Saturday, December 29, 2007


Well another year has come to an end. It is almost six and half years that I first set my foot in this place. I was happy to be here. It was a feeling beyond any words. I went back to see my friends a few days later with a battered t-shirt bearing a tattoo of the place I then belonged. In a few words I was a new fish in a beautiful aquarium with its clean water and state of the art oxygen generator. What I didn’t know that these things had a price? A terrible price, to be precise. To the outside world I was in place that was the best one can dream off, but in reality it was a prison.

In my initial years I saw a movie named “Shawshank Redemption”. And then few days back I saw it again. There are quite a few scenes from the movie which I liked most, but one in particular looked somewhat bizarre. When I first saw the movie that part was nothing but a philosophical concept, but as time passed I started to see the reality in it. Well it goes like this, Brooks the librarian of Shawshank had served a 50 year sentence in the prison and in few days time he would be released. One of his young friends comes down to him to say farewell and then he puts a knife to his throat with the intention of killing him so that Brooks can get another prison sentence. This is not the scene that you would like to think but what happens next is more important. Brooks’ friends somehow convince him not to commit the crime. They sat down in the prison yard to put a thought to what happened down there. Then Red says something remarkable.

He says Brooks is what can be termed as being institutionalized. He has the spent a better portion of his life in this prison. So this is his home he has nowhere to go. In there he is important. An educated man, outside he is nothing. “These walls are funny. First you hate them and than you get used to them”. These were the exact words of Red. Those were convicted men sent to serve a prison sentence for something they did not conforming to the civilized norms of the society. They got the walls and the guards. But what do you hate or love in a prison without walls or guards.

It is confusing I guess a prison without walls and guards. So run away. That is the catch, a prison without walls is concept, its guards and walls are concept as well. And the most beautiful part you can’t run away unless and until you sentence is complete. There they were convicts and here I am somebody who is part of something big, but at the end even 6 and half years look like six and half decades.

Then it occurred to me what exactly is a prison? It is nothing but the boundaries of realm where a person is forced to function, sometimes real and sometimes just a concept. It can be debated for long the concept is better since it gives you the freedom of physical movement, but sometimes that freedom of physical movement and the inability to master owns life becomes more torturous then the restricted freedom of movement.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Once there was a picture,
Of a mountain on the wall,
Faith moves mountains,
Were the words that it said,
It faced the rising sun,
In a picture on the other wall,
Colors speak all languages,
Was the message from the blinking sun
To the mountain on the other wall.
White was the snow covered mountain,
Under the clear blue sky,
With the rhododendron at his feet,
Bright was the sun vibrant with colors,
Yet they understood not a word the other said.
The mountain defiant in its own faith,
The sun blinded by his own colors,
Sailed across the timeless sea,
Without a syllable being exchanged.
Then came a day,
When a small girl glanced at them,
An innocent smile came on her face,
For she saw the directionless sailors,
Of the timeless sea,
A defiant mountain and a blind sun,
Walking nigh but talking none.
Faith was what the mountain said,
Compassion was what the sun said,
It was here she learned her first lessons.
Years later on a cheerful morning,
She went up to see her old friends,
The defiant mountain was gone,
The blind sun was missing,
All that was left were two rusted nails,
And blank patches on the opposite walls.
For they were just pictures on the wall,
Imagined she life in them,
Though defiant and blind,
They taught her the first lessons,
In what seemed directionless sailors,
Was a beautiful story in vibrant colors.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Vague Lore

