
In true prayer, 'May happiness come
To all your people'

The war to set free the Supreme Deity
From shackles of formlessness and anonymity.
Seat Her on a lion
Or fly Him on a Peacock
Adorn with flute and feather,
His statue carved in rock.
Place upon his torso an elephant's head
And then seat all of that on a python bed.
Dress Him in riotous silk
Float Him in an ocean of milk.
Bounce Her as a river
Off the slopes of a mountain
Or turn Him to a plant
In a clay pot of your garden.
Tie the Universe to his umbilical cord
Or turn Him to a naughty thief,
A mere village woman's ward.
Heap a mountain on His Monkey,
Of shoulders broad
Let Him grace any place,
That to him with devotion, you accord

The war to save their souls
from the faith of self flogging
Of sin, repentance, confession and gloom
Teach them to celebrate this gift of life
Taking in their stride, any inevitable faraway doom

A war against self loathing, and self deprecation
The war to take shame where it really belongs
From the one in a million Nirbhaya
Of the Indian capital's dark
To everyday naked girls
In Times Square of New York
From the impoverishment of the illiterate Indian slum
To the educated gluttony of the obese American plum
From the pot belly of the fat Brahmin
To the perennial pedophilia of the Christian pastor

The war against false equivalence
Of the sword and the shield
"Both weapons of war"
Of the marauder and the defender
"Both dealing blows"
Of the cow and the crocodile
"Both children of God"

The war to claim an ancient kingdom
From the clutch of a witch, her broom,
The mute zombie, the blathering moron,
The joker-villains, their bootlickers,
That pet dog, his claw,
And that diabolical son in law

The war to eliminate the hand
that will steal and toss
All our gold to a faraway cross
To bring back from erosion
Our soil and our slime
To a Lotus that will turn into glory
Our sweat and our grime

The war to coronate
Not the perfect one,
But a common erring human
For aren't the others beasts,
Vampires readying for feasts?

Through the illusion of many wars,
there is but only one war
The war for Dharma,
against everything that isn't
And every commoner
Farmer, sailor and cobbler
Must turn a soldier
Enough of the shield
Pick up the dagger.


I wrote this poem at a time when I was running from pillar to post, from a gazetted officer to the corporator, for my voter ID card which I had never had before.
By 'pick up the dagger', I mean to ask people to pick up their voter ID card and go to the polling booth to vote.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Ladhak & Kashmir 2010 - Day 14 - Srinagar - Nishat Bagh

Nishat Bagh was special. One long walk from one end to the other one far away, made up of several levels. You walked some distance along the central canal which had fountains and then climbed a short flight of steps and then on the next level, you walked some more until the next set of steps and so on. At the other end was a building made of what looked like sandstone. The windows were covered with trellis work. It wasn’t much. So the journey was what you enjoyed the most.

On either side of the central pathway, if you looked, you would find lawns, rose gardens, manicured gardens, flower pots, fountains, trees and then the mountains in the background.

It was quite sunny, our path wasn’t shaded. The trees were mostly on the periphery of the garden. We didn’t spend much time there. My folks were hungry and we had the auto driver take us to a restaurant. It was a fancy restaurant for Srinagar.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Watched 'Sense and Sensibility' on Netflix.

A beautiful movie and a valuable one.
Beautiful because of the English landscapes, the charming people and their fanciful ways of the old times. Men riding horses, people traveling in horse drawn carriages, women in their gowns and hats, their parties and dances, true gentlemen and ladies observing propriety of the highest order, people curtsying when meeting and when parting... Sprawling Estates and cottages surrounded by acres of grasslands... Moorlands exposed to the elements. Ample private space for every family that at times bordered on desolation...

Valuable because it shows just how conservative the western society once was, for all its modernity today, for all its claim that it is distinguished from the east, in that respect, for all it's curious interest in the orthodoxy of India as if it were completely unfamiliar with it.

"There is nothing left for the girls' dowries..."
Yes, the essay on dowry system that has Indian society only as it's subject, is doing a disservice to the people of the west.

"Houses go from father to son, not father to daughter, it is the law"

"I am honoured you risk your honour by seeing me to the gate unaccompanied... "
Unmarried women were not left alone in the company of men without a chaperone, even if they were sixty years old!

"Lady Allen disapproves of his regard for Marianne..." (regard was the word used for love)
Most careful use of language, that had delicacy and honour at its core, with no semblance at all to the casual profanity of today.

"Beth has chosen to return to the country for her confinement"
Women in the west, just like those in India, were subject to confinement after childbirth.

All of these should be taken to the half educated, west admiring Indians who talk highly of modernizing, with exasperation and contempt for our old conservative ways, and while doing so, often speak of how progressive the western society is and how ridiculous all our ways must seem to them.

British English and accent were a pleasure to the ears.

Kate Winslet is making a drawing of a man she fancies - Willoughby ... The scene reminds you of Titanic where she is the subject of Leo's drawing...

There were other lines that I thought noteworthy, for various reasons.

"People always live forever whenever there is an annuity to be paid to them"

"If you cannot think of anything appropriate to say, you will please restrict your remarks to the weather"

"Since you cannot venture out to nature, nature must be brought to you... "
A dashing young Willoughby saying this as he hands out a bouquet of wild flowers to Marianne, made me miss a heart beat, just like it must have done to Marianne.

"We have nothing to tell, because I conceal nothing and you communicate nothing... "

"She had an impulsive sweetness of temper..." such a unique expression...

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Sophie's Choice (1982)

Watched 'Sophie's Choice' on Netflix.

