Saturday, November 28, 2009


As I looked outside from the window of the PMT that creaked with acceleration around the corner, the sparkling lights of Hotel Sun ‘n’ Sand greeted me. The posh glossiness of the hotel along with its plush interiors submerged me into a world of dreams, a world so different from the Pune I know now and the Pune that I had walked into, to clear an interview that would decide my future.

5-star hotels in every city are so different from the pulse and lifeline that the region emanates. It’s a feel good area of up-market happiness. It has crystal clear swimming pools, fixtures and sculptures accentuating architectural details and aesthetic lighting to view picturesque frames to satiate postcard visualizations. Fresh laundry services, sumptuous roasted sausages with wine and dripping chocolate brownies replace the wadas and the misil pavs. Warli art restricted to framed murals recreate transient cultural ambience to link tradition with modernity.

But I notice change. Indian boutique hotels and palace properties in Rajasthan bring together the magic of Incredible India. Branding India, a campaign so smartly understood by Amitabh Kant that it created a historic turn over in the tourist sector of this dynamic country.

As the unknown bus travellers ahead of me ogle with hope to enter the coveted premises of these palatial escapades of luxury and dreams, I notice them more than the shiny twinkly lights of the starry hotels.

I realize I have changed.

I am no longer a tourist in this city. I am very much a part of it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The warmth emanating from your every ounce,

Heavy breaths balancing my thoughtful pounce.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Finding replications

Festivities bring fun, laughter, joy, amazement,love and meaning to people.
But to me I do not know what it means because it is the time I miss my city the most.

Its been 3 years since I have missed Durga Pujo. I do not know how I lived without it.
I guess sometimes things just erase from your life. I do not know when Pujo just disappeared from mine.

It will never be the same again. That is why life can never be the same when you are living in a transit.
Sometimes you sacrifice. Sometimes you move on.

I hope stagnancy can be inviting some day.
And one day the pious feeling of standing in front of Ma replicates in another land, another place.
These are my prayers... from a far away land, a distant place.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who are we?

Today, the pure power of deep skin cleansing and a strong spurt of a mouthful of frothy, pasty plaque fighting protection is indispensable when we begin our day. The aroma of re-sealable packs of Bru and strong slurps of Nescafe at nights demarcate are insomniac activities and the break of dawn.

The lather of the soft creamy ‘bathing bars’ to therapy healing shower gels make us squeaky clean. From the checkered Burberry Brits to the chocolate boy Axe’s, we smell well but smell no different.

We consume cholestrol free oil, yet we gorge on ghee smeared parathas and motichur laddoos. We run with pace on the tread-mill with the ipod plugged in, yet we climb briskly on escalators and press elevator buttons repeatedly. The low cuts and the slim fits we like to flaunt after ogling at mannequins behind glass walls, not quite thinking that the same pair might look hideous if not well fitted.

The khus syrup has given way to Breezers, the nimbu pani to LMN. The subtleness of All India Radio has been stung by the hotness of Mirchi. Even Floyd’s rythym, Metallica’s beats and Beatles melody trapped in compatible discs are being released open by the green ‘mu’.

We have become comfortably numb.

Who are we?

We are today’s consumers. The life-line of today’s brands.

The sky stares at me with its vastness. It is dreadfully empty today. No shiny specks glittering in the dark macrocosm. No moon emanating the white aura, just enough for the legibility of the words in my Nabokov’s Lolita, which I attempt to read with intent sitting comfortably next to my high-rise window pane.

The very same words in the e-book, which I happened to stumble upon, on one of my many net browsing expeditions, might bring a soothing satisfaction to the monetary affordability one faces at the billing counter at Crossword, but it cannot substitute the charm of a book being held with one’s very own hands. Just as you held me when we departed.

The conversations and glances that we exchanged with ease have turned into combination of binary digits of zeroes and ones, waiting to be transported by electrical signals. We were growing slow, yet it seemed fast. And now with signals claiming the fastest 3G ever, everything seems slow. When did this distance grow?

We stare at the same sky, I wonder. Flickering and stagnant lights of the entire city create an oxymoron so powerful that makes me realize the distance yet not the difference of you not being near. Time will pass and so shall the buildings change, with their red lights flashing at regular intervals to warn susceptible heightened dangers to stay away. So will the distance between us grow.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fulfilling fastidious fancies

A dimly lit room. The stench of local liquor overpowering the sweet smell of aromatic flowers. The pulsating and gyrating music of Bollywood, shaking the low watt sound system. The entire room flickers and so does the soul creating a trance that forces to leave commitments and flee to a world to watch a woman so powerful that she can attract a thousand gazes and yet make every male feel ‘She’s the One’.

“All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players”.

She plays her charms with her waist long locks. Her naturally long straight hair artificially permed for appeal dances around in flashes amidst the dark stare of grizzly men sitting with beer mugs and salty peanuts. She rotates among paper notes biting her luscious lips to get the money flying. The paper birds jostle for space in the make shift dance bar near Andheri station.

