I’ll Never Be Daddy’s Girl

“How would you describe your relationship with your father?”, asks the family counselor. Silence. She repeats the question . “I have no idea,” I reply. “Do you love him?”, she probes further. “I don’t know!”. Two years later, from a problem child I have been officially declared a nutcase. The slitting has gotten worse, the scars that were only on my wrists have gone from my arms right up to my shoulders and formed keloids. Sometimes, I run out of the house in the middle of the night and at times refuse to come out of my room for weeks at a time. Though, I barely scrape through my classes, at 16 I’ve graduated from going to a family counselor to a full-fledged shrink. The question remains the same. The answer, also remains the same. Much probing later about this that and the other, the experts decide to start me on meds to calm my nerves down. That’s when the man I supposedly don’t love, steps in and shuts the party down.

It’s twenty years later. My relationship with my Father remains as tumultuous, as ever. He hates aggressive women and I hate being told such an aggressive person can’t be his child. But there’s something I never forget. My Father saved my mind. He refused to give me what I call the ‘crazy pills’. Eventually, with age and the help of my mentors, I calmed down, relatively. Though, once a masochist always a recovering masochist  but most of the time, I can fool most of the people, including myself to believe I’m absolutely normal. Now, as exotic as all this seemed to me in my adolescence, I find nothing extraordinary about it anymore. My Dad always says that children understand their parents only when they have their own kids. I disagree. I think as we grow older we stop seeing our parents as infallible heroes and heroines. When we make our own mistakes…. when we break hearts and our own hearts are mangled, when we struggle for survival  and  when we deal with the ambiguity of relationships, that’s when we understand our parents. That’s when we actually start to see them as mere mortals, with their own set of insecurities and failings.

My Father is not a villain of some story. Though, many a times when I try to replay the story of my mother’s life, it comes across as that. That’s why it becomes harder to explain. That’s why it takes me three hours to write a few lines and I’m still at a loss for words. Let me start at the beginning. My Father, Paramjit Singh Kochar, was born in 1956 to parents who had migrated from Pakistan to Delhi. He had two older siblings- a sister and a brother and one younger brother. When my Dad was a little boy, his parents were going to give him away to one of the relatives. Somehow, they didn’t but I guess it’s something a person doesn’t forget. As a little boy, my Father who was a little meek was constantly bullied by his more aggressive elder and younger brothers. In those times, parents were busy trying to put three meals on the table for their kids, no one had the time to intervene in such matters. But my theory is that his absolute aversion to aggression stems from his relationship with his brothers and his emotionally distant behaviour stems from early abandonment issues. Psych 101.

My Dad grew up being the good guy. He was the good son to his parents, he was the good guy when my Mum fell ill and for most of his life he played that part very well. But there’s a problem with playing the good guy and that is someone has to be willing to play the corresponding role of  the bad guy. My brother was just like him. He was treated more like Daddy’s little girl- protected and fussed over. I’ll never be Daddy’s girl because I’ve always been more  like his prodigal son, the rebel without a cause, the uncontrollable, the unmanageable, bad guy. So, I play my part and he plays his. We infuriate each other no end. Even though the answer to the question  do I love him remains the same, I’m always amused how the only boy I couldn’t make myself leave was so much like my Dad- emotionally distant and a good guy, too.

Missing shoulder

One of those years when I need to frequent Police Stations. My beautiful white elephant, my bestest friend in the whole world, was stolen last night. That I’m furious and heart broken is an understatement. For someone who has had one constant vice – incessant driving, my vehicles have witnessed the best and the worst times.

Have always had an aversion to the vardi. When I was little and there was much drama in the house, some cop or the other would frequent our house for disruption. But it’s a different day..sitting across some very helpful vardiwallas, right now, waiting for a hard copy of the FIR.


Parked my car by the side of the road, to type the previous post. On Sundays, the cops don’t ask you to move the vehicle from the flyover. It’s always a lovely setting to muse. I try to start the car but the battery is down.

I wait a while since I love the place where I am stranded, then start to call a few mechanics. But can’t find anyone to help me, today.  Message my friend, to inform him of my whereabouts. Over the past year, he’s been fussing over me like a mother hen and wants regular updates. Of course, he instantly calls up. “Leave the car and go home”. No can do.

I get off the car and decide to push my white elephant, myself. Of course,  I can’t move it at all. There I am-  trying to push my vehicle, laughing uncontrollably,  on top off my favourite flyover, when a family stops to help me.  The husband and wife with the help of their teenage children push my vehicle a little and then I’m able to drive it down the descending slope.

I park the car… hail an auto… go to the nearest petrol pump. The mechanics are leaving for the day but are kind enough to help me out. While, they fix the car a lady who lives under the flyover, stops to chat with me. We are old acquintances. Time flies by between messages from my friend and conversations, with some lovely people. What dull stories, the kindness of strangers make? That’s why we never recall all the times when we reach home safe, after dark.

Paying It Forward

I think it was a Friday, the night of Shab-e-Barat, last year. I was heading for my customary nocturnal drive. Came down the Moolchand Flyover and there was a huge traffic jam. In front of me, a few cars ahead-were gathered some bystanders and there lay an unconscious man on the road , bleeding profusely. Next to him was a two wheeler and the pillion rider.  I got off my car, totally panicking-  my brother’s  body racing through my mind.  The ambulance and the PCR had been notified a while ago but due to the traffic they couldn’t reach the spot. ”Someone pick him up so that we can take this man to the hospital”, I told the men.  The ambulance was not going to make it on time. The pillion rider and a few of the bystanders picked the accident victim, put him on the back seat of my car and helped me to drive my Scorpio over the pavement, so that we could reach the Moolchand Hospital on time. What amazed me was, there was a police barricade on the opposite side and not a single cop had bothered to cross the road to help.

