Friday, December 18, 2009


By L. Aruna Dhir
First Penned on 28th July 2002 and published today on the blog.

Hope is
a single drop of rain that falls on a
piece of parched earth;

Hope is the slight heave of an ailing chest
that comes as a sign of life;

Hope is a little kick in the side of an
expecting bride,
that tells her she is now a creator
like the one above;

Hope is the curve of a smile that
breaks on the canvas of an angry face;

Hope is the glint in the eye that
creases out the stress from a frowning brow;

Hope is a morsel in the mouth that
quells the harshness of hunger;

Hope is a hint of sun peeping out of dark clouds promising that
the rainbow is just around the corner;

Hope is a child folding hands for his evening prayer showing that
faith thrives in a believing heart;

Hope is a human touch that crosses
the barrier of caste, colour, race and religion,
affirming that caring for the other
and peace in mind is the ultimate power.

(Picture courtesy - Martin Gommel ( from

Thursday, August 20, 2009


First penned on 26th June 2003, published today on the blog.

I am angry
when I spend a couple of thousands for a meal in a day,
And million mouths feel the pangs of hunger;

I am angry
when I work hard for my living,
And see bureaucratic India setting back the clock
not by hours and days but years and generations;

I am angry
at the bastardization of my culture,
5000 years old and rich in tradition;

I am angry
we wear personas so many,
With no face to back our words;

I am angry
our words have no meaning,
And our speech is dispassionate and hollow;

I am angry
as a country, we instead of blossoming to the world,
Are increasingly becoming inwardly drawn;

I am angry
we have lost our values,
Somewhere in the crowds of a billion;

I am angry
we have double standards,
One for ourselves
and the other for the rest of the world;

I am angry
we sometimes trade our souls,
For lucre and lust
that remain illusive as ever;

I am angry
we are not beleaguered by real problems,
and rage on petty and non – issues;

I am angry
we are presenting a world to our children,
That we did not inherit from our ancestors;

I am angry
we have added to our woes,
By losing the “e” from human;

I am angry
that in order to keep a balance on the surface,
We have stopped to stir up a storm within;

I am angry
we wait for destiny to knock on the door,
And fail to step up and take charge;

I am angry
that in the struggle to survive,
We have lost respect for the world we live in
For the people we live with
And most importantly for our own selves.

(Picture courtesy -


Thursday, August 06, 2009


It is like moments of truth. Everybody has one or maybe several. So it is with times of inspiration. Everybody has that reference of sight, smell, sound, touch, feeling or piece of imagination that inspires. For me, one of the strongest times of inspiration is when the sky opens to pour its heart out in a manner unrestrained and unabashed. The good thing is, I am not the only one raising a toast to the rains.

From Bollywood’s ‘Tip Tip Baarish’ to Hollywood’s a la Gene Kelly Tap dancing to the beats of the peltering rain; from Pop music’s ‘Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain’, and ‘Raindrops keep falling on my head’ to our very own Raag Megh Malhar; from art to fiction to poetry……… monsoon has always inspired the positive and bright side of things all over the world and from time immemorial. So, who am I to remain stoic towards such a divine sensation.

But the charms of monsoon have everything to do with the place where you are. Imagine the traffic jamming, gutter flowing, drain clogging, humid rains of Delhi and you will instantly know what I mean.

My association with monsoon spans different continents and saddles varied time zones. Walking on an old street in quaint little Alexandria in Virginia to the tunes of talented buskers playing to the gallery with dogs of various shapes and sizes and their owners - so much the same, that is shapes and sizes - for company. Cruising over River Seine in the heart of Paris with soft rain, like a companion, caressing my face. Raindrops falling on my head in oh-so-picturesque Engelberg at the foothills of Mt. Titlis in Switzerland, falling in step with the jingling of cow bells. But not quite the torrential rains in Amsterdam ruining our otherwise pleasant canal cruise - said to be the best way to see the beatific city. Or the angry downpour in Volderdam drowning all plans to seek vicarious pleasure in the country’s famed and legal night life.

The best and the strongest memories are those that belong to the hazy realms of childhood. The whiff of a freshly baked apple pie from a loving mother’s kitchen, the fragrance of aftershave used by dad – certainly the strongest man in the world at that all-knowing age of five or six, the blotches – sometimes hard to wash away - from jumped in puddles on spic and span white uniforms – a mandate at super-strict convents or the smell of earth after the first fall of rain – with several lines of poetry and film lyrics wasted on it and staying to be inspiring until that telling moment when a desensitized science-type friend opened my eyes to it stating so unromantically that it was actually earthworms that smelt thus and not the heavenly marriage of waters from the sky and mother earth that led to it. Remember what I told you about sensory references. So be it.

