Friday, November 16, 2012


मंज़िल की फ़िक्र क्यूँ करे तू राही?
जब तक चल रही है तेरी स्याही

ना डर से डगमगा, ना ग़म से डर
जब रास्ता है तेरा, तू चल बेफ़िकर

अगर लोग कहें तुझे अकेला, पागल और सनकी
तू मुस्कुरा, क्यूंकि खौफ़ बोल रही होगी उनकी

बेख़ौफ़, जब ज़िन्दगी तुझे उड़ना सिखलाएगी
दूर से दुनिया कुछ और ही नज़र आएगी

जब तेरी कहानी ख़त्म होने को आएगी
उनकी अधूरी कहानी मुँह ताकते रह जाएगी

कुछ बोलेंगे दोस्त था मेरा, कुछ पागल ठहराएँगे
कुछ अन्दर ही अन्दर खुद को कोसते रह जाएँगे

तू उन्हें देख कर ऊपर बैठा हसता रह जाएगा
तेरी मंज़िल तेरा सफ़र था, ये कुछ को ही समझ में आएगा 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

ग़म का सुकून

लफ़्ज़ों में तुझे बयाँ करने चला था 
ख़ुद की तक़दीर तेरे साथ देख 

गुस्ताख़ी समझ के भूल जा तू  
मुझे, लेकिन मेरे लफ़्ज़ों को ना बेच   

तेरे ख़याल में डूबा रहा मैं 
मरा नहीं, ये जादू नहीं क्या देख 

हर्ष की कमी खलती है ज़रूर 
पर ग़म के सुकून ने कर दिया ठीक 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

इश्क़ की चोट

वो खंजर लिए हाथ में
लगे कुछ ऐसे मुझको

कि अगर मैं उन्हें मना करूँ
तो वो मार डालेंगे खुद को

सहम सहम कर मैं बोला
मैं क्या मना करूँ तुझको?

अगर क़त्ल का इतना शौक़ है
तो क्यूँ ना मार डाल तू मुझको?

खंजर गिरा धडाम ज़मीन पर
इश्क़ की चोट लगी उसको

उनकी चौकस आंखें, बेझिझक पूछीं -
मेरे लिए मार सकते हो खुद को?

मेरी बेबस आँखें, बेझिझक बोलीं -
खुद के लिए, मार सकता हूँ खुद को

Monday, August 13, 2012

Soak, No More!

Lonely and shivering
Covered with a tattered blanket
Praying it to not happen.

But He's merciless
He sends those dark demons
And they burst

Cold water kisses the chilly winter
The tattered blanket is no more tattered
Water sews its wounds

Soaked, I smile.
No more shivering, no more loneliness.
Soaked. No more.

P.S. Written for The Surf Excel Matic #SoakNoMore Contest of indiblogger. It's a very dark take on the topic, hope the intensity and emotions contained in this poem has struck a chord with your heart.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Book Review: How about a sin tonight? by Novoneel Chakraborty

WARNING: My style of reviewing is different. I barge in my own past experiences, aspirations and delve less into the book's plot, as I believe that telling someone why to read the book is more important than what to read in the book. Please don't expect a traditional book review.

This blog is five years old. In the last five years of blogging, I have voluntarily reviewed just one book: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. Generally, I review only those books which leave a deep impact on my mind. Till date, despite reading several books, the most impactful books can be counted on my hands to be only around 6.

I am glad that my recent read: How about a sin tonight? by the young and brilliant Novoneel Chakraborty has influenced me tremendously and I'm bound to review it.

I am a mean reader. It takes one little plot-hole/break in flow from the author's end to exasperate me with him/her, and perhaps, that's why I never read books by young authors(like me), and always remain contented with books, that are recommended by reliable sources. However, things were totally different with Novo's book.

I had been friends with Novoneel on facebook for quite sometime, as we both published our initial books with the same publishing house and perhaps, knew each other by name. There is some connection even before that. Much before I had published my first book, I had gifted my sister Novo's debut novel A Thing Beyond Forever which she thoroughly enjoyed. Though I couldn't read his first book, I was told by my sister that Novoneel is different from everyone else.