Thankfully,  a family saw me taking this young  man to the hospital and decided to follow me there. It took us maybe ten minutes to reach but unfortunately, by the time we did- he had passed away. The Doctor’s declared him dead but the pillion rider, survived with slight injuries.

A  friend I had called up, had dropped into Moolchand to ensure I wasn’t too shook up. The family which had followed me to the hospital, had also experienced a recent loss.  When the deceased’s family arrived, they were obviously distraught. It was too close to home for us- the one’s who had brought him to the hospital, watching the women of the household wailing uncontrollably and we just wanted to leave. We all stood there waiting for the cops. First the PCR arrived, then an Investigating Officer dropped in. They took the statement of the main eyewitness- the pillion rider and the Doctor. Questioned the rest of us, took down my personal details from my vehicle registration certificate- while obviously noticing  there was no impact of an accident on any of the cars. They took down our phone numbers and asked us to leave.

The reason I’m recalling this extremely unpleasant evening, is because ten months later, the day before yesterday- one Mr Kumar, found his way to my house. When a vardi wala stands at the door and asks for, ‘Madam jo Scorpio chalatee hein.. unhone ne accident kara he’, the domestic help starts to panic. Turns out a petition has been filed, stating that there are loopholes in the case,…therefore, our friendly neighbourhood cop, decided to drop in for a visit.   The usual, I’ve come from really far, I had to look for your house. ”I know you didn’t do anything but the family is very poor and wants 10-15 lakhs. Their daughter is getting married that’s why their lawyer will implicate you.” I totally ignored his request and told him I would come to the station, that day to do the needful. A neighbour who was listening to the conversation, said to me, “Never help anyone again. You’ve learnt your lesson.” My reply to that was, ”If the people who helped my brother would have thought the same thing, his dead body would have been stranded on the road!”

Nine years ago, my brother passed away in a car accident, in the middle of the night. He was all alone, dying in his car. A passing vehicle saw him and the driver and his friends  pulled  out my brother and took him to AIIMS. They called us up and waited for my Dad to arrive. I don’t remember the boys, neither does my father. The shock of loosing him was too great…we didn’t get into the pleasantries, at that that time. It will always be our regret that we couldn’t thank those strangers. But there’s a simple policy we follow- whoever we can help, we shall help. If we can’t thank or pay back the kindness of those strangers, we can definitely Pay It Forward.

Anyway, I spent a few hours alone in the Police Station- going from the Women’s Desk to the Reporting Officer to the Station Head Officer to the Investigating Officer, trying to understand  the court petition and look at the FIR. Luckily, I have a Father who doesn’t like being yanked around. He told me before I went to the Station,” Tell them- if you’ve done something, your family is willing to send you to Jail and irrespective of what they say to you, don’t give them a single rupee.” Worked like a charm!

 Since, it was a hit and run case, the lawyer who was representing the family could not find anyone to take the flak. Though, the main eyewitness to the accident, the pillion rider stated exactly what had happened in the First Information Report, they had not taken a written statement from the rest of us. The lawyer was suggesting that the IO had shown incompetence in the investigations, by not doing so, which is actually incorrect. Since, they had my details from the RC, the court wanted them to get my statement. The court just needed a statement to be submitted and the IO was trying to scare me, for his own reasons. But once, he realized that I wasn’t paying any heed to his hints, he quietly took down what I had to say. Though, there still may or may not be some legal ramifications that I will have to deal with, in the future.

This is despite the fact that last year the Ministry Of Home Affairs, had issued guidelines for protecting Good Samaritans. This appeared in an article written by Tarique Anwar for FirstPost, titled,’ Want to help accident victims but scared of the law. Fear no more.’ Take a look at the guidelines and how they were breached in my case.

1. If a person, who is not an eyewitness, moves an injured person to the nearest hospital, he or she should not be questioned and be allowed to leave immediately.

2. Good Samaritans should be exempted from civil and criminal liability, except in case of malafides.

3. Those who inform the police or emergency services about a person lying injured on the road should not be forced to reveal their identity and personal details.

4. Personal information such as name and contact details of those who come forward for the help of road crash victims will be voluntary and optional, including in the Medico Legal Case (MLC) forms provided by hospitals.

5. In case a person, who has voluntarily stated that he or she is an eye witness to the accident is required to be questioned for the purpose of investigation but the questioning will take only once. Standard operating procedures will be developed in 60 days to ensure that the rescuer is not harassed, intimidated or hassled by the police or courts.

Technology, such as video conferencing, should be used to examine a witness.

6. All registered public and private hospitals cannot detain or demand money for registration and admission of the injured unless the person who has brought the victim is his or her relative. The injured should be provided necessary treatment without delay.
All hospitals designate a minimum of 2 percent of its annual profits towards free treatment on injured.

7. Lack of response by a doctor in an emergency situation pertaining to road accidents, where he may be reasonably expected to provide care, shall constitute “professional misconduct” under chapter 7 of the Code of Ethics Regulations, 2002 of the Medical Council of India. Suitable disciplinary action will be taken as per the norms of Chapter 8 of the said regulations.

8. All public and private hospitals will implement these directions within a period of 60 days from the date when these directions are issued. In case of non-compliance or violation of the directions within the time prescribed, the licenses issued to operate these hospitals shall stand revoked.

I’m writing this because I don’t want anyone to be dissuaded by the incident. I believe that it’s our social responsibility to aid whoever we can. But after my visit to the Station , I’ve realized there are some precautionary measures one should take, considering the Police is not going to follow guidelines.

How To Help Accident Victims

1) Don’t try to pick up someone who has been injured- Only, in case of extra ordinary circumstances try to move a victim- you’re willingness to help, may harm them more.  In the above mentioned case, due to the accident and Shab-e-Barat there was a terrible jam and there was no way for the ambulance to reach the  victim, on time. Gauge the situation carefully and then decide on the best course of action. But first and foremost call the ambulance and report to the Police.