My fondest association with monsoon is in idyllic Dehradun, nostalgic memories of which act as perfect stress busters even today. Living in my mother’s mansion had its privileges. For one, you could always see the many moods of Mussoorie – the Queen of Hills – through the day or night by just peering over the boundary wall and looking up to the nearest cluster of clouds on your right. Trying to spot Muss (that’s what the hill station is called in local parlance) in the peak of monsoon wasn’t easy but certainly a lot of fun. Raindrops falling on my head in misty Mussoorie as I walked the length of scenic Camel’s Back Road was also an oft-repeated heady romance that brutally ended when on one such trek I was horrified to discover a leech crawl up my ankle.

Walking barefoot on the freshly rained-upon soft, velvety front lawns at home is an experience that gives a long run to squishing sand in between your toes at some touristy beach.

One of the nicest things about my mother’s abode is its big windows with a view on every side. After having worked with the hospitality industry for more than a decade, I can tell you authoritatively that hotels charge a premium for a good view. So imagine rooms with wonderful views all my growing up years. My mother had nimble green fingers and we seemed to enjoy, amply, the fruit of her labour. She had developed her backyard into a mini orchard with a myriad fruit trees – mangoes, peaches, plum, pears, apples, litchi, grape fruit, papaya, even grapes – providing shade from the Summer sun, swaying to the Spring breeze, shedding their coats to autumn and lending that extra chill to the winter. But it was monsoon when they looked their prettiest best. Freshly scrubbed, in lovely shades of green, either cradling crystal clear pearls on their belly or with rows of raindrops hanging from their edges. It doesn’t take the eye of an artist to appreciate this breathtaking sight. If I was deft with the brush then you would have seen several canvases titled RAIN in my home studio. But I chose to sing an ode to it right from the times of amateurish poetry to the time when as a professional creative writer I sold mush to couples in as far and wide places as India, Europe and the Americas.

Another nice monsoon sight is the lovely white wild flowers that take over a full hillside or come up around brooks. The off-white wild mushrooms along the grass or by tree trunks are quite irresistible too. I remember picking the flowers and the mushrooms in my cane basket and bringing them home. They would sit pretty in a corner as I would get lost in my Enid Blyton or Lewis Carroll through the afternoon with the big toadstool, typically, assuming a character in my favourite story.

Monsoon is also about food. Who can resist the wafting aroma of hot pakoras or delicious samosas to be devoured with tangy mint chutney and a piping hot cup of tea? Back home I would often bake the most luscious of sponge cakes (and I do have the nicest of recipes) on a rain-soaked afternoon. The smell would engulf the whole house, as I would bring the cake out to the kitchen table, drive a knife through the hot center and serve it with melted chocolate. These days I do hot aubergine slices with salsa toppings or baked cheese on potato dices with a dash of oregano and chilli peppers. The result is as mesmerizing.

Rainy season is on our threshold. Delhi may still not be up to it with constantly irritating constructions happening everywhere. But a short sojourn to Doon over a wet weekend is certainly within my reach.

Anybody who wields a pen almost always has a book in them. So, come rains and I am off to the family pad in my favourite valley succumbing to the muse in the lap of inspiration in Nature’s inimitable style.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fond Farewell to the King of Pop – MJ - truly one of the world's biggest entertainers of all time!

R.I.P. - Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009)

I was acquainted with his music when I was in my teens. While the highpoint of the Convent Prom was that boys from St. Joseph's School, our brother school, were going to be there, the singularly most important part of the evening that made it so memorable was not the lanky boys in their new stubbles and croaky vocal chords, not their thin frames and cocky swagger, not even the fanciest of dresses that the girls wore. The lasting memory of that end-of-school-year Prom has been his distinctive voice that sang in a unique note, the sound that fell in its own genre and like no other and the overall music that just swept me away.

