So, the poor soul, who my relatives have dragged into the drama called my life, has arrived. You see ever since I was little, everyone was convinced I would elope with a Muslim man. That he’s my friend eludes them. Badd se badnaam bura, aur hum to badd bhi hein aur badnaam to hum alag he level pe he. Not their fault, society ke rules ne, itni life inki boring bana rakhee he, they’re just playing out their fantasies through me, vicariously you see. I’m going to go hell, for being such a bitch? I’m going there in any case, love, hop on!

Let me put it like this. Once upon a time there was Cat. Now, the cat eat a few mice ( not that the mice were perfect but you see the cat, is always easiest to blame and of course she is a bad cat). So, then the cat played with these two very naughty mice, who were as great at juggling as she was and after them stopped going after mice, completely. Now, how will anyone ever believe there is no mouse? No one has ever seen the cat without a mouse and six years without one, is unimaginable ( trust me even for the Cat) So, these days every mouse, who even enters her vicinity, is looked at suspiciously. Either, some past escapades are discussed or if not some are imagined. In conclusion, this Hajj has been of no use to the Cat.

Sometimes, I tell myself, I shouldn’t say these things and definitely not write them. But you see, all these stories on repeat are boring the crap out of me. Bore mat karo, life bohat choti he and don’t drag some innocent boy, into my drama. Poor thing, has been down graded to the worst things possible, apparently he’s eloping with me, is making a fool of me and wants my dad’s money. It’s hilarious and extremely infuriating- a man who does more for his family and me, than most of my super wealthy relatives can do for anyone (I’m not talking about barters, here) has been reduced to being a conniving prick. You want to meet, Islamophobic, racist, classist creeps? Padhariye, aap ko milaye! These are horrible things to say about a man, who has saved my life, on many occasions. His sin, he knows me too well and still chooses to be my closest friend. Plus, he’s fiercely protective, inherently loyal and unimpressed by wealth, which is unforgivable.

After my mum’s death, people were trying to manipulate my dad so much, that I got sick of it and said ‘I’m leaving!’. Like a fool, I said to one of my relatives, ‘ I’ll go to Bombay or Dubai’. I wanted to say Kashmir but that would have set another ball rolling. Now, if Shetty was Muslim or didn’t have money, the story would have been, spun differently. But all hell, broke loose and this poor fellow, has to deal with it.

He, on the other hand is totally bewildered by my current state and the lack of restraint I am showing, towards the new fascination. This is how well, he knows me.

I called him the other day- Acha listen I am going!

He: To meet M.J ? ( M.J is not the pathan’s real name, it’s just something he called himself once)

Me- Ya, how do you know?

He: I know! (Guessed it from my fb story, I’m telling you) Call me, when you get back, okay?

He was pulling my leg , ‘ kele ke chilke pe to aap ne phisalna he, phislo!’

Me- I’ve slipped so many times, once more will not matter? Plus, you’re there to pick me up if I can’t get up.

He- Shaking his head. Theek he!

Irrespective, of all the crap that is going to be flung on me, I’m so glad he’s here, as this terrible year comes to an end. Most people, most of the times, make me anxious. One’s always been what they call ‘ highly sensitive’ and I call it my ‘ zero threshold for bullshit!’, which translates into, I recognise games very quickly and my classic move is to play, whatever game is being played. But it makes me anxious, it pisses me off and if I’m winning it, I’ll be furious. Though one doesn’t mind playing a game, one hasn’t played before, purely for the experience.

But there are very few people, who don’t play games with me, one can’t and this one is two steps ahead of me, always. He knows there’s going to be no end to it and nothing good will come out of it. Which makes me very comfortable and totally at ease, with him.For someone to see the devil in me and not get intimidated by all my bad stuff is a rarity. For someone to be able to scare that part of me, just a little bit, with sheer mental agility and quiet dominance is brilliance. For all of that, right now, one feels glad and blessed. So, this week, is going to be all about hogging, crying, laughing and being totally silly. God knows, I need a break from my head and my heart!