Recently, when his new book How about a sin tonight? came out, I was much like my laid back self when it came to reading contemporary authors. Not interested. But days passed and the lines from the book were quoted by some of my readers, thereafter Novo's mind-boggling and well-worded updates adorned my newsfeed and I couldn't resist myself from ordering the book.

As I got the book, I went through the blurb. The very first line stood out and I read it every time I hold the book, so much so that now it is etched in my memory:

From the most beautiful space in their souls to the most confused portions of their hearts and the dirtiest corners of their minds... LOVE. TOOK. THEM. EVERYWHERE.

The line was so beautifully worded that I immediately began the book and couldn't leave it until I finished. I had read writers who have touched me(Khalid Hosseini), I had read writers who made me laugh(Chetan Bhagat), I had read writers who had inspired me(Yogananda Paramhansa), I had read writers who glued me to the book(Julian Barnes, J.D.Salinger) but for none of them could stop me at every alternate paragraphs to utter a loud: 'wah! amazing', which Novo did.

Novoneel is masterly with his craft of words. The way he plays with emotions and feelings with his poetic prose is astounding and leaves you desiring for more. Sometimes, you get lost in admiring the author and his dexterity with expressions; at other times you just can't stop thinking how could he even think of that sentence. As the story goes ahead, you are glued as though you are living all the characters. As Novo weaves a magic around the five extremely well crafted characters, you realize that he has not just written a book, but actually, created an experience.

The only demerit that I found in this book was every character's way of expressing was the same: Kaash' diary entries or Mehfil's words both seemed to be worded by the same pen, rather than having different identity and thus, way of expression. For writers, not reflecting their identities in the character is a prerequisite and I think, Novo - already a master of the art of expression - needs to pay a little heed to it in his next book. Also, since the language was so elegant some phrases like 'power off' to depict disappointment spoiled the flow.

The book, set in Bombay - amidst the enigmatic and infamous Hindi film industry, consists of intricate interlinked stories of five completely different characters, where the shackles of relationships, love, sins, revenge, ambition and jealousy bind them together. The language is poetic and the content is thoughtful. It's not a book for those who want to read for time pass, it's a book to leave you thinking. It's so good to see that authors like Novoneel are setting benchmarks for younger authors like us and helping us aspire to give due weight to the language, rather than just the story, which most of us have been doing till now.

Some novels tell you stories, some novels provoke the story inside you to be a part of it. Novo's How about a sin tonight? belongs to the latter category; that announces to the Indian audience that there is a stalwart hidden in the Indian writing scene.

Must read. Buy here.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

आज की महबूबा

आप मुझसे क्यूँ ही बातें करते हैं
जब मेरी बातें कम, खुद की ज़्यादा करते हैं

अकेलेपन, ख़ामोशी से डर नहीं लगता हमको
पर आपकी एकतर्फी ज़ुबान से, हम भागा फिरते हैं 

आपके बारें में बहुत सुना है हमनें
कि आपके हुस्न पर हज़ारों आशिक़ मरते हैं

किस काम के हैं वो आशिक़?
जो आपकी आशिक़ी में खुद को दगा दिया करते हैं

ज़िन्दगी आपके बिना ही जी लिया हमनें
कभी सोचा, क्या आप हमें भी याद किया करते हैं?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Third Book: Reason Behind Delay

I finished writing the third book - She is single, I'm taken - in March, before I went on my India trip. I had been in conversation with Rupa for quite sometime, which wanted to take over all the three titles of the trilogy. However, the earlier two titles were with Srishti, and as any small publishing house would have done, Srishti negated Rupa's offer of releasing the earlier books. I was fine with it. Srishti gave me a break; I was and would always be indebted.