The second initiation came when I, freshly, got into college; and a friend who was a BBC Radio regular boasted about being abreast with the latest musical fad of that time, yes Beat It, Billie Jean and Thriller. The initial drive for me was that I didn’t want to be left behind from the mass hysteria that was fast engulfing my generation. Once I had been indoctrinated by a gentle nudge from friends, I soon, of my own volition, got baptized into this holy sect of scintillating, never-heard-before sound. Such was the pull and the drawing power of the music and the magnetism of its creator that we simply got sucked in. The western music loving people of my generation had found a new God and his name was Michael Jackson. He was more than an enigma or a phenomenon for us. To us, he was our musical messiah who herded us to the blessed land that lay beyond our daily trials and tribulations.

We grooved to his music at our dance parties that became so famous that they were sought-after in the Doon Valley. No jam sessions were complete without MJ’s albums being played to high decibels. My dancing partners and I chose Michael Jackson’s songs for our piece-de resistance in the dance competitions which we ended up winning. Today, I would like to give credit to the music more than my alacrity and nimble-footedness on the dance floor.

Over the years, Michael Jackson’s music meant different things to me at different times. During the monsoons in Doon, I swayed to the lilting tunes of Ben, The Girl is Mine and Man in the Mirror. During my dancercises I shook my body to his foot-tapping hits. Later, I marveled at the emotionality of his artistic temperament as I tuned into ‘We are the World,’ ‘Heal the World’ and ‘Black or White.’

Now with this musical idol gone forever into the realm of the unknown, into the arms of his creator; I would like to remember one of my greatest influences thus. Here’s my tribute to the one-and-only, to MJ, I loved, adored and revered.

1. Acceptance – We were part of this large international community of young ones who were MJ converts. We had been transformed by his music and we were his disciples following his every dance move or new release. We found acceptance for ourselves amongst our peers and a sense of unity with the global world.

2. Confidence – That is what he instilled in us even from across the Atlantic. We knew his songs, we tried his thrusts and shimmies and walks, we swayed in consonance with his music. And because we did all this, we were never the shrinking violets or the wall flowers who dotted the corners of the room. We were out there having fun, bringing in a lot of back-slapping bonhomie, being the heart of the gatherings – the inspired lot who in turn inspired the others in our coterie. And because we were confident souls in the social circuit, we were also bold not brazen, self-assured not cynical in our other pursuits as well.

3. Popularity – Because we attempted to move like him, because we were in step with what was in, because we were the groovy lot that jived to the MJ beat and were well-conversant with the MJ lingo, because we were this hip set that could sing MJ’s songs backwards and could use slang such as Beat It with a lot of élan; boy, were we popular. I will always be indebted to Michael Jackson for helping me get an image makeover from a studious bookworm to this bubbly babe whom everybody wanted to know in college. And guess what, because I regarded MJ’s music with a sense of sanctity and enjoyed it for its sheer brilliance, uniqueness and ingenuity, I did not allow my reverence to get diluted with any peer pressure. So, I did no drugs, did not enjoy tipple – a dance party mainstay, did not let my grades fall and generally remained a good girl who was popular and fun-loving at the same time.

4. Style - After his demise, I read in several of the obits that MJ was regarded as a style icon. My generation began following him long before the phrase was coined. We came out with our own versions of fedoras, white glove and socks, black shoes, skin-tight jeans and yes, belts. We not only cultivated this ‘MJ’ style but also had the smarts to carry it with a lot of chutzpah.

5. Stress – I don’t know about the others, but for me Michael Jackson’s music has been one of the biggest stress busters. In my last job, at one point of time, getting to work became a nightmare. The commute to work used to be filled with dreadful thoughts of facing the hell boy at work, the only bright light being the Jackson CD playing on the car system. Willy-nilly it brought a smile to my lips, put a song in my heart, lightened my steps and proved to be more meditational and therapeutic than the entire course of Art of Living (Is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar listening!). Similarly, after a hard day’s work that stretched well beyond 10-11 hours, it was Thriller that put the thrill back in my spirit and Billie Jean that helped me battle the stress.

6. Happiness – Again, I don’t know about you but I can speak about myself with the utmost conviction and say that Michael Jackson’s music has always made me happy. Even ecstatic, at times euphoric, a lot of times rapturous but always, overridingly, happy. If I wanted to shake myself from a state of ennui, if I wanted to put on my dancing shoes, if I wanted to beat the blues, if I wanted to stop being lazy and go for that walk, if I wanted a little pick-me-up, all I had to, nay have to do is listen to an MJ number. It always works for me. His music has that inherent feel-good quality to it that spells bliss, bright and bold. Given the tragic life that he has had, I wonder if he really knew how many lives he has touched positively and brought happiness to.

