‘ Gar kiya naaseh ne hum ko qaid, achha yoon sahi

Ye junnon-e ishq ke andaaz chhut jaaweinge kya?

Hazrat-e naaseh gar aavein, deeda-o-dil, farsh-e-raah

Koi hum ko yeh toh samjha do, ke samjhaaveinge kya?’

The rumours around one, remain as potent as they’ve always been. Sizzling! Any chances of them dying down soon? Not a chance in hell! Not even in death, I’ve learnt from my Amma’s life. But like I said to someone yesterday, it’s a small price to pay for getting away with all that this world, allows only men to get away with! A part of me, does get hurt, which turns it into Hulk. But it seems better sense, is slowly starting to dawn on me, too slowly, though.

I said to myself the other day, when I started to slip, into the darkest corners of my mind-If you have done something and people talk about it, you shouldn’t feel bad because you have done it and if you haven’t done something then that too shouldn’t matter because you didn’t do it in the first place! Does that make sense or does it sound like the end is the beginning is the end? Rantings of a twisted mind?

Coming back from Kashmir, where apparently I’ve tucked a couple of lovers away ( I so wish) is always hard. Leaves one confused and achey, constantly longing for the part of me, I leave behind: hidden by the side of a lake. The softer one tussles with the bitchier one, as soon one reaches Delhi. The ditching of the nocturnal drives and walks too, makes the fight more ferocious and one more aggressive and more melancholic, completely insufferable basically, more than one usually is.

Anyhow, I sit in the basement, staring at book, I can’t seem to comprehend at all, due to my thoughts penduluming from one thing to the other. Bidis and my brother’s photograph smiling at me, from the wall, keep me company. ‘What’s going to happen to you? What are you going to do?’ the question everyone keeps asking me, plays on my mind. The mind draws a complete blank. Not that anyone knows the answers to those questions but in my case I guess, it’s my unsettled state that perturbs people. Once in while, I do wonder, myself.

It’s worrying the Father, one can see. The news that one of the prospects he wanted me to end up with ( till my mom’s death, at least) is going to tie the knot, got me an earful. ‘ What will you do if I fall ill? Who will be by your side? You’re absolutely unwilling to commit to anyone!’ He went on and on, last night, as I sat in front of him, laughing like a jackass. Suddenly, something dawned on him, he realised the fat lady hasn’t sung yet and all this remains a moot point till then. Stubbornness runs in the blood and a promise made to oneself at twenty five, one will keep, however many other boys come and go. He enquired about that and then dropped the topic, in totality. Of course, he sat glaring at me today, yelling for no rhyme or reason. Worry manifests in anger, many a times.

Kyaa hoga, Khudda jaane, but if I made it in one piece, last year, when I couldn’t get through a day, I’m sure, I’ll be able to get through, somehow. If not, we all have to die of something, loneliness seems better compared to a passionless life. I may not know, where I’m going, but I know what I want. A life full of passion and adventure, a small house away from the hustle bustle of a city, full of books, animals and babies.

Igloo Cafe- Gulmarg

The Igloo, in Gulmarg isn’t an abode for Eskimos and hunters, rather it’s a cafe for travellers, an attraction for anyone who likes the snow or kahwa to bear the chilly winters of the Vale. My solo trip to Gulmarg, wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to the newest, trendiest cafe in Kashmir.

Syed Waseem Shah, the owner/ creator/ artist, of the Igloo Cafe, is the brain behind this innovative space. I didn’t get to meet him nor did I meet many people there, as I went too early. The tourists were busy skiing, so they would saunter in much later, told me the manager. He was kind enough to keep me entertained, by providing information and taking pictures of me.

If like me, you’re strolling around Gulmarg and can’t figure out where it is, look for the Kolhai Hotel. Pay the nominal entry fee and step into an approximately fifteen feet high, cave like structure made of snow, which can accommodate maximum sixteen people at a time. As of now, there are limited items on the menu, since there’s always the fear of the snow structure melting, with the heat of the food and beverages, I was told. I didn’t care. Give me any kind of tea, anywhere, anytime and I’m sold.

