I wrote the following post on the 18th of this month, wanting to post it the next day. On the 19th my dad was hospitalized. So it’s written in two parts, with different mind frames.


It’s been an interesting year. One got to travel for a bit and got to drag oneself out (hopefully) from the endless pit, of hopelessness one was falling into. At the same time, one also learnt that the experience isn’t unique to me, irrespective of how ‘different’ I feel from everyone else. Existential angst, is something that is experienced by most ‘over thinkers’. Learnt a lot about myself, most of it not very pleasant.

Got nominated for a fellowship for one of my projects, which I couldn’t apply for due to the situation one finds oneself in…did manage to get a little appreciation this year. Undeserved, but much needed. Sometimes, when you feel persecuted, probed and attacked from all corners, for not being ‘woman like’ with all the traits and ambitions, befitting your gender, irrespective of the bravado, a part of you can always muster up when feeling cornered; there’s still something that makes you stay up at night wondering and questioning why you couldn’t be like the rest of the women in the family?

Though, on deeper thought, this gave me the opportunity to really appreciate some of the other women, who I didn’t think about that much. My uncle passed away, before his fortieth birthday, in a car accident, leaving behind a thirty year old woman, with three kids, complicated finances and mountains of paperwork, related to property issues. His wife, sorted things out and then did a fantastic job of bringing up her kids, giving them the best she could. She was married into a family, so for her the dynamics must have been difficult to sort. The stuff that must have been said to her must have not been pleasant at times but she continues to manage her life and her relationships, beautifully. She’s not whining away to glory, ‘oh my God! How can they?’ She’s brushed everything aside and has focused on herself and her kids. Is she perfect? Far from it! But usually women who are made by fire, aren’t!

Made me think of my aunt who is a doctor, as well. She was a tomboy all her life who lived and worked by herself, away from her hometown…four decades ago and then got married to a lawyer, but stayed on the outskirts of Ludhiana. Her husband and mother-in- law, were supportive of her, in every way possible. But I’m sure the transition must have been tough. She bought up two kids, taught, worked with thalassemic children, took care of her in laws and witnessed the loss of three parents, four sisters and three brothers. My Nani would cite her example , each time she would try to coax me to get married, ‘ uddi wakhaan daddi he tu! Jo inni dadiyaa hondi he…ohhi sabse changi wotiya bandi he!’ She does make a good wife because she’s a great partner to her husband not because she strokes his ego and tells him to shine, while she remains in the background. The other day, as I saw them peacefully coexisting, in their hotel room, each so proud of each other’s accomplishments, it was nice to witness the aberration. For someone who thinks of marriage as bondage (not of the good kind 😉 ) it was nice to witness, two alphas together. It’s the rarest of the rare, cases. But not impossible. Wild women, can sometimes find men, wild enough to run with them.

Then there are some who end up alone and manage to live with strength and grace, like my dad’s sister. At the age of seventy five, she lives a quiet life, by herself. Though, she’s not assertive like a lot of us, she has an undeniable strength in her ways.

Realized after all this that one’s developing a terrible persecution complex, which has become dangerous, now. Up until, one withdrew and went about minding one’s own business it was fine. But this year, I realized how cuckoo I’ve turned, when anytime more than two people would converse with me and ask me anything, about anything under the sun, one’s brain would step into it’s most defensive stance.

The picture above of Reeves has been me, most of the year. ‘Bring it on, come I’ll show you how to play this game! You think ganging you on me scares me! Come!’ SB would yell, inside my head, each time, one more person was called or even if my phone would ring. Paranoid much? Now, getting pissed with other people’s constant meddling is one thing, being in this constant state of ‘the world is trying to screw you over’ is a bit much for even me!

Of course, it had a terrible affect on my psychosomatic body, with my health deteriorating and my body ageing. The state of your mind is reflected on your face- look at the picture above. If any image, sums up my confusion and dread of the future, it has to be the one above. Who can say, it’s at one of the most beautiful places, in India, where one should have been glad to have visited…happy to be alive? But I felt like shit…like the future was going to be this dark, dreadful hellhole where my father would die and I would be married off to anyone or worse packed off to a mental asylum! I shit you not, I have spent night after night, clutching to my stomach worried about the worst case scenarios.

