Sunday, December 16, 2012

For Her


It was a cold, damp night in Jamshedpur. And the time around midnight, was not the one for a 2 year toddler to be awake. Predictably, when clutched in your mother’s arms, you stepped out from the cab which had brought you to our new home from the railway station, you were fast asleep. We had grih-pravesh at our new home and a fair number of people had gathered. Now, sweetheart, at that time you were too young and too sleepy to be the star. Everyone rushed outside to see and greet your parents- my Bhaiya and Bhabhi. And the commotion woke you up. Miffed at not finding yourself the centre of attraction, you started wailing at the top of your voice. And THAT always used to work. Some tried to get you a candy. Some tried to make funny faces at you. Some showed their own faces to you – hoping you will find it either funny or ghastly and stop crying. And not content with all this some started to make different types of sounds, no noises actually as they usually do. Noises which they thought were funny but must have been harrowing for you. In the process you had refused the efforts of your grandparents, my parents, some other brothers and sisters of mine and possibly your own parents as well. I was at the back of the crowd sulking at all the people who had made you wake up and cry so badly. Then through the yellowish gleam of the Petromax lamp with an overused mantle, you somehow saw me at the end, last of the line. I am sure if I were you, I wouldn't have identified myself. But within a few moments there was confusion on your face which stopped the crying. Then shock and finally you smiled. At me.

Now, I have been singled out in the crowd many a times before. Sometimes because somebody thought that  I was more intelligent, sometimes more studious, sometimes a better cricketer, sometimes a better TT player but always there was some reason. But there was no reason your smile singled me out on that day. I had done nothing and I had not seen you in almost 3 months now. A third person might say that that was the most pointless smile I have ever received. But for me, I felt as privileged as any manifestation of unconditional love this universe could conspire for me.

A couple of years back from that night, when you were born; I was a guy out of school, having failed to gain admission in the college of his choice, having dropped an year and somewhat losing focus in his life. And you were too tiny and I too distracted for you to be the focal point of my life. And moreover you were busy. Busy; mostly sleeping, finding time to cry and finding occasions to look sweet and cuddly.  I too was busy. Sometimes studying but mostly pretending to study. And in between finding time to fret about whether to hold you in my hands for the fear of dropping you and ultimately rejecting the idea.  You see, I learnt early to shrug responsibility. But still, slowly we started to find time for each other.

As we grew up, we found stuff about each other. You discovered that Chachoo was one person in the household who could be relied upon to find utter music in your inane acts on a drowsy afternoon when everyone else was asleep.  And I started to get to know that you were a curious child. Curiosity, which could even trump your urge to cry. So every time you started to cry, I used to take you to the window on the balcony and balance you there with you clutching the window sills. I still can’t decide what exactly used to make you stop crying but it used to work. Maybe the fascination with the slow, rhythmic glow of the Diwali lights adorning the balcony or that view of the world from a little bit higher and the wonder how you were managing without falling. The simplest answer was that I was behind you without even letting you know about it but in your eyes I found a child’s curiosity which can make us biggest pundits if only we retain it for our lifetimes. The happiness with which your fingers touched those tiny light bulbs when they used to glow after being dim for a while made me want to be a child forever. Some of my friends say that I have been a child ever since. I tried to bottle up some of your innocence, curiosity and happiness inside me but at some level it hasn’t worked well enough. Life caught up and before I could realize, I was too grown up, too cynical. I hope and wish that you do not grow up. Keep that child inside you forever.
.
Finally to finish and just to make you jealous, I hope you experience the unbridled joy when a 2 year kid recognizes your voice on the loudspeaker phone and goes “Cha…choo” when all she knows are words like “ma,” “pa” and other such monosyllables.

I wish you realise how a small kid can look oh so big when she thinks that it’s a good idea to lie and go asleep on his Chachoo’s growing tummy because beds have gone passé.

I hope when you grow up to what my age presently is, you have someone who tells this to you when you get too busy of work, “Kitne din se aap milne nahi aaye. Kabhi aao na.  Itna din ho gaya.”

Till then, keep adding to this list. 

Friday, November 09, 2012

The Half Empty Glass



He jumped across to have a look at his phone while his brother was off to the loo. He wanted to check the count of girls his brother had in his contact list. There were 29 of them. He felt slightly annoyed. As the last time he checked, there were only 23 of them.  And these were the girls his brother kept contact with or tried to keep contact with. He usually received scores of these calling cards from girls at any of his concerts. He played guitar for a mildly famous band. He didn’t even know if his brother played lead guitar or base guitar. He assumed that it must be lead guitar as he made quite a decent amount of money. He looked like an emaciated scarecrow with a crow’s nest on his head pretending to be bunch of hair. He remembered that once while he was home, their mother got after him to sew up his torn jeans. 

