27.8.09

hope and religion

whenever i think of that day, the word 'hope' keeps surfacing on my horizon, pastel coloured text in a loop with a white background in the sky and a bottomless, serene, sea below, like my beloved Calicut waters: quitude, peace and the word 'hope'!


had you met me about six months before that day, and asked me what i thought of religion and god, i would have told you, i was an athiest. i would have proudly said that my family and i didn't pray, or believe in god. we kept up the pretence of being sporadically devout only and only at diwali because there seemed nothing better to commemorate the day with, than a small, insipid rendition of some appropriate bhajan. a custom that had been engrained into the psyche of the family members by my late grandmother and was in all probability continued in her regard solely.


had you met me four months before that day, and asked me what i thought of religion and god, i would have told you, i had started searching for god. i would have said that something has happened in my life and i needed the support of a higher power because nothing i could do could solve my problem. the problem wasn't actually mine but a friend's. it was a medical problem and there was nothing we could do about it but patiently wait for the doctors to do their best. in the meantime i felt like i needed the support of someone ... something ... and so along with my friend i turned to god. i turned to all the gods, of all the religions that i knew of through memory alone. i did this because even when i was an atheist i envied the people who believed that god was with them - even if there was no god, they believed ... and sometimes you just really desperately need to believe! just believe! in something. so i took out my rosary, which i had once upon a time bought as a collector's item and i began to pray. i chanted all the mantras, hymns, shlokas, chants that i knew. every night i took the rosary and i mathematically, calculatively said the mool mantra, the buddhist chant 'nam myoho renge kyo', gayatri mantra, the prayer 'our father in heaven' ... ... but i didn't find what i was looking for ... i just felt guilty for praying only when i needed to, only when i felt my friend was suffering.


that day my friend took me to the hospital for company ... as i got closer to the doors of the hospital, i began to get nervous. i was nervous because of the negative connotations attached with hospitals. there was nothing i could to shake off the feeling. as i went in through the doors i instantly realized it wasn't that bad. i needed to get some paperwork done whilst my friend went in for treatment. i was nervous again. as i went searching for the room where i needed to submit the papers, i realized there were some pairs of feet following me. they soon caught up with me, held my hand and guided me through the process. those feet belonged to the visitors of the other patients in the same ward as my friend.


we went back to the ward and settled ourselves in the visitor's waiting lounge. i wrote these things down on the last page of the book i was carrying with me for company. it says:
"the air is heavy inside as if impregnated with myriads of tears of the infants, children, men and women who come here for treatment. the flourescent light from the tubelight in the ceiling is rationed by the fans rotating right below those lights ... its as though this rationed, flickering light is supposed to induce pensive hypnosis in the waiting visitors to help them through their loved one's ordeal, which is ordeal enough for them too.
despite all the gloom, there is HOPE here ... in the fleeting relationships and acknowledgments between those who are waiting ... with open hearts ... full of HOPE ... as the calm and soothe every visitor who is here for the first time."


after writing this i felt as calm as i possibly could and i felt happy and i felt hopeful and grateful. although it took me days afterwards to understand what i was feeling ...


if you meet me today, and ask me what i think of religion and god, i will tell you that i am a spiritual agnostic ... i don't think its possible to know whether there is a god or gods, but i am not an atheist and i still believe, i believe in something ...
and i sleep with my rosary next to me on my bed and every night i hold it and i count my blessings. i thank a higher power for my life and the life of those around me. and i am grateful to be finally at peace with my belief system!
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25.8.09

Broccoli Sprouts May Prevent Stomach Cancer

Broccoli Sprouts May Prevent Stomach Cancer by Defeating Helicobacter pylori Print E-mail
Jeremy Moore
Jeremy.moore@aacr.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

PHILADELPHIA (April 06, 2009)– Three-day-old broccoli sprouts, a widely available human food, suppressed Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infections, according to a report in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. H. pylori infections are one of the most common bacterial infections worldwide and are a major cause of stomach cancer.