7. Treasure trove of Talent - Michael Jackson was a huge trove of talent. He was one of the most sensational singers of our time, his dancing skills were such that they are emulated to this day, his song writing skills were extraordinary, his videos are legendary and above all, he was the most composite and ultimate entertainer. MJ has taught us that we, too, can multi-layer ourselves with multiple talents and endeavour to reach the zenith in our chosen areas.

8. Lessons of life – Finally MJ’s iconic yet tragic life holds a lesson for all of us. Here are a few that hold a lot of meaning for me -

You can assume responsibility for your family and loved ones even at the tender ages of five or 11. You only need big shoulders and a genuine inclination in that direction.

You can face any assault to your person or mind and come out stronger. At least in the first 3-4 decades of his life, when he rode the upper crest, MJ seemed to have overcome all the negative influences of his childhood rather well. And then there are several examples from the high and mighty from whose lives you can learn to slay your personal demons and emerge stronger and better.

In his leaving for eternity he has left this eternal lesson with us on how not to lead our lives. Drug abuse, child molestation, several liaisons – secret and otherwise, masks & gas chambers, needles & scalpels, tabloids & glowing tributes…………. Certain things in some professions are inherent. They come with the package. But for most, we ourselves are the decision-makers.

In his death, he has shown us that this is no way to go for anyone, leave alone a legend of his stature. The choices are in our hands. Are we willing to turn the stumbling stones into building blocks, the hazards into how-tos and the turbulence & turmoil into a tryst with destiny that strengthens the spirit and lays down the path for betterment.

MJ has taught us how to treasure all that one accumulates not by the stroke of luck but by the dint of one’s hard work. That he dithered it all away in his later years should come as a sharp reminder to all of us, when we tend to get smug and snooty about it.

Michael Jackson, with his choicely penned lyrics and thoughtful words, urged us to look at the “man in the mirror and change some of his ways.”

He has shown us how talent and hard work can prevail over the biases. How the gifted and the genius can win over the prejudiced. In the global and huge, incomparable recognition that MJ has received in his lifetime and so much more in death, he has overpowered the bias of colour, creed, race or religion.

In his musical prowess, his inventiveness, the sheer mastery over his craft and his uniqueness, Michael Jackson has taught us all to strive for excellence and aim for the stars.

And because he had it all before he lost everything – family, fortune, fame – Michael Jackson, in his tragic, untimely death, has taught us how not to squander away the reputation built with the building blocks of inspiration, perspicacity and sweat.

With his fan base and hysteria surpassing that seen for the likes of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll or the People’s Princess, Michael Jackson filled our hearts with love for him and adulation like for no other, just by the magic of his music and the brightness of his brilliance.

I salute the legend for all this and more.

Michael I will miss you. And I will indeed ‘Remember the Time’ when I used to ‘Rock with you.’ May you rest in peace, now that you are in God’s embrace, far from the world of ghouls and ghosts you created for yourself. Amen!!!

(Picture courtesy - Google images)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

एक याद धुंधली सी!

10th दिसम्बर 1993 को लिखी और आज ब्लॉग पर पुब्लिश की.

ख़ुशी में बीतें कुछ पल
कभी आसुओं में छिपती हंसी
उदासी को अपने पंख पे ले उड़ती
भीनी-भीनी सी एक मुस्कान
आँखों में सजाती अपना बसेरा
एक याद धुंधली सी

जीवन के पथ पर साथ चलते चलते
दामन छुधाता एक अजनबी सा होता हाथ
गूंजती जैसे दूर से
एक पहचानी सी आवाज़
बीते हुईं कल की चादर ओढे हुईं
एक याद धुंधली सी

आशा की किरण संजोये षण
उम्मीद पे टिका वजूद
वक़्त की लपटों में
खोयी उम्र की दास्तान
आगे बढ़ते कुछ थके से कदम
दिल पर आती एक दस्तक
पीछे यूँही अचानक मुड़कर देखना
पर नज़र आती
एक याद धुंधली सी.

