14th Feb

Happy Valentine’s day to all those who still manage to believe in the magic of special days. The rest of us cynical types, who’ve visited the rodeo too many times, are no longer entertained by the frivolity.

But I still ain’t buying myself flowers and I still ain’t going to write my own name in the sand. Too young and still way too spoilt for that baby dolls! Miley’s song may be the new anthem for jilted lovers, everywhere but it doesn’t resonate with me. It’s a nice tune to groove to, though! But it talks about self love which is vital. That’s a lesson I’m learning well, in my forties. It’s making me much more insufferable than I usually am but you can’t send someone else to do your own damn job! Watch your own damn back and pick your own damn self, from the shambles!

Nevertheless, this song still makes me smile. Most women want a fancy wedding…when I was younger I wanted a tempo ride with my brothers for a proposal, a tattoo ‘owned’ inked on each other ( all the feminists I know are going to freak. No we aren’t regressing down the patriarchal path…it’s being being mutually territorial……which is exactly what marriage is…so why not just spell it out?) instead of wearing those God forsaken, ugly solitaire rings and I had this song in mind if I was ever asked to ‘perform’! Still love it…

Hopeless romantic? Hell no! Love my darlings, they say for some is a practical issue, for some an emotional reaction and for others a game. Check this out

No guesses, what it is for me. No wonder, my favourite love story of of all times- The Thomas Crown Affair is about outwitting each other into submission. Of all the mundane things in the world…what’s the fun in loving if ain’t going to rip you apart, in every freaking way?

Not another one

Dear Love,

I heard something the other day, that was so apt for my situation. ‘Bhai chale jaye to bal chale jaye. Baap chale jaye to chhat chale jaye aur mayri jab jai to jag chale jaye!’

Sweet, na. I miss you so much but I’m so glad you weren’t around to see this. I don’t think you had the stomach for it…honestly I don’t think I have the stomach for it, either. I’m hanging on to the side of the cliff, by my fingernails, holding on as tight as I can.

Days go by like they do at the hospital, one muddled into another. Forty days later, the father tells anyone who will listen, ‘I can’t take this torture anymore, I don’t feel better, we’re right where we started. Please take me home.’ He woke up right now and the first thing he was worried about was how much is it costing? Somethings don’t change. He’s so frail and withering away…at times better at times the same. Ageing, is too difficult man. My mind keeps going back to the astrological prediction- someone in the family will pass away before the end of January, that was made when you went. I kept thinking of that when we came in this time, hoping somehow we would survive the month to only realize Amma, went later. The mind is a trickster, it constantly looks for loopholes to make situations more tolerable…making connections where there are none.

Speaking of khurafati dimaag, sometimes it saves me, too. The father has always made fun of how, I have a plan A, B and C …thankfully, my backup plan or the back as we used to call in Masjid Moth, has been here for almost a month, now. It was nice not being alone for a change. The father in any case prefers his calm, collected ways to my volatile ones and it was nice to have someone around who is so used to my volatility, he actually finds it amusing! He’s so much better at tackling human beings…you know I’m a fit thrower who won’t believe anyone…who will want to see a report and won’t take anyones word for anything! Nope…just can’t do it…SB won’t let me. He on the other hand, like you, knows how to give people the impression he trusts them completely without really doing so. Tact…I wish it would rub off on me but twenty three years with you couldn’t make me nicer, nothing else is going to.

Speaking of nice, you know when you’re at the hospital, everybody is in the same boat, everyone has a story to tell. I was sitting at Nescafé and got chatting with someone whose mother had recently had a stroke. As we discussed medicines, things digressed to families and brothers and somehow landed on you. ‘ He must have been a really nice person…extremely generous and sweet! I’ve noticed the good ones go early!’ Ain’t that true about you! Cho cute you were! So was our mum. But our father isn’t…so you two make do without him! It ain’t fair that you all always thought, that I could handle everything. Sorry, I can’t! No…not!!!Leave him with me…we got to trouble each other and the world a lot more!


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.


Mum-occupied in one of her favourite activities- flipping through magazines.
Four feet seven inches of cuteness, ferocity and kindness wrapped into one. Pinky aka, My Kashmiri Apple, Pupee, Baby aka Amma, and I at Kasbah. No wonder, I am so fascinated by cuteness, grew up around too much of it! This much cuteness, should be a punishable offence.