2) Try to protect the victim-While help arrives, try to protect the victim from further injuries, from other vehicles.

3) If you are an eyewitness to a Hit and Run  take down the number of the vehicle. 

4) In any case, however you may be involved- in terms of providing help, try to save your own skin, as well-

a) After, the above mentioned incident, I have realized that it’s best to give a written statement, whether the Police asks for it or not. Since, I did not witness the incident, at that time, they did not ask for it.

 b)Keep a record of your own statement and the statements of the other bystanders.

c) As an afterthought, a visual entry of the incident would have been a good idea. Though, when you see a dying man, the last thing that’s going to occur to you is recording it, even if you are a photographer.

d) Call a family member or a friend to tell them about the incident, so that someone is there to assist you, if the need arises.

As the Supreme Court states, the Preservation Of Life Is Of Paramount Importance. Helping an accident victim is of grave importance and if once in a while you have to bear the brunt of it just think,”no good deed goes unpunished.”


P.s- Updated on the 10th of Feb- Over the past few days, I’ve got a mixed reaction about this post (many think I shouldn’t write about such things in details)  and today morning, I was discussing this and someone passed a snide remark about how I drive alone… lah lah. It occurred to me that it would be a good idea to speak to the family that had helped me to take the victim to the hospital.  Somehow I managed to get in touch with them. Though, “moolchand aunty” had not been asked to give a statement, she was quite willing to do so. She said to me, ”something’s are our moral responsibility and if we are inconvenienced by them, so be it.”

VogueEmpowers -My Choice


  The cutest little boy sobs and yells “mummy”, while his mother asks him, ‘are you a girl? Boys don’t cry!’ An ad featuring Madhuri Dixit and directed by Vinil Mathew, ends with a woman struggling with her husband and the message ‘ladke rulate nahin he‘. It’s a message against domestic violence. Start With The Boys is not  groundbreaking but it’s definitely a laudable attempt to break male stereotypes .




 There’s a new VogueEmpower video which has gone viral and there’s been much hue and cry about it, over various social media platforms. Though I loved the line, ‘to wear the clothes I like even when my spirit rolls naked ‘ and ‘to pick you from seven billion choices or not’; this video featuring Deepika and 98 other women, titled ‘My Choice’, is being very harshly criticized.  I think Homi Adjani and Deepika Padukone shouldn’t have claimed that it’s a woman choice to cheat on her husband or not. It was opening up a can of worms that our society is not ready to deal with.




Many questions arise from the criticism this line has received. Such as-Why do people cheat? Are humans supposed to be monogamous in the first place? Many studies claim that monogamy is unnatural.

 If we are supposed be monogamous, then Pray tell-Why is a cheating man hailed as a stud and a woman who chooses to look for love and appreciation outside her current setup termed as a whore, ostracized by her own family and friends? Why are women supposed to be subservient to men and why are their emotional, as well as physical needs, considered to be unimportant and unnecessary? The previous generation of married women could deal with being treated like furniture, while their husbands pranced around town with other women. Generation Y does not put up with it! But our society isn’t ready for these questions and is definitely not equipped to deal with the current state of marriages and relationships. It wants to pretend that a woman who comes home at 6 pm is a sati savitri and the one who returns home at 4 am is upto no good.

A number of women have written against, ‘My Choice’ . One claims, it only caters to a small class of women from ‘priveleged’ backgrounds, who are unconcerned about education, healthcare, money etc.  Though, the article by Piyasree Dasgupta on ‘Firstpost’, makes many legitimate points, I find such remarks on women incredibly, disturbing. If the video pitches men and women against each other, remarks like these divide women into ‘the haves’ and the ‘have nots’ and apparently the demographic that has, has no right to be spoken for. The privileged it seems, are not supposed to have any opinions and God forbid they should have any choices!


A little while ago, I contemplated discontinuing the monologue section of this blog. Actually, it’s not really a section yet- it will eventually become one. I was in process of forming it, therefore, none of those posts were being shared on other platforms. But I chickened out…just for a little while. It’s easier talking about this, that and the other: rather than what one is or probably feels in the present moment. I’m unusually frail and hypersensitive these days.
One would have made a great case study for Walter Cannon. Bypassing my rational mind, with my impulses quickened  and going into Fight or Flight Mode is a usual occurrence. But that can not remain my modus operandi. It’s eventually, going to become counterproductive. Didion said that writing is an ‘aggressive, hostile act’. How can one surpass the chance to impose oneself?
 This one goes out to the people who are kind enough to search for this blog, to read my personal thoughts. The things I couldn’t understand myself, I tried to explain to others! So I guess, it’s no longer just about the city I live in and the people I meet. It’s slowly becoming about my gypsy soul, the ‘Being’ in transit. Thank you I’m flattered.


“Dekha hua sa kuch hai,
Socha hua sa kuch
Har waqt uljha hua sa
Mere saath  hai kuch.
Hota hai yun bhi raasta
Khulta nahi kahin,
Jangal sa phail jaata hai
Khoya hua sa kuch.
Sahil ki geeli ret par
Bachchon ke khel sa
Har lamha mujh mein banta
Bikharta hua sa kuch.
Fursat ne aaj ghar ko sajaya
Kuch is tarah,
Har shay mein muskurata hai
Rota hua sa kuch.
Dhundli si ek yaad kisi
Qabr ka diya,
Aur mere aas paas
Chamakta hua sa kuch.
Kabhie kabhie yun bhi
Apne jee ko bahlaaya hai,
Jin bantoon ko khudd nahin samjhe
Auro ko samjhaya hai.”-Nida Fazli

In Response

Last year I received a mail from Iona, asking about my views on feminism. At that time, I sent her a response and contemplated publishing the letter on this platform. But since I was busy fighting my own demons, it got delayed.