Iss Qadar Toot Ke Chaho Mujhe Pagal Kar Do- Wasi Shah- Wasi Shah.

Iss Qadar Toot Ke Chaho Mujhe Pagal Kar Do- Wasi Shah.

Apne Ehsas Se Chu Kar Mujhe Sandal Kardo

Mein Sadiyo Se Adhura Hu Mukamal Kar Do.

Na Tumhe Hosh Rahe Aur Na Mujhe Hosh Rahe

Iss Qadar Tut Ke Chaho Mujhe Pagal Kardo.

Tum Hatheli Ko Mere Pyaar Ki Mehndi Se Rango.

Apni Aankhon Mein Mere Naam Ka Kajal Kar Do.

Dhoop Hi Dhoop Hoon Main Tootke Barso Mujh Par.

Is Qadar Barso Meri Rooh Mein Jalthal Kar Do.

Apne Ehsas Se Chu Kar Mujhe Sandal Kardo

Mein Sadiyo Se Adhura Hu Mukamal Kar Do.

Chasers of the Light

Chasers of the light

All the poems, are from the book- Chasers of The Light, penned by Tyler Knott Gregson, who is a professional photographer and poet. He lives in Montana, where he runs a photography company with his partner – Sarah Linden.

Solo Travels- Ganderbal and Srinagar

Chasing Autumn in Kashmir

‘Ajab bahar dikhai lahu ke chhinton ne, khizan ka rang bhi rang-e- bahar jaisa tha’- Junaid Hazin Lari.

At Hazratbal for the Jumma Namaz

On Thursday, Farooq uncle, my trusted taxi driver, took me to Ganderbal, in search of a particular place, where I’d shot autumn, approximately seven years ago. Ganderbal is around 20 kms away from Srinagar and one spent quite a lot of time there, initially. Though, not so much at the Manasbal lake, which gets a step sisterly treatment due to its famous siblings- The Dal and The Wullar. Nor at Jharoka Bagh, a Mughal garden which is said to have been made by Jehangir for Noor Jahan. But more so in the villages, of this particular district. One has sat around, on many winter nights and listened to stories of terrible atrocities. Have been yelled at by a grieving father whose son was torched alive, during the militancy. Have walked through the villages, had endless cups of Kahwa and have also been called a ‘ kofur’. But on the other hand, have also experienced the best of Kashmiri hospitality, in this district. The kindest people, I’ve met in the valley, live in these areas.

I needed an image from there, that can be blown up really big for a particular space and many of my photographs, were taken with cameras which were not so advanced (starting from a seven mega pixel) . As the years have progressed, so has technology. But of course as I went to the same spot, the tree stood there but everything else had changed. A wall, was blocking my view. So, you get what you get and then on days when you don’t get anything, you make lemonade. Though the trip, wasn’t particularly fruitful and one did not eat the fabulous rista that one loves from here, I did manage to finish my work in Srinagar, itself. In the midst of it all, also ended up giving a a few bytes, to some journalists. One looks like a balloon, so one has refrained from sharing those.

At a park in Ganderbal.

The next two days, I spent in the city. It becomes more and more problematic shooting, in Srinagar. People are angry and extremely suspicious of photographers but with good reason. These ring wing funded channels, are making it difficult for us lesser mortals , to shoot on the streets. If I was Kashmiri, I would also be weary. The security personnel too have become more cautious. Though, one has spent many a Fridays making images at Hazratbal, I was stopped and told that they are not allowing the media to shoot. ‘ Mein hu hi nahin media se sir, I’m a tourist.’ I replied. To know when to blend in and when to stand out, is an art that one continues to learn in Kashmir. Surviving in the Valley, requires the traits and skills of a chameleon, it requires extremely high levels of adaptability, that only the locals have mastered after decades, of living in a conflict zone, under scrutiny and lockdowns.


Spend a couple of hours with the father. We all (Bhaskarji included) have a few of drinks and my Dad as usual, just keeps pulling me leg.

The only person who hasn’t wished me today, calls. When I am in this kind of a mood, he knows the best way is to tell me some story. Sometimes, he’ll tell me how rats steal eggs. It’s all some piece of information, that has nothing do with anyone.

