Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Path of Desires

"PACH zindagi mein pyaar leke aaya hai" 
- Many people, over time.

Dear PACH, 

I like the concept of a Desire Path. Do you know what it is? It is that path which is created through jungles as a consequences of repeated foot traffic. This path takes its own sweet time to come into existence, aided by collective instincts of people over a prolonged period. Isn't it a nice thought that people who are completely unknown to each other are actually indulging in a benevolent activity to aid the travels and explorations of those who follow them. I always like to think of the point at which such a path began. How do so many people travel down the same route enough times so as to create a route which is sometimes the only resort for directions in non-negotiable wilderness? I know all of this sounds random, but I am trying my hand at developing a metaphor for you. You are a Desire Path. You came into existence out of nothing. For your coming into existence in such a glorious form, a lot of us had to travel down the same road together. Our thoughts did not shape you as much as you shaped our thoughts. I am actually confused at times - did we make you, or did you make us? 

You are, as I said, a Desire Path. You know, you are also a 'Desired' Path, which so many of us journey on together, each alternate Sunday, not knowing the kind of beauties we might encounter on the way. We are also completely unaware of the kind of difficulties, or difficult moments which greet us down this road, but then, whistling through the woods, we manage to find music in all your facets somehow. So yes, you are a Desired Path. You know what else, you are also a Path of Desires - to you come linked so many wishes, dreams and hopes; and how all of them manage to remain selfish and innocent, I am yet to understand. You're growing up big and fast, and hence your Desires from us have also increased, rather disproportionately, if I may admit. We're trying to keep up, but really, you make us run. You make us want to become better than we already were. You're involving more and more people so that your growing up needs/desires can be catered to. And yes, again I will say, we're trying. All of us together. This will culminate into something beautiful, this path of desires, and much else. You know what the best, our fate lies in the journey here. There is not really a destination we're moving towards. Its the journey, in which lies your beauty. Thanks for sparing us the mad rush for a destination. 

I am sorry I took a long while to get back to you which my words of awe and gratitude. It was not as much your loss as it was mine. I miss talking to you, you know. Talking to you was among the biggest motivations of my life. And so, today I will rant, irrespective of how tedious or verbose this letter becomes. I will also throw editing/omitting caution to the wind and just write. Write for you. To whisper to you. To shout at you. To communicate to you how much you mean to my life, even with all your demands. You're happiness. Will you please always remember that? No pressures or anything, but try and bear that in mind. 

I could have divided this letter into three parts, but I will divide it into three 'Epistles'. Yes, its a fancier term, and hence I like it. Also, it makes each of the three smaller letters independent letters in themselves, which they are, except that they are united by this acute urge of mine to cuddle you to death tonight. Metaphorically, of course, lest you make that funny face and shirk me, playfully, of course. But I will still put my disclaimers in place. 

Here. Three Epistles. For three awesome dates I had with you. Yes, you. 


I love history, I love Delhi. I love the fact that Delhi discloses itself to keen eyes by the many manifestations of historical heritage strewn across its length and breadth. I also love the fact that in the PACH pot (Yeah, smirk. I have been led down to this understanding of PACH now) on 12th January fused poetry and heritage together. In the verdant gardens of the Lodhi era majesty we met and spread so many hues of poetry around. The kind of coming together of people I saw that day is rare, and PACH, you were the one to make it happen. Our own gang was reciting poems at their glorious best, but a lot of idle wanderers, or vagrants pursuing words to find meaning in life, met us at various junctures in the session. They seamlessly blended together, like they had known us for ages. I know it sounds odd (and vain?) coming from my mouth, but I have not seen cozy-couch-like-comfort being found so easily in life. You inspire trust, PACH. You inspire. Enough said.. 

But no, talking to you can never be enough. The repository of the written words you are building silently is bulging with wonders. And for that, there is a team of inspired and enthusiastic PACH sweethearts who need to be thanked. These people work behind you, and are adding so much richness to your texture. I know you wanted me to, and hence I thanked them profusely, after allotting some more work, goes without saying. 