(Picture courtesy -



Speak so that you are not just heard
but understood

See so that you don’t simply look
but observe

Hear so that you do not just listen
but comprehend

Touch so that you don’t just hit the surface
but feel

Taste so that you simply do not eat
but savour

Smell so that you do not just notice the scent
but allow the fragrance to engulf you

Feel so that you are not just aware
but are driven by empathy, by compassion

Criticize, not to spite
but to change for the better

Pick up a pursuit, not to fill the emptiness of time
but to raise it to a level of passion

Work not just to earn a livelihood
but to carve a niche, an identity of your own

Do, not just so to lead a life
but because you want to shape your destiny

Walk not just to cover the distance
but to leave footprints on your chosen path

Talk not just to add noise to the existing cacophony
but to leave an imprint of your words of wisdom

Leave an impression, not of power but value
Of not just awe but admiration

Sympathise not because it is good to do so
But because it is what you really want to do

Fall for very little
but stand up for a lot more

Act not because you want to be noticed
but because those actions define you

Uphold an ideal not because it holds a universal value
but because it forms part of your belief

Amass not just for the self alone
but to share your life with many

Live, not in an isolated, individualistic microcosm
But to bring in your unique meaning to the Universe.

(Picture courtesy -


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Count The Blessings!

Penned on 26th June 2003
Published on the Blog on 28th May 2009

I mourned the death of an unborn baby,
But failed to rejoice the survival of
an ailing woman who had almost been a mother;

I wailed at a thorn pricking my flesh,
But ignored the scent of jasmine that
stayed on my hands for lingering moments;

I was angered by the war of words with my soul mate,
And glazed over the unspoken language of love;

I lamented the loss of one opportunity,
And shut my eye to other doors that fell open;

I rued my weakness in wit,
And refused to recognize the strength of spirit;

I craved for what might have been,
And overlooked to thank the Almighty for what was;

I crouched in fear with irrational nightmares,
And blinded myself to dreams that would set me free;

I sought and demanded, wished and desired,
Rusting my tools that I could create with;

I pined for that exciting turn in life,
While killing time with disinterest and ennui;

I aspired to be exalted,
Without realizing that I was missing the human in me;

I dreamt of reaching out and touching the sky,
While losing the ground beneath my feet;

I cried shamelessly for my despondency,
And forgot to smile and count my blessings.

Picture courtesy -

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


And in my case, Pati too.

I recently posted a query on Indians on a professional networking site, by way of research for a non-fiction that I am, kind of, working on. Kind of, because the pace is abysmal, the sense of discipline completely lacking and the effort downright shameful. But that's another matter.

Back to the question on Indians. What I asked was non-controversially true but definitely offensive. I, to my innocent mind, felt the points cited were more offensive to the eyes and the sensibilities than to the ears.

While a lot of the responses were intelligent and gave comparable data from other nations; the others wrote back as if they have been struck across the face, personally affronted and belittled. Now, I really wasn't expecting this.

One respondent said that while he agrees that Indians are all this and more, I should not talk about it openly on a global and public forum such as the internet.

However, one Gujju Bhai out of Oklahoma took the cake. If I were to translate his response into Hindi, this is what he said - "Aur tere Baap, Bhai, Bete ka kya?"

Here is my question that is raising hackles with many -

As an Indian I have conflicting emotions for my country and my fellow countrymen. While I am extremely proud on one end, I am sorely ashamed on the other. I invite comments from Indians and the international set on what happens in their country and why?

I am extremely proud of India's history, culture, heritage, democracy, tolerance, festivals, religiosity or rather spirituality, languages, unity in diversity, natural endowments, colours, cuisines, pot pourri of different influences that have confluenced into an unique amalgamation we call India and the other usual suspects.

I am quite ashamed of the other, darker side of the continuum. Sample this -

1. A high percentage of Indians are illiterate or ill educated.
2. A lot of Indian men urinate in public.
3. Poor India defecates in the open.
4. Most Indian men spit in public.
5. A lot of Indians lack civic sense.
6. A lot of hypocrisy besets our attitude.
7. In our general bazaars, there is no honest price. We all need to haggle. But not in branded shops.
8. Most young urban and semi-urban India is rude, impolite and misses on basic etiquette.
9. Many of us deface our historical monuments.
10. We Indians litter our streets and public places.
11. Several Indian men are lecherous and have little respect for women.
12. Most Indian places are not safe for women, particularly in the night.
13. Eve teasing and other forms of harassment against women is rampant in India.
14. We do not preserve their culture and legacy well.
15. We have no driving etiquette.
16. We don't like the concept of queues.
17. We love to break the rules.
18. A lot of Indian offices thrive on politics.