He starts talking about some random place and why it’s called that and so and so forth. My attention drifts from this to that, sometimes here and sometimes far, far away but one finds it soothing to listen to people, talk. ‘Tujhe pata he na Diwali he?’ I interject. ‘ Haan!’ he replies. ‘ Thank you!’ is all I can say.

Even after an hour, I’m restless. I reassure him, that I am fine and I need sleep. But sleep…

Anyway, poetry and music can get me through most nights.

‘Rone ko nahin koi, hasne ko zamaana he.

Aasoon to bohat se he Jigar lekin

Bindh jai so moti he, rah jaye so dana he.

A letter from the Vale


There’s a power cut, I lie in a dark room thinking about you. Thankfully, the bed is warm and the phone charged enough, for now. There’s a possibility the flight might get cancelled tomorrow, as there are predictions of snow fall. Normally, I would only be too happy to be here but this is the first Diwali Dad will be spending without you and I don’t want him to be alone. What will happen, let’s wait and watch.

Otherwise, how am I looking from that vantage point? Better, na? Strangely, I feel more driven and focused, in totality. Extremely melancholic, since yesterday, though. But that’s my mind…you know how it is. One day, it’s up dancing in the skies and then suddenly it’s down in the dumps. It may be because of all the lovers I saw in the park, autumn or just diwali. Who knows, what happens to me?

It’s a pity we didn’t celebrate Diwali, enough, after Dustu passed away. Sporadically, once in a while, we would make a half hearted attempt. Dad would just come up with something or the other. We didn’t realize, we would eventually loose each other, too. I wish now, we would have. Pieces of us, do drift away when our loved ones pass away.

But sometimes, we forget there are people around who are alive, who are there. Family members, who need us. You know how he gets, though. Even now, he refuses to go anywhere. I keep trying to drag him out of the house for a meal or a movie. But like he never went out with us, he still refuses to go anywhere with me. That factory building was and is still his real home.

Don’t worry about me, the Mother Hen, fusses and fumes, over the phone all the time. ‘ Jama Masjid mat jao. Ye mat karo. Woh mat karo! Davaee khao!’ He goes on. ‘ Baap ban rahaa he? ‘ doesn’t work on him. The most obnoxious things I am capable of saying, make him laugh and it drives me nuts!

Remember how you would insist that only he can handle me (like I am a piece of hot coal, the handling of which requires expertise). I think that’s because he’s upfront and easy. Once I was very upset, I was having one of those days, with GD or it was later ( I remember if was many years ago) I said to him ‘ I know I’m a very difficult woman to be around!’ and he said, ‘No, aisa nahin he. Mene dekha he aapko..,you only get angry when people lie or say no. Aap ko lagna chahiye dusra insaan koshish kar raha he, phir aap kuch bhi maaf kar deti ho!’ His opinion is biased, growing up he took care of a lot of injured animals, I’m like one of those for him, an injured animal he needs to heal.

He watches the coming and going of various men, with a quiet amusement, though. Not that there have been any in the past six years. But you know, the occasional friend, who will assume, the feelings they have for me are more than platonic. But the way, I’ve been the past couple of weeks, this boy I’ve had a crush on, that worries him, I know. ‘I’m a grown up, I know what I am doing’, I reassure him. But he happens to be the only person, who knows how easily I get swayed.


I look at all the lovers around me and it makes me wish for what seem like such simple things, that are impossible to find.

A kiss under a maple tree. A thousand butterfly kisses. Holding hands and walking, all the time. Lying on the grass, staring at the sky. Sitting on the pavement and drinking chai. Dancing on a flyover. I don’t need fancy bags and holidays in Switzerland. I need my mouth to be kissed, all the time. A house that resounds with poetry and music. Spooning. Making love everywhere! Shoulders that can bear the weight of my tears. A smile from across the room. Someone whose there.

Living in a fools’s paradise? Life is not all this, it’s about Khaana, peena, money and babies! Abbé hat, isse accha, tanha mar jai.