The cancer protective effects of sulforaphane, a phytochemical from broccoli, have been known for almost two decades, but this is the first study to show an effect of broccoli in humans on the bacterial infection that leads to stomach cancer. In this study, researchers enrolled 48 Helicobacter-infected Japanese men and women and randomly assigned them to eat 70 grams of fresh broccoli sprouts daily for eight weeks or an equivalent amount of alfalfa sprouts.

"Broccoli has recently entered the public awareness as a preventive dietary agent. This study supports the emerging evidence that broccoli sprouts may be able to prevent cancer in humans, not just in lab animals," said Jed Fahey, Sc.D., a faculty research associate in the Department of Pharmacology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Researchers assessed the severity of H. pylori infection at enrollment, and again at four and eight weeks using standard breath, serum and stool tests. H. pylori levels were significantly lower at eight weeks on all three measures among those patients who had eaten broccoli sprouts, while they remained the same for patients who had eaten alfalfa sprouts.

A reduction in H. pylori is expected to lead to a reduction in stomach cancer due to their well-established cause-and-effect link. Stomach cancer has a grim prognosis and is the second most common and the second deadliest cancer worldwide.

 

Source: American Association for Cancer Research

Original article: Akinori Yanaka, Jed W. Fahey, Atsushi Fukumoto, Mari Nakayama, Souta Inoue, Songhua Zhang, Masafumi Tauchi, Hideo Suzuki, Ichinosuke Hyodo and Masayuki Yamamoto. Dietary Sulforaphane-Rich Broccoli Sprouts Reduce Colonization and Attenuate Gastritis in Helicobacter pylori–Infected Mice and Humans. Cancer Prevention Research 2, 353, April 1, 2009. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.


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15.8.09

what happens in Shopian, stays in Shopian

"This “ordinary” incident took place when I was actually in Srinagar. I heard about it at a cybercafé. As I was paying up, the guy asked me my plan of the day considering there’s been a curfew. I asked what the curfew was about and he told me in a disturbingly nonchalant manner, about the rape. It happened in Anantnag, a place I was supposed to have visited, in all probability, on that very day in fact." -

AJ travels to Srinagar and around. Read on!
http://handwriten.livejournal.com/19998.html

Alternatively you could go to my blog, click on the title of this particular piece, and you will be directed to AJ's piece on revelations in J and K.
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14.8.09

the day 'She' did not catch Swine Flu

The very same day after seeing Firdaus at the pool, I met her. I didn’t tell her I’d seen him, since She seemed to have other bigger concerns to deal with. She had just arrived from Rakkad, Dharmasala, and was wearing a flimsy green mask around her mouth.

“What’s going on?” I asked her.
“I think I might have caught the ugly flu” She.

With that she opened her pouch that hung listlessly, as if weakened by the flu itself, diagonally from her shoulder. She took out four largish pills, two each of Vitamin C and Multivitamins, and popped them into her mouth with meticulous care. She had that annoying habit of taking a pill and placing it deep into her throat, so that her disease stricken tongue didn’t have to perform the daunting task of carrying the pill from the mouth and dumping it into the throat.

I had been feeling quite exasperated by the ‘still day’ and in the evening, exasperation personified, She stood in front of me with her flu, having previously evaporated from my life without a goodbye. But She didn’t seem to mind. I guess She figured I would be a little irritated with her, if not anything else, after all that had happened. But She wasn’t going to allow anything else besides that mild irritation. So I made my peace with the situation.

I asked her how She got the flu. She started telling me about her time in Rakkad, how She was alone at her uncle’s house there, and the only visitor She’d had was the maid. The day before, in the morning the maid turned up at work with “Cough and Cold”. She sent the maid home straight away and since then had been feeling like She was coming down with the deadly ‘Swine Flu’.

I wondered how She knew that the maid had ‘swine flu’ and not any other kind, but to humour her I asked her if She had a sore throat and runny nose, and any other flu like symptoms. She didn’t say. After much gibberish She finally blurted that She didn’t have a sore throat or a cold or a fever … but She could feel it, She could feel herself coming down with the flu.