Your amazing opening was marked by Sudhanshu's mad attempt to decorate you into words. Fourteen quatrains, all designed as acrostics to spell PACH, and all PACH members included in that beautiful narration. This chap is mad. For you, of course. Our tryst with heritage got stronger when Vikram sir sang the portion of an epic he is writing on Delhi's history. There were ghazals sung and recited. There were old, yellowing letters which were opened up again.

There, then, was the show-stealer, Navin ji, who was trying to take a satirical dig at the marketing industry which can sell sand to an Arab. That he could mimic so well, I had no clue. Now that I have heard accents from the Middle East to Australia, I have a fair, irritated idea. And yes, his biggest contribution was adding "Khabeez ka Bachcha" to an already profound vocabulary of the PACH youngsters. Makes me chuckle, but its one performance I will remember. 

Abhinav took us on a journey, again, of love and stuff. Aaqib travelled back to Muzaffarnagar and the tales of horror which had marred the land found vents in his poetry. Neha (meri twin) recited about a friendship which is valuable to her (of course I am talking about myself). Anup hailed professors, and their contribution into the construction of a civilized society. Of course I am kidding. Dipalie spoke of geysers, morning ablutions and nocturnal conversations. Oh, a poem on me just added so much to my glee! There were tales of love, old and greying. There was Kamal, with his ode to individual members of PACH (and yes, this kid inspires me each time he opens his mouth). 

Then there were all of us, singing away popular melodies while I secretly revelled in the fact that the chorus of PACH has come alive, and it gave me a strange kind of comfort, assurance. I like to see you bring people together, PACH. Keep doing that please. Keep touching lives. Keep making poets out of people who did not think they could write. 


It was a winter morning where I was dead. That all that fatigue making me dead would be short-lived was completely known to me. I, after all, had a date with you. However, here, I need to apologise. Nothing can explain the fact that I was two and half hours late for a date which is one of the most important things to me in life. You were, however, safely ensconced in Ekansha's care, hence I could breathe easy through all those last minute haste. PACH, you must know you are special. So very special. And I am glad we now have more people who treat you the same and who make you come to life even when Anup or I are not around for sometime. But we like to be there, as much as we can push ourselves. 

A decently chilly morning, and PACH bazm on Ekansha's terrace, with flowers, and cushions and quilts and caps. It was one of those meets where I had a cute feeling about myself. I did not have anything to recite, but that was good. There were so many furious quills and curious eyes waiting to metamorphose into verbal expression in front of an understanding and endearing audience. Poetry over chai and pizza - the hosts made sure that PACH #15 is an experience no one forgets.

We read out your Preamble that day. Do you remember those tired, outstretched hands, and the amused words just pouring out? I remember, because it was a particularly funny and proud moment for me. We had mouths opened wide with AMJ's recitation of a sestina, the shock of the genius of which still assails me. This format is worth being a challenge. Rini's poem on an author's obsessive search for correct words seemed indecipherable at first, but later felt like a revelation. Amrit Raj commented on his inability to compliment. Deeksha came up with awesome Gibberish. Ekansha's Urdu and her sensitivity to social issues baffled me. Kamal made apt remarks on the hypocrisy which has now been institutionalised in religion. Govind took the off-beat track by writing a poem in English - just as hilarious as his Hindi one. Abhinav talked of slumber, and inspirations and romance. Do you see the diversity you are blessed with, PACH? Pure awesomeness. And magic. And I can never say much.

If I were to point out one person to whom the day belonged, it was Kamal. Yes, he recited awesome poems and clicked awesome photos, but he also had a lot of PACH love smeared on him by Sudhanshu and Rohit. The former went senti (his usual style), and the latter tied his friend in the rhythm of a rap. There is this adorable Venky gang which has completely dedicated itself to you PACH. Hugging all of these ultra-emotional friends together was an incredibly warm moment. 