My parents never had a traditional marriage. Since my mother has Bipolar Disorder, the roles that they played were quite unlike the classic man-woman roles. My Dad was the caretaker, whereas, my Mom is unlike most women you’ll meet. She is the centre of the household. I tread on matters of mental health, marriage, right/wrong rather carefully, since I have seen a lot of grey areas. As a human being, my personal beliefs disallow me to label myself. The world at large does that enough. I am not and will never be a feminist. Just like I will never be a good girl, a smart girl, a polite girl or an activist. If I had to label myself, I would call myself a ‘wanderer’ or a ‘seeker’- someone who looks for.

But since I was asked about my views, here they are-

“I am an odd person to ask about contemporary feminist views. Considering I’m a 35 year old photographer who travels to Rajasthan and Kashmir by road. At times unaccompanied, at times with a house help or an assistant…unlike most women I feel safe driving around in the middle of the day or night. This or when I say I’m not the bra burning type, infuriates all the lovely ladies who I bump into at Jantar Mantar or even artists who have been working for the cause for decades.

According to them I come from a privileged background, I only travel in my SUV; I never use public transport and therefore, in conclusion I’ve never been harassed by a man or I’m unaware of what most women go through! Now, that is a little bit unfair.

I’m well aware of the patriarchal system and especially amongst the class of society I belong to. Hailing from a Sikh business class family where the boy is the sole heir to the family business and the ancestral property, the reason I will inherit anything is because of the untimely demise of my younger brother. Most of my sisters won’t. So patriarchy I understand, through and through.

You ask for my views: therefore, I blabber… indulge me. I can’t quote Simone de Beauvior. Not because I can’t; it ain’t rocket science but because I don’t like to. She writes about the double and deceptive visage of women in the chapter, ‘The Myth of Woman in Five Authors’ in the Second Sex –‘’She incarnates all moral values, from good to evil, and their opposites; she is the substance of action and whatever is an obstacle to it, she is man’s grasp on the world and his frustration: as such she is the source and origin of all man’s reflection on his existence and of whatever expression he is able to give to it; and yet she works to divert him from himself, to make him sink down in silence and in death. She is servant and companion, but he expects her also to be his audience and critic and to confirm him his sense of being: but she opposes him with her indifference, even with her mockery and laughter.’’ So on and so forth; I can pull out my copy of the book, write down a couple of interesting lines and sound like the real deal! A true feminist but I’m not one.

As for the case of feminism in India, there are some feminists I’ve met who I admire. There’s Sheba Chhachhi who can be considered the ‘true feminist artist/photographer’ and Deepti Sharma from Saheli who is staunch supporter of repealing AFSPA and is part of the group, ‘Voices against 377’. Why I mention  these two is because these two veterans have been working quietly for the cause, without judging what others do.

But on the same topic, I have to agree with an essay written by Madhu Kishwar, about the initial phases of the feminist movement in India, which I find is still relevant.’’ In India new opportunities were made available for a small group of western educated women who gravitated towards feminism. Being absorbed in international feminist circles brought upward mobility, in jobs and careers and international conferences and study programmes. This access to jobs, consultancies and grants especially in universities and from international aid organization came relatively easy to those calling themselves feminists as compared to those unversed in feminist rhetoric. This was contrary to the experiences of the western feminists who had to struggle hard to find acceptance in their professions.”

I’m not playing the Devil’s advocate and stating that we don’t require feminism. Nor that women are safe in India or we don’t have to worry about inheritance issues or female infanticide, the economic/ sociological/ psychological issues faced by women. But the feminist movement largely disillusions me. I recently went for a protest against the rape of two Dalit women and the gathering was miniscule. There are some highly publicized events and issues where everyone turns up and some things it seems don’t count. They say it has nothing to do with class! Then there is the way in which we as artists are supposed to portray the issues…the Muslim woman is a clear example. Why am I supposed to portray every Muslim woman, with or without a veil as a totally subservient creature, just to be termed a feminist?

My ‘privileged’ existence and my sexual preference (I’m straight), discount me from ever being taken seriously in certain circles. But since I’m not looking for funding, I don’t care. A 100 pieces of me is my way of taking the time to understand the issues of each individual woman I meet, her thoughts, her life and what she wants from it. Not my label of who she is or what she ought to be!

As for how never having been harassed by a man, there are many instances. I am after all an unmarried woman, who does exactly what she pleases. So I get my share of harassment and my share of flak. Plus, each time I travel to a place alone, it’s automatically assumed it’s for a man. But the one thing that will remain imprinted on my mind was a remark that was made by a ‘progressive’ friend, ’ that’s why you’re not married because you’re bossy!’

Men will never be considered too assertive but a woman who means business is considered bossy and then her personal life, marital status etc can be dragged into any conversation. But these are issues that persist everywhere. After all we are under the male gaze.”

Since, we have opened the Pandora’s box, let’s see what I think, now. As usual I have more questions than answers.

In my adolescence, I believed that if I ever did get married, I would never take on my husband’s surname. In my case it would have been taking on, since, I thought that using my father’s name was also a label and that took away my personal identity. I have considered following the Sikh tradition of using the surname ‘Kaur’, but my religious identity is as questionable as the rest of my identity. The cover of my first book, Being- has just my signature on it. My signature till date consists only of my first name. I now call myself ‘Saadiya Kochar’,  due to an attachment to my sibling. But there has been another change in thought, over the years. I wonder if my sense of who I am is really attached to a name?

A lack of a lucid reply. Let’s retrace my steps. This is what I wrote on Fb on the 30th of December 2012.