And I just couldn’t contain my anger. I shouted at her for about 15 minutes and She quietly listened without interrupting even once. We both knew this anger was directed more towards her disappearance act than the flu drama.

After that I sat down to explain to her. First I made her take off that stupid mask She was wearing, the green one with blind like pleats with white borders. It made me sick and drove me back to unwelcome memories of hospitals. Then I explained to her how I had read in an email that masks actually don’t help much. Since the flu virus is supposed to spread through air, which means that if someone who has flu sneezes and his/her mucous-y droplets fall on a surface, and someone else touches the surface, that someone else will probably catch the flu. And ergo sneezing in your mask and then strutting around wearing it, and in the process planting the virus for other people wasn’t the coolest thing to do.

She immediately took off the mask, put it in a brown paper bag and threw it into the bin!

She was a science student in school but it hadn’t been her decision to study science. Had her parents allowed her the choice She would have happily opted for Humanities and done well in the area, which She was doing now as well! But because She was ‘made’ to study science in school under the loving guidance of teachers who absolutely hated her daftness; the subject now evaded her!

I asked her why She was being so paranoid about the flu. And in the voice of a petulant child She told me that the name bothered her. ‘Swine’ was a derogatory, bad, inappropriate word, whilst ‘Pig’ wasn’t. Pig had cute connotations on the other hand. The fact that this flu was called ‘Swine Flu’ instead of ‘Pig Flu’, according to her meant that it was a bad flu, or a more virulent one!

I shook my head in disbelief.
“Listen, it all makes sense” She implored.
“How?” said I impatiently!

“Look at the media!” She then went on to explain how it was a more virulent viral flu since it had put the media in a tizzy, and how all newspapers, news channels, radios reported all aspects of the flu, all the time!

I was saddened when She started talking about this. If you’re a friend, and you’re reading this, you know I work in the media industry and I hate it, from the bottom of my heart, I hate news, I almost hate journalism, I hate people who make news, I hate news channels most importantly, I hate Indian news channels so much so that I’d rather live off garbage in the dirtiest streets then go back to work for them … I did work for them for quite a bit. The saving grace was that I was working for their ‘entertainment’ stories and not news stories! The not so saving grace was that their entertainment stories were as shitty, if not more, as their news stories. I left working there because I felt like I’d fallen from grace but to be honest at that point I hadn’t even been standing to be able to fall. It was worse and more twisted than falling from grace and the fact was written large on my face …

Now, I look much healthier and have a better perspective and therefore can explain to the people outside the media world, that the inside of the media world are as stingingly offal as dirty politics and bureaucratic set-ups.

I explained to her that when She came across news about Swine Flu, most of times the news read something like this ‘Mr. X dies of Swine Flu. This many deaths due to Swine Flu. This many affected by Swine Flu. This many dead here. This many dead there. Dead! Dead! Dead!’
But what about why they are dead?

They are dead probably because of their weakened immune system, or other health complication in their bodies that the flu interfered with.
There are newspapers, and I am going to name names like ‘The Hindu’ today, the 14th of August, the editorial page where a very sane doctor has written a very sane account of the dangers involved with the flu, which can never and will never be solved under panic.
http://www.hindu.com/2009/08/14/stories/2009081457340900.htm

The others specially the news channels wistfully ‘create’ the tizzy around such scenarios as it gives them high TRP’s, the gold of the media world. As the media in our country is Juvenile, it loses itself in a ‘gold rush’*. The more mature media of the west, still indulges in gold rushes but in a very subtle, cool, and harmless to the audience, sort of way. Our media is far from that maturity at the moment.

When they hear Swine Flu they hear ‘gold rush’ announcing bells. What follows is thoughtless activity inside the newsroom, where untrained apprentices device ways to emblemize Swine Flu. And the result is … A screen split into 4, showing 4 restless, young reporters, sending out panic stricken gibberish through their green, blinded masks. This screen shot sends many a minds that have unwittingly switched on the news channel at that point, into self protect mode, and the minds immediately scurry to the nearest chemist to buy the same mask, the same mask that is not going to help them at all, but might just help the virus.