He didn’t ever imagine that any girl will consider him to be a more eligible bachelor than his brother. But somehow he thought that he will definitely make a better husband. But it was irrelevant. It hardly mattered if his brother was going to have a bear belly at 35 if presently he was rockstar enough to get laid. As for him, he already had a belly. In an empty home he occasionally cooked, had beer, sometimes Old Monk as well and wrote in the remaining time. And since he was not Colin Firth from  Love Actually, doing no physical work at all did make him fat. And if you want to get girls while being a writer and a fatty at the same time, you got to be Salman Rushdie –which he wasn’t. 
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This was his father’s home. He left it long back when he started to make decent amount of money out of his concerts.  The person who planned this home must have been smoking the weirdest stuff ever. Right now he could have done with some of that. The way to the toilet in this house went through the study! Or maybe his father decided to make use of this small space and turned it into his study. But on the way to the toilet!! His father might have been smoking that stuff then. Every morning his father after his bath , pooja and breakfast sat here with his bunch of newspapers for about 2 hours. It was funny imagining him with a newspaper in one hand and a bong in another. His brother wouldn’t find it funny though. He was the darling of the house when his parents were alive. He would react just like a practicing Hindu will if you ask him to have beef. He had lied to his brother that he needed to use the loo. Actually he wanted to have a look at the new manuscript his brother was working on. While young, his brother often used to show him the short stories he wrote. Slowly but steadily, he stopped. He could never figure that had something to do with the increasing count of his girlfriends. He once asked his brother to write a love letter for a girl he wanted to impress. The girl couldn’t understand a word of it. But dumb that they are, she fell for him. His brother had used words like “happenstance” and “serendipity” in the letter and he had to take extra lessons from his brother just to pronounce them properly. But nevertheless the letter was beautifully crafted. He almost wanted to keep the letter with himself. But then he gave it to the girl. The girl later realized that such ball freezing language writing was beyond him and asked him about the original writer. So he uploaded the letter on a blog and told her that he copied it from there. He didn’t want to tell him that it was written by his brother. Possibly he was afraid that his brother –already the apple of eyes of their parents- will start getting more attention even from girls than him. Never mind, the girl still dumped him. Like all of them who get dumped who have a girlfriend in adolescence. . 

Till date he wished he could write like his brother. Shivani. One of the girls he slept which with he thought he could fall in love with as well. There weren’t many of the likes. Guess HE didn’t make her kind anymore. Sometimes she spoke like Ayn Ryand , often descending into words of Wordsworth. Of course he could have been drunk when he heard those. Or more likely she was drunk when she spoke thus. He had read them while young because of his brother. So could tell. One day she left him for a guy who she said spoke like Scott Fitzgerald and recited like Hemmingway. Of course he had no fucking idea who these gentlemen were. Possibly even she didn’t. She was drunk when she left, you see. 

Sometimes between the times that girl left him because of the forged letter and when his father started to get a bit disappointed of him, he decided to become an antithesis of his brother. He envied him all right, but what is the use of all the envy if he couldn’t use it to show his brother that he was better. That he was the real deal. As far as girls were concerned, he has proved it. Ok, change that to, “As far as sex was concerned, he has proved it.”

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He could never understand girls. He still remembered one of the earliest ones he had come across. She once was his brother’s, only to somehow find that a letter his brother had given her was actually written by him. And she dumped him. Somehow she found him out to be the original author and wanted to be friend with him. Now, that she dumped his brother over a fucking letter should have been warning enough. After sometime, she wanted him to get smarter. You know, keep up the appearances. He wanted her to like him not only for his writing capabilities, but what he was, in totality. Alas, he didn’t notice that his totality also included his growing paunch. She did. He was pissed and of course got dumped. After all he never asked her to be a mixture of Aishwarya Rai and Arundhati Roy.
Those days he loved his brother a bit too much. And with deep love, as they say, you subconsciously imitate each other. He even felt bad proxy-dating the ex of his brother. Suddenly around the time his brother had decided to be opposite of him, his brother started collecting girlfriends. With his modest means at charming a girl, he struggled to keep pace. To keep pace with his brother’s changing life. And ultimately his regard and love for him were outstripped by a person he didn’t recognize much.
Anyways, he quickly copied some of the numbers of the girls. Calling them and telling that his brother has left the mobile or some stuff like that worked with some of them. Though, obviously the results were not always spectacular and left much to be desired. 

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The prose of this manuscript was beautiful as ever. Some of the lines were what you call in layman language- “Killer”. He took out a pen and scribbled some in minute letters on his hands. He will have to keep his hands in his pockets for the rest of the time that he was here. But it was worth the effort. Those lines worked with some of the girls he liked. Though, obviously the results were not always spectacular and left much to be desired.

Monday, October 29, 2012

55 word story . Theme "Wonder"

After a long time I wrote a 55 word story. The theme is "wonder" and here it is

The poor kid wondered how it will be to be the man on bike.
One on bike wondered about the guy on bike with a girl on pillion.
That guy wondered about the one in car.
 Fat guy in car wondered about the fit guy on that bike, with a girl behind.
Everybody dies wondering.

Friday, October 26, 2012

HK ka Vadh

(अगर Hindu Mythology से कभी वास्ता नहीं पढ़ा है तो हिरन्यकश्यप और प्रह्लाद की स्टोरी यहाँ पढ़ लीजियेगा. वैसे अच्छा भी है अगर वास्ता नहीं पड़ा क्यूंकि मेरी कहानी का उस  कहानी से ज्यादा वास्ता नहीं है. Inspired है थोड़ी बस. वैसे for due credits इस  पोस्ट का आईडिया शिव मिश्र जी के एक उम्दा देवी अहिल्या पर के पोस्ट से आई थी. उनके ब्लॉग पर ये पोस्ट पढने के बाद जाइएगा क्यूंकि वापस आने के चांसेस कम हैं फिर. )


होलिका जल चुकी थी. हिरण्यकश्यप को बड़ा कटा कटा सा प्रतीत हो रहा था. और इसके आगे हम हिरण्यकश्यप को HK के नाम से पुकारेंगे. पूरा नाम सुनना है तो इस युग के उत्पाद की कहानी क्यूँ सुन रहे हैं? जाकर वेद-पुराण बांचिये. या फिर ज्यादा शौक है तो श्री लंका के क्रिकेट खिलाडियों के नाम याद कीजिये.