I could add more...............

But at this stage, I'd like to understand from my fellow, literate brethren why we are like this only. And I would appreciate if the global community could give examples from their geographical region.

Further, I am of the strong view that Indians weren't always to be accused of the things I have in my list of 18. Yes, India has had a checkered history - British, Mughals, Aryans, Turks and so on. The young today, blindly ape the West. My agenda is to hold a mirror to ourselves, admit what is wrong (and what was not, traditionally, always so) and rectify it lest we be labelled a race and culture that is known for these very attributes.

India is an emerging democracy with its economy on an upswing and its democratic government going strong. I feel it is up to every individual to make a positive contribution.

And what you do not recognise or accept, you cannot change.

At this point of time I am looking forward to intelligent responses that put into perspective whys and wherefroms of these issues that I have raised. I am not concerned whether it happens in other countries or not. I am hotly bothered about why my country is afflicted with these malaise. Have we, traditionally been so, or have been a victim of myriad influences that have shaped our history. What can we as individuals do to make a difference? Are there positive examples from other countries that we can emulate?

I am proud of India, you see, but ashamed of what Indians have turned it into.

I would welcome your insight on the following -

1. Why do we have these issues in India?
2. What is the genesis of these issues?
3. What are the solutions - education, awareness, government, NGO, individual support etc.?
4. Which other countries have had similar issues and how have they tackled it? For instance, one of the respondents advises me that UK used to have the problem of men urinating in public and they have passed a law against it.

Picture courtesy -


Friday, May 22, 2009


I’ve been soaking in the Sun
I’ve been dancing with the Moon;
I’ve been lazing around
I’ve been, cosily, home bound;
But one of these days I’ll get up and get going...............

I’ve been sleeping on the pill
I’ve been waking up at will;
I’ve been pottering away
I’ve been putting off to December, what I could do in May;
But one of these days I’ll get up and get going...............

I’ve been making excuses
With simple ingenuity, oh how me it amazes;
Rainy day, grainy day, gaming day, taming day,
Sunny day, funny day, grouchy day, slouchy day
I while away time as I may;
But one of these days I’ll get up and get going...............

A large to-do list to work on
Of banal and blah, of insipid and ho-hum
I’d like my days to be shorn;
But one of these days I’ll get up and get going...............

Many a responsibility to shoulder, many duties to take upon
The hideous, the heinous, the beastly, the basal, the villainous, the vicious
With measures of goodness and honesty, I wish to con;
But one of these days I’ll get up and get going...............

Square up my shoulders for people to lean on
Extend a hand or two to help the desolate, the lovelorn
Get run off my feet to run an errand for someone
Lend a patient ear for grief, for problems, for fun;
But one of these days I’ll get up and get going...............

Think fast on my toes to make decisions
Look the trouble in the eye and work out solutions,
Strive to have answers on my fingertips to satisfy the curious mind
Infuse the spirit of harmony, with which relationships to bind;
But one of these days I’ll get up and get going...............

Comb out the tangles from a messy mop of a loved one’s head
Crease out lines of worry and wipe out the sweat,
Sniff out chaos and commotion before they grow in proportion
Comfort a forlorn soul with a kind heart and compassion;
But one of these days I’ll get up and get going...............


Sunday, May 10, 2009


Penned on 16th March 2005 and re-published on the blog on 10th May 2009 as a tribute to 'MA' on Mother's Day!

I cradled in her arms
blissfully ignorant of the ravages around
into a faraway land of calm and comfort;

I rocked to the lullaby of her heartbeat
reassuring and divine
long before my ears got attuned to the cacophony
of care and concern;

My small, groping hands
pulled and tugged at her face, hair, clothing, whatever
latching on to the lifeline that gave me life;

I drank from her bosom
the elixir of life
long before my palate discerned between
myriad tastes and aromas;

My feet kicked her when I was within
and kicked her again when I found ground
yet, she gave me in return love with no conditions
and an identity I would call my own;

She brought joy, eased off pain
and ushered in rays of hope
she nurtured me with patience and passion
often making several, unnoticed sacrifices along the way;

I took her for granted
blamed her for what was not
and showed no gratitude for what was
yet she called me her own, a piece of her
content with precious little that I returned to her;

Now she is gone
and I will never get her back
I crave for the moments
when I could repay if only a little bit
love back till it hurt
share my life till the end of time;

All I am left with
is memories so treasured
of a woman who created me
of a mother who brought me to life
and stood for all that I AM.