I wish I could say, it was the therapy that magically took all of it, away. It did act as a huge catalyst. There were a series of realizations. The first dawned on me after thrashing the entirety of my existence in therapy and realizing there have been three times when my life has felt totally out of my control- when I have retreated from the world and then there has been a paradigm shift. For the longest time, one thought ‘people betray you, kick you around when you’re at your weakest’ but it’s dawning on me, that one probably does it, oneself. Unconsciously, one probably can’t handle the intrinsic or extrinsic change, so one withdraws or maybe one can’t handle people’s energies during a paradigm shift. As for the shifts themselves and why they happen, a few concepts one’s heard from Hindu Mythology have been tickling one’s brain.

It’s stated that Hanumanji is the remover of obstacles but recently one has been educated about him being the creator of the obstacles, too. It is said, that to make a person strong and powerful, he creates frictions in a person’s life. It is only in moments of pain, that you come into your own. The other is Shani- Mars. I have no idea if any planets are screwing with my head but the same is said about bad times brought on by planetary positions. Apparently, these bad periods are supposed to discipline and prepare you for the version of you that you have to become in the future. Interesting.

The realization that the women I know, have had it real tough, that sometimes it ain’t people but the phase in your life when you’re energies are realigning…that requires introspection and solitude, helped. But more than that it was a stranger’s kid, who looked at me, while I puffed on my cigarette, who helped me the most. Ever since I’ve started smoking again, one’s been plagued by discomfort. I don’t know why… it hasn’t felt right, the same way cuts on my arms have felt, odd! One was returning from work, a month, a month and half ago and one was lost in thought, puffing at a cigarette. When I came back to Earth, I realized. a kid who was sitting in an auto, with his mum and aunt, was looking at me the same way, many a times I have looked at my Dad, when he’s been out of control. This may just be a figment of my imagination or the kid must have been as lost as I but the way he was looking at me, made me stop my bs. One promised oneself that one’s kids would never look at one like that…ever. It was like that kid, gave me a wake up call. It was almost like, your children are going to wonder why you derailing your life, like this! I couldn’t smoke after that, stopped the self harm, the thoughts that drove me time a shrink do pop up in my head but one tries to read them away, with better thoughts!

30.12.22- My last realization for this year, has been, the most important. On the 19th my dad was hospitalized. I found him out of breath, complaining of severe stomach ache. Over the past ten days, one has missed his yelling, in spite of us having the most tumultuous relationship. Of course in my case, it is also, knowing that my entire family will be gone, if anything happens to him, making me technically, what I have called myself, jokingly, in my younger years-lawaaris. That has sent a shudder down my spine. Being without anybody, might make me like Howard Roark on the upside but in my pessimistic head, I have woken up with the fright of being Shradha Walker, a couple of times. Of course, one has also wondered how our story can end so badly? Never having mended our relationship, what would I tell my kids about him, someday? Just all the shit that I remember? That ain’t going to be how this should end.

Anyhow, as he comes out of the woods and still lies in the ICU, one has also come to the conclusion, if you can, avoid doctors like the plague. I took him to Apollo, where the first hour I told them he is an alcoholic, which instead of helping him with, they turned into a freaking lab rat. Ten days, down the line, one has been on an emotional train wreck, trying to juggle, hospital and his life’s work…worried he’s not going to survive…worried he’s going to come out and tell me, I have ruined his business. Friend of mine, flew to Delhi, in a panic, when they put him on a ventilator for something that could have, probably been treated with a few pills. When they kept him off the alcohol, for five days, it led to seizures, which were scary as hell. So, now, one’s stuck…can’t get him out due to fear and am frustrated knowing, they just took advantage of a vulnerable situation. Anyhow, it’s good he’s in one piece, we have a lot more fighting to do!

Last thought, being healthy is most important. So, you all take care of yourselves. Be healthy, be safe! I too will get on without my whining in the next year and go in for a total system overhaul. New year, better me, hopefully!


