Saturday, 15 February 2014

My Short Story [Excerpts of it]

[This short story I have been working on for eight months. Never had the diligence to finish it feedback is welcome]

My father's words had found their mark. My stint in Australia served merely to cement my
insecurities. When I arrived in Australia, I had great expectations. A sense of new found
freedom, a more permissive culture and a chance to expand my horizons. But I
began to feel myself getting lost in an alien culture. I could not fully assimilate and
became an outsider to both cultures. I was too Indian for white people. And I was too white
for the Indians. By my final year, I had grown bitter, for I had no sense of belonging, and
I had grown jaded by the continual rejection of my romantic overtures by girls. I took
flight from Australia to India, to a place where I had hoped, things would change for me.
I surveyed the scenery outside my bedroom window. There was a road outside my house.
After that lay rice paddies as far as the eye could see. You could see the railway tracks
in the backdrop, and the bush beyond it. It was the kind of image you would find in a
travel magazine describing a typical idyllic Indian village. But it's scenic landscape hid
a people filled with angst, sadness and anger. It's denizens would fly to places like the
Middle East, America and Australia in search for a better life. After a few years, filled with
melancholy, some of them would fly back. Only for them to realise why they left in the first
place. To us, the village was like an old flame. The love we had for it grew sweeter as
we moved away from it. The same love we found stifling when we came back.
 Gazing into the fading golden rays of the twilight sun, I saw her standing by the bus
stop. I saw Swapna. I ran out of my room, down the stairs and kept running till I reached the
bus stop. We both hugged. My mind was going through a torrent of emotions at that
moment. Waves of happiness washed over me. Her warmth, her affection... it was
something I had craved for the last 5 years. As the hug lingered on, I was in a brief
moment on bliss.

I drew back, and examined her more closely. 'Time has been kind to you,' hasn't it?' I swear
you haven't aged an iota since I last saw you.' She beamed. 'I thought some madamma sank
her claws into you,' 'and you were never coming back.' 'How are you anyway, Swapna?' I
asked. 'well,' 'you know how it is for girls in this land,' 'hell.' She answered, smiling.
 Her smile was just as I remembered. It was not born out of deceit or falsity. It was
untarnished, pure... innocent. 'so,' how is life like in the land of kangaroos?' asked Swapna.
'Not bad.' 'How is the old hag anyway?' Swapna queried. 'It's been long since I last
worked at your place.' Swapna said. 'She is fine,' 'she is pestering my dad since I was not at
home.' Swapna's face began to contort, as if in deep thought. 'Remember the time,' 'when she
caught you looking at dirty magazines?' 'And then she turned on the stove and burned your
right hand to make you a good boy?' 'I was 13 then.' I said. 'And she would see fit to deprive
me of food if she found me flirting with girls.' I let out a sigh. 'let's take a walk.' I said. 'where
to? 'asked Swapna. 'The railway lines.'

'Amma still loves me though.' I said. We were both walking at a languorous pace. Cutting
through the rice paddies, walking in a single file along the ridges that  served as boundaries
for the paddies. Swapna turned to look at me, with a puzzled look on her face. 'She loves me,
in a way only a broken woman can.' I said. 'Her father left her at the age of four,' 'leaving her
to deal with a horrid woman that I call grandma,' 'and fighting for scraps among her five
siblings.' 'Her marriage was arranged to a lecherous man who have eyes for all the
women in the village,' 'except for her.' 'I am the only Man in her life she loves and cares for.'
'I mean, when she found me talking to girls, she didn't behave like an over-bearing mother,'
'rather like a jealous wife wary of the promiscuity of her husband.' 'Old Freud would have
had a field day with her.' 'Who is this fraud?' Swapna said. 'Not fraud,' 'Freud.' I said. I found
ignorance the most unattractive quality in a woman. She can be plain, boisterous, overweight
and mean-spirited, but never ignorant. But with Swapna, I found her ignorance part of her
charm. She could be forgiven, for her narrow view of the world. She was removed from
her school at the age of 12, so her mother could educate her male siblings. She would most
likely have her marriage arranged, most likely to a Man who was an alcoholic who would
come home and beat her to a pulp, for questioning him on why he chose to gamble away their
grocery money. She would be treated as nothing more than a receptacle for sex. Why her
own mother would cast her into the same misery she herself experienced, still puzzled me.
'I don't know half the things you are saying,' Her words took me out of my own world. 'But
they sound smart.' 'I am glad your Australian education allows you to insult your parents in
new ways.' Her words served to sate my intellectual vanity. It compensated quite poorly,
for deficiencies, real or imagined that I used to berate myself for occasionally. We had finally
reached the railway lines. I looked to the left, and then the right. The tracks stretched out
so far, that I could not see an end to either side of it. It was like staring into an empty void,
without an end. I found it.... disconcerting. I then looked at Swapna.