ज्यादा दुःख था नहीं वैसे HK को होलिका के मरने का . थोडा vindictive सा ही फील कर रहा था. बड़ी आई थी सुपरमॉडल . दो दिन पहले ही ब्रह्मा-मॉल से फायर-प्रूफ दुपट्टा ले कर आई थी. प्रहलाद को लेकर टेस्टिंग करने गयी थी. अब ब्रह्मा-मॉल में कोई चीज़ foolproof थोड़े न मिलती है ? कोई वरदान भी खरीदो तो स्टार लगा कर कंडिशन एप्लाई लिखा होता है. गोया अगर उस ज़माने में blood bank का  concept होता तो थोड़े न रक्तबीज वैसे खून से पैदा होने का वरदान लेता?

HK ने इन सब से सबक लेकर ज्यादा से ज्यादा पैसे खर्च कर के वरदान खरीदा था. न दिन में, न रात में. न मानव के द्वारा, न देव के द्वारा और न पशु के हाथों. न घर में न बाहर. न अस्त्र से न शस्त्र से. आज कि तारीख में ऐसा माँगा होता तो नरसिंह कि जगह सिद्धु को आना पड़ता अपनी जोक्स कि पोटली ले कर HK को मारने.

तो ऐसा था कि प्रहलाद कि धुलाई हो रही थी बाप के हाथों. तुरंत विष्णु को गुहार लगाने लगा. अब इससे हमें स्कूल कि एक घटना याद आ गयी. एक बार हमारे एक टीचर ने एक लौंडे की कुटाई  कर दी. छुट्टी होने पर मास्टर साहब बाहर निकले तो पता लगा बच्चे ने फोन करके २०-२५ मुस्टंडो कि फौज बुला रखी थी उनको सबक सिखाने के लिए. अपने बच्चों का मुंह दुबारा देखने के लिए उन्हीं बच्चों की कसम खानी पड़ी की हाथ तो छोडो, आगे से आवाज़ भी नहीं उठाएंगे. प्रहलाद से ये तो सीखा ही था हमारे सहपाठी ने. इधर दो धौल पड़े नहीं कि विष्णु विष्णु शुरू. “अरे छेत्ती छेत्ती आ बे. ये कूट रहा है. माँ दी बहन दी करनी है इसकी. जय माता दी. लेट्स रॉक.”

और विष्णु को भी तो कोई काम होता नहीं था . हमेशा राक्षसों को चूतिया बनाने के तरीके ढूंढते रहते थे. कभी नचनिया बन कर अमृत ले कर भाग जाते थे तो कभी नरसिंह बन कर आ जाते थे. और पता नहीं क्यूँ किसी खूब सोने वाले कि तुलना हमेशा कुम्भकर्ण से की जाती है. ये क्यूँ नहीं कहते कि "अबे उठ , विष्णु की तरह सोया पड़ा है.” वो भी तो 4 महीने लगातार  सोते थे. देवसुतान एकादशी से लेकर देवोत्थान एकादशी तक. और ऐसे भंड होकर सोते थे कि पता भी नहीं चलता था की सांप के ऊपर सो रहे हैं. ये जो पूरी हमारी  mythology है न राक्षसों की बुराई करने के लिए ही लिखी गयी है. ज़रूर किसी महिला ने लिखी होगी जिसे अपने पडोसी की बुराई करने में बड़ा आनंद आता होगा.

तो प्रहलाद कि तरफ वापस आते हैं. गरज बरस कर नरसिंह अभी तक खम्भे से निकल चुके थे.

HK बोला  “ई का है.”

जवाब में नरसिंह बस गरज और गुर्रा रहे थे.

“अब का तुम्हारे लिए google translate और soundhound का बंदोबस्त करें? साफ़ साफ़ बोलो क्या बोलना है. यश चोपड़ा की नक़ल करने की ज़रूरत नहीं है.”

नरसिंह को इस बात का बुरा नहीं लगा की उन्हें यश चोपड़ा से compare किया गया. पर इस बात का भारी सदमा पहुंचा कि उन्हें उदय चोपड़ा के बाप से compare किया गया. उन्हें अब बोलना ही पड़ा.

“हम तुम्हारा वध करने आये हैं मूरख.”

“अरे पता भी है हमारी मौत पर कितने सारे clauses aur sub clauses हैं ? जाओ पूरा पढ़ कर आओ. ये मुआ प्रहलाद कहाँ गया ?”

“वो सब हमें पता है. हमारा मेकअप तो देख नासमझ.”

अब HK को  कुछ माजरा समझ आया. 

“अच्छा अच्छा. तो हमें मारना क्यूँ है? क्यूंकि हम अपने बेटे की कुटाई कर रहे हैं इसलिए ?

नरसिंह कनफुजिया गए. अब ये कौन सा अपराध है. प्रहलाद नाबालिग था . और उसपर से भारतवासी था. यहाँ पर तो बड़ों से ठुकाई का रिवाज़ है. कोई अमरीका थोड़े न है. जो child welfare जैसा कुछ होगा. वैसे भी जिस देश में राहुल गाँधी जैसे लोग अभी तक अपने आप को child  ही समझते हैं, वहां  चाईल्ड वेलफैयेर जैसी चीज़ कि क्या ज़रूरत है.

HK को समझ आया गया कि यहाँ पर वो अर्नब गोस्वामी है. फिर क्या था . चढ बैठा.

“देखो पहले एक काम करो कि जाकर पहले उसका साइन लेकर आओ जिसने बचपन में हमको ये कह कह कर धोया था कि somebody gonna get a hurt real bad . और हाँ चलो फूटो यहाँ से. इतने देर से कुंडली जमाए बैठे हो. रात हो गयी है. Clause No 3.4 पढ़ा है ना.  रात को नो एंट्री. जाओ निकलो."

