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Nouvelle Exchanges

When I first met him, I noticed an air of dismissiveness about him. He seemed to take everything around him for granted, trying to fool everyone into believing that he was impervious to the ebbs and flows of the day that overwhelms us all. It was comforting and off putting at the same time and I didn’t know how to feel about him.

I would see his apparent disinterest in what people had to say, including me but I often found him bring up the most inane details of our past conversations. The kind of things even I didn’t pay much heed to when we spoke. I noticed that he had this callous way of paying very close attention and that he was actually a very good listener who pretended to not care.

It was the curiosity about human nature that his eyes were always brimming with that took a second glance to fully see. His beady eyes, barely visible as slits through his glasses were always trying to contain a darkness that I never tired of looking into. It was like staring into the abyss, trying to look for answers like they were constellations in the night sky.

Above all, I liked his perspective on things. He was able to dissect a crisis ruthlessly; making the entire spectrum of morality seem compelling enough to support or reject by the way he framed an argument. He could use his words to paint whatever version of a situation that he deemed fit and by the end of it, it was hard to disagree with him outright.

I don’t know how he did it, to be honest – how he managed to exalt and question people’s intelligence by slightly changing the arc of his smile. By the time I had noticed all this, he had become everything I found myself wanting. I began to validate my opinions when they agreed with him and reject the ones that didn’t.

He showed me that it wasn’t always important to be right but it was more important to know the difference between right and wrong even if you know deep down that that what you’re doing wrong. I lost myself somewhere between the synapses of his brain and felt the electricity flow through me when we were together. I wanted to stop seeing the world through my eyes and start seeing it through his. I wanted to be the spatter that his brains splashed across a white wall would look like.

People think obsession is for psychopaths. Obsession is wasted on psychopaths, if you ask me. My obsession with his mind made me give up everything else I looked for in a person. I stopped seeing how other boys dressed, I didn’t notice how they did their hair or made smug jokes about my indifference about their existence.

I wanted to predict what he would do next, how his mind would work. At any given point, I would ask myself – what would Sid do? I would lie in my bed for hours, seduced thought of his coy smile breaking out like a flash of lightning when he thought of something interesting to say. Love was not happening anymore. It had already happened.


Why rent space in your mind?

When a hostile takeover is what I really want

I could apologize for the way I feel

Or I can ask for what I want, in no uncertain terms

Why settle for just a small portion?

When I’d rather consume every fiber of your being

I could keep simmering in my infatuation and loneliness

Or I can tell you, and then it’s your fucking problem

Why spare a feeble dwindling thought?

When you deserve nothing less than beat poetry

I could hide my love away and listen to The Beatles

Or I can stop feeling sorry and not deny myself any longer

Why hold back when we kiss?

When we could just fuse into each other instead

Mcleodgrunge. #trek #flashbackfriday #travel #gramminlikeabrahmin

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In the last five years of writing this blog, I’ve become a full time writer, changed profoundly as a person and while I documented some of it, much of it remained undocumented for the fear of my parents laying their hands on any of it and having to explain everything I hadn’t told them about myself.

We’ve all been there – the pretentious virtual life that aligns with our parents’ ideals and expectations. Painting a story of our lives, leaving out the bits they would disapprove of and telling them only things they want to hear. I lived it for 25 years. Not because they wanted me to. They’re wonderful people with enough problems of their own to bother me too much. My parents give me space and a home and they raised me to create whatever life I want for my self.

It’s because as a person I’m not someone who bothers people with the beautiful mess that my life can sometimes be. I deal. It helps me grow and understand things. It’s how I’ve chosen to be. You can’t hide it though from the people you live with and the harder you try, the harder it gets.

My mom is a hindi teacher and we talk about some really high level shit in glorious poetic hindi sometimes. It’s one of my most favorite things to do. I cherish the no fuss relationship I have with my parents and have no complaints but we’re not that family who hugs all the time and laughs and cries together. We like to chill the fuck out, basically.