It was then I realised how little Swapna had changed over the years. It seemed she was
still the same 16 year old girl I had last seen. I began to study her more closely. She was
a delicate thing. She was short and thin. That was a byproduct of the grinding poverty she
found herself in. Even though she paid scant attention to application of cosmetics or to her
 hair, I found her strikingly beautiful. She had kind eyes, and I was drawn to her smile. It
wasn't beautiful in a way the poets would write stanzas about. It contained an energy, a sense
of vitality that comes with latching onto the little moments of joy in an arduous life.
Underneath her aesthetics and demeanor, however,  lay a sharp mind. Shaped by fighting of
the violent advances of young men in her neighborhood and the predatory mechanisations
of her male employers at the homes she worked at. 'You seem sad.' Swapna broke the silence.
'something you want to talk about?' 'I don't wish to whine any longer.' I said. 'No,' it's alright.'
Swapna said. I furrowed my brows in contemplation, to articulate my thoughts. I started to
speak. 'my life is like a train now.' ' I feel that it is going along a pre-determined path and
I have to stay on that path.' 'My parents chose what profession I should engage in.' 'Which
woman I am going to marry.' I took a moment to calm myself down. 'A friend of mine
had said to me,' a life devoid of adventure is stale.' 'My time in Australia germinated ideas
of independence and self-determination within me.' 'If I had taken a chance,' 'I could have the
job I liked,' 'the life I wanted,' 'I could have even had..' My words were stuck in my throat.
My eyes were held hostage by her gaze. I felt like there were a thousand hot needles poking
into my throat. My face felt like it had a pulse. My heart was beating so loud I was afraid
she would hear it. I lacked the fortitude to tell her how I felt. Always did. Our long
silence was punctuated by the chirping of the crickets. I began to notice the darkness creeping
in around us. Fortunately, the awkwardness was soon broken by the distant horn of the train.

A thought, or more precisely a passing whim possessed me at that moment. It's power on
my mind was overwhelming, and I yielded without even a second thought to it.
'Remember?' 'The first time we ran the line?' Her head twisted instantly to face me. And her
eyes grew in bewilderment. 'You are insane!' Swapna said. 'You were the one who first
brought me into it,' 'I want this.' I said. She made no further attempts at dissuasion. I was
surprised at how pliable she was. Run the line was something teenagers, usually boys
engaged in. It involved the Train getting sufficiently close and two people on the railway
tracks would run towards it. The first person to give way would lose. We both stood in
anticipation. My heart was racing. My state of mind at that moment could only be described
by a mixture of fear and excitement, seeking both relief and release. The rumbling of the train
signified its rapid approach. We both hopped on the tracks and began to run towards the train.
I was determined to win and for  a brief moment, had clarity of purpose. In the darkness, you
could  see the outline of the train, but more significant was the light on the front. It
illuminated the tracks on front of it and we both ran towards the light. We kept running to
the point where I felt the heat of the engine of the train on me. I dived desperately to the
side to avoid it. I lay on my back and began to look at the passing train. that singular
moment encapsulated the feeling that I had searched for all my life. A life full of vitality,
risk and stupid mistakes. The passengers in the compartments began to look at me. And
 in their eyes I saw the same vacant, distant look I had seen on the eyes of the young woman
on the train. They had all surrendered to the  mediocrity of their lives. Then suddenly it struck
me. Where is Swapna? I could not see her anywhere. After the train had passed, I began to
search for her. My elbows were stinging, due to the bruises caused by the abrasion of the
ground that I had dived on.' SWAPNA?' 'SWAPNA!' I began to yell into the darkness. I could
hear no response. 'SWAPNA!'   'don't leave me out here.' There was no response. I bent down
and I could feel my sweat running from my forehead onto the ground. The darkness engulfed
the surroundings, masking it from my sight. I knew Swapna was not there. Maybe she was
never there to begin with. As I contemplated what had just transpired, the night ensured my