नरसिंह बेचारे अपना सा मुंह लेकर चले गए. पर उन्होंने कुछ कोशिशें और भी करी. 1-2 बार वापस भी आये .  वो जैसे BJP कुछ भी कर के कांग्रेस के विरोध में रहना अपना परम कर्तव्य समझती है, वैसे ही देवतागण असुरों के against रहने को ऐसा समझते हैं . बस धर्म का के आड़ में उन्हें असुरों को  मारना ही होता है, चाहे वो बाली के सामने वामन ही क्यूँ न हों.  अब ज्यादा डिटेल में क्या बताएं, एक दिन HK ने इस दलील को कि नाखून  न अस्त्र होते हैं न शस्त्र ये मानने से इनकार कर दिया. अब हाथ में रखे रखे जानलेवा चीज़ अस्त्र  कैसे नहीं हुई ये साबित करने में नरसिंह को रात हो गयी और फिर अपना सा मुंह लेकर जाना पड़ा. फिर किसी  दिन तो HK बिलकुल धरा ही गया था कि पता चला कि HK ने चालाकी से अपनी चौखट को कटवा कर बिलकुल महीन सा कर दिया था. उसपर नरसिंह अपना बैलेंस बना ही नहीं पाए. अब हमारे नरसिंह में तब तक हमारे भारतीय राजनेता वाले jeans  नहीं आये थे, नहीं तो वो भी कुछ न कुछ सोच ही लेते. उस दिन के बाद नरसिंह लौट कर नहीं आये. प्रहलाद पिटता रहा. और जैसे ही अपने पैरों पर खड़ा हुआ और HK को लगा अब बेटा काम काज संभाल लेगा, किसी दूर के बस स्टैंड पर HK को छोड़ कर प्रहलाद चम्पत हो गया.  आखिरी दिन HK के किसी Old Age Home में कटे. अब वध न होने का वरदान  था. Natural Death  का तो नहीं था न. और प्रह्लाद का क्या था . हर घर में आज भी पाए जाते हैं. कभी पिटते हुए और कभी..

Monday, October 22, 2012

Gulzaar

These are some of the lines by Gulzar I came across describing sunset. If you have come across any better description of sunset, I don't want to know you or them. Just joking. Put them up in comments and I will tell you how they are inspired by Gulzar. :)

ज़रा सी देर पहले ही
जो सूरज बस गुरूब होने चला था 
एक उड़ते प्लेन के पहिये के नीचे आते आते बच गया था !

बिदका के हट गया था वो,
बहुत फिसलन थी और कायी जमी थी बादलों की 
पकड़ के आसमां, कोशिश भी की उसने संभलने की !

संभल पाया नहीं वोह गीले पैरों पर
गिरा और गोते खाते खाते पानी में ,
उफ़क के पार डूबा 'ग़प गुड़प गुबाश'

अभी तक आसमां पर कुछ घिसटती उँगलियों के दाग़ बाकी हैं ..

-Gulzar

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Beta


“ बेटे. 7 रुपये दे दे. बहादुरगढ़ जाना है. बस कि टिकेट के पैसे ना हैं म्हारे पास.”

ऑटो से उतारते ही आवाज़ उसके कानों में पड़ी. जाटों सी बोली. पारंपरिक हरयाणवी औरतों से बेरंग कपडे. कोई खास भिखारन वाली बात थी नहीं उस औरत में. पर ज़ाहिर सी बात थी कि acting अच्छी कर रही थी वो. तभी भिखारन लगने कि ज़रूरत भी नहीं थी.

पर वो भी गुडगाँव में 8 साल से रह रहा था. खूब पता था उसे. भिखारियों को ज्यादा इज्ज़त न तो वो दे सकता था ना ही उनकी झूठी कहानी पर यकीन कर सकता था.पच्चीसियों बार यहाँ से गुज़ारा होगा और दसियों बार इसी “भिखारन” ने टोका होगा. कभी झिडक कर कभी नज़रें झुका कर कन्नी काट जाता था.

पर आज काफी दिनों के बाद वो ऑफिस के लिए लेट नहीं हो रहा था. 1-2 दिनों में दिवाली का बोनस भी मिलने वाला था. उनके झूठ का इल्म आज भी था उसे. तभी शायद जेब में 7 रुपये छुट्टे होने के बावजूद उसने 10 का नोट निकाल कर पकड़ाया था. पर मानों वो तो गले पड़ गयी. ज्यादा अवाक् नहीं हुआ पर वो. बल्कि उसे पता था कि शायद ऐसा होगा. तो थोडा तैयार सा था.

“बेटा, 20 रुपये और दे दो. बहुत भूख लग रही है.”
“पर आपने तो बहादुरगढ़ जाना था ना. और वैसे भी इतनी सुबह सुबह कहाँ खाना मिलेगा आपको?”

आँखें थोड़ी कनफुजिया गयी थीं उसकी. 

“और ताई, वैसे बहादुरगढ़ क्यूँ जाना है आपको?”

तब तक एक और ऑटो आ गया था. उस महिला कि नज़र उस तरफ जाने लगी. हमारी कहानी के हीरो ने 20 रुपये निकाल कर उस “भिखारन” को पकड़ा दिए. और वापस ऑफिस की तरफ मुड़ने लगा. तभी पीछे से आवाज़ आई.

“बेटे अगर मेरा बेटा मुझे यहाँ छोड़ कर गायब नहीं हो गया होता ना तो आज तुझे बेटा कहने कि ज़रूरत ना होती शायद.”

सुना उसने. पर अनसुना कर दिया. वापस मुड़ने के लिए न शब्द थे न हिम्मत.  

