Welcome to Not So Little Johnny!

The finest source of absurd and abstract!

An ode to the heartbreak kid

How do you do that thing you do

Where you act like it doesn’t affect you

Because I’m not able to do it like you can

And that’s not fair.


How is it that you’re asleep every night

While I toss and turn staring at my phone

Waiting for a text that I know isn’t coming

Like a fucking loser.


It’s just not fair bb – this isn’t what i signed up for

I thought I’d get what you have

Sweet dreams and enhanced self confidence

But nothing’s changed.


So maybe this isn’t about you, or us

Or some knight in shining armour

Some princess who has to kiss a frog

This is about me.


I’ve changed.

So fuck you.

Why test cricket will always be relevant because Kishore Kumar still is

What has been will be again,

What has been done will be done again;

There is nothing new under the sun.

The furor over the recently renewed central contracts of Cheteshwar Pujara and other top performers from India’s home season, and the existential debate over test cricket’s relevance to the eternally pressed for time contemporary cricket fan is nothing new. More than a decade ago, when I was still in school and a big Rahul Dravid fan, I often found myself defending Dravid’s style of batting while Sachin’s more flamboyant six hitting obviously garnered more takers.

This was a time when Dravid had to keep wickets to find a place in the Indian One Day team and had been deemed by many as a “test batsman”. There were those who just didn’t have the patience and foresight to see what value a player like Dravid brought to the team – any team really, in any format. Today, I find myself in a similar position with Pujara – who may well be one of the finest batsmen of his generation, but can’t hammer sixes with the kind of brute force that a Chris Gayle can, and also doesn’t have the Gayle’s charisma so he often ends up talking respectfully to female interviewers – who’s going to pay to watch that, right?

Let’s ponder over that for just a bit. A test match spans over five days, with an advertisement slot every over – there are ninety in a day, not including the pre & post show segments, lunch and tea breaks. Yes, an IPL match garners primetime eyeballs but when Chris Gayle bats for an hour and scores a scorching thirty ball hundred, how much of an economic impact does it make as opposed to Pujara batting for ten hours straight, spanning over two days. Again, think of the collective eyeballs and viewership accumulated over those two days. It’s all about context.

As a true fan who can appreciate both Yoyo Honey Singh’s new age version of Mere Mehboob Qayamat hogi and the original Kishore Kumar version, I look forward to a good test series like the Ashes or the recently concluded Border Gavaskar Trophy just as much as the IPL. Of course, Chris Gayle who plays a number of T20 leagues throughout the world, endorses multiple glamorous products and makes more money in one bad season of the IPL than Cheteshwar Pujara would as the Top test batsman in the world in an entire calendar year. As much as I love a Chris Gayle blinder, the furor is justified.

It is because Dravid’s right to play One Day cricket for India was defended by many who believed that the impact he made on the game mattered more than his strike rate, and today we defend Pujara’s right to be fairly compensated for the revenue he helps drive on a more macro level is a regular reminder of why test cricket will always be important to cricket fans, long after Pujara retires. It is because as the game evolves, the players evolve too and so does the fan.

Long before the first season of IPL began, the debate over test cricket’s relevance in the years to come after T20’s growing popularity was going on. As the 10th IPL kicks off, if someone’s arguing about it, there is nothing new under the sun, my friend.

Mera naam Shabnam aunty hai. Tumhara naam kya hai?

I was still what many would call an adolescent boy when I first met Shabnam aunty. I had just started junior college and I was sixteen when my dad passed away following a difficult battle with pancreatic cancer. There’s something about being confronted with the mortality of your own, or someone you love and still consider invincible for the most part, that is simply heart wrenching. I remember how dad had changed in the fifteen months or so that he was alive for after being diagnosed. I didn’t see it then, but I now see clearly the stages of him coming to terms with the life changing news and how they manifested in a person you look up to and live under the same roof with.

My father was a good man. Flawed and tenacious. He had worked all his life to reap the rewards of what was a lifetime of confronting his problems, making peace with his own demons and learning to love himself at last. I’m sure he never stopped dealing his with his own battles, but somewhere it was more important for him to be a good husband to my mother and be a good father to me than be insecure and vulnerable.

In the last few months, however, I saw all of that change. The first 3 months were the worst. He wasn’t in as much physical pain as he was toward the end but the anguish and disgust of being the chosen one by life or God or fate or whatever construct people put their faith in to explain all this. He was angry, very angry – mostly at himself, as I understood much later.

He wasn’t angry at me when he yelled at me on top of his voice when I left the door open one day when I left for college. I remember wondering why he was so angry at me for leaving the door open. Sure we could get robbed but he was at home. It was much later that I realized that he wasn’t mad at me that day, but himself for not being able to protect us from things like that and I guess he couldn’t yell at himself about it any longer so his restraint cracked.