Solo Travels- Bijbehara

Solo travels in Bijbehara, Srinagar.

The last time I visited Bijbehara, was in 2016, for Mufti Sahab’s funeral. The Dara Shikoh, Mughal Garden is his final resting place. Brijbehara, is famous for it’s Chinar Trees and is known as the Chinar town. Also known as Vijbor or Vijbror, it’s around forty five kms away, from Srinagar. The oldest Chinar tree in the region can be found in Paadshahi Bagh. Both the gardens were closed, due to the ongoing pandemic but my taxi driver- Farooq Uncle, is a real hustler. He convinced the guards at Paadshahi to let me enter by telling them, I’ve come all the way from Delhi. The one’s at Dara Shikoh Garden, wouldn’t let us in because there were a lot of young boys, who were loitering around, trying to gain access.

Anyhow, on the way back we were famished and stopped midway, to pick up something from Hattrick. Right next to it, an older gentleman was serving the best Kahwa, I’ve had in Kashmir.

Special Kahwa, served from this beautiful Samovar.

The only way to survive Kashmir on your own, is to miraculously find, soft spoken, kind local men, who like you, don’t like to listen to the word no. Now, before you start judging me, it’s in the context of work. I’ve never liked flexible people and especially when it comes to working with me…I like people who can lock horns, are stubborn in a quiet kind of way. They mitigate the effects of my aggression with their voice, yet manage to get the work done by not budging. Uncle is like that. He’s like a much older version of my former assistants. Plus, SC adores him. He calls her beta and fusses over her. ‘ I’m bringing a doctor for you!’, he told me yesterday. ‘ Na, I‘ll bounce back’, I reassured him. Like I say, this is the best place to travel on your own. From the hotel owner to the staff, everyone is awfully kind.

I find it unnecessary to look at different things or visit different places. It’s when you see the same thing over and over again, each time it starts to appear different and this is Jannat. Firdaus- jahan asli mein sadko par hure chalti he, where the women are stunning and the men gorgeous. Jahan sirf roshni badalne se sab alag lagta he aur mausam badalne se sirf ped, paude nahi badalte, aap khud andar se alag mehsoos karte ho. Yeh Jannat to he hi, jahanum bhi he, jahan itni khubsurti aur itna dard he. Both heaven and hell simultaneously, exist in Kashmir-there’s unparalleled beauty and gut wrenching pain, everywhere!

With the change in the technology and the increased megapixels that the cameras offer you now, the quality of the pictures is far superior, from my earlier works in say 2010. But when you live somewhere or spend an extended period of time there, drive around all the time, literally chasing the seasons, the moments you end up catching, can’t be caught that easily in a shorter span. But nevertheless, we try.


Sick as a bat

After a few of hours, of lazying around, talking and chatting with a concerned relative, my bua, who fusses over me, like I am her child, AA and the Mother Hen, I somehow managed to drag myself out of bed and got on with it. Despite the staff at the hotel asking me to rest.

Shot the autumn leaves, then went to Gulshan books to pick up books for MJ. You guessed it right, that’s why I dragged myself out of bed. Mein bol to rahee hu, I’m like a 14 year old. My assumption is that since I am talking (writing, same, same, baat nahi karti na me) about it, this whole thing will pass away easily. With me, it’s when I don’t say anything and I push the person with all my might, that’s when I’m really starting to get affected by the man. But is he weakening my knees, totally? Mummy, yes!

Anyhow, caught up with my friend at Ahdoos. Since I’d skipped lunch, I was going to have some mirchi korma, so I asked him to drop in. The outdoor seating is nice, for a winter afternoon. When I sat down to eat, it was 4.30 and my friend arrived at 5.00. By the time we left, it was freaking freezing. I always make it a point to catch up with him, at least, once, irrespective of how short my trip is. His no nonsense attitude, where he mostly says what he thinks, irrespective of how politically wrong it may be, is a refreshing change.