The saner thing to do would be to tell people about the simple importance of ‘hygiene’ at this time.

Why our news channels do this, you might ask. And to that I will just say, think of it as the business strategy called ‘large scale hoarding’ or ‘cornering the market’ wherein an individual or organization attempts to temporarily control all available supplies of a given good in order to artificially increase the price. Here the given good is Swine Flu, the hoarding act is the ‘exclusive’ shows on a particular channel, and the price is the TRP according to which the advertisers swamp those particular shows, or show timings of that particular channel, during that particular period of time.

She mulled over all this for the longest time, read the Hindu article I had shown her, and the one on the second page of the newspaper:
http://www.hindu.com/2009/08/14/stories/2009081460050300.htm

Then She left without saying much.

Five minutes ago, about an hour after She left, I got a text from her, which She’d probably sent to everyone in her phonebook, saying “Please don’t panic in the wake of Swine Flu. It isn’t a big, bad disease. All you need to do is keep clean. And the minute you feel like you have the flu, get it checked. For all you know it could be just some regular, good old flu!”


*A gold rush is a period of feverish migration of workers into the area of a dramatic discovery of commercial quantities of gold. Gold rushes took place in the 19th century in Australia, Brazil, Canada, South Africa, and the United States. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold_rush
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13.8.09

Unleashing AJ

video

AJ is a writer, filmmaker, actor, singer, a good boy, blah blah blah. he is also my best mate. and this is the best of him!

2006-07 Kerala.

"Albert Camus died on 4 January 1960 in a car accident near Sens, in a place named "Le Grand Fossard" in the small town of Villeblevin. In his coat pocket lay an unused train ticket. It is possible that he had planned to travel by train, but decided to go by car instead.
The driver of the Facel Vega car, Michel Gallimard — his publisher and close friend — was also killed in the accident."

AJ and I, were travelling through North Kerala on January 4 2007. AJ is heavily influenced by Camus' works. We were supposed to take the train but at the 11th hour decided to drive ... that too an old omni-van with questionable working conditions of the breaks. We didn't die!

This is his analogy!
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where is the sea ...

video

passing by a village near 'barefoot college', tilonia. barren is the only word that came to mind.

2006 - 07!
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Bye Bye Firdaus!

She’s not marrying Firdaus. She didn’t tell me but I saw the poor bugger today. He came to the same pool I go to every morning for a longish dip. He was trying to wear off the pain of heartbreak by doing lengths of the pool incessantly, and panting like a dog in the few and far between breaks that he took. The swimming instructors and lifeguards stood huddled in one corner, eyeing his every move, and making jokes at his expense, out of sheer, harmless, spite.

I think he seemed to be great shape and he is going to be just fine without her. And I am ‘her’ friend!

She is in Rakkad at her uncle’s!
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9.8.09

spanish class takes chivo groove - 'She'

She had been learning Spanish for a while now. She loved it because the institute where She studied, used interactive learning techniques – the new age mumbo-jumbo for academics using teasers, games, techniques for prolonging lessons … basically the use of very, very twisted ways of teaching to fool the awry youth of today into wrapping their heads around their lessons well enough. She loved it. Someone as twisted as her, living in the 21st century, whilst She belonged to the 22nd, who couldn’t concentrate on the written word for the life of her … needed something like this. So, She loved it, cherished it, promulgated it and tried to convert the non-believers at the drop of a hat!

She wore the façade of sosciable bohemia when she was in fact the anti-thesis of that exterior. Like her friend Ashish always said “She lives inside her head. Crazy Imagination. Seriously. Insane. But f***** amazing too!”