My Super Hero Story Idea

[ So this is an excerpt of the work that I have been doing. Feedback would be appreciated]

Rahul Nair stands sentry to the city of Cochin which sprawl below him as his armored body draws a silhouette against the distant might sky. Rahul at this point was trying hard to remember all the introductions to the comics he has read. Batman has Gotham, Superman has Metropolis, each fictional cities that were a character unto themselves in the stories he read. He looked down below and he saw Cochin. His smirk slowly transformed itself into a grimace and he furrowed his eyebrows as he realised that he was in Cochin. Why couldn't I be in Mumbai, it is an iconic city. What about Delhi? That's the den of evil and villainy right? Being home to the Indian Parliament and all. My talents are wasted here. Rahul thought to himself.

Apart from the watchful guardian cliché, he realised the futility of watching over the city atop a building and instead, decided to patrol on foot. He did tune in with the sonic amplifier to watch out for any noises indicating distress. It was past midnight, so the noises were easy to tune out. Just then, when he was turning around the corner, he heard a noise. A man and a Woman arguing, with the female voice clearly indicating distress. As he stepped closer to the house, Rahul could surmise, from the tone and intent of the voices, that it was a domestic situation. This made him reticent even more to proceed. He surveyed the neighborhood, it was an upper middle class enclave close to the sea front, not the den of crime his ilk relished wading into. The house had two floors. He stopped at the door, and listened in. The pitch and the tone of the voices seemed to get angrier, and more desperate. Rahul was reluctant to intervene, as he had imagined that he would stop a mugging or a robbery to start his career in crime fighting. Just then, he heard a male voice issue threats. Screw it

He broke in the door and as soon as he entered, he could now hear the voices clearly. The stair case that led to the top floor presented itself as soon as he entered, and he made a dash to the top. He turned left at the top of the staircase, and without a pause rant to the bedroom. The bedroom door was open and soon he stood at the entrance. He saw the Woman on her knees with tears in her eyes and a Man who he presumed to be her husband stood over her. Before he could speak the Man lunged at him. 'This the guy you sleeping with?' The Man screamed, throwing a punch. As if almost like a reflexive action Rahul dodged and drove his fist into the Man's stomach. He soon slumped, curled into a foetal position and began to moan. Rahul kept looking at the Man, and backed slowly to where the Woman was kneeling. 'You are O.K. now, you should call the...' Before Rahul could finish speaking, the Woman screamed 'We are being robbed, someone help us.' Rahul turned his head in shock. For a few seconds, he contemplated whether to stay put and clarify the Woman's misunderstanding or flee. Sensing the presence of an armored cyborg is a bit hard to explain, he chose flight. He ran down into the stairs and out of the door, and into the darkness of the night which enveloped his figure as he fled back to his home. Rahul woke up late the next morning. It was 11 AM. He rushed to get the newspaper. He opened it to the crimes section. After his eyes scurried along the pages, scanning for the various news, he saw the headline he dreaded. A Husband And Wife Foil Armed Home Invasion.

[again feedback would be appreciated. this just a sample of what my writing style is going to be. The Final product could be entirely different. Who knows ]

Monday, 22 April 2013

                                    Not All Terrorists Are Muslim

I remember the thoughts that ran through my head when the Boston bombings occurred. First, I was saddened at the pointless loss of life. Second, I hoped Muslims don't face a backlash for this. Because after the bombings, the U.S. government tried their best not to feed speculation because they were well aware of the consequences. Their caution is to be lauded and I admired how their law enforcement agencies, emergency services and the American people responded to the crisis.

But what have I also found is the unsavory side of Humanity on that day. You know, that side of Humanity that puts on trial an entire religion for the actions of two renegades who for all intents and purposes acted of their own volition. Yes, they took their inspiration from Islam. But the guy who shot up the Sikh temple drew his inspiration from a white supremacist ideology. I don't remember calling him a terrorist.

In fact, I am fascinated how the social group that is dominant in a particular country treats it's minority groups. Let's first turn to America. You know the stereotypes of that has stigmatised African-Americans and Latinos don't you? Yes, the prison population do present a skewed presentation of these aforementioned minorities. African Americans form 14% of the population. But they represent 40% of the prison population. But if you take into the population as a whole, the majority have jobs, and lead productive lives.