“We go out and protest for the rights of a girl we didn’t know. Outraged, as we should be! Yet we never stand up for the rights of the women we know. Why don’t sons whack their fathers when they beat up their mothers? Why don’t brothers share their ancestral properties with their sisters? How does a father watch a man emotionally abuse his daughter? Why don’t the women of a household ever standup for any injustices inflicted upon the other female members? Why do we say it’s wrong but ACT like it’s all right? When we can watch it happen to the women we love… this was a girl we didn’t even know! We should demonstrate for Damini. But what happens to those rape cases that go unreported every few hours? Women are abused everyday and we watch it every single day! We women should first teach our sons, brothers and spouses something only then will the society change. That is demonstration!”
I  envy people who can ride the same train of thought. I change my mind at least twice a day, so holding on to a thought from 2012 is too difficult for me. As I read this another question pops up. If every one is going to change the society and the people around them, when are we going to change ourselves?
My entire life, most of my interactions have been with men.  Teachers, mentors, bosses, assistants I have been surrounded by the male species. Though, I went to a convent school, I kept to myself and the few female friends I made, were also like me, always surrounded by male relatives. Though my work has been about the female energy, my personal life has been a far cry from it. But suddenly, there has been an influx of women in my life and I have started to understand many things about my own kind.
Men have an unspoken understanding, the bro-code as they call it. Women have no set of rules to deal with other women. We are the first ones to pull a woman down. A guy will think twice before saying something unsavory, women can say and do anything to each other. Last year I joined an office, where all the women claimed to be feminists but I never heard them say one nice thing about each other. I realized that as long we are fighting for the victims we all stand together. But when it comes to dealing with someone from our class, who directly affects our lives, the rules change.
The only way we are going to change society, is by changing ourselves. The first step is to make your own set of female rules. I have started to make mine.
Let your work be about celebrating the female energy. Stand up for the women you know, not just the women you don’t. Promote the female voice. Don’t try to alter other women to your standard, live and let be.  Increase your interaction with women, even if it’s uncomfortable. Never go after another woman’s man. The mother-in-law is not a monster. Try thinking one good thing about a woman you don’t like. Let your female relatives/friends know you’re always on their side.  Put your money where mouth is and always stand up for yourself.
This is why I can never be a feminist, I’m fighting the wrong person- Myself!





I started this project thinking it would be about my interactions with people and about the city I live in. For each month I have a backup interview ready, waiting to be published. People I’ve interviewed, are wondering why I am not publishing anything new. Honestly, my attention dwindles as usual.

There’s a diary I found a few months ago, from when I was in the seventh grade, that has sparked this series of monologues. It’s a diary of a twelve year old contemplating suicide. I know, it’s the most politically incorrect thing to talk about, unless you’re advocating against it. Now, you may wonder why at such a young age thoughts like these pop up in a person’s mind. There are plenty of reasons for it but that’s a conversation for another day. People have all these archives, that show them in their best light. Someday, that would be a part of mine.

But the retrieval of that diary has lead to many revelations. Ya, ya, I know, I’m having too many of those, these days. It seems like I’ve got stuck at a particular age and have not grown beyond it. I feel as if this 35 year old body is just a disguise, I’ve put on and despite my varied experiences, I have the maturity of an imbecile. But there’s another thing that worries me, incessantly. Why are we supposed to go through our lives pretending to be perfect, normal, regular or what have you? If I call a project a 100 pieces of me, what are the pieces that I am going to put on display?

I don’t really have the appropriate answer to that question, yet. But there’s something that gnaws at me. Each time I’m having a conversation with a person it runs the predictable course. Nobody really wants to show you their scars, their broken pieces, their not so perfect lives, their not so perfect thoughts. Nobody wants to say ‘no I’m not an expert on life’ nor on myself! Nobody really says, ‘I’m so confused my head hurts’ or ‘my heart aches’ or ‘I messed up’ or ‘I want you to see the worst version of me.’

I  wonder how I’m going to take this forward. For the longest time I thought not many people read my personal posts. I never share them on other platforms and I don’t allow followers on this particular one. But I underestimate the general curiosity about me. If I carry on, I have to be prepared for all kinds of personal attacks-a dissection of everything I am. To do a project on a person, place or thing is so much easier than on your own thoughts and on your own self. I don’t know if I’ll be able to muster up the courage to talk about my less than perfect existence.


It’s a usual Sunday morning. Dad’s sitting with his hair untied and beard open- sipping a screwdriver and arguing with a carpenter. I’m sitting there fiddling with my phone. Of course the conversation takes the usual turn. “Tum meri beti ko nahin jaante, insaan ko chaar hisse me kar deti he. Log apne beto se daraate hein, hum apni beti se.”  The poor chap looks at me, I smile sheepishly and they’ve come to a logical conclusion.

I am the bad cop- the watchdog of the house. It’s one of my most cherished roles.  It isn’t really a traditional role but then it isn’t really a traditional family. Unlike, most family setups where the woman plays the role of the homemaker/caretaker, the roles and rules of my family are a little bit different. For the longest time, I defined it as a dysfunctional setup, till I grew up and realized-all families are dysfunctional and everyone is a bit crazy. Some just mask it better than others.

I’ve been asked to write about my experiences. The trouble with that is sometimes the written word can be considered accusatory, sometimes disrespectful and in my case most often romanticised. Since there’s no absolute truth, my truth and view of reality is highly questionable, just like everyone’s. Plus, I’m a little bit like my Dad- we throw our shit right in your face and say deal with it. Most people can be quite flabbergasted by such candor. But what the heck? I’ve always been the bad guy- so I think I’ll continue ranting.