But the third book was not yet signed with any publisher, so I was free to chart my own route. Rupa was willing to take it over and after a lot of negotiation, I was happy beyond bounds for they gave me a very good offer. Rupa, no doubt, is one of the biggest names in the Indian publishing. I sent my manuscript to Rupa in mid-March, for which they had been pressing, and left for my travel. Since they wanted my manuscript so much, I presumed that they would begin the editing process for the book.

I kept travelling while Rupa sent me an elaborate marketing plan which included interviews with all the major newspapers and review sites. I realized that all the PR and interviews that every author gets has little to do with the book that they have written and a lot to do with the publishing house they are associated with. Srishti has been a low-profile player: spending zilch in marketing and had carved out its own niche in the chic-lit 100 rupees space. I was happy that with Rupa, I would be getting not only a hefty advance but necessary PR, which I missed earlier.

Happily I came back in May and scheduled a meeting with Rupa's editor. I had already been given the agreement: which was very fair and transparent. At the meeting with Rupa, I had been told that their publishing schedule was packed for this year and my book would come out early next year. I was shocked. All the while, I was thinking that the editing process was being carried out but alas, they told me that it would have started only after I signed the agreement. And moreover, it would take at least three months to complete the editorial process.

Also, I was told that only the trilogy would be acquired by them, not my further books. I felt a little bit cheated. They wanted to acquire what was already selling; they were not betting on my writing.

I was in two minds. At one side, I had one of the best publishing houses in the country offering me whatever I could have wished for; while on the other side, there were thousands of readers eagerly waiting for my book, which I'd been delaying since February. In July, I chose to go with the latter and came back to Srishti. It was a tough decision for me, much like every other decision that I have taken in 2012. Srishti was quick at task as I outsourced the editing process to my friends and sent the entire thing to Srishti within a week.

I'm happy as now, the third is being rolled out and my next book, on my start-up, would come out by early next year - is also witnessing many interested takers.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Magical Hands

His hands are gifted. He knows magic. Creating immaculate shapes out of plain mud has been a gift he inherited in legacy. 

 His name is Zaffar and he resides in Zangam, a rural village of Kashmir, with his family of ten and a kucha one room house. Every morning, he walks twenty miles to fetch what he calls the finest and rarest alluvial soil in the mountainous region, for which he needs to plough, carry and till until they are enough to make around 20 utensils a day. As I indulge in a conversation with him - with the help of a local interpreter who translated his Kashmiri into Urdu to me, his four sons: Zeeshan, Rizwan, Zaqeer and Misal run and surround us. I smile at them and ask them whether they go to school. Zaffar hesitates to answer. 

Zeeshan, the oldest one among them being around 12, is the only one who could converse in Urdu and he tells me that he used to go to school till 4th grade, where he learnt little bit of Urdu. Ever since the birth of his fifth and sixth brothers, who are around 2 and 1 respectively, he has not been going to school as his father needs his help to carry extra soil. I am taken aback. Zaffar, who couldn't make most of the Urdu that his bright young son spoke to me, asks my interpreter about what I inquired. I quickly change the topic by asking him how many pots, utensils and hukka pots he sells on a daily basis. He makes around 30 in total, out of which 4-5 get broken when they are taken into furnace and he sells them at around 10 rupees each.

I am saddened. A gifted artisan, whose art is unparalleled and whose skills could earn him fame at the world level, is making just around 200 rupees a day, for earning that he and his son have to walk for over ten miles daily, have to find and till unclaimed lands in inaccessible tract and carry around twenty kilos of soil on their backs; for which his son had to leave his school; with which he has to feed his family of ten and few months down the line, survive the biting cold of Kashmir.

Having nothing more left to say or hear, I begin to leave his house, asking Zeeshan one last question: 'do you want to go to school?' I inwardly pray to hear a yes and await his reply.

He says, 'Yes, even my father wants me to go to school. But, he needs help as well and I'm the elder son.'

I am touched by his maturity. I, being a struggling artist myself, couldn't empathize more. I made a promise to them that the next time I return, I would stay in their village for three months and teach them, and meanwhile, I'll support their education financially as much as I can, with the help of my willing friends and help Zaffar market his art in cities.