Solo travels- Pahalgam

Solo travels

Pahalgam, also known as the ‘Valley of Shepherds’, is frequented by yatries as well, as tourists in the summer. But in the winters, it’s relatively less crowded than the favourite destination of Kashmiris and tourists alike-Gulmarg. Neither the shepherds, nor the locals crowd the main market and most hotels and shops are still closed. Yet, this time around, I saw more tourists here and everywhere else, than I have ever seen in Kashmir, during the winters.

Posing with the girls, who picked me up after my fall. They all wanted selfies. Me too!
I was stopped while walking down the Main market road, for a selfie. I felt like half celebrity, half Martian.

A few years ago, I journeyed to Baisaran in the winter, with a couple of Kashmiri photographers for a day. That’s when I realized, that Pahalgam has it’s own charm in the winter. The mini- Switzerland or so it’s called is a quaint place, surrounded by snow capped mountains. Of course, I was driving then, this time around Farookh Uncle (my cab guy) traversed the terrain, with me. Being driven around by someone who can handle the winding roads of Kashmir and not be afraid or maniacal, is a bit hard. How I’ll explain later. But Uncle, is an experienced older man, with tremendous skill. For someone who hates being driven around, to say that, means the man must be fabulous at what he does.

Shot around Pahalgam, met a bunch of people, who wanted to take selfies with me. Slipped and fell on the snow and hurt my back badly but my models were kind enough to pick me up, while giggling non stop. Saw breathtaking scenic beauty and actually enjoyed being there for a change.

This time around I had my customary solo date, at a restraunt in Pahalgam. I sat by myself, ordered some yakhni, butted into someone’s conversation about Kashmir and got told, ‘You’re lying, I’m sure you’re Kashmiri!’ Each time someone says that to me, I can always imagine my mum’s fairness obsessed family going, ‘ae, andhera kum kerah!’ ( as dark as a dense, dark night, that’s what they used to call me, when I was little). I get a tan and it stays for months, plus I love the sun and I happen to work outdoors..so mostly I’m a shade of beige to light brown. That’s apparently horrible coming from a family that’s primarily been born white as milk or has got fairness treatments done, to look as white as milk. So, this statement always amuses me.

Anyhow, Uncle wanted to eat by himself but I somehow managed to drag him into the eatery for one of my favourite beverages- kahwa. We shared an awkward few minutes, as he sat on another table, facing me and talking, making me acutely aware of my gender or class. We rarely meet others, where that doesn’t come into play. After, which we headed to Betaab Valley.

Faking snowfall

The entry fee at the park is around fifty bucks, right now, goes upto a hundred later. There were more than enough tourists from – Punjab, Bengal and Kerala, who had flocked this serene spot. I had the best time, as I met the cutest guide cum photographer. ‘Ma’am, please let me come with you. This is how we run our homes.’ he kept trying to coax me. I kept trying to convince him that I was there to take pictures and not to pose, but eventually gave in. I’m so glad I did. After I finished my work, he made me slap a ball of snow, to fake snowfall. Took me around various spots and made me pose. Oddly enough, none of the photographers that you meet at the gate carry cameras (they use your phone to take the pictures), only when you walk inside, you find DSLR’s swinging from the shoulders of men, sitting next to different colours of velvet phirans. But I would personally vouch for these cameraless guides calling themselves photographers. They make you have loads of fun.

With the photographer and the sledge guy

Valentines Day


Sitting at the airport, heading back to Delhi. I don’t like going back to that house, which is supposed to be ‘home’, there’s an eerie silence, in it. God, how much you used to scream, we only realize now, that you’re not there! It’s a pity, I don’t have anyone to buy flowers for, from your son’s side this Valentine’s Day. No reminders to write, ‘ I love you the most, Mom’ from him. Anyhow, hope the ass is telling you, himself.


Cold, cold heart of mine!

I gave a quote about being single to someone, who had written about my work many moons, ago. Of course I took the onus of all my failed relationships and got calls from friends asking why I would do that publicly and let everyone off the hook. Well, I like being on the hook, it suits me just fine. Besides, ‘nice people’, like to live upto to the idea of being faultless, so they’re better at concealment, but karma has a way of levelling the playing field. So, don’t fret. Besides, itni colourful zindagi, carpet ke under sweep karne ke liye to nahin jee he humne.