As the sky darkened, I found myself shivering, bowing down to the chicaneries of Delhi weather. The familiar PACH comfort took over then. When the warmth inside me was waning, a caring embrace made me confident with the fact that everything is well in the world, and PACH is still what it was always supposed to be - a place where not just poetry is set free, but where dying spirits are uplifted. Mine were. We had the gathering pulsating with energy because of the numerous toddlers making it their business to distract us and then stare at us with those unbelievably cute eyes. 

The day began with a "Roadies Salute" (now a regular feature) and ended with the knowledge that PACH had again done those wonders it was so used to performing, yet it held them special and yearned for their repetition. I want to be with you each time you are performing those miracles PACH. I like it so much when new faces walk up to me and tell me that you have been among the most satisfying of their experiences in life. Our flock is expanding. I write this with a huge smile on my face. And some hints of perturbations too. 


And then came the Grand. PACH, you carved a niche in a gathering of literary excellence. I couldn't believe that a my toddler had now grown enough to climb up on to the stage of Delhi Literature Festival and enthral an audience which was way larger than the number we had entertained at our prime. It was our shortest outing, but perhaps left the largest impact. 

Our nervous, hesitant poets became star performers. It was enchanting to see Vivek recite his poem in front of the poetry of his life. Kamal and Sudhanshu abandoned mics and faced the audience without the slightest hint of performance anxiety on their face. Aavika, the little packet of poetic brilliance, pushed Anup and me off the stage, to regale the crowd with her Sunday song again. Govind lavished praises to his Saree bond. Aaqib talked of love and betrayal, in a completely non-serious, Yo Yo style. Neha bowed to Krsna through her verses. Anurag's love story between a Goblet and Candle was a life-boat to those lost in the alleys of love. Aastha di's recitation was my personal moment of pride. Leher, Arpan and Pratima stepped onto the PACH stage for the first time. Dipalie recited like the beloved I could easily marry. Navin ji bombed the audience with his prose piece again. We also have a PACH song now, on which we went a little crazy dancing and babbling nonsense. 

Oh, and wait - how could I not mention the awesome note on which the PACH show began? That poem, narrating the journey of a poem, was like a dream performance. I had always admired the writer/poet in Anup so much that to stand and share the stage with him is a privilege I can go on being happy about. In the morning, I had carried some special overseas wishes from Jyoti di in a warm, furry satchel with me. Those wishes worked wonders. We got back home that day absolutely content, and positive about your future PACH, down that path of desires. Rather, up that path of desires. And love. And magic. And warmth. And motivation. And inspiration. And happiness. 

I maintain, like always. You are all of the above, and so much more. Even before I finish this letter, the draft of another nocturnal epistolary tryst with you is getting framed in my head. 

I love you, with deep attachment and pure intentions. I have dreams, you know, of being with you, and with all those people who make you awesome. You're demanding, yes, but I know your demand are justified, and natural. 

I am sleepy. Dead. Gone. But I have to say - You, PACH, are the most beautiful story of my life. I write you, and you write me.

On that note, I kiss you Good Night. 

Mera blog, meri photo :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Post Valentine Verse

I missed out on posting anything on my blog for Valentine's, but here is what I wrote that day in my journal. A short poem, because anything long is not being permitted to me by my life as of now.

Din badalte ghadi ki tik tikein 
Tumhari dhadkano mein sun lete hain

Jab nahi mil pata tumhari aawaaz ka saath,
Kuchh aawaara kahaaniyaan si bun lete hain

Muhabbat muqammal na sahi, naazuk ehsaas toh hai
Khushnaseebi na mile, toh dard-e-dil ko chun lete hain

Aur phir, tumhare seene se lipat kar, unhi dhadkano mein
Zindagi ke bechain lamho ki dhun mein gum ho lete hain 

Image source - Twitter (@Thatsearth)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Beaten By Bhagath by S. V. Divvaakar - A Review