Picture courtesy -

Friday, May 08, 2009


The Rescue Mission Secretariat at +6012 378 3730 (Janet) or +6012 320 8090 (Zalina)
The Sec's E-mail is (see updates page for info)

Fellow bloggers, you can also help by embedding this appeal poster on your blog and linking to

You can follow the progress of the rescue via the updates here.

We are aware it is a monumental task and appreciate all forms of support, assistance, suggestions, encouragement and your prayers.

Thank you.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The three components of good management!

Picture courtesy -

What is more important in good management -- education (knowing why), training (knowing how) or experience (knowing when)- a friend asked sometime back.

I would say that it has to be a composite of all three.

Good education is like a strong foundation. It is a resource that you keep dipping into consciously, sub-consciously and unconsciously all through your work life.

Training is like the cement and mortar that fortify the structure of your house (you in this case). You keep adding suitable inputs given the kind of outcome you wish to see.

Finally, experience is the beautiful structure that you have built / acquired through years of slogging and tilling away in the right direction.

And I do agree with the others that for a well rounded management, you need to add understanding, compassion, wisdom, adaptability, humour, MBWA, lead by example, Gestalt and fore and farsightedness.

Friday, February 27, 2009


PDA or Public Display of Affection is the latest fad being talked about these days. Indians are rising up to the occasion to hold hands, hug or kiss in public almost as second nature and not just do their thing behind the bushes or in old monuments anymore, with the ancient dead & buried royals for company. Whether it is fine or not and to what extent it is OK is the subject matter of another discourse.

But Indians have been exhibitionists of a different kind altogether for as long as one can remember. It’s been happening in my lifetime, my parent’s lifetime and perhaps in their parents’ lifetime and over. That is the Public Display of Defecation AND Public Display of Urination, which is rampant in almost every part of the country and makes for truly one of the most secular activities that we indulge in, that too openly and with gay abandon. This is one Indian trait that binds us into one homogeneous species like no other.

While the whys and wherefores of this natural act by all Indians - rich or poor, northern or southern, men or women (though more pronouncedly the former), young or old, educated or illiterate – is subject matter for yet another rant, I want to draw your attention to a serious issue within our living spaces, in our very own neighbourhood.

I am a complainer by nature and personality, particularly more for the social issues rather than my personal woes. Which means that I become the easy, more overt ogre going about raising my heckles for issues that bother me all the while and possibly many others around me, as those many others choose to remain silent in a state of chosen inertia. I end up raising my eyebrows and voice, often together, when somebody breaks a queue to break into it, when someone forgets the mobile etiquette in sensitive places like hospitals, theaters, restaurants and the like, when people push and shove you in probable places like Chandni Chowk and improbable ones like Khan Market or Greater Kailash, when people don’t mind their p’s and q’s and are hatefully rude and impolite, when people throw their personal garbage on the roads while walking or traveling in buses, autos, rickshaws, trains, cars – fancy or basic, shorn of frills.

So imagine my consternation, given this predisposition, when I catch people peeing in the lush parks that beautify our colony or against boundary walls or behind the flats in the supposedly less used pathways. More often than not, these people come from a certain strata – the drivers, guards, maids, domestic helps, courier boys – in short the very lifeline of our daily existence. I have pulled up people for committing this social sin on several occasions as I have caught them red-handed in the despicable act. What is even more exasperating is that they are seldom red-faced when caught. The reactions from the offenders have been checkered ranging from very rarely shame to a quick apology before they scamper about to confrontation – the last being more common, mostly in women. The confronting has made me seethe in rage as one half of the civilized me expects them to feel deeply ashamed and take an oath to never do it again. But these days, perhaps as a sign of maturity, I have begun to see the bleak, pitiable side of the entire scenario.

The offenders I am talking about come from the background where they have no toilets in the shanties they call their homes. Often, there are no public conveniences either. And if there are any then they are in a state of ‘throwing up’ squalor and filth, very slum doggish (to validate the new jargon, if you please). What such public conveniences go onto serve is not release or relief but dissemination of more germs and infections. Hence, the naturally familial and societal schooling is such that it is easier to relieve oneself in open spaces, unmindful of the fact that they are roadsides, backs of houses, lanes, colony parks or any other such public domain, in so doing, impinging on another person’s private or not so private space.