A great movie. Thanks mostly to Meryl Streep.
(Styron wrote the novel with someone else in mind for the part of Sophie, and a Slovak actress was also considered. Meryl Streep was very determined to get the role. After obtaining a bootlegged copy of the script, she went after Pakula, the director and threw herself on the ground, begging him to give her the part)

A Polish woman and her lover, who gave her a new life after her return from the German concentration camps, become friendly with a newly arrived writer from the South, a fellow boarder, residing in their apartments in Brooklyn.

Nathan, sophie's lover is tempestuous. Sophie loves him, she is grateful to him, but more importantly she understands how much he needs her and tolerates his occasional but fierce outbursts.

Stingo, the fellow boarder who becomes a great friend to both, in time, falls in love with sophie, but has to be content with a few quiet moments and conversations he is able to have with her.

At last, Nathan's extremes, combined with her emotional scars left by her experiences in the concentration camps become too much for sophie, just as his own lack of control over his temper and his menial job, though a well guarded secret, become too much for Nathan to bear and the two end their lives.

The scene in Auschwitz, where Sophie had to choose between her son and her daughter for extermination, not allowed to have both, brought tears to my eyes. I fought them back. I am not sure if the fact of her choosing to keep her son and her letting go of the daughter, who is the younger child, is of any significance. Is this the choice that is the subject of the movie?
There is the other choice.
She chooses to go back to Nathan, who gave her a new life, who needed her, even though it meant death, when she could have chosen a quiet life with Stingo in the south.
It is this choice perhaps.
Or may be both.

I prefer to see the horror of the war in glimpses this way, than in movies dedicated entirely to war. That would be too much for me.

Cultural distinctions go a long way in making movies interesting. So it is in this movie. The southern drawl of Stingo, the accent of the Polish Sophie still learning English - it is these that you will find charming.

The viewer's attention is drawn to the feature of the Southern accent in the movie by a mocking imitation of it by Nathan on Stingo's face. If it was intended by the director for the same purpose, then, it was very thoughtful on his part, for otherwise, the accent might have gone unnoticed.

It's amazing just how much weight Meryl Streep lost for the scenes depicting Auschwitz concentration camps and the make up that made her look anaemic and anorexic.

There was a time, when America was as conservative...
When Stingo proposes marriage to Sophie, she is reluctant because she is an old woman who is 30 years. What would you do with an old woman like me, she asks.

When she agrees to give it a chance, to live in with him, but asks him not to hurry about marriage, Stingo says it wouldn't be possible in the little town in the south, they are all Christians there, and to live together we would have to be married!

A beautiful line I couldn't help noting down.
"It's terrible to outlive the people that you love..."


Thursday, June 07, 2018

Closer (2004)

Watched the movie 'Closer' on Netflix.

There is this possibility that a movie, a western movie, that has been praised by rating agencies and viewers, that has received half a dozen awards and has even been nominated for the Oscars - you, an Indian, will find despicable, primarily because of cultural difference.
This movie is one such.

My puking began when the two male protagonists start their thing in the cybersex chat room. One of them is an imposter pretending to be the woman he is in love with, a different woman than the one he is living in with! If he is living in with a woman already, and also in love with another, why the hell does he need to sex chat with a strange male??
The two men spew sleaze and profanity at one another, unseen, unknown, enquire about the size of their genitalia, get all worked up, seemingly deriving pleasure out of it.
Just imagine what you, an Indian would think of a colleague or a neighbour doing this. Creepy, cheap and sexually frustrated - is what you would think. Sick and morbid, downmarket, scum of society.
But guess what, these guys continue to be protagonists even after that. Because it's totally acceptable in the west!

What follows in the movie makes you feel sorry for these creatures - the characters on screen and the people and culture they represent.
A weak, animal like people endowed with nothing more than basic instincts, who fornicate just like animals. They could be married, committed, taken, but anyone 'hot' they run into, anyday, anywhere could weaken them in minutes and turn them into dogs on heat and they will be cheating on partners, lying, pretending and then crying, begging, like weak creatures with no spine or self control whatsoever.

This movie has two men and two women doing just that. Everyone sleeps with everyone else and then apologizes and professes love, and cheats again, in cycles of repetition, so many, that you don't know who the original pairs are, who you wish to become united in the end, and it doesn't matter either. When they say 'I love you', it seems meaningless.
The characters are so adrift, unhinged, grounded in nothing, rooted in nothing.

That this movie was critically acclaimed, and received awards and nomination for Oscar makes me feel sorry for these people. Pathetic.

I like Julia Roberts, but now, a tad less for choosing to do this movie that seems to have very little reason to exist. But that's my fault, perhaps, misplaced expectation, given that she belongs to that society and is unable to see the depravity of it all.

I am not prudish (I loved Silsila that has Big B having an affair with Rekha while being married to Jaya), but still, this movie is an evening wasted.

I am glad Bollywood hasn't stooped down to producing crap like this. 'Not yet, but coming soon' - is what I thought of saying, given how liberal and westernized our youth are becoming, but I am hopeful we won't go that far, we will take the U turn and return home to our good old Indian ways.

Natalie Portman was beautiful, I thought.
Jude Law is handsome, but the other hero, Clive Owen, looks like a serial killer.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Ladhak & Kashmir 2010 - Day 14 - Srinagar - Pari Mahal

Since Srinagar is a small city its possible to cover many different places in one day. After Chashma Shaahi, we drove to Pari Mahal. Both are within a few hundred meters of each other.

Pari Mahal is a sort of terraced structure. There are 7 levels or so in all. In each level, there is a garden, Stone buildings and a stairway on each of the two ends to reach the upper level. The whole thing built on a hill top, commands a view of the Dal lake and the Shankaracharya hill.

The season makes a world of difference. Without the beautiful, colourful flowers, these gardens are nothing. I can say this because I have visited them in April when there were no flowers at all.