This façade gave her the superpowers to throw people off track. She walked in the first day and saw her to-be-classmates scan her face and mind for a sense of familiarity, a common thread to help them climb into her heart but they couldn’t find the thread. They looked and looked and looked for almost three months. Then they just let her in ‘just as She was’. They were actually really nice people, She knew that. But She couldn’t let them in as they did her. That wasn’t possible. If She did so, then they would see the console inside her heart. And the console was a very private place. It was a place where Gustavo Santaolalla spun Chivo Groove in a loop, to remind her day in and day out that ‘Amores Perros’!

However, every couple of months as they graduated from one class to the other (Yeah! every couple of months! ;) some new students would join in.

And then the game started again. The new ones introduced themselves and tried to open up their own chapters and lay them out in front of her. She gave their chapters the utmost attention, nodded as if She understood them well, and laughed as though they mattered to her. Had they been wiser, they would have tested her and tried to tally the facts with her after closing the chapters, but they never did. She almost wanted them to but they didn’t. Perhaps they were scared of acknowledging the fact that She wasn’t really listening to them. She was just always, and forever, and ever grooving to Chivo Groove.

One of the twisted exercises that were part of their curriculum were listening to songs with the lyrics right in front of you, only some words were missing from the lyrics sheet that the students had. The students had to listen to the song and ‘adivinar’ these missing words (you guessed that right ;)!

She didn’t care much for this exercise as She did for certain others because they always employed crummy songs about lime and salt and tequila and liberty and boats and oceans and blue eyes. Drug induced buggers sang them listlessly, whispering bitter nothings into the microphone that traversed through time and many, many complicated wires and binary digits and speakers to get to her.

One day however, they finally gave them a nice song for respite. The teacher played ‘La historia de Juan’ on the Spanish Computador about 5 times, and none of them understood a word. It was only when the teacher gave up and explained the meaning of the song to them that She noticed the song for the first time. After that She was hooked.

She downloaded the song as soon as She got home (She doesn’t give a rat’s peachy ass about being a criminal pirate, although she should ;). She listened to it reverently as Gustavo went out for a short break after about 5 years of spinning and spinning and spinning tirelessly.

It was only when She was od’ing on the song the next day, did he come back. He spun the groove again and gave her some CPR. She woke up, coughing.

When She was feeling better he sent her a message saying that from that day on She could only listen to ‘La historia de Juan’ once a day max on medium volume.

To her this rule was like an ecstasy pill. She thrived on it.

When She went for her next class, she was hoping to discover another such sweet ecstasy but when the time came for the song exercise, the teacher proclaimed, ‘no es una cancion triste’. Her classmates relieved themselves with ‘gracias, muchas muchas gracias’ almost in a chorus.

“What?” she whispered to the person next to her.
“She’s saying this time it won’t be a sad song like the last one. Thank god!” he whispered back.

She clicked her heels twice and Gustavo increased the volume to ‘full bloody blast’.

Later on, during the break one of her classmates started talking about the gay liar (;) singer who sang the sickly soppy ‘La historia de Juan’. She interjected and tried to make her classmate see the point. He wasn’t gay, he wasn’t lying, the song wasn’t ‘sickly soppy’. But her classmate didn’t see her point.

She was about to click her heels again when another one of classmates Mrs. Bee asked her, “You actually like the song?”

“The Groove” She asked surprised, almost turning white. How did she know?

“Huh? No. La Historia by Juanes” enunciated Mrs. Bee in her perfect English.

“I do. I love it in fact.” She said. I od’ed on it. :)

“Strange! Its such a sad song. How can you listen to it?” Mrs. Bee

“I love the music” She

“Oh so you don’t listen to the lyrics?” Mrs. Bee

“Of course I do. I love the lyrics too” She

“But … but … Why? How? How can you? Doesn’t it make you sad?” Mrs. Bee

“Yeah I guess it does. But I enjoy the feeling” She

“You couldn’t possibly enjoy being SAD?” Mrs. Bee

“Of course I do. Sadness is as much a part of life as happiness. Plus these emotions are subjective. What is sad for you may not be the same for me. I bask in the glory of a sad song. I thrive in it. I dance the dance of life to it.” She

“Strange” Mrs. Bee

“Well, look at it this way. I give all emotions a fair chance. If I didn’t give sadness a chance I wouldn’t appreciate happiness so much, I wouldn’t know its worth. And because I accept this I am happy in sadness too” said She. This she might understand, it’s the sort of explanation they give in her world perhaps.