They are waiting to hear from me. I'm waiting to hear from you. Please help me raise money for rural artisans - people who are gifted but owing to their lack of resources, are not able to monetize their gift.

P.S. In case you want to help Zaffar, you can contribute in my fundraising campaign at Milaap ( Having met over fifty such artisans during my ongoing tour into the roots of India, I urge you to lend your helping hand.

Empower Zaffar and thousands others by GIVING A LOAN at:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Why you should NOT keep your camera out while travelling?

I will start this article with a little bit of self-marketing. I will tell you how once I was a passionate photographer and how when I became every photographer's dream : a professional traveler, I almost stopped using my camera. 

 It all started when I went to Glasgow. I had a Kodak C700 camera, the most basic camera back then and I was awed by Scotland's unparalleled beauty. I developed the keen sense of vision and snapped whatever I saw in its entirety. I also started a photoblog called Rods and Cones( My father gifted me an SLR and I started taking photography seriously, for the next two years. 

This year, the turn of events in my life brought me closer to my dream - of travelling across India solo and I became a professional traveler. Going by the photographer's point of view, this was the best opportunity for the photographer within me to evolve and practice, but somehow, the entire idea of travelling suppressed my hobby, something about which I'm happy more than sad. 

The reason why I got a bit detached with photography is because it stops you from travelling to your fullest. Travelling is an art: art that requires you to open, exercise and unwind all your five senses to your surroundings, to the sounds around, to the sensations around, to the smell of the place, to the taste of the delicacies and lastly, the sight of scenic beauty. Photography is a great exercise for mind and sight, but it numbs the other senses to such an extent that you stop living and start just seeing: which is just one-fifth of the travelling experience. 

I don't recommend you to not carry your camera, but I strongly recommend you to keep it in your camera bag, and take it out only when you have lived through the first few moments of experiencing something new and beautiful. Travelling is an art, don't let the artist in you die by caring about just one color: experience the entire spectrum instead.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

हर्ष की तलाश

आज जब फेसबुक में उन्हें उनके नए हमराही के साथ मुस्कुराते देखा
तो अन्दर से एक आग सी खौल उठी, लपट दर लपट खुद को जलाती हुई

 आग जब ज़हन को जला बैठी तो एहसास हुआ कि अभी भी वो बाकी हैं कहीं
एक अजब सा सन्नाटा अन्दर से बोल उठा, कहने लगा कि मैं निकम्मा हूँ

मैं लड़ा, खुद को निकम्मा नहीं साबित करने में निकम्मेपन की हदें पार कर बैठा
सन्नाटा हार कर वापस ज़हन के उस पार जा बैठ गया, और इधर मैं और उनकी तस्वीर

मैंने उनकी आखों में झाँका, बहुत कोशिश की उनकी मुस्कान को झूठी साबित करने की
लेकिन नाकाम, बेइंतेहा खुशी मानो गरम तेल की बूंदों की तरह उनके चेहरे से मेरी ओर बरस रही

मैंने उनके हमराही से नज़र मिलायी, उनकी मुस्कान मुझे नीचा दिखा रही थीं
और फिर, पता नहीं क्यूँ, मैं मुस्कुराया, बेझिझक, बेफ़िक्र, और उनके हमराही शर्मा बैठे

न वो समझ पाई मेरी खुशी का कारण, न उनके हमराही, पर मेरी समझ ने कहा -
उन्हें किसी की ज़रूरत थी खुश रहने के लिए, लेकिन मैं - हर्ष ही हर्ष 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

How to get published?

