19.1.15

love ka matter hai

didi, us gaon me hum nahi ja sakte hai. Pura bandh hai Saraiyya. Pura force aaya hua hai DSP ke saath.

Acha, kyun?

Love ka matter hai didi. Ek muslim aur hindu vo kargaye. Love.

Ladki hindu ki ladka?

Ladka hindu tha didi. Muslim log unko gaad diye. Kaat ke. Phir hindu log unke ghar jaladiye. Paanch chhe ghar.

(ajitpur village. saraiyya block. muzaffarpur district. bihar.)

16.1.15

carrot cake and cigarettes

i'm in gaya, bihar. 

on the way to the village i had to visit today, our car got stopped by some men who wanted us to give them a donation (chanda) for some pooja. 

except, he stopped our car, pulled out the keys and said "haramzaada chanda do." my colleague in the back was smoking a cigarette. they grabbed at her and tried to make her give them all her cigarettes. i said i didn't understand why they had to be so rude - they said "tum nahi samjhoge." 

we were a car full of women who looked like we were from the city (except for the driver). they didn't let us go till we had paid them 500 rupees for their "pooja". they very nearly punctured our tyres. 

this exchange was 3 minutes long, at the very best. 

i am troubled. i know why, except i don't know if it's fair to attribute something like this to something like that so very flippantly. 

tomorrow, i've told to driver to take the more populated route. that's the way we survive in this country, right? we take solace in crowds. we maintain two feet distance from them (lest we get molested), but we stay in them anyway. 

anyway, my driver's response. "aise mere saath kabhi nahi hua hai. aap teen saal pehle aate na, to aise naxal log milte. tab to paise kya, zindagi ka sawaal hota. aaj kal vo sab nahi hota hai." (this hasn't happened to me before, but if you had come three years ago we would have been attacked by naxalites. you would have feared for your life then, not money.)

ps. at the end of the day, i ate very good carrot cake. 

14.1.15

it is not i

angulimala, my cousin says,

i squint my eyes at him - i can't recall the story but i remember the image from amar chitra katha quite vividly. a bare-chested man with a necklace made of thumbs. dark, like all the asuras in the series.

my cousin continues - it's a story about a dacoit in the hills. angulimala is an orphan forced into dacoitry by circumstance. so infamous, even the sound of his name makes one shiver. he would take everything you had - and then cut off your finger to keep count. 

one day, he sees a man in the forest. he shouts out at him - stop! i am angulimala. he chases the man but never catches up to him. he runs and runs and after a while, he tires. he stops running and calls out - do you not fear me? why don't you stop?

the man turns around. angulimala immediately sees that this man fears nothing. not even death. "it is not i who is moving," he says. (this man, of course, turns out to be the buddha).

what a thing to say. none of us understand what that means. not when we were nine. not today.

but it clearly works on angulimala - this cryptic statement from a man he couldn't catch up to. he gives up dacoitry, takes up beggary and lives in the city. until one day a woman recognizes him as the man who killed her husband. she shouts - a crowd gathers and throws stones at him. angulimala remains smiling and silent through this.

when buddha finally shows up, he collapses in his arms. "i seek refuge in you," he says, and dies.

after a quiet moment, my cousin tells me - it's an intense story when you're 9. i say - it's an intense story even now.

**

(i stayed in bed all day today. it was cold and raining and anywhere outside a blanket was hostile. but i've a story nevertheless. thank you sharan. :) )

13.1.15

campaigning

he's a hard-nosed, street-wise, brilliant motherfucker.

you know it's true.

a minister calls him this morning. "i'm contesting for elections from your area," she says. that's a bloody problem, he tells me. a dharm sankat. i'm campaigning for the other guys.

"send me some kids to do it then," she tells him.

it's not like i can give birth to them he tells me. where will i send them from.

he makes some calls in front of me. then he calls her. "i'll send you about a hundred tomorrow" he says.

he packs up and makes to leave. "come eat gol gappe with me," he says.

how can i refuse.  

12.1.15

a story a day project

HELLO new blog project.

i'm going to write one real story i hear everyday. something someone tells me within a 24 hour bracket, preferably. but if i'm really not in a conversation mood - may be something i read. i'm a horrible listener - but the point of the project is really to think about how we make conversation and what i take away from them.

and to hoard stories. always that.

**
12/1/15

they went to japan in 2002. this was back when everything digital was new. they stayed in the fanciest hotel there - there was a 42 inch flat screen tv in the bathroom. the toilet seats were heated, and the faucets had pressure controls. but the star of that trip was really the 50 year old chivas regal whiskey they were giving out as awards. which they couldn't accept - because they were winning the award, among other things, for their work against alcoholism. ha.

11/1/15

"we have all kinds of meat on fridays, she said. it's not for you if you are scared. wild boar, deer, porcupine, we cook interesting things with my grandmother's recipe - and no shortcuts. we even grind our masalas by hand."

"porcupine?! really? i've never heard of porcupine being eaten. what does it taste like?"

"pork, without the fat. they run around in the wild no? so there's only meat. no fat. and i cook it well."

:| rosang, green park extension market. not for the fainthearted. 

8.1.15

1.1.15

next

2014 was a year of difficult choices and personal losses, but a year i found my footing in again. it was a year in which i stopped working out, stopped reading, stopped writing fiction, but got a job, saw the country in ways i hadn't done before, established myself professionally (somewhat), made new friends, reconciled with older friends. i know the next year isn't going to be easy for me - but i have love and happiness, and isn't that all that matters?