It's almost the same thing with Muslims. They count among them 1.7 billion among their number (I think). How many terrorists are there in the world? And this often repeated phrase that all terrorists are muslims really gets on my nerves. In India, the primary threat to security are now Maoist guerrillas. We have also experienced for a long time violence in the North-Eastern states. And let's not forget one of the biggest purveyors of violence in the country, the Indian military who frequently carried out extra-judicial killings.

Coming back to the topic at hand, I think it says a lot about us  that the only facet of Islamic society that we care about is the violence. I am far more bothered about how minorities like the Kurds, Yazidis, Baha'i, Christians, Armenians are treated in Middle-eastern countries. Or how Punjabis have a stranglehold on the centers of power in Pakistan. Or how a normal act of affection would be considered a faux pas in Indonesia.

I think a lot can be gained from covering the struggles of women for their rights in a repressed society. How they find it hard to get an education, have the same rights, how they deal with rampant domestic abuse, constant sexual harassment. Or the travails of a young, unemployed, sexually frustrated man in Egypt. Or the efforts of peple in Bahrain to ensure a democratic society. Coverage of people in Pakistan who have lost loved ones in senseless violence, or struggling under stifling corruption and patronage politics. It would serve to humanise these people, make us understand them, their motivations and desires. Then they wouldn't seem so alien to us.

Life seems hard and pointless sometimes. We don't need occasional outside affirmation from people who are filled with hate. I should be jaded, I should be cynical, but like some sort of a hopeless romantic I hold out for the best in Humanity.

Monday, 1 April 2013

                                    In search of Love: Part 2

A while back, I think I had posted a topic in which I discussed my insecurities, my fears of ending up alone. Well, between the time that I posted it and now, there were some events that made me re-evaluate things I had said back then. This post is going to chronicle those events.

Well, after University opened, an old friend of mine invited to his flat-warming party. After much encouragement, I worked up the nerve to introduce myself to a rather good looking blonde girl. After the obligatory introductions, whn the moment came for me to charm her with my wit, intelligence and charisma, I just drew a blank. I just had nothing to say. And then she politely asked me if it was O.K. for her to get more wine form the kitchen, which was a subtle hint of her blowing me off. So for the rest of the party I retreated to my shell, sticking with my friend and not mingling at all.

I mean I felt like this guy

And not this guy

But then a female acquaintance of mine showed up at the party with her female friend. I did not notice her friend that much (let's call her Morgan for brevity). As the party wore on, Janeane (a fake name for my female friend) called me over and wanted to talk to me. She informed me that her female friend liked me very much but was just too shy to talk to me. She wanted me to introduce myself and do so in a way that doesn't freak her out. then went on to do so, only to have my efforts be foiled by an intoxicated man who had no business being among college students, let alone partying with them. I got flustered, but several other girls in the party encouraged me to talk to Morgan.

I did not, thinking that such a move might indicate desperation on my part. In the end, we both were just too shy to talk to each other, contenting ourselves to exchanging passing glances at each other, much to the chagrin of our friends.

But in a way, I am kind of glad it happened. Because the event served as a self-affirmation exercise. I did feel a rush of adrenaline when my friend told me that Morgan likes me. In that moment I felt a torrent of emotions. Disbelief that turned into excitement and exhilaration. I felt myself validated, for the first time I felt attractive.

Because really, I do want sex. Make no mistake about it. But more than that, I want to feel needed, at the same time I want to feel needy as well. I seek the physical pleasures of love as well ans the mental pleasures of it. That feeling of self-worth, and self-esteem that seem so alien to me.

In a way, this also makes me feel more depressed. The realisation that if I had gone out more, had been more socially active or was more self-confident could have been the cure to what I am feeling right now pains me. It was painful for me to learn the knowledge that the characteristics that distinguishes me as a individual is also the source of my torment.

Well, that's enough rambling. If you guys can post about your own romantic experiences you may do so.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Love me, or hate me. Don't be indifferent

The title is a reference to what my friend said to me a long time ago. According to him, he hopes
 that people either love him or hate him. Being indifferent to him means you don't care about him
anymore.When I was deciding the title for this blog, initially I was mulling over the title of
Nirbhaya: A Tale of indifference. But I decided to not go with that title, because I thought I
should accord her a little more respect.