Mom and I have the most surreal conversations about marriage and life and gays and parenting and literature. She brings the perspective of an old fashioned liberal – passively romanticising traditional values and I’d like to think that I bring some modern day reason and scientific logic to the table. They are riveting and deep but I never discuss my personal life with her.

One day, shortly after turning 25, the proverbial quarter life crisis began to hit me as advertised and my life began to quickly fall apart, for no fault of mine. It was tough; I met with an accident, got dumped a few days later, and even though I tried really hard to keep it together, I was in so much pain and my mom did not know any of it. Or so I thought.

But they always know. She came to my room one morning after I hadn’t eaten anything the day before and asked me calmly why I’m pushing her away. That she just wants to know, that’s all. I started off resisting her as usual but then something really amazing happened.

I told her about the break up. And the one before that too. Not in great detail but sincerely. She listened, without doing or saying anything I was afraid she might do. In that moment, I realised that I’m an adult now and I do not fear my parents in the slightest. I respect them and love them and they know that. I overcame what is possibly my single greatest fear in life – disappointing the people who raised me because of the choices I made in life. I felt invincible.

So now I’ve decided to make this a real blog. Where I bore you with silly anecdotes like these and deal with my shit. If you read this and liked it, you don’t know what you’re signing up for.

Thrilling seizures

I remember the first time we met. It was at a party and I remember our gaze meeting an awkward number of times before he approached me and asked how I was doing. I remember feeling shy and flattered but also desperately trying to play it cool. I muttered something he found quite funny. It was apparent he had made up his mind to laugh at everything I said. It put me at ease, instantly because I knew he was just as nervous as I was. As we kept making awkward conversation and trying to like each other, something was happening that was truly beautiful.


In between our tongue tied introverted exchanges, we shared really comfortable silences that began to grow on me as the night went. Most people think making conversation is hard but eventually, we get there; there are common interests, mutual friends, reality television – no dearth of things to aimlessly discuss. It’s the silences that are hardest to handle. As we took turns putting ourselves out there, the nervousness disappeared, the jokes started to get funnier and I started feeling like my life was something out of a movie.

I started thinking about what life with him would be like: the places we would go to, how our first kiss would be, what we would fight about and how we would make up. It was absurd even thinking of all this at the time but something inside me was convinced I would look back at this moment and compare it with how it actually turned out. The promise of love can be sweeter than love itself.

I had a great night and he dropped me home, bid goodbye and we decided we should meet again. I still remember the next two days I couldn’t keep my eyes off my phone waiting for him to message. It was awful. But he never did. Weeks later I texted him and he nonchalantly replied in monosyllables like we were complete strangers. I couldn’t understand what was going on. Was he on drugs?

We never spoke again. I deleted his number from my phone and tried to forget about it. Every now and then, his face would pop up in my head, from out of nowhere. I was so angry at not being able to get over it. We met once. I wasn’t even crazy about him. It was just hurtful and irritating.

I saw him yesterday, after six years.

