April 25, 2009


I have always been a believer of the fact that we always have a choice. I work for Sabun Nakhun and Datun Unlimited (SNDU) since I like the work that I do, since I choose to. Responsibility towards family, society and rest of the universe actually is inconsequential to what I choose. Those are evil plans by society to dominate the individual. However, what if all our actions are driven by our sub-conscious? What if, we were just puppets on a string? What if the reality was that we were not choosing but were in fact rationalizing the choices that had been made for us?

In the Great Game, the Master Player is the one who can make sure that the game progresses according to his or her wishes while making others think that they control the course of the game. What if God was playing the Great Game with me making me think that I have a choice? What if I really were an experimental anomaly in the laboratory of the Mice?

What if I had somewhere sometime in another age, taken the blue pill? Would that at least have been a conscious choice?

April 22, 2009

Mathura Nagar Pati Kahe tum Gokul Jao

Krishna had achieved everything. He had defeated the evil Kansa, had become the undisputed ruler of the Yadavas, had established Mathura as the power centre of Indian Politics and was planning to put his cousins on the thrones of Hastinapur. But he wasn’t happy, he lacked something and though later ages would consider him a God and a Deliverer, he was extremely human. His thoughts took him far away from his reality. He could hear the flute. He looked for it but nowhere in his gem studded bedroom, could he find the flute which he had carried as he called his cows back home. They had gifted him a golden flute but when he felt it, the cold of the metal ran through his hands.

“Our greatest journeys are the ones that bring us home.” But where is home? Is home the place you were born? Is home the place where you grew up? Where you met your love? Where you settled down and had children?

Why did Krishna want to go back to Gokul? For Yashoda, for Radha or for Sudama?

Human beings can never figure what they want. Perhaps neither can Gods when they become human like us.

April 17, 2009

Mother India

This is an extremely confused post. I wrote this after a fight with someone over the person’s point of view that mothers were the main reason behind the stunted development of some men. So this is not exactly a well thought out post but it’s unabashedly supporting mothers and that’s why it’s important for me.

Long ago, the superstar of yesteryears Nargis starred in a movie that gave her unparalleled critical acclaim and ensured that every woman centric movie in India would be compared to Mother India. The climax of the movie was when she shot her own son, to uphold truth, honesty and virtue.

Mother India was a movie. But everyday in my life as I meet consumers I look at these hundreds of women, each one sacrificing immensely for the sake of their children and their families. This post is about all of them. This post is about Mother India.

I have always thought that Bengali Mothers are extremely protective about their children and thus a large percentage of Bengali men I know seem to be at a loss when they have to leave their safe havens for the first time. As they say great men think alike, someone called Tagore had also said to the Bengali Mother, “you have kept your sons as Bengalis, not made them men.” When I went to college, I realized that it was true for Indian men in general. The women on the other hand, for some reason, maybe neglect, were a lot more self sufficient.

As a result most of my women friends think that Indian men have been spoiled beyond repair and the biggest culprits are their moms. And therefore, they do not take kindly to the mothers of their boyfriends or even husbands. Momma’s boy seems to be a scathing remark every woman unleashes on her man when the things are not going right. And the men are steeped in the stereotypical thought that their mother-in-laws should not be asked to move in with them even if their wives are the only progeny the in-laws have.

I do not want to go into the details of how a boy child is preferred over a girl child in many parts of our country. That’s a tragedy and often results in heinous crimes. Maybe in another post I will speak about the frustration I feel over it. Maybe I will ask you to go and watch Matrubhoomi as I had asked you long back in this blog. But today somehow I want to speak about Mothers.

What most independent women fail to realize is the level of sacrifice a generation of mothers have made for their children. These are the children that have grown up in the late eighties and early nineties to push India into the greater system of World Economy. They have spent sleepless nights so that their sons and daughters can study. They have protected them from every harm’s way with their life. If the family can afford only 2 pieces of mutton, it has always gone to the children.

I remember when I was studying there were my mothers of my friends who would spend the entire day outside school just to ensure they were there for their sons during the tiffin breaks and as soon as the last bell rings. Pounding rain or scorching heat, they would be there, the image of sacrifice with a smile on her face, waiting patiently for her son who would dump his heavy bag on her and just walk off. And this was a common scene across all schools in Calcutta. Maybe it’s a Bengali phenomenon. Maybe, Bengali mothers are over protective about their sons and daughters.