For past few days I have been seeing something in black and white in my mess. It says "Vegetarians only. No egg/non-veg please" on one of the rows out of six meant for the citizens of my hostel to devour the messy delicacy served in the place which bears close resemblance to its name(mess). But seeing that tag I couldn't stop myself from writing this piece. Well I have heard of many lores, hobbit lore, elf lore, ring lore to quote a few from J R R Tolkien's The Lord of the rings or the wand lore from J K Rowling's Harry Potter but I feel those fictional scholars should have added or rather the authors should have added to their stories another lore namely vegetarian lore or veg lore or vague lore, though people might have tough time to fit this lore in their work of art. Well let me explain in brief about this lore. Its true followers will not only be vegetarians but will also hate those who are not followers of their lore. They will simply if possible shun non followers out of society. I truly believe that this lore does have a place in the history of human civilization. It may be a complete disaster if such a lore is not put in pen and paper, which with my limited wisdom I am unable to do and also the fact that I am firm believer of non-vague lore, of which some of my friends are true masters, I may not be the right person to do so. Though it may be very useful if we put the non-vague lore in pen and paper but the beauty of non-vague lore is, it is more fun to enjoy it then to write about it. If one is to believe in the story of Adam and Eve, it was an apple from the forbidden tree that brought malice into this world. I don't know anybody who can prove that apple is non-veg. It too needs to be considered that if nobody kills and eats the animals they will multiply like anything and put the human civilization in jeopardy. So in a way people practising non vague lore is doing a favor to the mankind. On a serious note all said so far can be debated at lengths. But what I fail to understand here is why do people being vegetarian need separate table. My school level science tells me that protein once cooked gets denatured, so if a cooked non veg food is brought near another plate containing only veg food I don't think one would expect a microbial chicken to fly out of one plate to other or may be a microbial goat will graze along to the other plate in search of better food. May be such things happen that's why people put tags in black and white. It is quite astonishing to see the amount of intolerance in people in matters as trivial as food. That too in a public mess where food is cooked in a common place. The utensils in which food is served and eaten is common. This intolerant behavior brings to my mind the hatred of Nazis for the Jews or the present day fanatics hatred for mankind. As an end note I would only say this debate about veg and non veg is unending what only is needed is a tolerance to each others food habits. I end with due apologies to all followers of veg lore.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Little drops of rain and a bottle of beer

Well this happened some time back. I was wondering one fine evening how to spend the rest of it, and then suddenly out of nowhere came two of my buddies Atul and Nagesh.
“Let’s go and have some beer, Anuj sir” were the first few words that I heard coming out of Atul.
To be frank, my thoughts, at that very moment was racing in the same direction, but couldn’t lift myself towards my bicycle and go to the beer shop for lack of company. And then out of the blue these two people like angels dropped from the sky.
“Let’s go” I said and we set off to the nearest beer shop which was a little over a mile and half. Even though we were going for a bottle of beer there was something else for three of us.
It was a perfect evening for beer. The sky overcast, a cool wind blowing and a evening with no serious business at hand.
So the three musketeers started off to their common destination and then the unexpected happened. The sky began to fall, well it started raining cats and dogs. But plans are plans, it cannot be abandoned. It was decided to stop at the bus stop half a mile down the road, but by the time we were there it was practically useless to stop. All three of us fully drenched and it was then that we decided, lets welcome our unexpected guest to our party. So it was Anuj, Atul, Nagesh, little drops of rain and a bottle of beer.
Well may be the little drops of rain had seen countless beer gatherings but it was the first time for the first three to be in the company of the little drops. With rains splashing on their face the three musketeers reached the beer shop and out came the bottles of chilled haywards black. It rained for the whole time the beer party went on. The little drops turned out to be ardent party goers and they stayed till the end. Once over the three drenched musketeers started back their journey towards their humble dwelling but not without a small bottle of whiskey. Oh! Well the unexpected guest (whiskey) dropped in and we could not deny him entry into our gang. So in the end it was
“Little drops of rain and a bottle of beer with the unexpected whiskey”

Sunday, June 10, 2007

French fries and hamburgers

It’s a beautiful morning in Boston city. Arun is busying towards his fast food joint ‘The Eldorado’. Today he is doing an extra shift. With New Year round the corner ‘The Eldorado’ is doing some extra business. Arun is pursuing a PhD in physics at the University in Boston. His supervisor is on leave so he has got some extra time for his eldorado. Well the owner is nice guy, and as it turned out this guys grandfather migrated to US. And he hails from the same village as Arun. Though Arun hardly remembers anything of his village from the back waters of Kerala so does the owner. When Arun came to America with his big American dream he never realized a sarcastic remark in his MSc years by his teacher Tanmoy Chatterjee or TC in short could hold the key to his eldorado. `French fries and Hamburger’ yes that’s what he said.

