Thursday, November 30, 2006


By L. Aruna Dhir
Penned on 30th November 2006
Picture courtesy - Werol

Words hurt
Words heal

Thoughts act
Thoughts aggravate

Soul soothes
Soul sears

Heart beats
Heart stops

Eyes see through
Eyes get blinded

Ears listen to even what is not said
Ears turn deaf

Forehead relaxes
Forehead creases

Lips smile
Lips purse up

Mouth creates
Mouth consumes

Hands do
Hands don’t

Shoulders shoulder responsibility
Shoulders wilt down with weight

Feet traverse
Toes face up

Emotions preach
Emotions pierce

Mind guides
Mind plays games

Conscience shows the path
Conscience loses the way

Must there be two sides to every coin
Two shades of black and white
Of what is and what will never be there!


Thursday, November 23, 2006


Youngest of the children. Pampered. Shielded and protected from the outside world. Married off early so that her new home could now take care of her. Innocent, harmless, docile with a soft heart and a kind wish and thought for everone. Never did she ever harm even a fly.

A twist in the tale. A turn of events. her new home becomes a living hell for her. The husband is cruel and uncaring. The children even more so. After years of inhuman behaviour, callous acts, beating and abuse she is thrown out of her 'own' house onto the street, even the blade of grass clung to for survival snatched away from her. Thrown into the big bad world to beg for alms or to perish with the overwhelming and unbearable onslaught.

Is life fair? What did she do or not do to deserve this. If one good turn deserves another and vice versa, what might explain her plight and what led to it. Is it how you sow, shall you reap OR the Karma or the past life. What has she paid for?

Many questions but no definitive answer. Only HE knows.

And then there is this old man who lived a more than honest life. Accused of a crime he did not commit. His image tarnished beyond repair. No explanations are enough as they are but explanations. All his money has gone into fighting court cases - a losing battle. He still has some hope as he constantly slides into a state of penury. The end is totally predictable and gloomy.

Fate strikes again.

There are many stories. Many questions. But no answer. Life goes on............


On the cupboard top. Over the refrigerator. Inside the sofa lining. In between the art deco lines of the well designed bed. Under the ornate table. Stuck in the cornice, crevice or mesh. Stuck in the handles and hinges. Caught in the intricacies of patterns. On the shelf. On the leaves and petals..................... I go about my business of looking for and cleaning away the dust and the cobwebs, from the most probable to the most unlikeliest of places.

Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I get beaten.

Wish it was as easy discovering, deciding on and cleaning the cobwebs in the head!!!

Friday, October 27, 2006


For the last two or three years, we have a written ground rule at home. On every important personal occasion, be it birthdays, anniversaries, parents' day of eternal departure, diwali, holi, christmas, new year and sometimes created occasions like new job, new car etc. etc. we all plan a little party for an identified set of people and visit them with our goodie bags - more often than not eats - butter & bun, cakes, biscuits, toffees, fruit, frooti........whatever our moment of inspiration guides and goades us on.

This Diwali was no diiferent but a little more special. As this year, our magic number reached an auspicious figure with a resolution to multiply it further on the next available opportunity. I, with my team of lieutenants, set about planning and executing the task of making this Festival of Lights slightly more bright for three sets of people.

Diwali morning started with getting together on the Dining table and assembling the packs diligently. Armed with our parcels, we first went to our favourite place - a respected institution that caters to mentally unstable and polio afflicted children. Our reward was the animated greetings and smiles on the faces of these children of the lesser god.

The next halt was a Jhuggi cluster of contractual labour laid off by the contractor on account of the work having been temporarily stalled. We weren't quite prepared for what followed next. Clamouring arms reaching out for our faces, pulling at our ears, hair whatever; imploring eyes; pitiable cries and a riotous behaviour to get the better of the other child............. something that we had perhaps seen on TV but had never experienced ourselves. For the next such trip, we are already planning on getting ourselves better organised in order to organise our dole better.

The third set was quite an unlikely one but I certainly felt deserving. It was a bunch of rickshaw pullers. And charity, I believe, also depends on the eye of the giver. Lean frames toiling away through the day, facing rash driving and rude drivers and those driven by them, only to earn a paltry sum at the end of the day and to return to a family that reminds them of their BOPL state every waking moment........I thought they were deserving. And as I saw them opening the packs to munch on tuck, perhaps, better than what they normally eat, I was convinced to feel that my choice was not misplaced.

The last one on the line was a true eye opener. As he stood with his auto rickshaw amidst the lowly rickshaw pullers, definitely a lot beneath his social standing, he first looked away as he saw us hesitating. After a bit of deliberation, as we reversed back to where he was, he with great difficulty managed to establish an eye contact and murmur something of a yes in answer to our question about whether he would be OK with taking the pack. Our reward once again... a glint in his grateful eye and a polished thank you out of his lips................

