Friday, September 24, 2010


I take a Chartered Bus from Office back home. The bus cruising by the side of our Office Complex takes to the main road to rush off towards the Outer Ring Road. In this route, we pass by two heritage monuments (a Tomb and a Fort) and other places of historical importance too.

The Tomb and the Fort mesmerize me (perhaps because of the historical legends attached to these sites) and often staring at these I am transported back in time... I wonder how these monuments would have looked or what the ambiance would have been during those times when newly built. I could hear the clatter of horses' hooves on the uneven paths or the heavy rumble of the wheels of the coaches or tongas trundling by the tomb towards the Fort (about a few kilometers away). I’d imagine a few shops lining the bright red brick walls (now moss ridden and bearing a dilapidated air) selling artifacts in keeping with the grim sanctity of the tomb. Broad shouldered horsemen gracefully galloping by and veiled, demure ladies frequenting the premise! The slanting rays of the setting sun bathing the monoliths with a dying golden sheen and the mystique music of the evening azaan (there's a mosque nearby too) floating in the air and mingling seamlessly with the melodious musings of the shahanai being played at the nahabat khana of the fort welcoming the dusk. The drawbridges of the Fort would be up by then and the mashaals would be burning in their scones, throwing bizarre shadows on the half lit roads, as I'd be speeding past, not in a heavily curtained buggy, but in the khatara that we call our carrier depositing us home!!! (So much so for imagination)

Our bus stops right in front of the tomb for a few minutes as one or two passengers alight or board at that junction. Often, I’d see a short, slightly built figure standing right in front of the tomb, one hand gracing the railings of the garden encircling the tomb, the other casually holding a neatly folded snow-white cloth piece which I presumed was his cap. His quaint attire and appearance were both eye-catching. He always wore a white robe like dress which fell in light folds on his feet almost moping the grounds. A long chain of dark beads dangled from his slender neck almost till his waist. His complexion was not fair but a mixture of pink in a pallete of white. A diaphanous sheath tightly pasted over fragile bones! His hands were soft and well manicured fringed by delicate, pointed fingers. His finely chiseled facial features went very well with his physique, as though it could not have been anything else. But what attracted me the most was his long silvery beard that flew unclasped in air, matched by a bouquet of silky mane of the same hue, which frilled a shiny bald patch in the centre of his perfectly round head, and billowed down his back in joyful disarray. On hot muggy days, I would wonder how he maintained his long tresses without getting entangled in the mesh. Rain, hail storm, the man would be standing there in exactly the same posture, keenly looking around, a sparkle lighting his emerald green eyes in the dying evening sun and a thin smile playfully hovering on his petal like lips. He would be absolutely immobile, only the deep gaze, taking in the frenzy and fracas of the congested pavements and roads, almost electrifying in its intensity and creating a magic magnetic field around his inert form. Our eyes never met but I was sure he knew I watched him.

My friend happens to board the bus from this very stop. By the time, the bus reaches the tomb, it is quite full and my friend has to cover the distance till destination mostly standing. On rainy evenings, it is worse. He often complains about the rush and crowd, but due to paucity of alternate transport, he has no choice but to opt for this bus (nicknamed chariot), in the long run.

One rainy evening, as the bus came to a halt in front of the tomb, a sudden onrush of rowdy passengers, almost pushed my friend right behind. For one moment, I thought he would miss the bus. The strange figure, till now in inertia, was watching the mad crowd pushing, jostling and shouting at the entrance. My friend gave up and gestured to me that he was quitting the bus. As I was sitting right next to the window, I craned my neck out and told him that he better took this one as there was no other transport available thereafter. He gestured helplessly at the fierce crowd and told me it was quite impossible. I still persisted otherwise I knew he would be stranded for the night. My friend, as a last try, joined the struggling boarders. There was almost a fight brewing up in the race for who could get in first.

Suddenly, out of the blue, the man in the white robe triggered into action and came right behind my friend and placed a fragile hand on his back and gave a slight push. And as he did so, my friend just melted through the crowd like a spread of butter on a piece of hot crackling toast and lo! He was inside the bus. I grinned at him as he threaded his way through the standing throng and came to stand right next to my seat. I looked up and smiled, “Thanks to the old man. Had he not helped, you would not have been able to get in." My friend stared at me with beady eyes, his jaws almost dropping to the floor of the bus, "Which old man?" He asked perplexed. "That old man who stands everyday in front of the tomb..." My voice trailed into silence. A frail, old man who almost floated in air! How could he push my friend so hard that he simply waltzed through that stampede without a crease on his shirt! I was just going to reason that out in my head when I heard my friend say "But I was alone and the last one in the crowd and there was nobody behind me..."

