Friday, 27 April 2012


There was blood that night, with pain and sweat
And each jagged rock would draw some more
As they eased their way into his every step,
Until they’d take all his blood away.

He continued the climb unhindered by pain-
Wounded flesh is dead to a sore mind.
He knew the end was not too far
And his prayers would be answered good.

The temple of the gods was now in sight
With its great iron gate dwarfing the sky
And walls of black stone capturing the moon.
His prayers would be answered tonight.

As he dragged his dying body within
He mouthed a prayer to appease the lord
And looking to the heavens, he said out loud,
“This is my wish. Just let it be!”

There was thunder and there was rain
The ink was torn by battling clouds
Waters froze and the wind howled.
The dying man took shelter and he smiled.

He began his return along the same path
Now glistening in the moon, red, with blood
Fresh wounds were made and now there was pain–
To the fulfilled mind, every pin a sword.

He returned home as a contented man.
Once his dream, was now for real
He knew he needed nothing else in life.
That was the day the Wish-giver smiled.

For he knew no wish is a wish forever.
A granted wish changes the world we know
In such a way we cannot yet perceive
Until we no longer want the change.

A few days later, an unfulfilled man died.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Pissing On The Motherland

Surely, no one has missed the fact that I have been going around India's Weirdest Places with the enthusiasm of  the quintessential nomad. And I am sure that I've told you innumerable times already about how beautiful it is to speak to the wind and dance with the sunset. Well, I keep putting stuff like that on Facebook and somehow end up getting more likes than some people announcing the arrival of their first-born! (It's time to revise the algorithm, Mark.) Anyway, I digress. While I hurl all the routine stories into cyberspace via social networks, I reserve the more important ones for a more sacred, rather respected area, viz. this blog. (Bah, who am I kidding... I'm going to post this link on Facebook anyway!)

It so happens that all interesting stories involve other human beings, and this story is no different. This tale is about the Indian Idol (II) and his three sidekicks; the Prophetic Arab (PA), the Intelligent NRI (IN) and I. Alone, each one of us wasn't somebody you would take notice of... But together? Together, it was like the Justice League.

The story begins at Samalkota Railway Station, Andhra Pradesh - sometime early in the morning. It was no different from any other Indian train station: a poor woman was sweeping the dirt off the platform, the old rag-picker had collapsed in the sun after collecting two bagfuls of empty water bottles and plastic bags, and a bunch of gutka-chewing fellows were busy ogling at the backside of the young lady who had just walked into the station.

Upon entering, PA asked, "Hey, do you guys mind waiting a little bit... I'll just light this cigarette?"
II (scandalized): "Whoa whoa... We have rules in India, man. No smoking in public areas - it's injurious to health. We are health conscious, unlike many other countries."
IN (in agreement): "Yes, yes... Even in Singapore, it's like this."
The arab shrugs and says, "Alright then, let's go catch the train!" And so we went.

While three of us took the long, arduous path up and down the overhead bridge to reach platform number three, Indian Idol simply jumped onto the tracks and strolled across in style. As we reached him, a little out of breath, he flashed us a wise smile.

II: "You fools... You guys climbed all the way up. I just walked across. See? Being Indian is about being smart."
PA: "Isn't that breaking the rules as well - just like the 'No Smoking' rule you talked about so proudly?"
II (in defiance): "You tell me where it's written... Where does it say I cannot cross the tracks?"
PA looks around. Alas, there is no board. The Idol smiles, very content with the happenings so far.
Then the NRI says - "In Singapore... And in most western countries, we have escalators! This is horrible. What are we? Animals?"

Hungry as we were, I bought a few samosas and chilly bajjis from the nearby IRCTC counter. All four of us were soon munching in a hurry, trying to finish off the food before the train arrived. Upon finishing, the Indian Idol promptly rolled the paper plates together in a ball and dropped them on the floor. The arab was pretty scandalized by the behaviour and bent to pick it up...

II: "Hey, what are you doing?"
PA: "There's a dust-bin right there man... I'll put the plates there! We really shouldn't litter the platform."
II (laughing) : "That's not our job, man! That's hers." He points at the shabbily dressed woman sweeping the floor.
PA: "Come on, man... She's tired and she's doing so much work already. We can do this much, right?"
II: "You foreigners will never understand, man. If you clean up behind yourself, then what work will she have?! She will be unemployed!"
PA: "Are you crazy?! If everyone cleans up behind themselves, then she wouldn't be a cleaner... She'd be doing something more worthwhile - contributing something else to society."
II: "These people are illiterate. They don't know anything. What work will they do? They can do cleaning work only. Let them do their job."
IN (cutting in to the conversation): "In Singapore, they have fines for littering in public. You can't even spit in public... They can put you in prison for that! I don't know why they don't have such measures in India. Stupid government!"
PA: "You are saying that you will continue this behaviour until the day they threaten you with fines?"
II: "In India, there are so many people... Without Government rules, how can anything change? Even if I change, what is the point? One billion more people will do the same thing... You won't understand, man."

By now, we realize that the train is late. The Intelligent NRI is outraged! This would never have happened in Singapore.
IN (looking at his watch): "Disgusting. Disgusting."
I (trying to calm him down): "Chill man... It'll be here in a while."
IN: "This isn't the way they should treat us. Trains are late, stations are dirty... there are no toilets. Tell me, where's the toilet here?"
I: "Must be on platform one... Or maybe, there's another one at the other end of this one!"
IN: "This is horrible. Why can't they space them out properly? This never happens in the west."
I: "If you want to go the toilet, go ahead man. I'm sure the train will take a little while longer."
Indian Idol (interrupts): "No, no... Don 't do that. You can piss right here."
PA (mortified at the suggestion): "Here?!"
II (laughing) : "Yeah, man. On the tracks... We're men. We don't need to go into hiding to pee! Look at that man over there!"

Yes, there was a man over there who was emptying his bladder into the air in front of him.

PA: "You guys object to me smoking in public and then piss in the open? I'm never going to understand this."
II: "It's simple man... If you smoke, it harms people around you. It's scientifically proven. But my piss hurt nobody!" Everyone laughs.
"Okay then, are you going to join me or not?" says the Idol. "Come on, man... There's nothing to be afraid of. You should never hold it in! It's not good for health."
IN: "You are right... Thank god this isn't Singapore. I'd be punished for such behaviour, there."

And so they pissed with a true sense of freedom.