Dear Love,

Every morning I wake up, hoping that this is just my childhood nightmare. That all the fears that I have imagined and fretted, over for the past two years haven’t manifested themselves and the reality will be different.

Yet, here we are, it’s real. As soon as ‘oh no shit, this is actually happening’, leaves my mind, let me be you, not like you but his son, stems up. So I start, the machine and it runs through the day, making sure everything remains intact. It’s tough, shouldering the responsibility of being a man. When all the employees look at my face and search for answers, I realize I’m not a sick man’s daughter but the son of a man who has spent forty years working, who has lost you and if I ain’t going to keep it going, he’ll feel, you would have never let him down. No wonder, men remain so stoic. They can’t afford to breakdown when all eyes are on them, searching for answers, looking for the direction to move in. I always wondered, why the sons weren’t the ones sitting outside the ICU. They are the ones ensuring everything is running smoothly, providing for everyone and not losing their minds.

The funny thing is, irrespective of how much I try, I fail miserably-at all of it!

Jadunama- Javed Akhtar’s Journey discussed at Jashn-e-Rekhta

Jadunama- Javed Akhtar Ek Safar, Akhtar Sahab’s biography, was recently released and discussed at Jashn-e-Rekhta. The Hindi Edition has been published by Manjul and the English by Amaryllis.

‘Khudkushi Kyaa Dukho Ka Hal Banti, Maut Key Apne Sau Jhamele The. Zahan Au Dil Aaj Bhuke Marte He, Unn Dino Humne Faake Jhele The. Hum To Bachpan Mein Bhi Akele The. Sirf Dil Ki Gali Mein Khele The.’ Many a nights, one has battled with thoughts of extinction and won those battles with the help of three poems…this has been on top of the list. Written by Javed Akhtar, it is from Tarkash. Since, Jadunama is about Javed Sahab’s life and how he has touched the lives of people around him, I thought I would narrate an anecdote on how he has touched the life of a stranger.

Though, one doesn’t own a copy of the book, you will find the audio on every device I’ve owned in the past decade because of this one poem. Javed Akhar, is my hero, not the way Ali Bachchan ( that’s what I used to call Amitabh Bachchan when I was younger) was who I wanted to grow up to be (angry, young man) but the way someone who saves you from your darkest days, without knowing he did, is! Forever, his voice will calm my nerves. I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t say that to him. All I could say, your poem helped me a lot…not most days, it helps me to not blow my brains out! Dramatic, much? Always!

You know, how people always want to get pictures taken, with the people they admire. One wants to make as many pictures of them, as one possibly can. So of course, any time, any one mentions Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar one rushes, to do the deed. Akhtar Sahab, can light up a room, with his wit and the twinkle in his eye. Always, a delight hearing him and one can’t wait to get one’s hands on his biography!

Jashn-e-Rekhta 2022- Sanjiv Saraf With Saif Mahmood

Sanjiv Saraf, founder of Rekhta.
Love Longing and Loss, is a book on love poems translated by Sanjiv.

Saif Mahmood, is an author and literary critic.
On the 2nd day, of the festival Sajiv Saraf’s book discussed by Mr Mahmood who is a great orator and also an advocate.

Grandbrothers Performance at the Red Fort Organized By The Swiss and German Embassy

The German and the Swiss Embassies, organized a concert at the Red Fort to celebrate Azadi Ka Mahaotsav, 75 years of India’s Independence.
The Grandbrothers is a Swiss/ German fusion band.
Lukas Vogel , handles the audio apparatus.
Erol Sarp, is the pianist.

Automatic model X Kaleekarma

Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi at the Book Signing of Dhanak & Daaera

Emotional afternoon at Kumzum travel cafe, today. These two individuals mean a lot to me and one was totally overwhelmed in their company. One’s met them on a few occasions but something about Shabana ji holding Kaifi Saahab’s book and just Javed Saahab being there, was overwhelming for me. Embarrassed myself a bit but that’s okay. Why so nutty? Lets leave that for another post.