The next evening, I left office early to grab a window seat. As the bus careened through the congestion and came to a stop in front of the tomb, I saw him. He was right in front of my window looking directly at me for the first time! In fact, to my utter surprise, he took two steps forward till he was quite close to the bus, nay, my window. His glassy eyes lined by curly white lashes were a deep blue today or was I imagining? His smile had an odd quality about it. I stared at him almost in a hypnotic trance. He looked deeply into my eyes or somewhere beyond, I don't know, but a flash of a second swished by and his left eyelid drooped on his crystal gaze and the silky lashes came to rest peacefully on his creaseless cheeks for an infinitesimal moment at the same time his smile deepened...the old man winked...h-e p-o-s-i-t-i-v-e-l-y w-i-n-k-e-d...

Before I could collect my composure, our driver had changed gear and the bus glided past the tomb. I pushed my head out and looked back but could not see the old man in the midst of gathering darkness and the horde of vehicles and pedestrians.

Thereafter, my bus has stopped every day on the same spot in front of the tomb. But I have not been able to locate the man with the flowing beard again...

Sunday, September 19, 2010


It rained throughout last night. 5.30 in the morning as I stepped out of my house to walk my pet….splotch…………Oops……Oh! No, not a puddle but almost a pool of water right in front of my flat (ground floor) and that too over the manhole. The manhole did not look blocked but the water was also not passing through either. As a result, the much dreaded water logging. Time ticked by and the day cleared a bit; but my attention kept on getting diverted towards the water pool. For once, I was not enjoying the incessant rainfall. So, I did the next best thing. I went out (my backdoor opens to the staircase) and observed the water level going higher and higher till it almost touched the foot of the stair where I was standing.

Almost a year back, we had a similar problem minus the rainfall. Our shaft would remain full of stagnant water for days. As a result, a foul stench persisted and permeated inside the flats. Above all, we had a liquid den of all kinds of water borne diseases ready at hand. Moreover, due to the water chocked shaft, the Delhi Jal Board representative refused to enter the premise and check the water meters. So, we were getting provisional water bills with constant stinkers from DJB to get the shaft cleaned.

But mere cleaning would not help. As we cleaned, a few days after again the shaft got filled with water. On investigation, I learnt that it was the handiwork of the garden rodents who playfully scraped huge mounds of soil underground blocking the drains. Our block is dotted with parks, small and large. The rodents would be scampering everywhere freely! The solution was replacing the age old cemented drain pipes by PVC pipes. The cemented pipes had been laid at the time of construction of these flats (almost twenty years back). These therefore had developed cracks and breakages having not been repaired / replaced since then. This pipe also connected the shaft to the main outlet i.e. the manhole.

As this was a major repair work, I approached the RWA (Residents Welfare Association) who advised me to inform the MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) as repair of drainage system was their designated job. They helpfully gave me the mobile number of the JE (Junior Engineer) also. But JE had a different story to tell when I rang him up. I was enlightened that MCD’s purview of repair work begins when the manhole starts overflowing. Since, just water was coagulating inside the shaft and there was no overflow outside, the repair job did not fall within the ambit of MCD’s work! He suggested that I got the job done through a private party.

Since, it was a common problem, the residents of our building got together and finally one Sunday the work started. In order to replace the pipe, the road had to be dug up. Some thoughtful neighbor seeing the labourer digging the road complained to DDA (Delhi Development Authority) who quickly sent their representative accompanied by a Police Constable.

The DDA official accused us of committing an offence of digging the road which residents were not permitted to do. He said it was illegal and that MCD should have been entrusted the job. As I had taken the initiative, I informed the official what had transpired in the conversation with the JE. On hearing my story, they fussed a bit over the issue, mildly though. Even if they had any ulterior motive they could not vocalize the same being confronted by a lady. Ultimately, it was with the united efforts of the residents that the repair was completed.

Thereafter, almost a year has passed by but I have not seen any MCD personnel coming and cleaning the manholes which should form part of their routine job with or without any overflow. No wonder then that we have to now spend the days with crossed fingers that the rains should recede fast so that we are saved from water logging and flowing inside our flats.

My question to all of you is what is this? Apathy to work? Callousness? Or just another instance of moral corruption – taking big fat salary home at the end of the month with meager or next to nil output?

And as I post this Diary, it’s still raining………..

God Help Us!