“I understand, yet I don’t” resigned Mrs. Bee.

“I can live with that” said She. And finally clicked her heels!

Gustavo ‘full bloody blast’! :)
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7.8.09

when She met firdaus ...

‘She’ liked Muslim boys more than boys of any other religion. This bias wasn’t deep-rooted. It was quite frivolous actually. But I guess I shouldn’t call it frivolous because that way I’d be leading you into making up your mind about ‘her’ bias even before you learn about the reason behind it …


Well, the reason simply was that She came from a Hindu family and her father and everyone else, and even her friends told her to be wary of Muslims.


During her innumerable fights about the Hindu Muslim divide with her father She would repeatedly tell him that She had no reason to be “wary” of Muslims because she hadn’t been subjected to any sort of Muslim malice, hatred till date. She had had no experience that told her better judgment that ‘all Muslims were evil’. Her father would go ballistic when he heard her talk such rubbish. After all he had done for the girl …


He would repeatedly tell her about the time Indira Gandhi was assassinated. He claimed that that was the experience that had tainted his belief that Sikhism was a third smaller offshoot of Hinduism and therefore Sikhs & Hindus were like brothers. The violence that ensued between the two sects made him realize that if need be he was willing to become a part of it and ergo a protector of his now only brothers - Hindus.


How he equated this with the notion of ‘all Muslims are evil’ She could never remember, because as soon as her father started wrangling his lungs out of his ribcage over the subject, her eyes would fog over and She would travel to the world inside her head, wherein ‘all Muslims were NOT evil’.


In fact they were ALL pretty good looking, even outside in the real world.


That’s what her first lover was. Cute. He was in fact the epitome of cute.


Her father’s voice seeped into her soundproof world and She could only make out words like ‘Godhara’, ‘evil’, ‘Muslims to Pakistan’, ‘Mr. Modi’, ‘good politician’.


She banged the door inside her head on his wrangling lungs and the voice stopped.


So … where was She? Oh yeah! Cute. Cute Farhaan. Like rose petals on soft luscious lips Farhaan. Eyes like long boats on emerald green waters Farhaan. She had realized a couple of dates into their ‘sort of relationship’ that he had a flawed personality. The fact had then been irrelevant as they worshipped each other’s bodies reverently.


Soon She broke away as She did from all her ‘sort of relationships’. Keep it real She said whilst leaving. Every time! Quite a brazen approach, but that’s what I think. I don’t know about you.


On finding out about her and Farhaan, her best friend Mithi had told her, “Be cautious all right”

“Why? How do you mean?” She asked.

“Well, you know! He’s … He’s … Umm” Mithi said flinching.

“He’s … what?” She mock-flinched.

“He’s Muslim! And you’re NOT. How difficult is it, to understand that” Mithi snarled.


She told Mithi to s** off! In her head Mithi’s voice ruminated. ‘Flawed personality huh? No wonder!’


That was that.


Years had passed since then. I made her acquaintance at some point through these years. Now, we are in our late 20’s. Neither of us is looking to get married. We’re quite happy with our high coolness quotient score. We sport funky hairdos that change with the change of our dresses almost.


We club, we hip-hop, we bebop, we bling, we bend and snap, we set the dance floor on fire, we bring the house down and all that jazz …


We say ‘Whas goin on’ because ‘wassssuuuupp’ is cool no more. We drink, we don’t smoke because smoking ain’t cool no more. We say “Dig?”. We have butterflies tattooed on our butts, roses on our navels, and dolphins on our shoulders. We swear. We curse. We go to pool parties and flaunt our wares.


We are the girls, who everyone wants but cannot have.


I have just always wanted to say all that.


In truth, we are just your more than average modern, update, upbeat, girls-just-wanna-have-fun girls!


She hadn’t met any Muslim boys since Farhaan.