Lately, more than half of the mails that I'm receiving ask me how to get published. Tired of typing the same thing over and over again, I think this blog post would be of help:
  1. In India, publishers can be approached directly. No mediators are required.
  2. You can google all publishers and mail your manuscript to them. Some publishers are keen on having the hard copy and they ask you to mail the hard copy. Though it's said that they go through each and every manuscript they get, I have a serious doubt.
  3. Rejection is a widespread disease. Reasons might be very genuine such as you are not at all good to sometimes, what you are writing doesn't suit their publishing scheme. Be persistent and try to think why something is not working. 
  4. If you are getting rejected from everyone for a manuscript that you clearly see is having big market - it means that your writing is still amateurish. Accept it. Improve it. Shoot back.
  5. The big houses take some time to respond and sometimes they don't respond at all. Sometime after 2-3 months you hear from them saying that your manuscript doesn't suit their publishing scheme. It'll be disappointing. I have been there - consistently. 
  6. The concept of literary agents - though it has nascently emerged - is bullshit. Agents are pimps who target novice authors having no idea/network/foothold in the publishing industry and take away a significant portion of their royalties. But if you actually have no idea about how to go about publishing and you suck at self-marketing, then they can be of significant help - at least they can get you big houses and also get a good editor to you. They just use their contacts to make it easy for you.
  7. Big publishing houses don't mean that you will sell. Ironically, smaller publishers churn out more number of bestsellers in comparison to big publishing houses, because current readership of India has more non-English background readers and they prefer light fiction over literary books.
  8. Smaller publishing houses' editorial teams are an imaginary entity. The editor associated with small publishing houses is either some random blogger/a failed writer and they get peanuts for editing the book. How can you expect them to do a great job at it? Most of the times they publish the raw manuscript, without even editing a paragraph in it. Editing is important - even if you have an excellent English - because it makes the manuscript much more readable, compact and weaves the corners to make the flow better. If you are going with a small publisher, get it edited by some freelance editors. I can refer you some editors, if you wish.
  9. There are few publishers who are very good and they respond via mails as well. Westland is one. But they are very selective about your quality of writing. You can try writing to them.
  10. The way to steer yourself without an agent in the publishing industry is by networking with people in the industry. How to do it? Try twitter. Associate with a lot of social groups - where you get to meet a lot of people. Hang out in creative places. Exploit your already existing network - ask your friends if they know someone in the industry, schedule a meeting. Get out of your comfort zone and meet a lot of people.
  11. It's very important to be in a metropolitan city to get a strong foothold in the publishing domain. The concept of networking doesn't exist in smaller cities. So, come to Delhi/Mumbai/Bengaluru. 
  12. Don't ask an author to refer you. Authors have got very little say, since they are not a part of the publishing houses - they are just their customers. Rather ask a publishing/media person to refer you - it'll have a better impact.

All the best.

Monday, April 9, 2012

One Last Breath

2007, Summer.

The temperature was 38 degrees, it had been half an hour in the scorching heat. We were in the no man’s land, the area being prohibited, and there was no-one to prevent trespassing. The sun was showing no mercy on us - Aman and Harsh(yeah that's me) : college returns, who decided to break the monotony of the ongoing vacations by spending some time in the countryside - the mines near our city.

Half an hour ago, we parked our butts on the hot seat, our bottoms feeling as if they were on a toaster, of a five years old Suzuki Fiero, and dragged ourselves towards the undiscovered areas of our city. The area was picturesque and that gave us, the budding photographers some incentive to compensate our play with the scorching heat. After passing through the crude road, with the tyres of the bike become brown with mud, we got completely drenched in sweat. I chided myself for having worn my new T-shirt that day, which was now stinky because of the sweat-drops rolling down my neck. After hopping here and there for about 15 minutes, at last we found the place which offered us a grand view of numerous hills. The  majestic sight of something like The Grand Canyon filled my mind with awe and wonder. I had been untouched by such a beautiful place that too lying hidden and undiscovered in my city. I jumped all through the way and finally made it to the edge of the hillock. The smoke of underground fire filed my nose, reminding me of the similar smell encountered in the chemistry lab when they conducted that H2S experiment. I sensed that it was a risky place, but the advertisement of DEW during that time with the tagline 'Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai' inspired me to stay firm. Just six feet from the edge I was thinking of capturing the panorama of the canyon.