Arun grew up in conservative family. His father worked for MNC so money was not a problem for him but his father still insisted that he should learn to earn his own money. After all for his father having your own money earns you self respect in this world. So, one fine day he announced he wanted to be a scientist. Hearing this, his father was elated.

“Very good Arun, it is very nice that you have decided to become a scientist. I think if you do engineering from computer science from IIT Kanpur and then go to MIT for your further studies it would be excellent.” was his father’s first statement on hearing his good intentions.

“No no!” protested Arun. “You don’t get it; I want to be a physicist not an engineer”

These words fell on his father’s ears like a sound of a 19th century canon fired inches from his ears. He had no words to express his feelings it was like he had frozen with shock, gone deaf and turned blind.

“Dad! Dad!” Arun tried to shake his father out of his momentary state of astonishment. He couldn’t believe his only son didn’t want to be an engineer. When he was back to his senses what he said will puzzle Arun for the rest of his life.

“OK. If you want to be a knuckleheaded ape for the rest of your life I don’t have a problem but officially I don’t like the idea.”

But still against his father’s wishes he came to Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) in New Delhi to join an elite program which went by the name MSc integrated. After grueling exams and interviews he was one of the eight people selected for the program. His first day at IAS was uneventful. The first class taken by Prof Tripathi, a guy in his fifties. The way he carried himself around looked like his existence was a burden on him. Then the very next class was taken by somebody who jumped around the class like a Chinese crazy ball. Then it occurred to him it is the IAS you should expect such varieties. But the most interesting part came only in his fourth year when he had to take a course under Prof Tanmoy Chatterjee.

In short he was known was TC or transfer certificate. You can fall in the bad books of any guy in the institute but not TC. He was a transfer certificate walking around the campus ready to hand himself out to anyone who happened to be in his bad books. So what was he teaching Arun? The theory of condensed matter. Well apart from the theory he was good at swearing at his students.

“You guys are ungrateful mere mortals who don’t know how to respect people.” This would come if you fail to wish him in the corridors of IAS. But the quote of the century was yet to come. It was near the end of his semester that Arun decided to appear for Graduate Record Examinations to get into graduate school in America.

One fine morning he hurried off to passport office for his passport application. He made a mental calculation to be back in two hours for TC’s class or he might end up getting a TC. But then there is always Murphy’s Law and Indian bureaucracy. Put together what you have is disaster. So the inevitable happened. It took Arun five hours running from pillar to post to submit his passport application. The consequence TC is probably cleaning his rifle by now to put Arun in front of his one man firing squad.

Come next day 10’o clock Arun seated his usual last bench. Enter TC with his sarcastic smile and a beaming face.

“Well, Well who do we have here? Ah! Mr. Arun. What a pleasant surprise. After all you have found time to come to my class? May I pray to your highness for your forgiveness on account of my audacity to enquire about your whereabouts during my class yesterday?” were the first few sentences that came out of the beaming round face of TC. Arun was dumbfounded by such overtures from TC and he kept mum.

“Answer me Arun!” barked TC at the top of his voice. “Do you know whose class it is? It is my class. TC’s class. Nobody is supposed to miss it. So kindly let me know where you were at the allotted hour?”

“Sir! I went to passport office”

“What for?” barked TC again.

“For selling onions and carrots. After all passport office is a place to sell onions and carrots.” thought Arun guessing probably TC does something else other than doing something for his passport at the passport office.

“To submit my passport application sir”

“Passport application? Are you going out somewhere this summer? I thought you were doing summer project with Prof Ayyar in summer.” enquired TC with suspicion.

“No sir, I am taking the GRE this year. For that I need the passport”

“Ah! I see! You are taking ‘the exam`. ‘The exam` to move to so called greener pastures probably in search of Holy Grail or something of that sort. But guess what, I know what most of you mere ungrateful mortals end up doing there. Sell hamburgers and French fries. Yes! that’s what you do” the words poured out of TC like a declaration from almighty God telling Arun his fate when he lands up at some grad school in America.