Stepping into the last month of the year with a little hope and faith in the future. This is me…just telling myself that, hoping I’ll feel like it. Fake it…till you make it. The past two years have been trying, so has the past week but one will hopefully bounce back, with a ferocity that is genetic. You should have met what (not who but what) I came out of…on her worst days, she was the wildest thing, you could have laid eyes on! I pale in comparison and how…not as nice ( opposite of it actually), not as pretty ( my Kashmiri apple..I used to call her that…was too cute) and not as ferocious, either. Sometimes, I am saddened by how little of that people remember, I guess like my brother’s memories, her escapades too shall disappear with me. What she did for others, everyone remembers, which is lovely but what made her so unique, is albeit a distant memory!

A few things popped up, today. Someone shared a meme, about mums and then there was news of someone passing away…which made me touchy because, well, somethings remind me of my mom, plus, like they say, one thinks too much and feels too much, which sometimes, also means one ends up saying too much which I guess, I shouldn’t. Having a few of those days, when I have had to filter my impulses, hide and delete them, knowing there’s no point in reacting! Have to learn to keep my feelings and words in check! Someone, should pack me off to Kashmir every two months, to calm down! Unfortunately, I am here and all the gorgeousness of the autumn there!

Death-Ashes to ashes, baby, dust to dust. I’ll be forgotten in two hours but the rest of you, too shall become someone, somebody knew. Remembered, once in a while by someone who loved you. Hmmm, or if you have a traumatic ending like I hope to have, you might become an example. Aise karoge to uss ki tarah banjoge! Dude, in a world full of nice be the freaking aberration!- Saadiyaism, I should term my nonsense, utterances !

My ideal, death scenario- dying in car, on an open highway, with the wind blowing through my hair…hopefully, fingers crossed, in Kashmir. About me, they shall say-‘Aaj tak kissi di gal nahi, sunni iss kuddi ne! Hun dekho aee ki hogaya!’ Here’s hoping, one remains a cocky little shit, till one’s dying day! That’s something to look forward to!

Patna Ka Superhero

Patna ka Superhero, was performed at the Stein Auditorium and featured Ghanshyam Lalsa. The solo act was hilarious and dramatic- Ghanshyam, had the audience eating out of the palm of his hands. It was like watching a trapeze act, waiting with baited breath for the artist to trip but the acting was engrossing, the accent was on point and the comedy timing, impeccable!
Written and Directed by Nihal Parashar, the play was about Pintu Bhaiya a childhood hero of the narrator’s. It entwines the journeys of both the characters through, the hero’s pursuit of love. Though, one visited Patna, for the first time only in my thirties, the story had a familiarity. Pintu was a small town boy but those of us who grew up in colonies where there were a lot of teenage boys, would be familiar with characters, such as his.
Masjid Moth, a colony in South Delhi, where one grew up could have passed off as Patna, believe you me!instead of Nisha Sweets, there was Anupam sweets where the boys would hang out and occasionally, get into fights. There was the local hero, ‘gunda’ everyone was afraid off, like our hero, scary and admirable…boys would be standing outside girl’s homes with their friends, for hours at a time waiting to catch one glimpse of their object of affection. This was way before Tinder, Messanger and Insta, so instead of swipes and sliding into Dms, friend’s would act as the the mailmen passing letters and messages, back and forth. Everyone would claim the girls they desired were theirs without even showing any interest to the actual girls, themselves. Everything about the play had a familiar tone to it, that had one reminiscing. On the onset Patna Ka Superhero, is about a local gang leader, regaled to the status of Karl Max and Bhagat Singh, by the adoring eyes of the narrator. But it’s really about the trials of an uneducated, village boy, who is eventually beaten down by life and the narrator’s need to hold on to his sense of identity and familiarity with his roots.

Habba Khatoon

Habba Khatoon at Rosetta House. The play was about the love story of Zoon (her name was later changed by her lover) and Yusuf Shah Chak, who married the woman he fell in love with a woman he found in the woods.
‘Habba Khatoon’ Written by Kajal Suri was staged by Rubaru Theatre Delhi.
Though Zoon was married earlier, her husband despised her spending time writing poetry. This became his grounds for leaving her.
Yusuf Shah Chak was played by Rajeev Sharma and Zoonie by Chandrani Mukherjee. Akbar wanted to conquer Kashmir, so Chak went to Delhi and was
arrested there. He never returned to his beloved.
Habba spent the rest of her life healing others and composing poems of separation and loss. Like all great love stories, this too ended tragically!