Anyhow, took a stroll at the Dal, in the evening. Being the creature of habit that I am, dropped in for Kahwa, at Shah cafe. We all sat around, the owner and staff, talked about Kashmiri food. They said Ahdoos serves the best but I disagreed. I broke it down for them – Rista-Ganderbal and Rajbagh, Mirchi Korma and phirni- Ahdoos, Proper wazwaan thali- the Grand and Kahwa- on the way to Brijbehara. They insisted the best food is found at Kashmiri weddings. I agree. I got up to leave, ‘Ma’am sit for a while’, they said. We talked about everything Kashmiri and my love for all of it. Soon, I will leave and then a part of me will keep longing, for the Dal. Until then, kahwa!


One is having the customary sick day. Walking in the freezing cold must have done the deed or maybe I just go distracted by a little thing, yesterday and forgot to keep my head properly, covered. I think either the cold or the lockdown has made everyone, totally frisky.

Yesterday, I had a brilliant day. Went out of Srinagar, (will post later) got shit loads of work done, spoke to a man whose voice and the language he speaks in, send a shiver down my spine and then had the cutest experience of my life. So, I ain’t making this shit up because my imagination, ain’t so vivid!

For some reason, as you walk down the Boulevard now, the hanjis (boatmen) aren’t the only ones who are trying to chat you up. That’s the usual- They’ll stop you and ask if you need a boat ride or a room, which I don’t reply to anymore because how many people will you have the same conversation with? I just nod my head and keep walking, listening to some random music. But yesterday, for some reason, a couple of them started asking, if they could walk with me. Maybe they were trying to sell something. Who knows? ‘Kyaa he? Kyaa baat karni he?’ SB yelled at one. ‘Nature ke bare me!’, he replied timidly. Trust me, no one messes with this one, she’s viscous!

Then this happened. A young boy, looked all of sixteen years old to me, started following me on his bike. This is highly unusual, I’m telling you it’s the aftermath of the virus. One of the reasons, Kashmiri men are so decent, I think, is because their women are drop dead gorgeous. I’ve never experienced this before. This how our conversation went.

Faizan- Kyaa me apke saath chal sakta hu?

Me- Kyuu?

Faizan- Andhera he na!

Me- Bodyguard bana he mera?

Faizan- Haan, na please!

He pulled his bike onto the pavement and actually, started walking next to me. His impishness reminded me of my brother!

Faizan- Karte kyaa ho?

Me- Chalti hu. Dikh nahi rahaa?

Faizan- Zindagi me?

Me- Chalti hu!

Faizan- Naam to bata do. Mera naam Faizan he.

Me- Saadiya.

Faizan- Konse hotel me ruki ho?

Me- Pata nahin, naam nahin likha. Board nahin he wahaan pe. How old are you? 16?

Faizan- 19!

Me- How old do you think I am?

Faizan- Mujhe kyaa pata?

Me- 41. Tumhari Umar se double he. Time waste mat kar, bhag yaahan se. (I’m so amused by him, I don’t even know how to get angry.)

Faizan- Umar se kyaa hota he? Apko pata he na, aap itne bade nahi lagt. Pata he na apko? ( He’s smiling) . Itni Raat ko kaha ja rahee ho?

Me- Pooja karne. Jao Faizan.

Faizan- Itni jaldi naam bhi yaad kar liya! Mandir he yaha?

Me- Mujhe wahan Bethna he. ( I take out my new tazbee and show him)

Faizan- Acha misssid ( yes that’s how pronounces it) call de do! Choti se, ek thodi si. Me phone karunga.

It goes on this back and forth banter, with me reminding me him how old I am and him trying to convince me age, is no consequence. In the past three weeks, starting from my father, four people have told me this. The only reason, I’m letting him follow me around is because, I’ve spoken to the Pathan… I’m walking on cloud nine and trying to convince myself of the same.

This one is ofcourse just doing all this for the benefit of the people, who are watching him. You know how young boys are right or even older ones for that matter, they just need to prove to their friends they are studs! It’s just for kicks. So, I’m thinking, ‘ chal someone made my day, I’ll make yours!’ Till, I reach my spot, after which I just ask him to go away which after much sulking, he does.