Monday, October 01, 2012

Smoking Spills


(He hated smoke. It made him cough. It made him feel allergic. It made him feel imperfect . But it also made him feel different, a fact which he loved. Even as a kid , this confusion did nothing to mitigate this unambiguous hatred towards smoke. His worst nightmare was to be made to sit through a havan in his house. A nightmare,which often came true in his religious household.

But cigarettes. Ooh, they were a different matter. They were always fascinating. As a kid, he always loved how in Hindi movies smoking was used to create hierarchy in villain’s world. The top villain used to smoke pipes or cigars. His henchmen had cigarettes and the guys from the lower rung who did all the dirty work managed with the beedis. You could gauge the growth of a bad person by the change in his smoking habits. The way cigarettes were used to portray characters felt cool to him. Of course he never smoked. He was too young to do that. But once he rolled up a paper , put an end on fire and tried to inhale some smoke from the other end. He didn't remember if he managed any smoke but the soot and ash which settled in his throat left him coughing for hours. Maybe, days. He couldn't remember well at the moment.

Then he got into college where many of his friends smoked. He though didn't allow any of them to smoke in his room. He felt asphyxiated due to smoke if anyone did so. And apart from that he was also afraid that living in a room full of smoke will make him grow allergic to the allergy of smoke robbing him of the trait of being different from his mates because he didn't like smoke. But still cigarette was sacrosanct in his fascination. That cigarette came with smoke was its only drawback.

It was dark, the room. But his eyes were lightening. So was the matchstick in his hand. Within moments, the cigarette he had smuggled in this dingy, secluded store room of Mechanics Laboratory of college was also lit.  He lifted the cigarette up to his lips. Hands trembling, he dropped it soon enough without any action. He hurriedly took his mobile out, turning on its flashlight. He was almost afraid if anybody around had heard the sound of the cigarette falling. This time he was more determined, so steadier. He pursed the cigarette between his lips to avoid it falling again and lit it. He didn't want to be termed a mouth-fagger by his friends. A term for those who didn't take the smoke in. Those who didn't burn their lungs. Jo bas munh kadwa karte thay. So the cigarette lit, he took a deep drag inside. And, he choked out.)

After a night of hash-session ,this was all he remembered in his trance. Remembering even this much was a chore while being what one calls “being high”. Even the Pink Floyd sounded slower to him, if it was humanly possible that is. But he wanted to think and try to remember. It sounded like a good story to him. And he hoped that thinking will help him to fall asleep.

When did it all start then? It must have been when that bitch broke his heart when he had his full cigarette. He didn’t want to think of her as a bitch. After all, she helped him fulfill his lifelong ambition to smoke a full cigarette, albeit inadvertently. Besides she was his first love in life. She could never be a bitch. But some fucker with the music control had played “Good bye cruel world” and the bitch turned up. The pain might have made him forget that he had to choke over after every drag.  And thus it started, or maybe not. The day on which he had his first full cigarette might have been a different day for all he remembered. But this heartbreak and the bitch made a good story and a comforting thought.

He understood the allure now. He once went to a high end working place in Delhi for a job interview. Coming from a small place, he was amused to see girls smoking openly with others. He searched on internet for the videos of girls smoking when he went home. Only then did he realize that what he thought as amusement was actually a form of sexual gratification. And only later during a post-coital smoke when he offered the cigarette to the girl and she refused did he realize that the gratification did not come from the girl, but from the cigarette she smoked. Since then he had only dated the girls who smoked as well. Did he date the girls or the cigarette, he couldn’t decide at the moment.

He started regular smoking by placing a table fan behind him while he smoked so that the smoke coming wouldn’t bother him. But as the frequency grew, it became cumbersome for him to get hold of a table fan whenever he had the urge. Soon, this pretence was also done away with. And from then, the present day was never far off. This smoke filled room was slowly disjointing him from the memories of the havan room full of smoke of childhood and of his first love who didn't smoke either. He was slipping into sleep. Somebody had changed the music to “Have a Cigar”.

He was lying in the bed of a hospital. All kinds of wires were attached to his old, wrinkled hands and was surrounded by numerous medical paraphernalia. He could see a man outside his room through the glass door on which ICU was printed in bold and in red.  His blurry vision only afforded him a silhouette of the man. It slowly raised a cigarette to his lips and walked away leaving smoke rings behind him free to enter the old man’s ICU room. He struggled wildly to shoo away the smoke but he felt too weak for that. He hated the smoke. It made him cough. It made him feel imperfect. It made him feel dead.

He woke up with a start. It was morning already. He lit a cigarette and ambled towards the toilet. He still remembered the dream vividly. Was it divine signal? An omen from the Gods, maybe? He shrugged off the thought and took a deep drag inside. He wasn't high anymore. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Plagiarism : Consumerism


First things first. I absolutely loved Barfi. It touched me in ways not many films have in the recent times. And then all these reports started to come around. This scene is copied from here, this from here. This tune has been copied from here and so on. And just like these plagiarisms diluted the quality of the movie, it also did the same for my love for it. But I found it tough to hate Barfi. Why? One, because I had loved it already and that is the way with me. And second which I think is the more important and pertinent reason was because I am a consumer. This film did a wonderful job of rehashing past classics which I might or might not have watched. It gave me easy access to good cinema, not matter how much copied, without asking for too much money or too much time. In short, it made the consumer in me feel good.  Later the connoisseur, if any admittedly felt hurt. Which brings me to my whole point that what you interpret as plagiarism or inspiration or homage depends heavily on the end of supply chain you exist on. Creator or consumer.