To be continued…   

Love in the time of demonetization

The faint smell of attar and eager anticipation is in the air. A seventeen year old Fahtima paces on her terrace, awaiting his arrival. In less than two hours ammi would be home – where was the bloody fool? The sun is beating down on Fahtima’s hijab as she awaits Firoze, her new friend from college with eyes affixed on the rusty iron back gate. She is anxious because knows the fate of boys who get caught. They would get beaten with a cane and rusticated from college within days. Abbu had no patience for shararat, as Imad had learnt the hard way.
He was not like other boys. He sat next to her a week back because he came late to class and then sat next to her every day. Ammi had left to meet Rukhsar aunty in the morning and once Abbu left for work, the window was open to invite a boy over for kissing. But Firoze was late and she was not amused. Firoze would not show up. Neither to her house that day or to college the following week. No one seemed to know what had happened to him. Fahtima did not know where to look for him or seek answers to this familiar quandary.
A year passed and now she was forced to spend time with Uzair and go on long walks in the sabz baugs of the town. It was shy and awkward; he was not nice like Firoze. He stood ahead while she walked behind, pointing at the names of trees. Uzair was smart and ambitious. He had joined the youth wing of the local political party. Staying with him made sense.
Another year passed and now college was almost over. Abbu had finalized their iqrar. Uzair will be a minister one day, he would say proudly. His party had won the elections and Uzair was in the thick of it. Fahtima would spend several hours at the library preparing for her final exams and dreaming about her nikaah. One day, a strange thing happened to her in the library: she recognized the face of the new librarian’s assistance. It was a face she hadn’t seen in over two years. It was surreal.
Firoze had hunted her down and even found a job at the library! Your abbu beat me with a cane he cried! They made me go to a different college in Aligarh! It’s too late now, Fahtima tried explaining. The times were uncertain – old notes had been demonetized and there was pandemonium in the galli-mohohllas. These foolish people do not understand that the government has done this for their own good only, Uzair exclaimed at the reporter on the television who was relaying the plight of people suffering the consequences of demonetization.
He must be crazy, Fahtima thought. After all this time, the nerve to show up like this! I like Uzair – he’s stable and intelligent. He believes in the noble cause of eradicating black money. Even Abbu likes him and thinks he is right for me. This no time for indecision, Fahtu! She said, thinking aloud. Maybe I am a hoor after all for all these boys to want me so much.
Abbu must’ve beaten him senseless for him to still want me. Such love is admirable. With these thoughts, Fahtima went to bed. The next day, Fahtima finds Firoze again in the library. She is unable to pay any attention to her books and leaves. After a few months, her nikaah to Uzair takes place. She fails her exams but Uzair gets her papers cleared unlawfully as he is well connected.
After several years, Fahtima is invited to college for a reunion. Firoze is still at the library and asks her how she is doing. She begins to sob. I made a mistake, he is not a nice man. I mean, he takes care of me but I’m not allowed to go out much. I don’t even know if he loves me anymore. Abbu wants me to stay with him till I die. I have no skills, didn’t pay attention in College and now I am useless Firoze.

No you’re not Firoze says, you’re wonderful. If it isn’t too late, I’d like another chance. She wipes her tears and smiles.

Rama’s Musings

Subhadra, is it?

What? He asked, taken aback by the sudden affrighting question.

Look, I know okay. Her name is Subhadra, isn’t it?


Is she pretty? How pretty is she?

No more than you

Better not be

She kidnapped me, it’s not my fault

You’re joking right? You can’t be serious right now

I’m sorry, Panchali. I really am

Sorry doesn’t cut it

You’re right, it doesn’t

That’s better. Keep talking

You have every right to be mad. Please tell me what you have to say

We’re together because you can aim an arrow at the eye of a fish pinned to the ceiling by merely looking at its reflection in a pool of oil on the ground. What is your obsession with aiming at eyes anyway? As if that wasn’t enough, I had to then share you with 4 other men because apparently, that’s your thing too. So what is it? Are you bored of your prize now? Went looking for a new one and got lucky?


Shut up, I’m not done. And I accept you, like the naïve fool that I am. I see glory, despite harrowing despair. Do you know the life I’ve signed up for? And now you’ve piled this on. I’ve forgiven all of you for any and all sins you may have committed before this. It doesn’t bother me if you had lovers in the past or moments the likes of which we may never share. Because I wasn’t there when it happened and I don’t care that it did. But now you’ve gotten close to someone else and while we’re still together. I know I shouldn’t even feel slighted. I’m Draupadi born from the sacred fire. I don’t need your undivided attention that no dead beast’s eye is safe from. Know this, you do not have mine either. This is the grim precedent we’ve set for ages to come; Do you not see how inadequate this makes me feel?

You’re right. I’ve wronged you. Can’t make excuses like a coward now. I’m ready to bear any consequences you deem fit.