Secondly, if there are worthy-to-use shauchalayas, then they are hardly ever free and go about charging Re.1 for peeing and Re.2 for crapping, per use. For a set of people who go about making anywhere between Re. 50 to 100 per day (i.e. 0.99 to 1.98 USD a day), it is sacrilege to spend a sizeable percentage of their daily income on something that you pass out several times in a day, thereby increasing the spend by several times. The money could rather be used in buying food or clothing for self and the family. In such an abysmal state, spending to spend oneself out seems like the highest kind of wastefulness.

Thirdly, an average Indian of means lacks the intent or compassion for thinking about the guy next to him. The selfishness quotient is so high that it prohibits us from seeing beyond our noses. I am not talking socialism or altruism; we seem to even lack the basic sense of empathy or kindness that is an integral part of being ‘thinking-feeling’ humans. Perhaps this is why we waste food or allow our kids to enjoy their favourite ice cream or burger while the street urchin watches them with wide-eyed hunger; we stash our kitchen cabinets with the fanciest of ingredients – olives, caviar, pâté, asparagus, wines, exotic spices etc. etc. – while our help at home struggles to make ends meet; we spend thousands of rupees over a luxurious five-star meal in one sitting and refuse to donate a share of our income in selfless acts. The examples are many.

Besides, we Indians continue to be saddled with the deeply ingrained system of caste and class discrimination. We thrive on a retinue of servants to clean our dirt and muck but we cannot share our place with them. How many people have you seen hugging their servants in a display of emotion on a task done well or as an act of sympathy or out of affection? We get these very hands to do our chores but we are wary of holding them. With this mindset or value system, how many of us are advanced enough or kind to allow our servants to use our bathrooms? I haven’t heard of many cases, have you? When I was growing up in my parent’s sprawling bungalow in the verdant Doon valley, this was never an issue as the Bungalow boasted a nicely done-up servants’ living quarters with an adjoining bathroom. But once I moved out on my own in the big capital City and into a flat, this became part of the agenda that I brandished my cause-consciousness with. My sight and senses were rudely exposed to the harsh reality that people who came to work for you, passed out stuff out in the open. In this case, ignorance had definitely been bliss.

But how long can we shut our eye to a problem just to wish it away. We lament about the fact that these dirty, uneducated lot spoil our surroundings and make them unlivable when being under the uncontrollable urge of their bodily functions.

Ranting without reason, sordid complaining without solution, whining without duty-bound worrying is all pointless, meaningless and hollow. Therefore, I’d like to present some solutions for what seems to be an epidemic in India and endemic to Indians. The first solution rests on the State or the Government. It is a political issue and a policy matter. It is the right of citizens to demand clean sanitation and a duty of the Government to provide the basic necessities to the people of the country it governs. It is not a matter of choice or a point that remains un-ticked on the election mandate. Hence the Government needs to provide for conveniences such as Sulabh Shauchalays – free, accessible and clean - in healthy numbers that cater to the masses.

Close on the heels of the above, comes the duty to impart education which not only encompasses the three Rs but goes onto include aspects of health and hygiene, rights and duties, laws and lessons on civilized living et al. Again a matter of the State.

This brings us to the responsibility of the individual vs. the State. Each of us has a role to play, a duty to be bound by and socially relevant morals and laws to adhere to. We cannot simply turn a blind eye to that.

The math is simple and basic. Pay Re.1 X five times a day, roughly X 30 days for our domestic servants multiplied by the number of servants we have, either as part of the pay to our helps or to the management of the public toilets. Or else get our Residents’ Welfare Associations or Governing bodies to contract rates with the ‘Public Conveniences Board’ or whatever it is called for the Housing Societies or the commercial complexes.

Additionally, within the confines of our homes, we can take on the responsibility of educating these people on the basic aspects and not just be selfish about getting our work done. Is it too difficult to talk about the virtues of washing one’s hands, taking baths frequently, wearing clean clothes and the like instead of either thinking of it below one’s dignity to get into a conversation with the lowly lot or treat the maid as the local gossip who brings the spiciest neighbour-news to your doorstep?

The mantra I’d like to advocate for myself and those around me is simple – if something worries you then it should wake you up into taking positive action, if an issue bothers you then you should be ballsy enough to get bolstered into taking a concrete step towards righting the wrong. Otherwise stay in a suspended state of ennui and simply don’t bother, either with the stench or the sight.