I don’t get why people mistake honesty for self deprecation. ‘One should always tell the truth but not all truths should be told?’ or something like that, the quote goes. Maybe, somethings should be kept to yourself. But nothing that involves, another human being can be kept just between the two of you and when it comes out, you not having the third leg that gives men a free pass to do everything, will be blamed. So, always own your shit, is my principle because if you don’t, you will loose your personal power. If you do it, own it, if you can’t own it, don’t do it. One of the few rules one tends to abide by.

I don’t think I was ‘too honest’ as someone put it, I think I wasn’t honest enough. Let’s just get it out. I think it’s not just a lack of love for oneself but also this totally unrealistic expectation, that I’ve always had, from the men in my life. It’s like I expected them to magically heal all that broke inside me as a kid, which no one can do, right? That’s was for me to do. To play part father and part lover and whichever part the man played, I wanted the other. One has two terribly different shades, each with a different need. You would assume, my knowing this, would make me nicer, nope, so that’s why, inspite of all the notifications Tinder sends me, to become more active, I’m Haq Se Single.

Tera kyaa hoga life mein? they ask. I ask myself the same question. People read this and think it’s apt for the times we live in. ‘ Tum se pahle jo ik shakhs yahan takht-nashin tha. Us ko bhi apne khuda hone pe itna hi yaqin tha.’ When I read this, I shit you not, I can imagine myself saying this to the next man, I date. Yeh inherent niceness, jo he (not) uska kyaa kare?

Repeatedly, wherever I go, people keep trying to remind me I need company. The father keeps trying to convince me to marry the Wall. His recent observation of course is, ‘ jisko karna hi nahi hota, uske paas sau bahane he!’ But of all the gyaan, free advice, people give me about changing my status, the most astute observation came from an old friend, who noted, ‘ men keep thinking that have to compete with each other for your attention, when actually it’s with your inherent loneliness, that they need to compete. That’s what you’re not willing to give up, so you keep jeopardizing relationships. You have to be able to let someone in at some point!’ In my old age, like George Clooney, I too shall try. Fifty is my deadline. Until then, one runs till one finds someone wild enough to run with.

Solo Travels Srinagar

Came to Srinagar yesterday, armed with all that SB comes with-bitchiness, arrogance, anger, resentment and as soon as the plane touched the runaway of Srinagar Airport, SC was back in all her glory. I’ve been told by many, any place outside of Delhi, I’m nicer. They get to see the other one, I guess.

One’s recently becoming more and more aware of one’s privileges. To be fair, when you live a life, that your relatives term, ‘living under poverty line’, your view of reality and your privileges is quite skewed and mine despite all my travels and having friends from different strati of society, still is. Read an article before coming here, about how these three boys travelled to Kashmir and used public transport to go from one place to other and I realized twelve years down the line and that is something, I’ve barely done. I have no idea, what it’s like to catch a bus from the airport. So yesterday, I did. It cost 70 bucks and I met interesting characters, on the way. A girl from Ladakh who was coming from Delhi but staying in Srinagar, a man who was returning from hibernation and so and so forth. But if you are pressed for time, you’ll be waiting for forty minutes on the bus, as passengers fill the seats, slowly.

Hats off to those young lads, who managed going from one destination to other by local transport because to find a local bus, in the winter, to take you to Pahalgam or Gulmarg is impossible. I tried and even the local passenger taxis don’t take you to Pahalgam, straight. They drop you at Anantnag and from there you have to catch another one cab to Pahalgam. Since, one is here for work and not for budget travelling, I chucked the idea of doing that. Lugging my overweight bag around, in the winter, by myself, waiting for local taxis, isn’t a feasible option for me. The anonymity that it grants you, though, is quite enticing. Some other time, for now, Farookh Uncle (my cab guy) and I remain steadfast companions.