The reason I write this, in Delhi, men will whistle, pass lewd remarks and even try to touch you. Over here, they’ll tell ‘ aap mujhe ache lag rahee ho na. Please, na.’ So when some UP ka bhiaya, is claiming Muslim men are trying to seduce their women, you should know it’s just a case of sour grapes. They should be taking a leaf out of their books. Learn to switch on the charm. Seekh lo apne aurato se baat, shayad nahin bhagege phir.


Everything about being here, gives me a rush. One is after all an adrenaline junky. It works well for me, focuses my mind, stops it from getting lost-this need to chase something. But in my personal life it’s always been disastrous.

I find myself thinking about MJ quite often. A part of me, wants to slap the other one out of this strange dreamlike, state I’ve gone into. ‘What’s wrong with you? ‘ I keep asking myself. ‘Survival instinct’, the other one replies. I’ve been here before, this place, many a times. This feeling of not belonging, of feeling totally lost, of grief seeping into every cell in my body and damaging it. I don’t deal well with loss. My mind reels out of control. Then I hold on to whatever fleeting thought, distractions come, for dear life. This is exactly how I met the boy, who is a stone’s throw distance from me and who I will probably never meet again. That was a year after my brother passed away. Do I regret it? Not in this lifetime, despite the backlash. Some people God sends to save you, without you or them knowing how they did it. This little boy in his green topi, reminds me of him.

‘Good morning’, the Mother hen, chirps into the phone. Till, I’m here, this boy will be fretting and worried sick, calling me multiple times a day. No one knows my propensity to get in trouble, as well as he does and especially with uniformed men. I get my daily dose of stability from him, which SC, appreciates the most. Shetty and the Mother hen or the Wall, like I sometimes call him, are probably the only stabilising factors in one’s life, especially now. The former though, is like a tourist on vacation, like me, he’s here, there and everywhere. His own emotional states, always highly questionable, like mine. This one is like my ex (has all his good qualities, not the one’s that drove me nuts) – strong, silent, watches me with amusement ( as if I am child or an animal), no games, no bullshit and emotionally stable. Sometimes, I find myself wishing, I would have listened to my mum and married him, when she was alive. She adored him but the heart wants what it wants and mine it seems never wants what is good for it.

I wrote to someone the other day, ‘ Aap ko te ek insaan yaad he, humme to pura Kafila, yaad he!’ It’s not self deprecating, trust me, it’s the truth. Abh is umar mein aake hum apne gadde hue murde to nahin sambhal sakte. Too old to care and too young to not hope, someone can deal with the ghosts of men past!

Solo Date #68- Downtown Srinagar

Solo date at Kathi Junction, downtown.
Downtown Srinagar

The 4g may not work, till the Jio fibre isn’t installed in every house in Kashmir. But don’t think, that stops the grapevine and the rapid flow of information. Last night I received a call from the ex assistant. ‘ You went to shoot the Sunday market?’ he asked. ‘You read it on my blog, na?’ I answered. ‘No! I received a photograph of you!’ he replied to my disbelief. He sent me a photo, that had been taken from a distance and from behind a few people. So, I can be seen in the corner of the frame. I had removed my mask for a bit, as I was getting a runny nose and someone actually shot me, sent it to someone else and then it reached my Mother hen, who is not even in Kashmir. ‘Aap ko kitni bar bola he, nazar rakhte he yahaan log. Dekh kar chalo!’ He seemed damn annoyed.

Anyway, as you must have figured one doesn’t pay heed to other people’s advice. So, I walked to downtown. First, I went to Pir Dastagir Sahib, chatted with the locals there. Then, I bounced to Naqahband Sahib. The degree of friendliness, rapidly reduced as I walked towards Nawhatta. Before I entered the Dargah, a man approached me and started pestering me about my camera. ‘I’m warning you, the boys don’t like all this!’ he tried to scare me. ‘Well, the boys over here don’t do anything to anyone and they will not do anything to me! I know!’ I matched his rudeness word by word.