And we forget all this so easily. We in fact scorn women who do this for their children. Today we want a life away from our parents as we grow up. I have spoken to close to a thousand women as a part of my work. While the wish for their son remains the same, “that he should get a good job and be well settled in life” the wishes for their daughters have dramatically changed. Today the mothers are sure, “my daughter will be independent and she will not have the life I have had.” It’s unfortunate how the daughters often forget this as they grow up. Well, I guess it’s biological and Freudian.

I always have believed there are many Indias within our country. But the Many Indias have many dads. However, the Many Indias have just one Mother – Mother India.

What exactly was the point of this post? Who knows! Maybe Mom does.

April 13, 2009

Superwoman Aunty

So one Superwoman was virtually chatting with me the other day and cribbing about her life. Her mom thinks her boyfriend should be on the cover of magazines for some reasons while she works on her shopping related emotional disorders. But that’s not important. What’s important is that she was upset. Normally in movies and comics Superwoman never grows old, but in reality, quite unfortunately, they do. A child at the park called her Aunty and she went into depression over the next few weeks making a few shop owners richer by a few grands.

I empathize. As much as I would love to believe I am the reincarnation of Peter Pan, I show tell tale signs of aging. But I have learnt to age gracefully. You have to learn it if your greatest competitor has been your dad. I remember when dad and I used to walk down together; the kids in our locality would call out to him as ‘Kaku’ (uncle) and me as ‘Dada’ (brother). Within two to three years, I had been promoted to ‘Kaku’ while dad surprisingly remained ‘Kaku’ too.

So now a days a father and son walk down the road and the future Souravs of Calcutta call us both ‘Kakus’ and of course they call my dad more often than me since they know who’s the fitter one. I don’t blame him though. He’s a super stud, lived his life on the principles of honesty and plain living and high thinking and has a head full of hair against my life of receding hairlines. While I hope I will remain honest to my heart till I die, I do not know if my thinking will outgrow the current preoccupation over “what women want!!!”

So I have accepted that kids and even college students will call me uncle. But there was one fear lurking behind my mind. Most of my friends are married or will be getting married within the next few years. The deal I have struck with my friends is that I will decide what their kids call me. You see, Banjo is just not a name. It’s an idea. It’s a way of living. It’s a theory of life. I can’t be called Banjo Uncle. Banjo can never be an uncle.

But then it happened. I have this really nice elder colleague of mine. I think he likes me and so when he introduced me to his daughters at an office get together he said, “Banjo Uncle se milo beta”. The earth shattered. The sky spewed blood; my ears echoed “Banjo Uncle, Banjo Uncle, Banjo Uncle” I held myself against the railing, wishing the can of Pepsi in my hand turned into Old Monk.

Then I saw through the reality. The kids were not kids. They were assassins sent out by Lex Luthor to kill the Superwomen. They had taken me as their first victim. It was sort of a net practice. Men are always weaker. So they had targeted the Man of Man, reversed Jo-Ban. (Sad poetry but what the hell it rhymes!)

I saw them smilingly enter the hall and start calling all the women in my office who were at the party as Aunty. Let’s assume one of them is called Superwoman Tulsi. And this is how the assassins destroyed her.

So the kids walk up to Tulsi and say, “Hi Tulsi Aunty” Tulsi was nibbling at the first piece of paneer she had picked up an hour ago. She chokes, gasps for breath, her knees give way and she wobbles and falls. Her last words ring through the night, “Tulsi didi bolo beta.”  Clinically the assassins kill all the Superwomen and walk towards the ice cream. They have done their task.

Banjo Uncle in retrospect doesn’t seem that bad.

April 11, 2009

Yeh Banda Bada Bhau Khata Hain

I never thought I would turn into one such person. After all, there are so many great things to eat in this world. Who would want to eat Bhau of all things? It is tasteless; it makes you an egoistical nincompoop and it alienates you from friends.

I guess I am just lucky to have friends who care. Of late, I pick up calls just to say that I will call back. I reply to messages after a gap of often a day. I clear my mailbox every alternate day and sometimes even over the weekend. Gtalk pings are seldom answered. Communicator and outlook rule by day jostling for space with power point and excel. I ditch people who want to meet up over long weekends. I refuse to come out early from office for dinners.

I guess this is how people lose friends. Slowly people figure out that you are no longer interested in meeting them and then they surgically remove you from their lives. If you are lucky, you find someone who agrees to marry you and that is the only friend you have left in the world. However, I do not want to be such a person. I really don’t.