Monday, October 02, 2006


Grate! Grate! Grate!! Screech! Screech! Screech! On my ears and in my head that is. Cold blooded! Murder! Killing not so softly! Of the Queen, er..... Her Majesty's language that is.

Open any channel - Hindi or English on Indian Television or switch on any wavelength on the radio, right now. And you will be nodding your head in unison with me.

My mom-in-law, a conservative yet widely travelled lady from the Uttar Pradesh lives with us. And the only conflict I have with her is that of her joyous murder of any language - English or Hindi, with an overriding sense of ignorant bliss. Her eyes twinkle and you can almost visualise her rubbing her hands in innocuous glee as she muddles up the sounds of 'z' and 'j'; 'sh' and 's'; 'va' and 'ba'.......... And watch me take offence as if it were a cold, calculated slight to my person. After all, I was born to a mother who even excelled in a foreign language, viz. Urdu - foreign to her native place of origin and learnt to beautifully intonate the varying sounds including the difficult 'kha'.

Pan to the present and watch and hear our current crop of radio and TV presenters mercilessly mutilate any language they wish to speak in. The phonetics, syntax, delicate details of the usage of English language, grammar, pronunciation.....nothing is cared for. To hell with it all, as long as they look prettily made up (both sexes) and are seen on popular channels with high TRPs to their shows.

As for our mother tongue, I am sick and tired of listening to a really nice language pronounced really badly..... 'Hamesa,' 'Aajaad,' 'Aajaadi,' 'Jabardast,' 'Jaroorat,' 'Sukriya,' 'Sayad,' 'Sam ke char baje,' 'Jindadil,' 'Suruat,' get the drift, right!

My sharp reaction is quite justified as I once again spent an elated three hours watching with utmost pleasure the exchanges between Professor Higgins and his pupil Eliza Doolittle this past weekend.

Get the ear plugs, please someone!!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


So, what part didn't we like. That we haven't been seeing it and saying so ourselves OR that we've had a foreign national mention it in international press.

You know what I am talking about. We have just been, yet again, slammed by an 'honest' diplomat this time, who for once threw all diplomatic caution to the wind to vent out his true feelings about a country he spent the last three years of his professional life in. Arnold Parzer, the Dutch Diplomat went to town, talking about his real time experience in India to Het Financieele Dagblad, the Dutch newspaper. His Embassy was quick to offer a redressal by saying that it had nothing to do with the retiring Diplomat's 'personal' views and the MEA was OK with getting its big ego massaged with an apology as the Diplomat in question is after all retiring to his home country in just about three months and they don't have much time to get into the paperwork for making the rest of his tenure miserable and ask for him to be sent back unceremoniously. I am sure it is not an outcome of MEA's largesse that not much ado is being made out of this. Knowing our bureaucracy, three months is too little a time even to initiate the document that will then go on to become an official complaint from the Indian side for the diplomatic slight to its global perception.

Here's what Mr. Parzer said about New Delhi. "Anything that can go wrong, does go wrong; everyone interferes with everyone else; the people are a darn nuisance; the climate is hell; the city is a garbage dump." And that it is the most miserable place he has lived in.

But for the climate bit, which becomes a talking point for a perpetually wet London too, what part of his tirade are we objecting to. Tell me what works in Delhi - THE CAPITAL CITY - ............ DESU, MCD, NDMC, MTNL, Mahanagar Palika Nigam, the Water Department, DTC, Bluelines, Credit Card companies, Drainage system, Sewage system, Garbage collection and segregation system, the markets, the produce, their prices, the education system ................... the list is truly exhaustive encompassing each and every aspect of civic life and utility.

Try getting honest bills for your electricity, water, phone usage. Try getting your passport made or renewed. Try selling or buying property. Try buying the holiday package for a relaxing experience and try coming out unscathed of the harrowing deal once through. Try buying fresh vegetables, meats or dairy. Try being sane on Delhi roads - a terror ridden lesson in Anger Management. Try sending your children to school not knowing whether they will come back safely. Try picking up an issue with the illiterate goons who ply our public transport. Try working for the graveyard shifts of the booming BPO industry and being lucky if you come back home safe and sound. Try shopping in modern, glitzy malls only to be mauled by uncouth public. Worst of all, try being simply a woman in this metropolis and lead your life the way you want to without jeopardising your modesty to the flesh hounds.

Population, pollution, corruption, crime, bastardisation of culture, erosion of the ecological balance, degradation of values, vandalism of the heritage..........where do I stop. A senior journalist on a premier news channel, recently, said that we have a state of anarchy, a civil war going on. I don't think he is wrong.