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Solo Travels- Pampore

In a saffron field in Pampore, Kashmir.
Solo traveller in Kashmir
Little babies and I. This one on my shoulder had as foul a temper, as mine. I just needed to call him ‘handsome’ and he was floored.

I hate flying and especially to Kashmir, as then one gets confined to the city. But last time, I was here, I found a very patient and polite gentleman who dropped me to the airport. So, Farooque uncle and I have been in touch, ever since I left and he’s probably the only person other than my ex assistant, and I, who knows what my plans are. See, dealing with my trust issues, trying to prove the father wrong, kissi pe itebar kar sakti hu mein, just a little bit!

So, FU, picked me up from the airport and drove me straight to Pampore, as the last of the flowers were being picked. The Saffron bulb, is said to have come with the Persian Sufi saints and traders to the Valley and though growing it helped the locals , it’s now fast disappearing from Kashmir. The farmers claim the land in the area, can only grow saffron and without it they will have a tough time surviving.

I spent a few hours working, then checked into the hotel. Charged my phones and then started walking towards Residency Road. To hell with Corona, that seems to be the attitude in Delhi as well as in Srinagar! Women and children, thronged the road , accompanied by their husbands and fathers, to the Sunday Market. I was followed by what seemed like 20 year olds. One slowly approached me as I stopped to tie my laces. ‘ Kyaa mein aap ke saath chal sakta hu?’ he asked very politely. I looked at him, SB growling at him, just itching to say something terrible but SC, replied, ‘ Mujhe akele chalne ki adat he!’ He tried to convince me politely, that there are armed men around and he’s just concerned for my safety but I just shrugged and kept walking.

It was past three and I was famished. A Kashmiri Thali at Grand, was what I was craving. The place was packed and a few people stared as I sat down to eat but I just looked at them and smiled as they gawked. Let’s not even pretend, people don’t gawk at women in Delhi, over here at least they don’t say, ‘ kyaa kare madam aap jesso, ko dekh kar hilana parta he!’ Yes! A man said this to me in Delhi recently, when I asked him, why he’s peeing on a flyover. Kashmiri men are probably the most decent of the lot, not all, but most.

Age has caught up with me, for sure. I finished the Thali, which had everything from Meethi Maaz to Gushtaba, accompanied by Rista, Seekh Kabab, Roghan Josh and of course Tabak Maaz ( which is the only Kashmiri dish I’m not a fan off). I polished off the food, with the same kind of pleasure I feel, as I land in Srinagar. Sheer bliss, total and complete love. ‘Please Death, whenever you come let it be here’, I find myself wishing when I feel, eat, do or see something that tickles my senses. It seems just the air tickles my senses, pleasure and pain are intensified!

Anyway, for the first time after gobbling the said Thali, one felt as one was going to explode but duty called. So I walked around making pictures, according to the brief. By the time I was done, it was getting dark but somehow I managed to drag myself to the Dal. Walked or bounced around is more like it (bouncing slowly up and down like a ballon, is more how you would describe my walk) prayed fervently, froze completely. By quarter to eight, I had spent almost two hours, just walking and sitting by the side of the Dal and my bottom was frozen by the end of it. Surprisingly, I caught myself thinking about MJ, a couple of times. ‘Mujhe kissi dewane ne kaha tha, ki mujhe koi dewana, Kashmir dikhayga!’, his message came to my mind. ‘ Would be sweet!’ SC thought, as I walked. ‘This Pathan is just messing with your head and your head is quite screwed up in any case!’ SB shut down the thought, quickly.

All in a day’s work!

Rushed to a small cafe at Nehru Park and gulped down a cup of hot Kahwa. ‘Biryani Madam?’ asked the owner. ‘ I told him, I eat Wazwaan and couldn’t get a bite in. We chatted about Kashmiri dishes, Harrisa which is my all time favourite and Ab Ghosh. His father joined the conversation, as we talked about Kangris and village life. They asked me to stay longer, but it was already 8.15 and it would take me a while to walk back to Dal Gate, so I politely declined. As I walked back, I put the songs ‘ Hawa ke Saath Saath’ and ‘ Paniyon sa Paniyon sa’ on repeat, so that somehow I could miraculously, reach my hotel. They got the job done and here I am all set to call it a night!