In the recent months, there have been three plagiarism/patent arguments I have been involved in with friends/colleagues. Apple v/s Samsung, Barfi v/s original sources and third, Gilvec/Novartis v/s Indian Government. While the first two cases received a lot of public attention, the third case is equally relevant to my point. Glivec is a life saving drug developed and owned by Novartis which is used for the treatment of Leukemia patients. This drug is better than most of the others available in Indian markets. But Glivec is not available in Indian markets since the Indian Government has refused to grant patent to Novartis for this drug. Novartis is afraid that without patent, its originally developed drug  for which it might have spent millions, will be subjected to scores of generic medicine makers who will then flood the market with cheap generic Gilvec alternatives. While the generics will surely benefit lakhs of Leukemia patients, it will definitely be a case of severe intellectual property infringement for Novartis. Whereas on the other hand, government fears that if a patent is allowed, a life-saving drug will become exclusive to a coterie of  rich people owing to its potentially high cost thus depriving millions of not-so-privileged of its benefits. Now, which side your heart cries for? Novartis, which wants to recover and make profit over the dollars it spent by securing the patent or for the Indian Government which is trying to make life easier for many of its blood-cancer patients? Now if your answer is Indian government, while you simultaneously say that Apple is right in hounding Samsung and Barfi suddenly became a hateful, sordid behind the screen saga , then don’t you think that this might sound a bit like ideological hypocrisy ? Because technically a patent is a patent.

But then technicalities rarely drive our perception. Otherwise, Galaxy S3 would have sold more than what iPhone5 already has. They are more driven by our practical lives. For example depending on how your life is , you can easily be miffed about Samsung copying Apple if you are a Apple-tard and then next day say that you loved Barfi and fuck those plagiarism accusations saying that it is the end product which matters. And likewise if you are a filmmaker with some original works, you can be pissed off at Barfi’s copied scenes while endorsing generic drugs on the other hand since they are cheaper and you have a human side. But in essence by doing so, you are yourself contradicting your beliefs on this matter. And you yourself might not be even aware of it.

That is why I think that this debate may not be driven more by ideological theories than by practical realities. I own an Android and I am very much aware of the fact that it’s because of Apple that world came to know about user-friendly Smartphone. But still I hate Apple for going after Samsung for patent violations because it’s because of Samsung, I am able to afford a “user-friendly Smartphone”. Since I am a consumer here, the monopoly of Apple will definitely hurt me and I am justifiably afraid of that and so want Samsung and the likes to flourish. Here I am at the consumer end of the spectrum. But then if you are going to copy this blogpost and reproduce it somewhere else without my consent, I will be suitably miffed with you. And that is also justifiable because there I am at the creator end of the spectrum. Surely both the justifications are not absolute as well. Because as imperfect human beings, our choices are driven by our needs which can greatly vary. What can be plagiarism for me; can very well be consumerism for you. And as they say in a free market, the consumer is the king. Which way are we going to argue then?

But then what is the end of this? Can we put an end to copyrights and patents? For sure we cannot, as that will sound the knell for all incentives for creativity and innovation. Can a balance be found? Does a balance need to be found? That is not for me to decide and frankly I can’t even debate properly on that. After all, being mostly a consumer I have a pro-consumer bias. But surely this is a debate we will hear more of in the times to come.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ladakh'd

So,  about a month back I went on a trip to Ladakh. A place so overwhelming that you can't stop talking about. And when I wanted to write about it, I just couldn't find words to write about it. Even the memories leave me speechless. Since the last month, I have been trying to think of what to write before I just threw my hands up in the air and decided that what the heck, I will post the pictures. Surely my words will never be able to be as beautiful as the pictures.

But still, even they can't do justice to this place. A place where you can close your eyes and click your camera in any direction and you will get a wallpaper worthy picture. But still at the end of the trip you will surely feel that photography in this place is like trying to capture sand with your bare hands. Even if you manage to catch a few grains, the majority of it just slips down. 

The flickr stream is here, though done in a bit haphazard manner. http://www.flickr.com/photos/dascapital/?donelayout=1





















(Please click on the images for the larger sizes.)

Monday, September 03, 2012

My Boss


He strolled up to me,
In a careful chaotic walk,
I quickly closed the other things,
Looked at him, afraid we might talk.

It’s been months now,
Without any project assigned.
Not that I have been jobless,
But work-less in my mind.

He comes to me ,
Looks in my computer.
The useless book I have opened
Doesn't fool him, no matter.

Embarrassed, I ask him about projects coming up,
He laughs and looks away.
Embarrassment, thy word is even,
I too laughed, as he strolled away.


Saturday, September 01, 2012

Hamaari Madam Jee...



लिखने से पहले सोचा कि ठीक है कहानी है, पर शुरुआत कैसे करें ?
फिर सोचा कि इधर उधर कि  न हांकें, सीधे औकात पर आयें.
अरे वाह ये तो rhyme  कर गया !!

तो बात ये है कि जब हम बारहवीं में थे तो हमारी एक मैडम थीं. अब वो गर्लफ्रेंड वाली नहीं. टीचर थीं. वैसे जब बहुत छोटे थे तब तो ये भी हुआ करता था कि अपने ही क्लास कि किसी क्लास मेट को जो “मैडम” बुला दो , तो वो मुंह पर हाथ रख के “hawww” करके भाग जाती थी और साथ साथ ये धमकी भी पिला जाती थी कि मैडम से तुम्हारी चुगली करूंगी. पर ये उस समय का किस्सा नहीं है. जो अभी बताने का मन किया है वो तो तब का है जब हम बारहवीं में थे. एक ऐसी उम्र जब स्कूल की uniform  अगर skirt से  change  कर के सलवार सूट  कर दी जाती थी तो लड़कों और लड़कियों, दोनों को तकलीफ होती थी.