Can we, as citizens, office bearers, powers-that-be, contribute back to the city / country that gives us our very identity instead of raping its soul with our gruesome, senseless, impassionate, selfish, dastardly acts. And then, only then, raise heckles should we hear something 'wrong' about our city / country.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Guess, what's about to come under the hammer! Right now, it's life size bronze replica is being shown at a New York Art Gallery and it may only be a matter of time when Christie's high brow officials put a lens over it to study its intricate details and decide to auction it to an equally unbelievable audience for whom, I guess, anything could be art.

Yes, we are talking about a Hollywood actor's illegitimate child's first solid poop that has caught the fancy of some art afficionados. Sad to see that the art lovers have come to such a state when their object of inspiration lies in excreta albeit that of an infant whose sole claim to fame happens to be that she was born out of wedlock of a father famous for his screen histrionics and a wannabe actor mother. What happened to our values and character that made us look up to the truly great achievers.

If that's the criteria, how about taking my two beautiful babies as probable subjects - a black and tan beauty of a German Shepherd and a bonny, golden Labrador and casting their daily output into perhaps gold. I can assure you, theirs is definitely a work of art in terms of shape, texture, form, colour or whatever parameter you wish to choose.

Or perhaps, you may want to get a bit more exotic and hit the slums of a third world country and handpick a really impoverished kid who, being deprived of even one fair meal a day, spends lot of energy trying to take out a proper (S-shaped, as Oprah would say) piece of digestive end product. What a rare and thought provoking work of art that would make for. And I am told, anything to do with the third world or Asian exotica sells at the moment.

I wonder what's going to be the next source of fascination for the soul starved, hype-stricken, marketing savvy art lovers. Maybe a frozen-in-time fountain of someone's first or last pee, lit with neon lights and put up on the world's canvas for all to see.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


I am an Indian and am, undoubtedly, proud to be one. However, my sense of patriotism is blended with pragmatism. To give you an example, when I travel abroad, I notice all the ways in which the western world is ahead of us - infrastructure, civics, personal laws, efficacy of the judiciary, community development, even etiquette. At the same time, I think of all that India is superior for - heritage, religion, values, and at times what we are getting at with Young India, being the new Asian Tiger wannabe and all.

What I am trying to get at is that, while I feel good to be an Indian in a global community, I keep my eyes open to all the facets that we are being and should be looked down upon in the globosphere. First and foremost we need to stop being hypocrites.

Take the recent incidence of the 12 Indian-origin detainees on the Northwest flight. The 12 feel suitably humiliated (why shouldn't they) - and are looking at approaching the Human Rights Commission. I am sure enough noise is going to be made about that, enough column-cm and bandwidth of precious space devoted to reality bites and human angle stories. In this world of "eveything goes as Headline News" times, THE 12 are going to be media stars for the limited time they will stay on top of our minds. Then they are going to get on with their business and we will be allowed to get busy with ours.

But take a moment and look beneath the surface. Please dissect the behaviour that led to this hue and cry. We Indians are of as many different shades and types as there are our castes and sub-castes and regions and sub-regions. So it is difficult to find a common line for one behaviour that marks THE INDIAN. Yet, in the globalised, boundaries-shrunk world, the common denominator for civil and civilised behaviour is the same, which each of these 12 seemed to have voilated.

Comm'on, how many of us, even those staying in upmarket, high end parts of very urban India, go through the daily experience of being shoved and pushed around. How many of us witness unruly personal habits being inflicted on us as some sort of a punishment. How many of us get spoken to by rude, ill mannered brethren. And please don't tell me that it happens in some sections and not in the others. I represent what is called the upper strata and my lifestyle revolves around this strata. Take these examples - Adults and their children push you to get ahead in the line in our glitzy cinema halls or OUR McDonald's. Lunching ladies stooping under the weight of their Bvlgari danglings and the latest LV bags in an international setting of a five star hotel elbow you out of the line headed for the delicious array of sushi and sashimi. The big, rich Punjabi uncles in their larger-than-life forms ably assisted by such paraphernalia as the latest CRV or Lexus or BMW model, the oyster-shell set Rolex, thick set of gold chains (never mind the price), over use of the latest Gucci fragrance so off putting that you are forced to take a step back, booming in their deep, affected baritones at a poor little valet in the very exclusive clubs of an uber luxury hotel. Chefs, exposed to the global audience, in five star hotels being taught to wash their hands after every peeing or gold-digging routine. Politicans - dirty, loud-mouthed, aggressive, power hungry with fragile egos and easily epitomes of the worst ever social behaviour possible swarming like locusts in the power nerve centre of Saddi Dilli (New Delhi - the Capital City of India).

I could go on and on. But I am sure you get the picture. So please, let us just stick together in this month of India's independence and free our minds of hypocrisy, prejudice and religious, regional, rural or any other retrograde bias.

The future is ours, the world is beginning to take note of us but can we march forward without the ramshackled, antiquated, asinine India that is best left forgotten.