Solo Date #67- Mehrauli

One has fallen in love, with where the Stones Speak. On Saturdays I don’t work before 9 p.m and since one has to catch an early morning flight tomorrow, it was nice to spend the day lazying around in Mehrauli.

In the afternoon, I caught the poetry walk organised by Ramit and Prerakh, a semi bathak of sorts discussing the various Urdu poets, in the park. Nicely done, though, one would have wanted to hear a few more anecdotes about the poet’s lives. I guess, when you’re moving from one place to the other, it’s distracting. Plus, one isn’t a fan of the herd, one likes things to move at snails pace. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable afternoon, the facilitators friendly and easy going.

But, miye ki daud masjid tak and one is a creature of habit. So, off I headed to the Dargah, where I sat for probably fifteen minutes as the qawali came to an end and got invited to the Qawal’s son’s wedding. Which I regretfully, had to decline due to the travel plans. I love this part of my job, getting undeserved access into other people’s lives. While walking back, I just stopped for a quick bite, picked up a kathi roll, sat on the steps of Bhool Bhulaiya, which has become my favourite spot in the city after my flyover and eat. Just when I was thinking, this would be a nice spot, for a date- Qutub minar on one side, a monkey climbing the board infront of me, sensing this, a stray dog came and sat next to me.

We had a few moments of what I think dates should be like, with plenty of non verbal communication -looking into each other’s eyes and eating. His stomach full, he went off to sleep near my foot, as I listened to Ahista, ahista and watched the shabe roz ka tamasha, mere aage, the hustle bustle of a street in Delhi. After what seemed like time moving in fast forward, I got up and started to walk towards my car. Tomorrow, it’s going to be a different place but one will remain, bheed me tanha.

Dolling Up

COVID precautions at salons


I remember, I promised to doll up but coming to the salon and sitting for two hours, is a mind numbing and terribly ticklish, experience! Ya, ya, I know I said, twice a month but once in eight months is not bad, considering social distancing, Ma!

Anyhow, the real reason, I came is because I planned to go to the Dargah for Jumme Raat but SB, dragged me by my ear and parked my ass, here and there I sat like a timid puppy. She sporadically appears these day, absolutely livid at SC. ‘Behave yourself or better still, let me do it for the two of us. We are going to start answering questions? No, Kyuun Jaana he? Who are you? Why do you want to know? Or our favourite question to answer all questions, that puts off most men, the hukum ka ikka-baap bana raha he mera? You’re going to get us into so much trouble!’, the protective part of me, yells at the clingy one. I can’t even describe them as my good and bad sides, like Dustu and you ( no prizes for guessing which one you would be, lol). Apparently, one has only two different bad sides- they are like the Devil and the Deep blue sea.

Why does my mind know stuff and yet my body, refuses to listen to it? Silly of me to ask you that, it’s like preaching to the choir! But, I feel like the moth, which is totally enamoured by the magic of the flame! The only thing, that will drive some sense into me, hopefully, is when The Wall, will appear.


I’m told, I should learn to hold back a little. Not everything is for public consumption. My assumption is that the public is not consuming this. Maybe, a few people here and there.

It’s an odd thing, to not talk, right? When you don’t really share things with people, a blank screen, a blank piece of paper, the vast sky do tend to entice you more. We are all so inconsequential in the larger schemes of things, nothing we ever say, do or become is going to matter, in the end. Besides, an uncategorised blog post, with no tags, which is posted at the beginning of a month,gets buried into the heap of nothingness, one will get buried into, sooner or later.

What will remain hopefully, like what remains of my childhood, notebooks all over the house, with odd things written on them. Some quotes, a phrase, a tiny house scribbled with home sweet home, written on it and somewhere on the same page the words, ‘run away!’ as if asking and urging me to so. Displaying, the dichotomy of my being, from a young age. A part, constantly seeking security, wanting to call something it’s own and the other, continually wanting to escape!