It’s been an interesting weekend. I’m not talking about the India Art Fair, though meeting Satish Gujral, certainly was a pleasure. A boy I once knew is engaged to be married and  the ex is taking his model-girlfriend, everywhere I wasn’t allowed to go. Though none of these events are new or surprising seeing posts and photographs on Fb, have lead to a personal revelation. Suddenly, I’ve been able to walk into Room 2 of the ‘Johari House’ and Alas! I’ve been able to look at the ‘Blind Spot’ quadrant. I am the ‘free bird’, I was emphatically told I was. Most people have a notion of the kind of person they should end up with and I was the aberration. Like Ayn Rand said, ”you can avoid reality but you can’t avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.” The reality is I never did fit the mould. Though, it all saddens me a bit, I feel relieved as I ‘Like’ everything. After all, what is meant for us can’t be taken away and what is not can’t be held onto. It’s time to accept and let it all, go.

It is 2015, the start of a Brand New Year. Life seems like the Landmark Forum Mantra,’empty and meaningless’, with nothing familiar in sight. But I’m starting to feel hopeful in this state. The  sobbing has reduced and though I feel afraid all the time, I think the meltdown is officially over.  For now I just have travel on my mind and this-”Maybe some women aren’t meant to be tamed. Maybe they need to run free until they find someone just as wild to run with them.” Or maybe some women are just meant to run with wolves, who knows? We’ll see.


The cynic in me wants to start with the lines, ‘another one bites the dust.’ Then I think about the person and beat the cynic, down.

I retreated into my shell instead of saying anything, as I drove him to the Bus Adda. He looked at me in the same inquisitive manner I’d grown accustomed to, trying to figure out what goes on in this warped brain of mine. I know my silence can sometimes be hurtful but nothing good comes out of mouth when I’m scared. My usual retort is that of a sadak chaap- ‘mujhe kyaa hoga? Mujhe kissi  ka farak nahin padta.’

What could I have said to my bodyguard? He was moving to a new city and I was probably never going to see him, again. Goodbyes are always hard and this one…hmm.

Should I have begun by thanking him for standing up to a mob for me; for saving me on more occasions than I could count?

Should I have asked how he’s always remained so unperturbed by my sharp quills? Though he calls my tongue an AK47, he always says, ‘baaki saab ko daraayaa karo, mujhe nahin daar lagta aapse’. 

Should I have told him how grateful I was for his concern for my well being?  One of the few people who stood by my side last year, yelling, coaxing and sometimes even pleading. ‘Get up, work, pray, go to the gym’, he would say, playing part parent, part shrink.

Isn’t it strange that a person who came from such a dramatically different background, felt no hesitation in telling me whenever I was wrong or getting ‘hyper’, occasionally reminding me that I was a woman and he was around to do the manly work of handling the uncouth? He is a chauvinist but considering his exposure to conflict its but natural for him to be overly protective of women.

But true to character I didn’t say anything. He asked me what was wrong? I just shook my head. A few awkward handshakes later, with him asking me to say , ‘Jau Khuda ke havale’ and me repeating the words, I left.

On the way back, I heard these lines and couldn’t help but smile.

Muskaane ka gur bhi sikhaya
Peena sikhaya gham
Yaadein karodon jisne di
Usey kaise bhulayein hum.

I know he’ll be very successful. He’s hardworking and fearless. I pray he gets everything he wants and some more. I wish our paths cross again, someday and I hope he knows I will always be grateful for everything he’s done. He could read my silences, I just hope he managed to- the last time we met.

Let it be

Customarily, I glance at Facebook. Though I have unfollowed most of the people from my former life, yet sometimes, something pops up. I see pictures of people I once knew and for the first time I feel nothing…no hurt, no anger and no regret. Though I can easily imagine being there- the coversations, the gossip, peals of laughter…my uneasiness. Yet, I fail to recognise the faces and what they once, meant.
It is a New Year miracle! I spent the last year being terribly angry. They say anger is sad’s bodyguard…..Well, I’m a creature with a highly evolved defence mechanism. The juvenile expectation that people are supposed to stand by your side in trying times, has just made me bitter. I’m guilty of having a romanticised view of reality.
I recently read two paragraphs that helped.
The heading of one of the pieces is….Thinking too much is someone else’s problem. “If you use your brain, it is bound to create a problem for others if they are seeking to use, abuse or control you or keep you dependant or fearful.” M. Scott Peck explains further, that our culture discourages thinking and often candor (I have most often been criticised for my inability to keep it in). “If we choose to think for ourselves, we must be braced for backlash. We risk being seen as eccentrics or malcontents. We may be presumed to be on the fringes of  mainstream society, regarded as different and abnormal in the worst sense of the word.”
The Hadith of At-Tirmidhi on the other hand states, ” Be mindful of God and God will protect you. Be mindful of God and you will find him before you. If you ask, ask of God, if you  seek help, seek help of God. Know that if all the people were to gather together to give you the benefit of anything, it would be something that God has already prescribed for you and that if they gather together to harm you with anything, this would only be as God has already ordained.”
Whether, I intellectually choose to view the situation or resign to it in the manner of a spiritual fatalist, the inevitable conclusion that I have come to is- it’s all just water under the bridge.

Oonth Pahad Ke Niche

A midnight call asking where I have disappeared?  Being a semi professional escapist, I can usually fall off the radar for short periods without raising suspicion. But I guess I have outdone myself this time.Either that or the God forsaken social platforms have disclosed the truth. And now it seems the World and its mother knows and awaits my reaction! Considering my propensity to sink into the darkest corners of my mind..I can sense the worry around me. I know that they know and they know that I know, that they know. But we all beat around the bush. There’s a comfort in this treacherous game. It saves me from dissecting something that I can’t.


The aftermath of ‘the shock’, I guess is this paralysing fear.