Here’s what you don’t understand, I’m no one to forgive you. This is your journey and you have my unconditional love through it. I want you to be happy and if this is the decision you’ve made then I lost the any right I had to feel offended long ago. You deal with this now.


Rama’s Musings

I really don’t get what the big deal is. I don’t get why people are always saying that she’s the love of his life while I’m the one he settled for.


But I married you! You’re the one!


Yeah, but I feel like a consolation prize sometimes. It’s not easy living up to the high bar someone else has already set before you. What am I supposed to do if she was so awesome and everyone just wants to talk about that? It’s annoying. I’m here now, so let’s talk about me instead!


Look, why are we even talking about this. It was so long ago. Even I don’t think about it anymore, he lied.


You won’t get it. You won’t get what it is like to be the one after the love story. You get to be the love story, every time. It’s easy to be loved but loving is hard and you get no credit for it. Everyone is always saying Radha Krishna. Radha was the one. Her love is true unconditional love. What about mine? Why does no one talk about Rukmini’s unconditional love? Why is it not glamourous enough? I’m sorry there isn’t enough drama in my life to keep people hooked. I feel like a runner up.


You’re the one who gets to have me. You’re the one I choose, every day. Even on days when nothing goes right for me, I know that I have you and it’s a feeling that doesn’t need the glorification of poetry and drama. It’s the ease of it all. The ease with with I can talk to you even without saying a word. The ease of being able to divulge all my secrets to you with just a blush. The ease of knowing that you’re standing next to me at all times, even if when we’re not together! I can smell your hair as soon as I think of you. Why would poets waste their time on this simplicity when forbidden love makes for a such an exhilarating tale? But you’re the one I want to talk about and discuss these exhilarating tales with. You get to share my past, my present and my future with me. It’s a longer story than any man has learnt to tell in words.


Instantly she was reminded why she had fallen in love with the man who gave up everything for her. Even true love.


Not Enough


Kuch likh raha tha kal

Mere zehen ki siyahi se

Phir socha kya fayda hai waqt zaya karke?

Inhi fayde-nuksaan ke khayalon me kho gaya

Aur ek haseen lamha mere haathon se kho gaya


Kuch gaa raha kal

Mere zehen ki awaaz me

Phir socha kaun sun raha hai mujhe?

Inhi sune-ansune khayalon me kho gaya

Phir se ek haseen lamha mere haathon se kho gaya


Kuch sapne dekh raha tha kal

Mere zehen ki aankhon se

Phir socha in sapnon ka bojh kyun sahun?

Inhi sapno ne hi toh mujhe tabaah kar diya

Aur yunhi ek haseen zindagi mere haathon se kho gayi

Jihad Enough Yet?

It’s a great time to have opinions so here goes:

Perhaps the single biggest institutional failure on the part of authorities and governments across the world is the sheer lack of education delivery systems. The schooling systems worldwide are largely broken, despite the presence of the IITs and Stanfords and Oxfords of the world.

In the last 50 years, when were were in the wake of two world wars, instead of breeding a generation of educated, liberal thinkers, we’ve become ageneration that voted for the brexit, may vote for trump and may vote again for a government that thinks banning beef and artists from working in films will help solve the world’s problems.

Dear US, instead of sending thousands of troops to war torn third world countries, why not send a few hundred educators and counsellors and troops in equal proportions? Or us, instead of conducting surgical strikes and banning their artists, why not build a school of drama and art there and help open the minds of our people who haven’t gotten a chance to yet.

It’s because we don’t have the teachers. We have troops – it’s a glamourous, respectful job. Being an educator though, isn’t. My mother is a primary school teacher and I see how unglamourous and underappreciated her job is, underneath all the respect and teachers day gifts.

Creating a generation of educators will help solve so many problems, seemingly on autopilot. Our collective educated intelligence will cure cancer and defeat terrorism. But we need teachers and for that, we need to appreciate and stand up for the ones we have now. Just like we stand up for our troops every time someone says something mean about them.


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