खैर, अपनी मैडम जी पर लौटते हैं. वो हमें Chemistry पढाती थीं. मतलब हिंदी में रसायनशास्त्र. और अगर आप पाकिस्तान से हैं  तो आपके लिए इसका मतलब होता है बम बनाने का chapter. वैसे हमारी क्लास भी किसी बम से कम नहीं थी. दिल्ली के एक पोश इलाके के सरकारी स्कूल में ४४ की क्लास में २९ बिहार के विद्यार्थी आ धमके थे. और २९ के २९ विद्यार्थी ऐसे थे जिन्हें पास के IIT coaching centre की विद्या का ही अर्थ समझ आता था. स्कूल तो ये विद्यार्थी बस विद्या की अर्थी उठाने ही जाते थे.

तो हमारी मैडम जी की नज़र में ऐसे सारे बिहारी प्राणी तुच्छ थे जो उन जैसे स्कूल teachers को तुच्छ नज़रों से देखते थे. तो तुच्छता के इस competition में कभी हम सेर तो कभी वो सवा सेर. जिस दिन हमने स्कूल से बंक मार लिया, हमारे लिए वो तुच्छ हो जाती थीं. और जब अगले दिन  हम स्कूल पहुँचते थे, तो हमारी ठुकाई करके वो अपनी बादशाहत कायम कर लेती थीं.

तो मजमून ये है की जो हम चंट थे, तो वो चंडी थीं. पर जैसी थीं, हमारे लिए सही थीं. 75% attendance criteria पर जो हमने रेंग रेंग कर 57% पूरे किये थे, उनकी वज़ह से ही. नहीं तो 12% ही attendance होती . वो भी इसलिए क्यूंकि exams में तो स्कूल जाना ही पड़ता न.

पर भगवान मेरी जुबान को सद्गति दे, मुझे बड़ा मानती थीं वो. कुछ तो मेरी chemistry हमेशा से अच्छी रही थी, और तभी हमने shaving करना शुरू नहीं किया था, तो थोड़े भोले-भाले दिखते थे हम. पर ये मुखौटा भी एक दिन उतर गया. एक बार वो maths के मास्टरजी के साथ बैठ कर हमारी क्लास ले रहीं थी. मतलब पढ़ा नहीं रहीं थीं, पर “क्लास” ले रहीं थी. कुछ दिन पहले ही किसी test के results आये थे. कुछ तो घुट्टी वो दिल्ली के बच्चों को पिला चुकी थीं. अब बिहार की बारी थी.

“ये जो बिहार के बच्चे हैं न सर.”

“हम्म्म्म......”

“ये बिलकुल निकम्मे हैं.” कोशिश तो उन्होंने कोई taunt कसने की करी थी. पर उनका दिमाग ज्यादा चला नहीं था.

“हम्म्म.. सारा दिन तो ये FIITJEE , PIE  करते रहते हैं. अगर इनमें से किसी का IIT में हो गया न, तो मैं पढाना छोड़ दूंगा.” अब अगर ये challenge था तो बड़ा ही धूर्त challenge था क्यूंकि पढाते तो वो ऐसे भी नहीं थे. हाँ, अगर वो यूँ कहते कि नौकरी छोड़ दूंगा तो हम कुछ कोशिश करते जीतने की.

“सुबह उठ कर घर का सारा काम करो. पतिदेव को ऑफिस भेजो और फिर यहाँ आओ तो पता चलता है की इनमें से आधे तो स्कूल ही नहीं आये.” मन तो किया कि बोल दें कि हमें भी जो तनख्वाह मिले स्कूल आने की तो रोज आयेंगे. (वैसे जब अब नौकरी पर जाना पड़ता है तो जो meta इस बात में छुपा है, समझ आता है. )

मैं तो चाहता हूँ मैडम कि ये सारे fail हो जायें. सारी कारगुजारी इनके माँ-बाप को चिट्ठी में लिख कर भेजूंगा फिर. 1-2  को छोडकर जाने कैसे ये पास हो जाते हैं.” अब अगर आप इस आश्चर्य से उबर चुके हैं कि एक टीचर अपने बच्चों के फ़ैल होने कि कामना क्यूँ कर रहा है , तो आगे बढते हैं.

“अरे सर, कैमिस्ट्री में तो इतना भी सुख नहीं है. करीब करीब  सारे fail हुए पड़े हैं. Annual review कि तो इस बार band बज जायेगी. बस एक दो ढंग के हैं. एक ये रवि. और एक वो सुमित भी ठीक है.”

“ये रवि तो ठीक है, पर ये सुमित कौन है ?”

हम तो पहले से ही शुतुरमुर्ग कि तरह अपना सर छुपा कर बैठे थे. और भी छुपने कि कोशिश करने लगे. पर जो हमारा शरीर इतना flexible होता तो हम Olympics  में gymnastics में कुछ ना कर रहे होते?

जैसे ही उस मास्टर कि नज़र हम पर पड़ी, मानों किसी ने उसके पिछवाड़े में आग लगा दी. Rocket कि तरह हमारे पास सायं से पहुंचा और हमारे कान को पकड़ कर अपनी private property समझ कर मसलने लगा. फिर उत्पल दत्त कि आवाज़ में चीखा , “Eeesshhhhh….”

पल भर में ही उसने हमारे कान का अंदर बाहर दोनों से बलात्कार कर दिया था.

“ये पास कैसे हो गया? इस से आस न लगाओ मैडम. यही तो अकेला है जो मैथ में फ़ैल हो गया है.”