Everyone has stress in his or her lives. Nevertheless, that can never be a reason why you cannot meet up with friends. But suddenly in my life a situation has come where this has begun to happen and often with alarming frequency. I know I am working on it. I guess I will be able to get by with a little help from my friends.

Therefore, until I become civilized and cordial like I used to be once upon a time, bear with me since any day I would prefer a lunch with you than eat bhau. I hate bhau khana as much as I hate Karele ke juice.

I think humare dosti pe kisi ke nazar lag gayi. People always had an issue with how I manage to keep in touch with my friends and taking a cue from the most famous roadie I say, “main international blog pe bol raha hoon. Hasna mat. Kisine na mere dosti ke upar jadoo tona kar diya hain.”

So, buri nazar wale/wali tera/teri muh kala.

April 09, 2009


A late night message. A sudden conversation and the original CD of Atom Heart Mother. I went back years in my life.


If I were a swan, I'd be gone.
If I were a train, I'd be late.
And if I were a good man, I'd talk with you more often than I do.
If I were to sleep, I could dream.
If I were afraid, I could hide.
If I go insane, please don't put your wires in my brain.
If I were the moon, I'd be cool.
If I were a book, I would bend.
If I were a good man, I'd understand the spaces between friends.
If I were alone, I would cry.
And if I were with you, I'd be home and dry.
And if I go insane, will you still let me join in with the game?
If I were a swan, I'd be gone.
If I were a train, I'd be late again.
If I were a good man, I'd talk to you more often than I do.

April 07, 2009

The Green Dream

So I have been horsing around, rather cycling around to be precise. Now, like all good Indian citizens I follow the rule of the road, which essentially is to firmly believe in the fact that “My dad owns the road.” At first I tried not to be so. I was giving way to every car, auto and taxi, slowing down, signalling for my right of the way. And then the age old tradition of ‘The Strong Rules’ came into play. Slowly as I drove around I understood the hierarchy of the road. First are the pedestrians. They can do anything they want on the roads. Then comes the BEST buses. They are afraid of only the pedestrians. Then is the cyclist. People do not understand why there is a cyclist on the road. They let them be on their own. The two wheeler comes next followed by the pariah – the four wheeler.

So I was the third in line to the Throne of Power and that felt nice. But after that strange things started happening. People at the gates of their plush Bandra houses began to look expectantly at me. At first I enjoyed the attention. After all who would not like to the focus of attention of young bachelorettes. But then I realized it was not only the women. People across age groups and genders were looking at me and then it struck me. In some parts of the world like Bandra, cycles are used only for delivering newspapers, ironed clothes and vegetables and groceries. And the people were looking expectantly for their morning newspapers. After some time, I realized that here too ‘Clothes maketh the Man’ but there was a problem. The average dressing quotient of Bandra has come down since I have moved into the vicinity. So I needed something else. And since Action not debate is a part of my genetic buildup now, I went out and bought a biking helmet. And now I cruise along Bandra without a care in the world.

There’s one more reason why I bought the cycle. I think the world I have grown up in has changed and it’s changed for the worse. And I do not want to be the person who leaves his niece a world where she can’t breathe free, where summers are scorching and rains mean floods. The world is becoming hot, flat and crowded as Friedman puts it. And there’s a responsibility that each one of us has towards the future. Someone had said a long time back, we do not inherit the earth from our parents; we borrow it from our children.

I came back today morning thinking about more ways of saving energy and in the evening I found my green task of the week. Sometimes things as simple as defrosting your refrigerator can make a hell lot of difference. We went ahead and cleaned up the refrigerator and as we poured the ice on the sink, the transience of it all sank in. The ice cubes in the kitchen sink were melting away slowly, the water levels were rising up, the light was reflecting on the ice cubes, glittering in their mockery of our state of affairs.

I have always held on to some dream in my life. The dreams have changed as I have grown up, learnt to differentiate between a mirage and reality but the single fact that has remained constant is that I have lived my dream, always. And it has always been one dream at a time. Super human powers have not yet been bestowed on to me, you see.

So as of today, I try my level best to ensure my carbon footprint on the planet is minimized and therefore though my dad is livid with my decision of cycling to close by locations, I think it’s better to die chasing your dream than to sit in your couch waiting for your respiratory system to finally give up its fight against the poisonous air that it breathes in.

If one day some careless driver ignores my right of the road and my helmet is no longer enough, let my epitaph be, “He died chasing the Green Dream.”

Is this dream a mirage? Only time will tell. Till then…