Friday, September 17, 2010


Don't hide behind those shades
It is nothing but age
Which gives you an edge
Over others
Life has not bade
A goodbye as yet
To you either
This is just the beginning
Of a new inning
To take up all the challenges
With new found
Prudence and grace
Remember, you know much more
Than the rest
You know what is best
You can now understand much better
And laugh at (I do ) others
Who know not their
Follies vain
As for myself
I wanted to age always
To be taken more seriously
Than the rest
Now I have aged
I am the happiest best
That is why I say
With zeal and zest
Please put away those
Dark, demonic shades
Let us both enjoy our age

Monday, September 13, 2010


Writing is a habit. An every day habit. I have often heard writers going into prolonged state of inaction and inertia on the pretext that the creative bug has stopped chasing/bugging them. Creative bug? That means a writer's writing skill is dependent upon insect bite? Ridiculous!

A writer should be driven by one's own passion and pursuit and not by external influences. The source of inspiration is within and not without. Therefore, gear yourself up and write a little everyday. A paragraph. A page. Any length. Anytime. So that the machinery of the brain remains well oiled - ideating, assimilating, churning, chewing. stimulated and in turn stimulating, inspired and above all, inspiring others through creative outpours. These little, daily dosages shall one day be the cause of a mammoth construct. Who knows ? Knowledge has not come to us in a giffy. Nature has given us its gifts measure by measure with the passage of time. So shall we pour back drop by drop, little by little, day by day till we are drained of all that can be given back.

Hone your skills otherwise you may go barren if you forget to water your own soil!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


My senior colleague and friend was over excited to have finally got a few days off to enjoy a runaway vacation to the Jim Corbett National Park with his family. It was planned as a short respite from the daily rut of office-to-home-and-back-to- office schedule, albeit after a long gap of six whole years. The choice of venue was an inspired one as his son nurtures a passion for the wildlife. He talked animatedly and incessantly about his ensuing trip for days and the various meticulous arrangements on which he had happily and calculatedly squandered his resources. Soon his excitement infected me as well.

The thrill of the adventure was doubled, nay, quadrupled, when the trip coincided with the announcement of his promotion. He being promoted to the rank of chief manager was an additional reason for rejoicing and celebration for the family. How best to celebrate a well deserved elevation but to savour the joys of a quiet and cozy getaway with the near and dear ones in the greens. However, the
main motto of visiting the famous park was to have a darshan of the ever elusive tigers. I, being an animal lover myself, told him excitedly to bring snapshots, if not of the beast, then at least of his paw-prints, which I believe the tourists get ample opportunity to see quite often. Soon the D day arrived and the much needed and eagerly awaited trip seemed to be over rather too soon. I, being no less curious to hear all about my friend’s experience, was, therefore, quite crestfallen when no phone call or e-mail followed his return.

My colleague, who has the habit of “reporting” to me each and every minute detail of whatever is happening around, appeared not only distant but positively non-communicative on the issue. Worried, I called him up two days later and asked him, “How was the trip?” Given his extrovert and vivacious nature, the answers sounded surprisingly noncommittal and were predominantly confined to monosyllabic retorts. By the end of this trying (on-my-nerves) conversation, I could not resist but ask the question of prime import,” Did you see the tiger?” His answer was a complete bouncer, “He refused to see me”. “Why?” I asked nonplussed. “He does not allow attendance to people below the rank of General Managers. I being in “chief” grade, he would not lend me an audience or a view, not even for a few seconds,” my friend reported grimly.

After a prolonged and heated discussion on the inhospitable attitude of tigers in general, we came to the very natural conclusion that this particularly temperamental one must have obviously belonged to the protocol conscious corporate world in his previous birth. My colleague was dead sure about the name of the specific organization too, in favour of which the tiger must have pledged devotion and ultimately dedicated his life in the long run, but an ingrained sense of propriety prevents me from announcing the company’s name on public domain. Pssssssssssssssssstttttttttttt

AFTER THE RAINS...............

Uff yeh bheega hua akhbaar!
Paperwale ko change karo
Paanch sau gaon
Bah gaye isbaar

(Oh! This drenched newspaper
Do change the vendor
Five hundred villages
Have been flooded this year)

A crisp, curt note of remorse in the inimical style of Gulzaar Sahib craftily swivels around my cerebrum, not without a reason though.