लंबी ख़ामोशी........

“तू तू मैथ में फ़ैल हो गया सुमित !!!!! सत्यानाश हो तेरा.”

“मैं मै मैं मैं मै .....”

आज भी ये वाकया याद आता है तो सोचता हूँ कि “मैं” बोलने कि कोशिश कर रहा था या मैडम. या फिर बस बकरिया से गए थे हम .

मैडम जी के धोने का एक अलग ही patented style था. चुटिया पकड़ कर जो वो इधर से उधर नृत्य करवाती थीं न, नरक से ललिता पवार, बिंदु और शशिकला कि फ़िल्मी आत्माएं उनपर ज़रूर फूल बरसाती होंगी. और जो किसी को कूटना हो तो झुका कर पीठ पर जो धौल पर धौल जमाती थीं कि बस उनकी  चूडियों कि तो शामत आ जाती थी. सबको एक न एक बार ये प्रसाद मिल चुका था क्लास में. हमारी भी बारी एकबार आ ही गयी.

हम सारे बिहारी कभी कभी अपने कमरों पर पत्ते खेलते थे. अब ये बात हमारी मैडम जी को पता लग गयी. अब जैसे कुछ बेवक़ूफ़ Anti –Anna होने को Anti-Corruption होना समझते हैं, वैसे ही कुछ लोग पत्ते खेलना को जुआ खेलना समझते हैं. तो हमारी मैडम जी भी कुछ इसी श्रेणी में आती थीं. कभी कभी वो अपने आप को जासूस और कभी कभी psychologist  भी समझती थीं. ये अच्छा मौका मिला था उनको.

“नालायकों तुम्हे इस दुनिया में तो कुछ करना नहीं, अपने माँ बाप का पैसा क्यूँ बर्बाद कर रहे हो यहाँ पत्ते खेल कर के ?”

फिर उन्होंने कुछ साम दाम और भेद का प्रयोग करने कि कोशिश की ये पता करने के लिए कि कौन कौन पत्ते खेलता है हमारे में से. कोई फायदा नहीं हुआ.  फिर अपनी औकात यानी कि दंड पर आ गयीं. एक एक को धोना शुरू किया. हमारे पास आयीं और चीखीं ,

“सुमित, तू भी पत्ते खेलता है ?”

हमारी ख़ामोशी को वो इकरार-ए-जुर्म समझ बैठे . और अगर नाइंसाफी का एहसास होता, तो हम और शायरी कर लेते.

दो धप्पे खाकर ही हमारी पीठ ने ज़वाब दे दिया. हम नीचे से चीखे, “अरे मैडम बस एक बार ही खेला था. अब क्या बच्चे कि जान लोगे?”
पता नहीं उन्हें हंसी आई या बात मान ली मेरी, या हाथ में दर्द हो गया उनके , हमारी जान बच गयी.

अगले लड़के के पास पहुंची वो. अब उनका दुर्भाग्य कहें या उसके बाद के बिहारियों का सौभाग्य, वोही था जिसे मैडम जी से सबसे कम डर लगता था.
“क्यूँ रे, तू भी पत्ते खेलता है ?”

“मैडम इसमें कौन सी बड़ी  बात है ? मैं तो अपने पिताजी के साथ भी पत्ते खेलता हूँ.”

लंबी खामोशी –पार्ट 2.
जासूसी और psychology  की एक साथ यूँ कहें की “लग गयी थी”.

अब आखिर में एक और वाकया बयान कर देता हूँ. अब ऐसा भी था कि वो मुझे बड़ा मानती थीं जैसा पहले बताया था. तो हमारी 12वीं में chemistry का practical  था. हमारा viva था final exams का. External साहब आये हुए थे. पहले दो सवाल organic chemistry  से पूछे गए थे. हमें हवा तक नहीं लगी. और हम से ज्यादा मैडम जी के पसीने छूट गए. हुआ ये था कि हमारे बैठने से पहले ही मैडम जी हमारी काफी तारीफ कर रखी थी. अच्छा बच्चा है, अच्छे नंबर लाता है. वगैरह वगैरह. 

External  ने पुछा,
“बेटे, nervous मत हो. क्या दिक्कत है ?”
“सर organic नहीं पढ़ी अब तक .”
“तो कहाँ से पूछें?”
“बाकी कुछ भी पूछ लो सर”

5 acid के नाम लिख दिए पेपर पर . और पूछा कि इनमें से सबसे strong कौन सा है?
हम फिर से कनफुजिया गए.

पहले के आगे पेन रखा. फिर दूसरे के आगे . और फिर तीसरे के आगे. जैसे ही तीसरे के आगे पेन रखा, हमारी मैडम जी बोल उठी, “अरे आता है तो बताओ न . Under confident क्यूँ हो रहे हो ?”
हम समझ गए. बेटे यही है answer.

थोडा confidence वापस आ गया था. अगले 4-5 सवाल के भी सही सही answer निकल गए थे.

जब रिजल्ट आया तो पता चला कि practicals में पूरे ३० के ३० नंबर मिले थे. हमारे कुछ मित्र ऐसे भी थे जो सब सही ज़वाब दे कर आये थे. सारे practical पूरे ठीक कर के आये थे. उन्हें २८-२९ नंबर ही मिले थे.



अब इस कहानी को हमारी मैडम जी के negative characterization के तौर पर नहीं देखिएगा. नहीं तो कहीं अच्छा नहीं लगेगा कि अपने मैडम जी के ३० नंबर का ये सिला दे रहा हूँ. खरी खोटी थीं. पर जैसा हमने कहा, हमें बड़ा मानती थीं.