The routine of sleeping for a couple of hours and then waking up with  a jerk…The heart pounding ferociously. Just the sound of dogs barking at a distance, my mind racing… recalling what now seems like a figment of my imagination.
Why do I lie in bed, struggling  in the dark, with a phone in my hand trying to type thoughts I wouldn’t want to share with my friends ? The answer my friend lies in a soppy Rom -Com. Susan Sarandon mushing over  the reasons for marriage. Something to the effect- we all just need someone to witness our lives. I guess, this monologue substitutes wedlock.
There is  a  truth to it, though. The narcissistic human desire for a witness, I mean. The need to create stems from that too.
But I will mull over this another time. The distraction of this exercise has subsided the fear. Time to grab a few winks.

Naya Saal Mubarak

The usual bombarding of holiday cheer. Wishing you a happy new year. May all your wishes come true this year. Ek saal badalne se agar wish puri hoti to 35 nahin to 30 me kuch to puri ho he gayee hoti. Feel free to throw up on me!

The past few years I made such a big deal about New Year’s Eve. On very rare occasions, I am embarrassed by the maelstrom of thoughts in my head to admit them. But wow! Think the most juvenile thoughts multiply them by a hundred and Viola! You will  catch a glimpse of a fleeting thought dashing through my mind.

This year, I did exactly what I have been doing for the past few years but without the angst. Reread a few pages of a fabulous book, ‘The Road Less Travelled’ and slept before midnight. Slept feeling the same and woke up exactly as I was. Nothing changed except a date on the calendar.

Since only the written word is entertaining me these days, here are a few interesting quotes about New Year’s. Read them to understand why no one forwards such sayings.

“Aik aur einth gir gai deewar e hayaat se. Nadaan keh rahe hain Naya Saal Mubarak.” Farooq Shah.

“We incessantly vacillate between what’s behind us and what’s before us depending on the current barometer of our courage and the ambivalent nature of our vision.” Craig D Lounsbrough.

My turn. “May we all have the courage to struggle with our own prejudices this year. The foresight to be patient about the things that require time and the strength to change what needs effort. May we learn to understand ourselves better, forgive others and most of all  ourselves. May we help those who are less  fortunate than us. May we finally get it right this year and accept the responsibility of our own happiness, as well as the responsibility of our own kind.”

Nadaan O Hamaari Taraf Se Bhi Naya Saal Mubarak. Feel free to throw up on me;)


I always believed  a picture is worth a thousand words. Until, I saw FB summarising what 2014 was like for me. Maybe, I  shouldn’t be so hard on our favourite platform. I am after all a seasoned deceiver.
These days only the written word seems to be worthy of my honesty. The ambiguity of it comforts me…Each word, even a punctuation seems like an affirmation-‘I Am’. An exercise sometimes, in futility and always for posterity. My memory after all perpetually fails me.
Here go my thoughts, taking a detour, yet again! Where was I? Oh yes! summarising the year of the meltdown -2014.
The good thing is-  at 16, I locked my self up and refused to come out of my room. Ever since, I have been terribly afraid of the recurrence of such an episode of hopelessness. Escapism has helped me many a times. But like my Dad asks, “How much can you run?” So this year I stopped running. I stopped running to places, into my work, into mobs, towards men. I stopped and I cried and I struggled with my own mind, every single day. Fought my inner demeons. It seems I will have to fight them for a while.
I wish I  could very poetically say ‘I have emerged a stronger person.’  I don’t feel stronger, I  feel exhausted. But I now know that if I ever breakdown again, I will handle it. I can handle it on my own!
Though, I will always remember this year as one of the worst year’s of my life. I will also remember it as the year I became less afraid of myself. The year I started appreciating my flaws-my ego and my stubbornness; my aversion to other women’s men. The year, I started accepting I will never be a people pleaser. The year, I understood that people who claim to be honest are not liars they are just silly.
I will remember this year, as the year I stopped believing in Frogs and Princes. The year I realised no one is coming to rescue me. When I realised I don’t like things that become too common. The year I became kinder to my own kind. The year I became absolutely certain that a Supreme Energy watches over me.
I will always remember 2014, as the year I changed and became my own hero!


Happy Birthday, My Love. This January I promised to let go off you, just a bit…’Remember no man ever lived without dying. Remember the things that you wanted to be. Nobody ever failed without trying…Through time walk with me. With your hands set me free.”

But I have missed you more this year than any, since you made your way across the moon. It’s not just because everything I clung to since your passing has disappeared into a black hole. Nor because I realized that blood is thicker than water. I’ve missed you because you were the only person who could make smile when I cried. it’s not loneliness. God has always been kind to give me enough people, who will hear me whining away to glory. But to understand the obsessiveness of it, they would have to be our mother’s child.

The last year of your life keeps playing on mind, these days. The hopelessness, the sheer confusion, the need to cling to anyone and anything and still feeling lost all the time. Partying one minute, crying the other. Forgive me if you ever felt alone in that state.

I think it’s part of our genetic disposition to chase rainbows. You were chasing yours and I can’t fathom what I have been doing. All I know, is that I miss being in your corner and I miss so much having you in mine.

Gratitude List

Everyone wants to do a number of things before they kick the bucket-hence, the term bucket list. But there are so many things to be grateful for, therefore, this is my Gratitude List. So,  Earth calling God, Come in God! Or the Universe or the Sentient Machine that has created this stimulated reality. Whoever is my creator, Thank You!

. Ya, Ya, Ya, of course I’m grateful for the fact that I’m perfectly able. You know that. I don’t fall ill, too often. I’m not suffering from any terminal disease and the mind is a bit fucked up but it functions properly 15 days in a month.  Nothing to complain about.

. The eyes are a bit of a problem but Oh! what a sight the night is without my lenses. Street lights look like my cornea has a Starbust filter attached to it and I see what I want to and every time I don’t want to see too clearly, the lenses come off!  The World goes back to being a perfect haze.