Ages back when we were in school, the months of May June and July were the most enjoyable ones. These were the months of our summer vacation starting exactly on the 15th of May till 14th of July. As school reopened on the 15th of July, the monsoonal deluge would unleash without a day’s delay. During those days, the Capital boasted of extreme climates. After being barbecued in the dry scalding heat for four months (starting from March end), the torrential downpour would be the harbinger of immense relief and respite. It would rain incessantly for days. Umbrella would just be an excuse. Everyday we would walk to and fro school drenched like wayward kittens. Reaching home, our prime activity would be to dry our shoes, socks and uniforms so that these could be re-worn after wash. Those were days of simple pleasure uncluttered with modern amenities of relaxations and recreations. It would be an additional pleasure to play in the rains or simply walk down the alley without a cover. Or just sit by the window reading a book or stare unthinkingly at the dripping leaves of a drenched tree, a rain-soaked sky, a cloud worn moon, the slippery pathway darting by the house. This would go on till saturated by the overstretched longevity of the rainy season, we’d pray frantically for a peep by the sun even in its palest of pale charm and glow.

But all said and done, rains always attracted me. They still do.

Rains evoke romance
Of song and dance
Of a meet by chance
Of eyes that prance
With sizzle of dreams
Known not known………


A sloshed moon
With the cup of
Rain wine
Tipsy, tilted
Crystal shine
On the silver banks
Of sozzled clouds
Staggering past
In Bohemian galore


Words just pour by on their own whim
As we talk of a rainy dream………
Of smoky mist, of hasty feet
Returning home
Down a sliver of wet-shine field

Thereafter many seasons have passed by. The Capital has changed colour. So has it’s environ. Now a short spell of summer blaze gives way to muggy, humid days heightened by skimpy, close-fisted drizzle. The other day I told my friend wistfully, “Oh how it used to pour when we were in school years ago. It doesn’t so, now. How I miss my childhood rains. Hope it rains again like those days” Lo! That day must have been extremely bright and the invisible angels traipsing by must have placed their ears on the wind and picked up the words of my frantic wish and murmured a quiet “tathaastu”.

As a result, how it has poured this season! With such disheveled, demoniacal mirth that Yamunaji has crossed its safety mark and the city has been slashed and lashed by sudden unexpected aqua bouts which have at times turned into a showering inferno oozing murky muck out of the pot holes, gorges, ravines and craters of the city’s dented geography. A gang of rickshaw pullers had parked their rickshaws by an anorexic river at night and retired to makeshift beds on the banks. The unfortunate ones woke up the next morning to find their only means of bread and butter drifted away by the flood without any trace. A grinning, obese belle, pregnant with satanic intent and glee, scampered by the banks with undisguised merriment! It has been that bad for the earthlings of the Capital and good for the armchair poets who can afford the luxury of a comfortable doze or a nostalgic reminisce by a wet window.

All said and done, rains are the best friends of verses which tumble out of the closet in a spur of joy and jive. Like this one…………

The leaves are still wet with the tears of a bygone rain
The sky is still morose with the reminisce of a past pour
The clouds still hang around like the echo of a desperate wail
The birds have still not picked up the thread of the song last chirped
The wind bemoans the morsel of a grain blown away to a faraway land
The meadows have” saronged” a sequined sheet of pearly dew drops around
The bathed alleys, gullies, the pathways shine in the pale moonshine
A pall of mist rises as though a phoenix from a heap of” grime”
The croons of the night sounds waft softly encircling the surround
Recedes a drenched night on tiptoe to welcome the grey daylight
A calm before the storm prevails a lull before the chime
And I have not yet stitched the drape over a tale long heard unwind
In bemused silence to be buried in the weeping sands of time

It had again rained pell mell throughout the previous night…………

And here comes the audacious attempt…………….

Patte geeley hain abhi kissi beetey sawan ke ashkon se
Asasman murjhaya hai ab tak guzre paawas ke yaadon mein
Baadal abhi jhuke se hain ek hataash cheekh ki goonj si
Pancchiyon ne abhi cchede nahin shesh sur peecchley geet ke
Pawan udaas hai us kann ke liye jo jaa udaa door desh kahin
Baagaanon ne odh lee chaadar shabnam jadi motiyon si
Chamaktey dhule galiyaan, raahen, pagdandiya peeli chaandni mein
Dhund ki dali uthti hai phoenix jaise ubhre raakh ke dher se
Shab ki aawaazein dheemee si gunguhaati bahi charon dishaaon mein
Ek bheegi si raat dabe paon lautti hai usha ki swaagat mein
Ek shaant si hai toofaan ke pehl ek chup jhanak se pehle
Aur maine abhi silley nahin qafan jo udhaaoon us kahaani pe
Suni thi jisse sadiyaan pahle muskuraate sannaton ne
Phir dohraaye dafan ke liye bilakhte retiley samay ke dhaaron mein
Picchli raat bhar phir se khub barsi barsaat umadhghumadh ke …………….