"In a sense, fiction authors are like vegetables. People have their preferences, without the need to rationalise or to justify why they like one vegetable more than the other, or even why they hate some vegetables." - S. V. Divvaakar, Beaten by Bhagath (Page 164)

I am getting back into the book review groove after a considerable hiatus. I am rusty, but I hope not to the
extent that writing my thoughts becomes difficult. The book which marks my return in to the world of book bloggers is an interesting read titled 'Beaten By Bhagath', the second novel of S. V. Divvaakar. Upon reading this book I realized that Mr. Divvaakar touched a raw connect with me somewhere. Last week, I got down with a friend to write a poem about the art of writing a poem. The author of the book being discussed here has done much the same - he wrote a book about the process of writing a book, and the uphill, back-breaking journey that lies beyond. Even before I begin commenting and describing my experiences with this book, I must admit, I have taken my lessons - locked them away in the warning box which I will open again when I have to wade through the world of publishers and readers.

This is the book with the easiest synopsis. As I said earlier, it is a book about writing a book. It, however, is not restricted to that premise. There are branches to this grand framework, all, in some way or the other relating to the psyche of an aspiring writer, and giving the readers a stark perspective into what harsh realities await him when gets out to put his baby, the product of his sleepless nights out in the world, in the hands of a reader. An executive in a big corporate entity, our protagonist, BB, could have easily led a demanding, yet snug existence, had his boss not praised his writing skills one day. This appreciation led him to the world of glittering dreams about becoming a famous, widely read and revered author, much like K-10 - who is the fictionalized monolith dominating the world of popular fiction in this book. Easy to note that Mr. Divvaakar here has played with nomenclatures to arrive at a pun closing in on one author I enjoy reading - Chetan Bhagath. The writer traces his journey back to the hostel days where K-10 and BB studied together, and then, for the major and more important part, the story discusses, in a light tone, of what happens after a book is written.

There are struggles associated with being an author. The writer, while writing a book, is in flux - much the case with BB - traversing through past inspirations, present aspirations and hopes for future acclaim all at the same time. By taking the example of a fictionalized hero, perhaps Divvaakar prints a quasi-autobiographical account and exposes the readers to the demands of the publishing industry. The process is hard - from having your manuscripts rejected to dealing with all kinds of eccentricities that the marketing of a book brings with itself. It, in fact, leads you precisely into the calculation of the humongous sums of money one needs to spend in order to earn a lot less from the direct sales of his book. The author also includes the social media aspect here, where 'likes' are bought and contests are run so as to get readers interested in the book. How much of that do we see going around these days? Well, check my Facebook home page someday and you would know. How frivolous concepts like celebrity launch are of utmost importance in this industry which is going more commercial and shallow each day is just one of the many eye opening things in the book. In this world, a book is definitely judged by the cover, and the hype that is created around it. One sufferer in the entire process, as comes out in this story, in a rather acute form is the family of the author.

Beaten by Bhagath is not didactic in its tone. It is more in the form of a personal account, a memoir. The language is simple, with no ornate dialogues, metaphors or symbols which are difficult to negotiate. It is a breezy read, which I took two days to complete - but you might take just one if you are dedicatedly with the book. Instances narrated are relatable, and analogies, like the one in the quote at the beginning of this post are innovative, funny and they help drive the point home, albeit via a circuitous route sometimes. The narrative lacks polish, and the book fails to be gripping - you stick with it not out of fascination but to know the chain of events. If you're not much into the world of publishing, this one definitely is not for you. On the back cover, this book calls itself a reality fiction - pretty much an oxymoron, but perhaps true for this one.

I will give it 2 stars on 5. Hope you have a good time reading this one!

Book Details 
Author - S. V. Divvaakar
Publisher - Frog Books (Leadstart Publishing)
Published - 2013
Book Source - Review Copy
Genre - Fiction
Price - Rs. 125
Pages - 193
I love when authors send a personalized message :)