Jaskiran Chopra played the part of the terrible Mother-in-law.
Rahul Malhotra Aziz Jan , Khatoon’s first Husband

Love in the times of technology

Got a panic call from a friend, this morning. ‘Do you want to marry a Muslim man? Is uncle not giving you the permission to marry outside your community?’ The question was met with peels of laughter from my end. ‘ Do you think if I wanted to, anyone would be able to stop me from doing it? My dad would only be too happy if I agree to marry anybody at all, as long as I am paying for it! Come on, we may have a tumultuous relationship but there is nothing he would like more than a son-in- law, especially a live in one, irrespective of what religion he follows! The question is whether, I will marry a Muslim man, not whether anyone will allow me to? Well, I could as long as a man, any man, will not ask me to change my name, my religion, will be okay with the kids using my surname as well ( unless, they don’t want to use mine or either of ours), will not ask me to straighten my hair, will be ok with how I look (weight, colour of my skin etc) and the most important will be okay with living with two different versions of me, both that aren’t very pleasant! So, no, till I don’t find such a namoona, I don’t want to marry anyone, so all of you stop fretting!’

The panic, was created due to a comment I made on a page called, ‘Being woman’. Aftab, murdered his live in partner Shraddha and mercilessly chopped her into pieces, burnt her face and dumped her into a fridge. The cold blooded murderer, then kept her remains at home for twenty days, dated other women, while her corpse was in the house and then scattered her remains, one at a time, every night at 2 a.m in the Mehrauli forest. Gruesome, is the word for it!

But considering the regressive state our society has been stuck in forever and the current political climate; this murder like everything else became about questioning the woman’s morality, a sermon about the virtues of listening to your parents and of course the man’s religious identity. Is he Parsi or Muslim? Muslim it turns out to be! Not that it makes an ounce of a difference.

Courtesy the Meta Page- Being Woman

But if you grew up in as Islamophobic an environment as I did, where right from childhood you were told, ‘ kisse naal bhi vyaa kari muslmaan naal ni kari!’by the elders in the family…you know where all this is coming from. Sikhs are terribly suspicious of the ‘other’ and surprisingly this is not just the generation that moved from Pakistan. I was at a holi party, this year and a Sikh friend of mine, who had seen the Kashmir files, said things that were exactly the same things that the elders of the family, who actually witnessed horrific things, say! So the bias, is carried through generations and has very little to do with actual experience. But you know what, all the suspicion vanishes when people come face to face…when they have personal relationships. The same friend, was really nice to my Kashmiri Muslim friend, six months later, at another party. My nani, who was always worried that l would elope with an Muslim man, said to me before she passed away, ‘if you want to marry a Muslim man, go ahead!’ Inspite of her belief, Ms Rashid was like a daughter to her. My bhabhi who is a Muslim woman from Bhaderwah, remains an angel to the family because they know her! For my friends who spew venom against the community, Afshan remains wonderful.

The hate is directed towards an abstract, a wound of the past, carried through generations but who you love is real- flesh and blood! Love is….love! It gets embedded on your mind, heart and sometimes even on your skin, irrespective of what religion the man follows! If the love of Shraddha’s life was Muslim, she wasn’t going to not live with him because society was against it!

Unfortunately, in this case, it ended badly for her. But there are many cases of such kinds of murder, where the perpetrators weren’t Muslim. The trouble is, the poor girl lost her life and her dignity is being stripped off of her mercilessly, as all her decisions are being dissected, ruthlessly! Then we wonder, why she didn’t leave him? This is why. If she was alive no one would have spared to punish her for this bad decision. I’m saddened by the loss of her life but I grieve more for the life she must have led. Don’t you think, something must be terribly wrong with her existence if her family didn’t figure out she was dead? It was another man, a male friend who got worried! Don’t you think, Aftab knew that she had no where else to go, no one who would have stood up for her (other than her male friends) if he misbehaved with her? If anyone knows, including a cold hearted killer, that you are loved and cared for, they cover their tracks better. He knew her weakness and he exploited that. I feel sorry for the lonely life, this girl must have led. Not knowing you have people in your corner…no place to call home, isn’t a nice feeling and definitely leaves you exposed to wolves! She should have left….I wish she knew where to go!

P.S- One comment on a post, on a random page, got me comments like -‘ You are poison for your parents!’, ‘ You will get a big fridge’ ‘How many children do you have?’ and ‘Frustrated Nibbi!. Wow! Remind me to indulge in this nonsense when I’m getting bored, this is entertaining!

The Women of Kashmir

Candles in the Wind

An entire body of works, from 2007 till 2022, is part of a book project, titled- The Women of Kashmir. Over the years much has changed in my subject’s lives personally and in terms of their identity! I might take some pictures next year, as well, you never know with me! The book is divided into a few parts, some of the works have been shown over the years at the India Art Fair, like the one above but most of them have only been emailed to a few curators and ofcourse Mary Ellen Mark (attended her workshop in 2010) who was instrumental in directing the works this way .