About 8 months ago She started learning Urdu. Why? I don’t know. But She did. She said it was because Urdu is a very polite language.


Whatever her reasons might have been initially, they metamorphosed into even more romantic ones, or one – and his name is Firdaus.


Firdaus is from Kabul, Afghanistan. He was born around the same time that the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. His parents somehow fled to Punjab, and then finally came to Delhi, where Firdaus completed his studies. They now travel around the world teaching Pukhto or Pushto to children of displaced Afghanis who want their children to understand their ancestral language, if not their land.


Firdaus does not approve of their wandering lifestyle and has made Delhi his home. He teaches Urdu at the Aafiyuddin Madrasah during the day and takes private tuitions in Urdu in the evenings at his houses, which are marketed solely on word of mouth basis.


That’s how She met Firdaus.


She liked him the first time she saw him. His eyes were too small and She thought he couldn’t even see her. She smiled at him and he gave her a feeble nod.


Soon She started making excellent headway with the language and apparently that was the only thing she needed to make a place for herself in Firdaus’s heart.


In less than two months they had both reached a level of friendliness that didn’t go down well with the other students of her batch. It was surprising the number of students who came to learn from Firdaus.


On the first day of her third month of lessons with Firdaus, She realized that She was the only student in the 6 pm – 7 pm batch, which in the previous months had had 12 students. She asked him out for coffee at 7 p.m. sharp that very day.


Fortunately, Firdaus didn’t have any classes after 7.


Soon this became a routine.


Now, she refers to him as ‘woh’ ‘unke’ ‘unhone’ (respectful terms used by Indian wives who don’t believe in the concept of calling one’s man or husband by their name).


She covers her head when She goes to his house or goes out with him afterwards. They don’t have sex because Firdaus is conservative and does not believe in consummating a relationship before it is signed, sealed, delivered by Mr. Marriage Postman!


I remember once, a couple of years ago, on a ‘let’s get wasted’ night at her house She had been telling me about Farhaan. She told me about this time when She called him up and said ‘Happy Muharram’. Farhaan had solemnly explained to her that Muharram wasn’t a happy festival as she had assumed it to be and was in fact an occasion for mourning. She told me this laughing her head off, telling me how this was one of the gabazillion times that She had put her foot in her mouth.


Now, She follows all the Islamic festivals, days, months, and everything else that Firdaus follows in the true, honest pursuit of his faith. And mind you, it’s a difficult task in today’s day when every devout Muslim is considered ‘a borderline Terrorist’.


She, of course, has not told her parents about Firdaus.


I haven’t seen her since She started seeing him, not in the ways that we used to see each other at least. We don’t go to clubs, to our friend’s houses, to cafes, to parties, even pool parties.


I still go. However minus her. And so things are not the same anymore. I miss her I guess. We were a team. And when we were together we didn’t need anyone else.


She does sometimes invite me over to her house to catch up. The last time I went She told me that She wants to marry him.


My immediate reaction was “Why?”

“Just” she said.

“That’s no reason to get married, you know” I implored.

“Yeah, but you know. I mean this is what I want. This is the change I want. I want to be normal. I want to fit in. I want to let social conditioning control me and make me this Husband worshipping, household running wonder woman. I want to be a wife. I have grown up. And I think one of these days you’re going to start wanting the same things.”


I didn’t say anything in response. I just left.


I walked to a nearby café and ordered a Hazelnut Mocha, which always gives me perspective. But not after all she had said. It was all too shocking for the mocha to drive away. How could She change so much, almost overnight. What is this? A need for conformity? A need to rebel against the tide of the Hindu Muslim divide?


I just don’t understand.

I Don’t.

Not at all.

Nothing. Nothing She says can ever make me.

I just don’t.