. I have always wondered why I don’t have a regular need for human interaction? It’s an invaluable gift. Makes it impossible to bully me. Plus, if I’m ever imprisoned or stranded it will come handy. One of my favourite quotes from my childhood is, ”people who lead a lonely existence always have something on their minds that they are eager to talk about.” The lonely should be replaced by ‘solitary’. I ain’t going to be Chekhov, but at least I’ll have something to write about.

. Now, that I’ve crossed 35, the big four-O is a few years away. Tried being good for a decade- Ahhh, I failed miserably:). Six more months of whining and I shall be back to doing what I do best.  Especially grateful for the past year. Come on commitment phobia, I’m so looking forward to having you back my dear friend!

. As a little girl, I always wondered why  I wasn’t ‘normal’ ? I have wished for regular my entire life. In almost mid-life, I realize there ain’t nothing like normal. All the normal ones are just as nutty as I am, they are just great at disguising it. If you could just make me fake a few smiles a day and make my voice sugar sweet…. If you could just take away the transparency from my face, the uneasiness with which I lie and the tape recorder that plays incessantly in my head about the lies I’ve told or the ones I should have told, I could pass of as normal. They pretend to be good and I just pretend. So, I’m going thank you for making me a first class, what do they call me- ruthless B%$#@#. As the quote goes, ‘society is a masked ball, where everyone hides his real character and reveals it by hiding.’  My real character will always remain a mystery.

. Karma- how can I forget to thank thee? I don’t know who my creator is but Darling do I believe in you? You’re just of course but thankfully, so swift. Each time I screw up- wait for it, wait for it and futtak se chappet. At least, I don’t have to wait forever for the shit that’s going to come my way. I know I have to stay still, admit I messed up and you will pay me be back fair and square, asap. Thank you for the invaluable lessons.

.  Two of the richest people I know are my mother and a friend who lives in Goa. For them literally money is ‘haath ki dhool.’ I will probably never be as big a spendthrift or remotely as generous as either of them. But neither would I be enslaved by money. Thank you for always giving me as much I need. For not tying my self worth to  my bank balance. For the few people in my life who don’t care about- how much I earn? What car I drive or what my Daddy does? I’m truly blessed.

. If you want me do the whole cliche- thank you for all my family and friends blah blah blah. Ya ok, I am not ungrateful but you know what I’m more grateful for the strangers. The ones who don’t know me, the ones who come in like a breath of fresh air and leave just as quickly- The teachers, the mentors, employees, students, a domestic help…an old man on the street. People who drag me out of my mess without even being aware of it.  Thank you for the lovely strangers. They keep me believing in miracles.


“Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi Ki Har Khwaish Pe Dam Nikle. Bahut Nikle Mere Arman Lekin Phir Bhi Kam Nikle.”

As I stroll through the lanes of Ballimaran, I’m reminded of how this verse has always resonated with me. But it no longer does. It seems that the ‘khwaish’ has gone missing from my life. It’s not a statement of a melodramatic drunk, though Ghalib wouldn’t mind that state; it’s the stating of a fact. A person who has deprived themselves out of some perverse sense of masochism or the fear of loosing or heartbreak or what have you- turning around and saying I don’t want. I want nothing! I have definitely not rung on the ladder of the spiritual path to reach a state of such detachment.

Well, Booo fucking Hooo. Enough of that already! Time to think of a few things I want, real soon.

I want to eat Thai Chicken till my stomach explodes. I want to drink so much I throw up on someone’s hand. I want soft white candy to fall on my face at dawn on a winter morning. I want to lie under the stars on a sand dune on a perfect winter night. I want to dance naked in the rain. I want to be kissed so hard my lips turn blue.  I want to drive endlessly. I want to hang out of the window of a car. I want my hair to dance with the wind.

Seems like I all I want right now is the girl I once was! But that’s a start. I’ll have to restart from somewhere.

The Place I Ran To

'My Room', in Pushkar.

‘My Room’, in Pushkar.

The Pushkar Fair

The Pushkar Fair


At the Pushkar Fair

Saadiya Kochar In Pushkar

Saadiya Kochar

…whenever I was in need of a friend”. Or so go the famous lines from a song I listened to in my younger years. The chapters of my memoir would  be based on the places I loved. Some of my longest, most fulfilling relationships have been with the places I fell in love with; the places I travelled to, alone.

Though my trip to Ladakh was my first solo trip, at the onset of my twenties, Pushkar became my favoured destination. My first trip, was of course with a bunch of photographer friends, capturing the Pushkar festival. A friend drove my Silver Qualis, while I sat meekly in the back. Through out the trip I shot two rolls of film and felt like a babe in the woods. But I fell in love!  Not with the  place or it’s inhabitants, neither with the camels nor with the bidis I learnt to smoke with the Oonthwallas. But with a room.

For many years, through many seasons, I travelled to Pushkar for nothing but what seemed like a room of one’s own. When Virginia Wolf wrote in her book, ”A woman must have money and a room of her own if is to write fiction”, she wasn’t referring to escapists like me. I already had my basement, my dungeon as most of my loved ones called my underground home.

Yet, there was a room in a tiny, obscure guest house in Pushkar that drew me. While people went for photography, I went to read, to be, to heal and of course for the drive. I would surface once a day for an hour, walk down the familiar corner, eat at a familiar restaurant and return to my room.

Ask me where anything in Pushkar is and my mind will draw a big blank. Only this year when I went there for my thirty-fifth birthday did I truly try to venture out, in the scorching heat, during the off-season, when everything was shut. Na, I did manage to get around and strike a few must do/see things from my list. At least, now I can sound like a seasoned traveller.

But I sit here in my basement in Delhi, day dreaming of sand dunes and women in beautiful attires and wishing I could have made it to the fair this year. And of course longing for my room.