Many a books have come out from the time I began. That doesn’t hinder my project in any way. When one initially began, the only way female photographers would shoot Kashmir, was to go through NGO’s. I took the same route, met Parveena and Parvez, though they were very helpful, I realized that I don’t do well with viewing the world through anyone’s eyes but my own- skewed, tainted, cynical ones! Plus, I’m not an activist, philanthropist not even a feminist. Right from the word go, from my first book, which is stark white and black with hints of colour, to my first film- Loss- which looked at the problems faced by the Kashmiri Muslim and Kashmiri Pandits, one holds what one calls the ‘ greediest view of the world’, wanting to look at everything- from every possible direction one can!

There’s much that one hasn’t been able to do in Kashmir, there’s much when I view the works in their entirety, look at and think, wait a little longer, try a little harder but without organisations pushing you, without proper press credentials and with being looked suspiciously at by both parties- the Pandits think I’m Muslim and with an agenda and the Kashmiri Muslims, a lot of times think I’m a spy; this is what I could do.

Like curator after curator, has been telling me, it’s time to release it, maybe it is! But one’s apprehensive, it ain’t good enough just about yet and once the works come out…I might not be able to return ‘home’!

Side note/ technology is handy, anytime you get accused by some hot shot-there’s Flicker, which will display all your file info and your emails, too can help determining who all were sent the images. This is valuable info for long term projects because anyone can quickly churn out something and turn the tables on you. When I put up the image above, a very famous male photographer got pissed with me. Someone who uses ‘black backgrounds’! Thankfully, for me the pictures had already been published, long before, he did his show and my first book, was filled with such pictures. Unfortunately, I can’t accuse him of the same because it’s needless, doesn’t work in reverse and two because I have studied and taught photography, so what a hypocrite I would be, to get my own references from international photographers and then accuse someone else!


All my upcoming series or at least most of my works will be named after the year, in which the images were made like the last two 2019 and 2020-2022- Barely Surviving. My latest works, will be 2022-…the rest will be revealed when I exhibit the works next year. Hopefully, next year one should be able to show a lot more more work.

In the Light- Swiss Art Night

Swiss Art Night at the Embassy of Switzerland in India and Bhutan.
Gerry Hofstetter, the Swiss artist who crafts pieces of art with light made his Indian debut at this event. He creates light art performances for various cultural partners.
The incredible art pieces, which were created in the garden and facade were breathtaking. This event was part of the Swiss It! initiative.
Dr Ralf Heckner, the Ambassador of Switzerland, organised the event to celebrate 75 years of India’s independence and the diplomatic relations between India and Switzerland.
Contemporary Indian Choreographer and dancer Diya Naidu, with the Citizens of Stage Co Lab enchanted us with a brilliant performance, which was both painful and seductive.
Diya Naidu has been a member of Attakkalari, India’s pioneer contemporary dance company. Citizens of Stage Co lab is a collective of independent contemporary dancers, who share their passion with whoever is interested in learning
We all gathered around in the garden, where sumptuous food and drinks were being served and watched the performance.
The Indian and Swiss team behind the performance.
Simon Sevan Schafer, Head of Culture Embassy of Switzerland was one of the main organisers of the event
The special surprise for the evening was when the Di played Bollywood songs. Everyone came together on the dance floor to turn it into a night to remember.

Hope in the future

Two patients who were admitted to the Institute of Mental health in Chennai- Deepa and and P Mahendran, will be getting married this Friday.

Mahendra had a tussle over property issues with his relatives and Deepa after the loss of her father, had to endure rejection from her mother and sister. Somehow, they both ended up at the Institute and after a few months of their treatment were sent to a ‘halfway home’.

Since, they both had nowhere else to go, they found love and employment at the Institute. If you go through Jordan Paterson’s videos, though he is considered enemy number 1 by the Western feminists, a lot of what he says about mental health issues, is spot on. According to him, before you declare that a person is unwell, make sure that everything around them is fine. If they’ve lost a job, are grieving, have no hopes for love, they’re not necessarily unwell but under stresses caused by their environment that they’re unable to manage. Many a times, the removal of the triggers will make their life much more pleasant and productive. Stress management and managing trigger points is the key to a better life for everyone including someone who does have a disorder.

Love, they say makes the world a better place. God knows but hope definitely, does. Umeed pe duniya kayam he, aur kissi ki umeed banjao, to kyaa baat he! Here’s hoping they have a fabulous life, one might not be able to find love but we at a 100 pieces of me…love…love and live for a good love story. Cheers.

Mirza Ghalib and Nawab Jaan

Kathak Dancer-Manjari Chaturvedi

Mirza Ghalib and Nawab Jaan
Courtesan Project


Spartacus, Hindi Play.
Directed by Tarique Hameed
Written by Badal Sircar
India Habitat Centre