March 28, 2006

Split Wide Open

Can't remember London except as a vague dream. The smell of sweat and roasting jeera and the sound of horns blaring are the package called Delhi. London will never know the adrenalin rush of speeding through a yellow light at a busy intersection. And Delhi will never know why in God's name the yellow signal actually exists.

Changing cities is changing lives. And, in Delhi, crossing the road without looking just because there's a zebra crossing is changing life for death.

March 22, 2006

Kya Bataoon Maa Kahaan Hoon Main...

...yahan udne ko mere liye
Khula aasmaan hai
Tere kisson jaisa bhola
Salona jahaan hai yahan sapnon waala


Me flying home to Mummy for the vacations tomorrow. Too sleep deprived to post these days, with Lent term essays and Cambridge et al. Will be back to blogging soon.

March 19, 2006


...Love, we are in God’s hand.
How strange now, looks the life he makes us lead;
So free we seem, so fettered fast we are!
I feel he laid the fetter: let it lie!

Robert Browning in Andrea Del Sarto

March 16, 2006

As You Like It

And the following draw to a close:

- The Royal Shakespeare Company's London Season (Super!)
- The best part of my entertainment budget (12 plays! woohoo!)
- Six months of my stay in the UK (I want my Mummy!)
- The final taught term of my course (Whatever)
- My patience with the winters (Brrrrrruddy Hell!)

March 14, 2006

Dyer Consequences

The school newspaper comes out every Tuesday, and prides itself on its tabloid-itude. Student union elections were held last week, and the paper carried a sarcastic report today. Many candidates had, as part of their election promises, vowed to have more drinking water facilities on campus (I know of one water fountain and I've been here six months.) So a scathing snippet in the paper said that with so many people wanting drinking water facilities, the school had decided to dig some wells and let students harvest their own drinking water from them. The text was accompanied by the picture of an Indian girl who had contested the elections.

The girl was shown standing in a well.

Now the paper routinely pisses me off with its sexism and occasional racism. But this time, it hit a very raw nerve. Any Indian looking at the picture of a woman in a well is carrying far too much historical baggage to be able to smile and turn the page. The Jalianwalah Bagh incident, for me, repeatedly evokes not just anger at the cold blooded murder that happened on one day in history, but provokes the rage at centuries of culture that consider the forceful ravishment of a woman as fate deserving of her death. Having seen Khamosh Pani at a Pakistan Society screening recently, the anger was much closer to the surface.

The woman in the well is an icon of a world engulfed in conflict where neither party values women's lives. If I write all this in a letter to the editor, it might just get read, and get published in a parody form next week. I don't expect people who refer to "sheesha bars with Arabian girls and shit" to understand my problem. I'm most welcome to carry my chipped shoulder back home where I belong, where I could be expected to jump in the well to avoid being raped tomorrow.

Well, if it's threatening to rip your soul apart, blog it. And then just hope you've got it out of your system.

March 13, 2006

Bad Day

I could not concentrate on my book on the tube today, because the teenaged boy and girl in the seat opposite were all but tearing each other's clothes off, and I wanted to throw my book down, walk across to them, and tell them to be very careful, because one day she will have a job, and one day (before she gets the job, if I don't intervene) he will get her pregnant, and then her boss will say that women with children are not good enough to work.

Sheesh man! I would spit today out of my life if I could.

P.S.: Completely forgot it is Aamir Khan's birthday today! Fust time in 16 years, I forgot! Hurray! Harnaam Singh will be happy to know this!

March 10, 2006

A common greyness silvers everything

Death is invisible in Central London. Death happens in a dignified, behind-the-curtain way somewhere else. There is no sound of weeping or dying. Death is not to be seen while walking on the roads. I thought I saw a dead something on the road today, but it turned out to be soil.
There are pigeons everywhere, but nobody knows where they go to die. Nobody knows where they nest either, just as nobody knows where the black and grey camouflage coats who walk the road bring up their young.
Maybe I need to get out of Central London, or maybe the sun just needs to break through the clouds from time to time.