Humming Creed‘s famous song One Last Breath, I moved ahead with my right leg trying to find a vantage point only to realize that it was not at all the right thing to do. To my surprise, the land beneath me began to go down. No, it wasn’t a landslide, it was not a swamp, but it was actually loose soil, which had inside it - fire, underground fire. The area had burning coals within it all around and was prone to be swallowed by the earth. Everyday newspaper editors filled their local columns with one news of 'land swallow' in Jharia - that’s the name of the place where we went. The place was prohibited for the laymen, and we, the future engineers of India were not counting ourselves in this category of ‘Layman’. And that day, this future engineer of India was going to get roasted in the underground fire of its own country. My feet trembled as I saw the soil beneath my feet trickling down.

Within a moment, I realized how bad this death would be as there would be nobody to ever get to know the cause if my death, nobody to relish the sight of my red hot tandoor, rather I would add to the national reserves of coal! I saw Aman at a considerable distance from me and told him not to proceed that side, as the soil was very loose. I took two photographs(see my passion for photography!) and ran back as fast as I could. Had it been a 100m race, surely I was gonna win. Several lumps of soil were swallowed by the earth as I hurled my 58 kg light body over them. I felt like HULK because for the first time I saw that my 50 kg was enough to crush the grounds by about two inches. By the way, have you ever wondered why HULK‘s underpants do not get torn when he transforms from a human to a HULK? I was feeling a sudden power in my veins (and arteries too). And this sudden power was suddenly overpowered by the ground, as I tumbled on the way back while adoring my power.

Seeing his friend enjoying the song One Last Breath alone, Aman could not resist. He came running towards me and helped me out. And we hand in hands, with utmost caution, proceeded towards the safe place and took three shots through our silly 2 mp phone camera. Finally a sigh of relief !

Thanks to the Suzuki Fiero, my perspiration was air-conditioned on the way back and set-wet zatak did the other work, and the ordeal was etched in my mind, forever.

The Place Where I Stood

Friday, March 9, 2012

Did I really waste a seat of IIT?

Having graduated out of IIT Delhi, I chose to be a writer. Like most of the IITians, by the time I finished my degree, I realized that I was not interested in engineering. I didn't want to push myself into the assembly line and take up a high paying job, serving someone else for any other sector like finance or consulting and I chose to go full time with my writing. I chose to do that I was interested in.

Once my struggle period got over, I encountered a weird kind of hostility amongst some people for me. I always find people who complain to me that I wasted a seat of my college. If I didn't want to become an engineer, why did I give JEE? Why did I waste government's lacs of money spent on me?

Generally, I do not reply to such an allegation, since people don't realize that a 17 year old guy, who hadn't yet seen the world, who hadn't done anything else other than dating his books for most of his high school, can't decide what does he want to do in life? It's only after he sees the world, gets exposed to different professions, art and cultures, that he could realize what is his real calling. And that's not all, sometimes, even after our college lives, we are yet to find our calling. For some, who know their calling, lack of family support or lack of will becomes the major hindrance.

Having chosen to pursue my inner calling, I would like to enable this feeling of satisfaction of discovering and pursuing what one really likes doing in every student. To accomplish this mighty task, I realize that we need a drastic change in one of the key issues of the youth. Schooling. Not only the primary, secondary and high school level, but also at the college level. The current system of schooling follows promote-the-best-forward ideology, which could be clearly elucidated by the fact considering any competition in which the school has to represent its student, teachers no doubt choose the best suited student for that competition. What about others, who might be equally or more interested in participating in that competition? Just because they could not discover whether they have the potential to excel in the other field, they get sidelined. What this results in is a narrowed development of an otherwise talented student, who gets involved in a particular activity and just because she's good in that, she is cut off from all the other interesting activities which could have otherwise opened her mind and made her personality all-rounded.