When I heard of the news the girl had been raped, and her subsequent tragic demise, I, as well as
other armchair commentators of course posted their outrage. We vented about india's patriarchy,
about the need to liberate women and all of the standard talking points you have heard affluent
Indians and westerners spout. You have heard it in the news cycles, you have heard it from the
mouths of politicians from whom we have heard so many lies and yet we vote them to power.
We heard it from the NGO's, the Women's group advocates. We were outraged that this
poor girl was raped and her male friend beaten up. For more than a month we vicariously
lived through her parents. Witnessed their trials and tribulations. For that time, the nation
grieved as if they had lost a sister.

But I think we all know where this story is going to end. In this era of attention deficit syndrome.
In the era of 6 month  music sensations, the era of 24\7 news cycles, this story will slowly but
surely will be pushed to the sidelines. it will be buried under a story of new found scams,
Narendra Modi being the Messiah of the oppressed Hindu masses and even more horrifying
stories of women getting raped. I will move on too. To even more mindless TV shows, playing
video games and watching cute puppies on you tube. Each one of us will move on. Except her
parents. They will live on in grief, knowing that they cannot ever see their intelligent daughter
who had toiled so hard to build a future for her and her family. Her brothers will miss a
sister, a role model whom they could have lived up to and emulated. A sister they would
have been proud of. The whole nation will move on. sure her name will crop up every time
a brutal sexual assault will come up, but life marches on.

I do not wish to end on a cynical note. I do however, see little changes in the behavior of
Indians. Statements made by politicians and so called god men insinuating the girl was as
much to blame for the rape as her attacker has been torn to shreds. For the first time, I have
seen the media do an introspection. Most importantly, I can see some Indians had to do some
soul searching and I salute those people willing to protest. Because despite my opinionated
 nature you did something I could never do, actually do something about it.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Gori! Gori! Gori!

Just Another quick blog post before I disappear for a while.

Now, I love my mother, I really do. Well I would come across like a bit of an ingrate if I did
not lovethe woman that labored under immense pain to give birth to a gremlin like me. But
 like every other person, she has her own faults. She is to put it bluntly, a bit of a racist. I can
 recall having many conversations with her, which ended up with her warning how lecherous
 white girls are and how she would tell me in a matter of fact way, that they are gold diggers. I
 think my mother was brought to this world with her irony meter broken. She would often
 complain about the racism meted out to her in New Zealand, while pushing these awful stereotypes
 about white people. I know why stereotypes are formed, it is easy to generalize, But it is generally
 a good idea to not hold much water in them.

In my humble opinion, encumbering a certain ethnicity with your own prejudices is never a good
I remember a two years ago, being enamored with a certain Punjabi girl. When I asked her out,
she replied to me that she doesn't like mallu guys so wouldn't do so. Three months ago, I asked
out a certain acquaintance of mine, who was white, to go out to lunch with me. She looked at me
with her pretty blue eyes, and with a smile I thought at the time was really gorgeous that she wants
us just to be friends. Even though my heart sank, she comforted me by saying how girls would be
lucky to go out with me.

You cannot help who you fall in love with, you really can't. I find it a bit unfortunate that people
still hold onto these prejudices. For me, I do not care for a girl's ethnicity. The only thing I
need to know if she is compatible with me and loves me.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

A Lonely Traveler

If life was analogous to a journey, then I am indeed a lonely traveler. I have a confession to make
that is rather embarrassing. I have never found love in my life. I have fallen in love, yes. But I have
 neverhad my feelings reciprocated. I have made overtures to exquisite specimens of the opposite
 gender in a gentlemanly manner, but I have not succeeded. When I look at my inability to attract
 girls, I think it reveals something about myself. Something of my character.

For the longest time, I would blame this deficiency on me. I would find the excuse that I am simply
 not good looking enough, or that I simply lack personality. But recently I have come to realize one
thing. The excuses that I make up to explain away my romantic failings indicate one thing. A lack
of self-confidence on my part. Since I lacked confidence, I have already lost in some ways.
When I approached those girls to ask them out, I did not exude that aura of confidence.
 It is essentially the story of my life. I lacked the confidence to jump at opportunities that
 life threw at me. When I was bullied in high school, I lacked the confidence to tell my bully
 to back off. In my university career, I lacked the confidence to partake in various extra-curricular

But still my heart craves for love. It is funny, in my teenage years, I would indulge myself in various
sexual  fantasies. But now, I often dream of holding a girl in my arms. I feel sort of empty. I have this
 need of someone wanting me in their life and me wanting them.

As I tread this beaten path alone, maybe I will find a companion.