“Well! Since you have not missed a single class other than that of yesterday I will excuse you this time or you could have seen your American dreams jettisoned in a matter of minutes. Don’t worry in your last semester at IAS I will be taking your advanced course on condensed matter which for you guys is being made compulsory. So don’t miss a class or you might end up getting the beautiful english letter ‘F` meaning ‘fail` or in your case 'forget your dreams`.” declared TC. For the rest of the class TC was in a jubilant mood for he had released the floodgates of his dam of sarcasm which was overfull for want of victim.

But the class and the remarks were an eye opener for Arun. After all the McDonalds sell hamburgers and fries all over the world and make a filthy some of money each day. So there is nothing wrong in selling them if you can get rich by doing so. Probably this guy TC at the end of the day walks to a McDonald to buy fries and burgers for his son. And then the question popped in his mind

“If no body sold any burgers, how the hell we get to eat one?” making this mental note he was waiting eagerly for the end of the class. The end soon came and he rushed out of the class chasing TC and screaming at the top pf his voice

“Sir I have a question?” said Arun

“OK go ahead” said TC thinking he had disciplined the kid.

“Sir, if no one sold hamburgers and French fries how would we get to eat one? After all those mcbergers and mcfries are damn tasty.” declared Arun with confidence. He had completely forgotten that he was asking this to none other than TC.

“You will pay for this. Memorize the letter ‘F` from English alphabet” said a furious TC who had by then turned red like a piece of iron in the blacksmiths kiln.

At that moment terror stuck Arun, what the hell he had done, what was he thinking, he could see his American dreams down the filthiest drain. The semester was nearing its end, he might pass TC this time but what about next year?

That was almost four years back thought Arun speeding up to ‘The Eldorado’. Now he really sells fries and burgers in his free time and he makes enough to enjoy a little relaxed life. He looked towards the sky and thanked God for putting the thought in TC’s head about burgers and fries.

Well for what happened in the final year it’s anybody’s guess that he did not encounter the ‘F’ word. How did that happen is history? May be TC did not take the course or it was not made compulsory that’s for another time.

Disclaimer: This is a fiction any resemblance to anybody anywhere is purely coincidental

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The water tank on the top of my roof

The water tank on the top of my roof
Filled with water to the top
Proud to serve its own kingdom.
It was a bright sunny day four years back
When the first drops of water fell in his belly
New as it was built by an expert mason
It brimmed with joy
For it was going to serve the people below,
For years to come with fresh flowing water,
But things changed little too fast
Four years down the lane,
The tank has developed a crack,
The mason lied to him four years back,
He was told he was good for twenty years
But he is old in just four years.
Fresh flowing water seeping out to waste,
But still the tank tries to serve its best,
With whatever little it has left,
The beautiful water tank on the top of my roof is dying,
Because someone four years back was lying.

The water tank on the top of my roof,
Saddened by the lies remained aloof,
The zeal to serve long gone,
Filling the vacuum was hatred,
For everything that was even distantly mason,
Helpless it was being unable to move,
To strike a fear in the very heart of those,
Who could lie to him without a guilt,
The very same mason who had got him built,
The helplessness put in him a sense of despair,
But then he saw the sun,
Rising from the east setting in the west,
The world had changed in its life time,
From good to bad and bad to worse,
But it still rose in the east and set in the west.
Then he saw the moon,
Ever pleasant even in the darkest hours,
The beautiful water tank on the top of my roof threw away the rope,
Because in the sun and the moon he could see a ray of hope.

The water tank on the top of my roof,
Delighted by his new found hope,
Reasoned with all things mason,
Whatever came his way was destiny,
May be the mason made an extra cake,
May be the mason filled an extra rack,
Out of what was meant for the tank,
But could he enjoy the starlit nights
Or the sound of blowing air,
Or the chatter of falling rain drops,
Or the chirping of countless birds,
Or the majestic view of the vast fields,
That was there all for the tank at all times,
The treasures that the mason could not take,
The treasures that the mason could never make,
The treasures that the mason could never taste,
For he has blinded by his own excess,
The beautiful water tank on the top of my roof was smiling
Because its new found treasures were multiplying.
There do exist a water tank on the top of my roof which is four years old and it has cracked.......