Her name is Leela, the most affluent bar dancer in amchi Mumbai. She exchanges glances and I shy away. She has the power to hold on but I fumble in my gaze.

I am Shouvik Sen, a film student belonging to a conventional Bengali family, firm in their choices and prejudices. Presently my energy is getting channelized to understand the world of motion in the fast paced Mumbai city and get a foot hold in the slippery river of employment. But more presently, I am surrounded by the Leela of another world, a world so powerful, that it is shunned by conventionalists and hailed by the disdained.

I have come here as a spectator, so have the other 35 males. But the purpose of their presence is solely to win, the acceptance, the attraction, the lady, the love. I have come to watch without any expectations and that is why the flickering gaze. At most instances, every boy tries to be a man. But today I am happy being a boy among men. Leela knows this. So she comes and urges me in her excitement although I am too bankrupt to throw precious notes that would fetch me scrumptious mutton samosas at the Prithvi theatre.

I came to observe the workings of a dance bar after their shut down with a bunch of tobacco chewing light men from Film City. This was my only chance of entry into an unguarded world of seduction. I wanted to interview her. But I did not need to. She opened up to me knowing what I wanted.

Leela has a husband who works in Canada. She does not need money she says. Then why does she do it? Let dozens of men stare at her body, the same body which she shares with her lover in Canada. She says it is the power of control, the feeling shared by so many leaders of the world from Bush to Obama. The power to satisfy the fastidious wants of men transcending class, barriers and age.

She rises for a while not to disappoint her other customers throwing notes at her and inquisitively glancing at me to enquire my power over her than them.

Leela has four flats at posh societies of Mumbai and three top class cars to her luxury. She is ageing and she knows that but she admits she never wants to grow old. Half of her fortune is spent to look younger and more vulnerable. Her family is oblivious to her profession. She reveals even if they found out now, the income cannot be compromised. It’s about growth and not about principles. Principles are foundations led by humans and meant to be broken, not followed. A set of principles laid by some cannot be enforced. The human mind makes the best decision according to situations, she says. Nothing can be default. If it is default it is simply not special.

But she follows a single strict principle, made by her for the welfare of her own life. She does not believe in prostitution. She believes her body is a holy temple to be watched not touched. We sell our skills of intelligence and talents, singing , dancing, acting or executing a surgery. But we are selling all the time. Selling to earn.

She floats around gyrating to the pulsating music. No one can touch her except for the loud rhythmic noise of distant sirens closing in. Its time to say adieu in a haste and run out of a narrow tunnel to mix with the thousands of other bar dancers waiting to get a foothold on the slippery world of employment in magnanimous Mumbai.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My dreams....

My dream is to travel on a journey without a destination, to explore and experience wisdom and insights from all over the world, to teach myself ignorance and convince others not to adjust their minds as there might be a fault with reality itself. I aspire to be R.K Laxman’s common Indian man and notice ambiguities that are commonly overlooked, because in them I find plurality of meanings.

My dream is to have the ability to dream more and the power to imagine the unknown. Hellen Keller who was blind and deaf from infancy dreamt of a pearl. This she described as ‘a smooth exquisitely moulded crystal’ with ‘velvety green of moss and the soft whiteness of lilies’. She could never have seen or remembered a pearl, a lily or moss. Yet she dreamt the unknown.

“I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours”, sang Bob Dylan. I wish I could slip into other people’s dreams and explore their rendezvous. Since we spend 25 years sleeping and 7 percent dreaming, just imagine all the rendezvous one could make.  

I believe dreams are the initiation of creation. A dream heralded the birth of Jesus and the philosophies of Muhammad and Buddha. Dreams often release the mind to look at things in new ways. It is through a dream that Friedrich Kekule discovered the Benzene ring and Robert Louis Stevenson envisaged the plot of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

In The Act of Creation, Arthur Koestler wrote: ‘The most fertile region seems to be the marshy shore, the borderland between sleep and full awakening, where the matrices of disciplined thought are already operating, but have not yet sufficiently hardened to obstruct the dream like fluidity of the imagination.’ Those states of limbo between falling asleep and waking up seems to be the most conducive conditions for ideas to outflank the sentinels of common sense.

Dreams are the cheapest form of wish fulfilment. On a sweltering hot day I dream of a cold glass of nimbu pani to quench my thirst and as I wait at the bus stop for the PMT to arrive, I dream of racing off in a steel blue McLaren F1. To blur the demarcation between reality and dreams is my dream. Edgar Allan Poe’s thoughts –“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream” intrigue me. It could be that we dream all the time without realizing it because consciousness makes such a noise. After all day dreaming is also an art, one has to rule out the static and the monotony.

My dream is to dream more and as George Bernard Shaw would say: ‘You see things and you say “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and say “Why not?”