March 09, 2006

Just Another Day

As the IT man (always a man) fixed the computer in a classroom, a pair of red plastic handcuffs (with hearts printed on them, and the message “Prisoner of Love” emblazoned in white) fell of the desk. He saw them and said to the lecturer “Ma’am, you dropped your handcuffs. I’m not asking what they’re doing here.” Thirty female students, who were examining a sticky-jelly-boy-bits souvenir, burst out in laughter. As the computer phut-phutted to life, a headless bikini model lit up the projector screen.

We are the Gender Institute. We exist to amuse mankind. Or so it must seem to the IT department.

P.S.: If you’re getting all excited about what goes on in our classroom, you’re not allowed to even think about it till you have read Foucault. Then, if you’re alive, we’ll tell you how we use handcuffs and jelly genitalia to deconstruct homosocially-negotiated-heterosexuality. By then, you’ll surely be dead.

March 07, 2006

Some More Please!


Just paid 1.55 pounds for half a slice of pizza at the hostel cafeteria. I suspect the person in the kitchen slicing the pizza is the lovable chap who serves breakfast on most days, and counts the number of potato wedges he puts on our plates. Whenever he’s around, we either avoid taking anything that’s not of a pre-determined size, or clear our throats and shamefacedly ask for more, not always successfully. We steal little pats of butter sometimes, but that just makes the situation even more pathetic. Being the powerless little creatures we are, we take heart in abusing him:

Bedardi hai who nigoda
Khaana deta thoda thoda
Lekar ghar jaayega saara
Bhooka marta pet hamaara
Usko toh chaain kabhi na

Kar de mushkil jeena
Roz woh kameena

March 06, 2006

No More!


Feeling Responsible For Getting You Safely There

Supporting the Blank Noise Project

March 03, 2006


We’re sticking daffodils into flowerpots
And painting smiles on our gloomy faces
We’re thinking lots of summery thoughts
And looking at photos of summery places
We’re selling gloves for less than they cost
And proffering venues for summer bashes
And sticking our tongues at ole Jack Frost
With snowflakes on our noses and eyelashes

March 02, 2006


Ages ago (Five years ago) I worked (I pretended to work) at an office (in a rathole) editing news (stealing news) for a news service (for a shady news service). I created (I copy-pasted) the UK section (the UK section).
So I regularly consulted (enough with the brackets already!) The Guardian website, which often had an advertising banner emblazoned above the masthead. The advert urged me to “buy Les Miserables tickets now!” Having recently read the novel and being completely smitten by it, and being semi-conscious because of the heat during a summer power cut in the office, I clicked on the banner. When the website opened, I realized that the performance was in LONDON: that faraway place which might as well have been on the moon (the moon.) (Ok sorry.)  I felt so stupid getting so excited about something that was so beyond my world. I shook my head and got back to my work.
Tonight I saw the musical. It’s celebrating 25 years of making people gape and smile and cry. I gaped and smiled and cried an awful lot.
If you have a crazy idea, shake your head and go back to your work. Who knows what might happen in five years!

March 01, 2006

Superwoman Steps On To The Balcony For A Smoke

Article in The Times Of India

Superwoman: Time to take a break

"…Since the time women have had the freedom to work and build a career for themselves, they have aspired to be the superwoman. The complete woman who could handle the demands of home and workplace with ease and make sure that both ran smoothly without any hiccups. And one can proudly say that many have achieved this seemingly impossible task.

But then, the cultural set up in which she acquired the freedom to be independent, required her to work doubly hard to prove herself and show the other sex that he need not whine as she was quite capable of doing it all. She is anyway programmed to be a multi-tasker and one more addition to her list of jobs was only going to make her smarter and more efficient. While men may have snickered at her ambitious plans, she was confident and proved herself well…."

“…A recent survey conducted on 10,000 people in Europe says that marriage and sex is actually harmful for women. It shortens their life-span by over a year. And why is that? Because the stress of leading the dual roles of a working woman and homemaker takes a toll on their health. It further states that the effect of regular sex can shorten their lives due to hormonal changes. Interestingly, the effect on men for both is beneficial and it in fact extends their life span.

That is not to say that women need to abandon all plans to marry or have sex or for that matter even multi-tasking. It is in their blood, that's how they are trained to function. But it is definitely a warning for all those who are taking too much upon themselves. Slow down, take a breather and then charge ahead with full force….”

For the full article, click here.