Delhi through their eyes. – Syed Yusuf

Syed Yusuf Shahab
Hauz-I-Shamsi Burraq Relic
Dargah Nooruddin Mubarak Ghazani
DargahAbdul Haq Mohaddis Dehlvi
Challis Aadalo Ki Mazar
Dargah Sheikh Najibuddin Firdausi

Sufism, an offshoot of Islam, attracts many non Muslims, due to its openness, its vibrancy and the love of its teachers- like Rumi, for God. The language of love, of surrender, of oneness with the Beloved (God), the main tenants of this branch of Islam. The Lost Sufis of Mehruli, was the name of the walk conducted by Syed Yusuf Shahab. Though, we couldn’t visit all the shrines in Mehrauli, as we walked around for four kilometres visiting the hidden gems, only Yusuf knew, it was a wonderful couple of hours spent in great company.

I’ve been told that when I write about the walks, I give away too much information, that’s why one has stopped being too descriptive about them. To know more, purchase the book written by the walk leader- The Lost Sufis of Delhi.

Delhi Through Their Eyes: Connaught Place with Sohail Hashmi

Sohail Hashmi, the most eminent heritage walk leader, in Delhi, took us around Connaught Place, last Sunday. What draws me to his walks, is not just an admiration for his knowledge about the city, per se, but his persona in totality. There’s a gentleness and an intensity, about his demeanour, that draws throngs of people to his walks.

This was the first time, Mr Hashmi conducted a walk in the heart of Delhi- Connaught Place and though he said it required a bit of tweaking, all the participants, really enjoyed walking around, listening to historical facts juxtaposed with his personal anecdotes.

Connaught Place, steers many childhood memories. This hub of New Delhi, is practically where one grew up. Convent of Jesus and Mary, my alma mater which is opposite the Gole Dhak Khana- the octagonal, New Delhi General Post Office Building, is a stone throw away from where all the business and partying take place. Many a birthday parties, dates, class bunks and mishaps have happened in CP. Even now, since one detests malls, many a weekends are spent, enjoying a live concert within these iconic corridors.

Check out Heritage Walks with Sohail Hashmi, on FB, to remain updated on the schedule.


Dear Love,

You’re running a marathon on my mind, these days. I got beautiful messages from two of your friends, recently. One, sent me a message on your birthday telling me how you encouraged him in school and another one sent me a message on your death anniversary, telling me how you helped her after an accident. I’m always overwhelmed by your niceness and my chest swells up with pride, for knowing you. Between an angel and a Devil reincarnate, our parents managed to cover both ends of the spectrum.

Actually, you’re also a lucky bastard. I mean, I’m terrible, mujhe to do minute mein bhul jaygee duniya but you know where you got this from, your gentle heart? From our Mom. But shit man! the things they said about her when she died. Uff! People spoke about her, throughout her life and even when she went they didn’t spare her. To blame a woman for her past life, without having any recollection of your own, takes another kind of skill.

Why am I harping about this again? Well, you, lucky bastard, don’t ever have to worry about death anniversaries or what all that entails. I on the other hand, have the privilege of being the one who needs to sort shit out. So, here we are. I’m supposed to sit with a roomful of people, who will be there, to socialise, while some random fellow, who did not know our cutie pie, will be praying for her departed soul. Puke! Senseless rubbish.

You know, in the olden times, families wouldn’t celebrate any festivals for eleven months, after someone passed away. Seems a bit nuts, to me but they wouldn’t and this Varina was meant to be a kind of permission, a letting go ceremony, after which people would get back to business, as usual. But now, people have become more practical, they move on, quickly. Weddings only get cancelled if someone in the immediate family dies, while celebrations continue, unabashedly. Which is okay, I don’t think the soul gives a crap. The people who are grieving might but that’s totally each individual’s prerogative. So, what is the point of this drama! Plus, ek bat bata, even if the soul is going to benefit from your good intentions, I’m sure a good deed would trump, spectacles.

Of course, the Father is non committal, as usual, which leaves everything on moi. So, instead of deciding anything, I’m sitting at this hour cursing you. Akele, handling people is too mushkil, without you. I wish you could come down for a few days in a year. God should grant us four days a year, with the departed. Death should be like a break up. People should faze out, rather than disappearing, abruptly. Like you breakup, then you kind of hook up once in a while, then you get used to not being with that person all the time, eventually you get over it, when one person moves on. Leaving your body should be like that. It will be be easier on everyone. Crap, it’s almost two. Enough, for today. Kisses.