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5.8.09

Blue Eyed Lover ... by 'She'

my blue eyed lover,
follows my every move,
every step, every day

we stand at a distance,
pretend we're looking at others,
and i follow him, following me

sometimes he walks past me,
looking me straight in the eye,
scared, i turn my face away

we are not really lovers,
i don't know his name,
and he doesn't know mine

we cannot be lovers,
we have different lives,
his worse than mine

but i dream of a life,
where i could be his,
and he could be mine.




my blue eyed lover,
follows me everywhere,
not in person, in essence

i tell him everything,
of the failures of my past,
of the hopes for my future

he watches me cook,
he talks me through chores,
he reads me rhymes

but we're not really lovers,
he doesn't sleep in my bed,
he doesn't hold me tight

we cannot be lovers,
he lives across town,

and I cannot go that side


but i dream of a life,
where i could be his,
and he could be mine




my blue eyed lover,

today he caught my eye,

and held a stare


he heard my heart contract,

my throat parched dry,

my mind, my body abuzz


he gave me pain,

through a thread tied,

from his heart to mine


we’re not really lovers,

said his eyes, to me,

we never will be


we cannot be lovers,

with this thread, don’t tug at my heart,

i am breaking it today


can I now not dream of a life,

where I could be his,

and he could be mine?


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2.8.09

a beautiful breakdown

8:15 p.m IST

perhaps it was her first one. She saw herself crying in the mirror. the tears flowed seamlessly from her red, puffy eyes, her skin looked as pale as She liked it, her lips a beautiful shade of ripe plums. She was more beautiful in that breakdown than ever before.

She tried to drive herself beyond her limits and listened to 'la historia de juan' on repeat. the song went down her throat each time like an acid that didn't burn but personified pain that hurt in its own special, strange, choking, claustrophobia inducing way.

and She stared at herself without blinking her eyes for the longest time.

8:15 a.m. that morning

They were getting late for her friend's appointment at the hospital. her friend went to the hospital every three weeks lately. they gave her medication for her condition. it wasn't such a grim scenario but the thought of hospitals makes everyone nervous. She was nervous about her friend more than the hospital. She was nervous about herself too. She wanted to always be strong for her friend. She wanted to give her friend strength. She wanted her friend to hold her hand and float through this 'thing' without effort.

so She talked about trivial things, made gossip, bitched about other friends, did all that She naïvely could to ease her friend's justifiably angst ridden eyes. through the gossip session her friend's eyes played ping-pong between interest and angst.

9:30 a.m.

her friend went to lie down in the ward for precisely an hour and a half. She sat outside waiting for her after fulfiling all the formalities. She met strangers who helped her at every step of the process. they showed concern and looked on with unconditional love. She waited. She saw the same strangers sitting around her, like family, without words. She saw them look in her direction every and now then checking to see if She was ok. as if they were all looking out for her - it was obviously her first time. She felt joyful. She sat near the door and opened it for everyone who went in and out of the waiting room. She was saying thank you to them, without words, in return for their love and concern.

13:30 p.m.

She couldn't believe her mother was inexorably going on and on about the maid, the expenses of running a house, the tv show, the maid, the neighbours, the maid ...
She screamed at her mother.
She wanted her mother to understand She had been through something that had changed her. She was changed. Couldn't her mother see. It was so obvious, it was her first time.

16:30 p.m.

She felt something. something was going on inside her body. it was as if small particles from every corner of her body were centering in her heart froming a huge wave. She wanted to upchuck. She felt ill. She tried to understand what was going on. was it something she had eaten? no. the only thing she had eaten, which she normally didn't was gouda. she didn't usually eat gouda. her friend gave her gouda. it was all right.
what could it be. She was trying to avoid thinking about the hospital all this time.

17:30 p.m.

She started crying. She couldn't control it. the tears erupted. the tears broke loose. the tears escaped her body like an uncontrollable bowel movement.

a beautiful breakdown ...


days later 8:15 a.m.

it occured to her that the beautiful breakdown had happened because of a beautiful realization. She had understood the difference between a grateful, thankful, loving system of life inside that hospital.
She had realized that her own system was that of ingratitude, thanklessness, constant whining, lovelessness.

She knew She had changed. She knew she had changed for the better. She thanked the beautiful breakdown.
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