I wish I had a brain that could process it at the time because from his knee jerk reaction came mine. I slammed the door shut in his face, screamed “Fuck this!” and left, with no clue where I would go or what I would do. I just couldn’t stay in that house any longer. I walked quite a distance before cessation of the sobs. I saw grant road station in the distance and with no money in my pockets, I decided to seek shelter there for the night.

From the corner of my eye, I saw her approach and that was the first time I met her. I had been sitting on the platform for an hour and it was well past the time for the last train in either direction. She was smiling – it was a smile I couldn’t at the time understand or appreciate. It is distinctly imprinted in my memory though. There was just something so haunting about it.

Before I even realized, she was right in my face. “Mera naam Shabnam aunty hai. Tumhara naam kya hai?” she asked in a playful yet assertive voice. I looked around, knowing full well that there were just the two of us on the platform at the time and there couldn’t have been anyone else she was addressing. I had seen her pace directly towards me but in the few moments of trying to avoid eye contact, I had gotten lost into my delusional world of hating my father.

When her words broke the chaos in my head and cut through my lambent consciousness, I told her my name then hung me head back down, as if trying to convey my desire to be left alone through cupped deep breaths. She persisted though – Train chooth gayi? was the swift follow up question.

I thought about saying haan. Just to end it there but something told me that it wouldn’t have ended there. In that moment, something inside me snapped and I began telling this absolute stranger I just met things about myself that I hadn’t told very many people. I told her that my father was dying and that I was mad at him and mad at myself for being mad at him. For not being able to handle my feelings. She listened. Quietly and intently.

After I was done talking, she grabbed my arm and said Chal! Kahan? I asked but her grin only widened and she said chal na, beginning to tug on my arm. It was probably the first time I had been invited to do anything with a member of the opposite sex. In fact, it was the most attention I had got from a member of the opposite sex in my entire life. There was no way in hell I was going to say no. I wanted to go where Shabnam Aunty was taking me.

She walked ahead and led the way as I followed her sheepishly, not fully sure what was going on. It was the first time in weeks that I was feeling excited about anything. The weight of my dad’s condition seemed to feel lighter in those few moments of the climbing the foot over bridge with her. A policeman saw us get out of the station with the kind of prying indifference that is recognizable as their specific brand of judgment.

Shabnam Aunty must’ve been in her early thirties at the time – her face bore small permanent scars that had healed but the smile that her face contorted into, made the scars seem like they had been drawn to provide misdirection that was reserved for her uninhibited chortling. Why was she so happy, I wondered. As we wandered on the streets, I began to put two and two together.

She would turn back intermittently, as if to see if I was still following her. Of course I was. Where was I going to go? In about ten minutes, we reached the entrance of a barely two story building. A black Sintex plastic tank greeted us at the gate, blocking half the entrance. We entered and she zipped my mouth shut with her thumb pulling an imaginary zipper, sensing that I may have questions.

We climbed a flight of stairs to see a tinfoil clad door, barely held in place by an assortment of nails haphazardly banged into it. A small cable lock was used to keep it shit that she unlocked using a key strategically hidden somewhere near her left breast. We entered her house. She asked if I wanted to eat something then offered me a seat on the only place there was to sit other than the floor – a cot that didn’t look half bed to my tired eyes. I was feeling sleepy but the adrenaline pumping in my blood was not going to let me sleep.

She slowly began to undress – just the accessories and the topmost layer of clothing. She first took her ear rings off, then undid her hair and shook her head. There was no intent to seduce in her eyes, she was just going about her day as she would’ve if I had not been there. She reached for her phone and began playing old Bollywood songs from the 90s and started dancing in all her half naked glory.

I watched her feel happy, disregard everything that mattered with reckless abandon and just exist. It must’ve been at least 4 a.m. when she stopped the music and sat next to me, exhausted, with her head resting on my shoulder. Ghar kab jaayega? She asked. I did not know what to say to her.

My anger had subsided but there was no way to go back now. This late, how would I enter my house? What would I even do there? Nahi jaana hai wahan, I burst into tears. She tore a piece of paper and wrote her number on it. Ghar ja, she said. Kuch chahiye toh Shabnam Aunty ko phone karna.


I last met Shabnam aunty at my son’s fifteenth birthday. She doesn’t live in the two storeyed building anymore. My son is fond of her. He has been since he was a child and she would come bearing chocolates. The funny thing is, we both call her Shabnam aunty. She has white hair now and it’s mostly confined to a bun but even now when she opens her hair and her face conjures up a smile, I’m reminded of the empty platform of Grant Road station and her face staring down at mine saying  Mera naam Shabnam aunty hai. Tumhara naam kya hai?

Photograph: Sudharak Olwe

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.

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

A post shared by Siddhant Dwivedee (@siddhantdwivs) on


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.


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