To explain with my own personal example, I had never written anything other than my answer papers in my school days. I came to IIT, started writing and realized that I was good at it and loved it. I pursued it, got better and much more interested. The reason I never wrote in school was because nobody motivated me to write in school. There were few students, who were good in English and they dominated the school editorial scene. Now surprisingly, none of those students are into writing. Tell me, had I been in the same environment  all the while, would I ever have been able to discover the fact that I'd a flair in writing? No, never.

From where I stand, I can see two ways to move forward in this regard. One privately, by starting a company which trains teachers in holistic teaching and conducts seminars in schools and colleges to enable students discover their hidden talents, by exposing them to different fields. The other is by promoting a club like environment in schools, which thankfully exists in a lot of schools, where people get to participate in group activities in different domains and take them on tours to witness what professional life actually is and when they say they want to become a doctor, they should understand by experience that it's not just about medicines, but also about carefully handling several lives, being hygienic, and on one's toes all the time.

I think that the current schooling system needs restructuring to impart more holistic education along with more exposure to different professional scenarios, so that people choose what they would really love to do and such digression, like me, from one's primary career line doesn't take place so often, leading to a situation where when a student decides to take up engineering, he actually wants to become an engineer.

Written for Stayfree Time for Change contest for indiblogger.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

मेरे जूठे हाथ

खाने के मेज पर
माँ के हाथों बनायीं हुई गरमा गरम सब्ज़ी
जब मेरे हाथों से चावल के दानों के साथ मिलती
तो मानो एक अलग ही एहसास होता
लगता कि ऐसी ख़ुशी, पूरे कायनात में न मिले
नानी के हाथों बनाया हुआ आम के अचार
जो बिन बताये ही मेरे उँगलियों से लड़ता, उन्हें छेड़ता
फिर मैं उनसे जूझता, तोड़ता, मरोड़ता
और ख़त्म कर देता
उँगलियों का रंग सब्जी के रंग में कैसे तब्दील हो जाता
इसका कभी भी पता नहीं चलता
उँगलियों को अपने ज़ुबां से साफ़ करता,
चाहते हुए कि वो कभी साफ़ न हो
और चार घंटे बाद, शाम के खेल ख़त्म हो जाने पर
दोबारा वो मेज, दोबारा वो बेजोड़ ख़ुशी

खाने के मेज पर
खुद की बनाई हुई सब्जी
जब चम्मच से चावल के दानों के साथ मिलती
तो मानो एक घुटन सी होती
लगता कि ऐसी घुटन, पूरे कायनात में न मिले
नानी के हाथों बनाये गए आम के अचार की कमी खलती
मेरी उँगलियाँ उस कटे हुए आम की गुठली से जूझने को तरसती
फिर मैं खुद से लड़ता, अन्दर ही अन्दर मसोसता
और चम्मच को कहीं दूर फेक देता
उँगलियों के रंग सब्जी के रंग में कैसे तब्दील हो जाते
पता भी ना चलता
उँगलियों को अपने ज़ुबां से साफ़ भी न करता,
और उस दिन, दस घंटे बाद, मैं घर पर, माँ के साथ
दोबारा वो मेज, दोबारा वो ख़ुशी और मेरे जूठे हाथ |

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

खुद देख लो

अक्सर मैं इस सोच में डूब जाता हूँ
कि ज़िन्दगी अगर थोड़ी सी अलग होती
तो क्या होता?

मैं देर तक सोचता,
जवाब ढूँढने के फ़िराक में
पर ज़िन्दगी भी साली बहुत तेज़ तरार है

मेरे सवाल को चकमा दे कर
कब गायब हो जाती,
पता भी न चलता

कुछ अलग करने की चाह,
दोस्त बन कर ज़िन्दगी के साथ
बैठ कर चाय पीती, बतियाती, और मुझे चिढ़ाती

कहती, पहले ज़िन्दगी को समझो
फिर उसके साथ छेड़-खानी करना
फिर उसमें अपनी कलाकारी दिखाना

ज़िन्दगी को जानने के लिए
जुर्रत से ज़्यादा अक्ल की ज़रूरत है
और अक्ल से ज़्यादा रूह की सुनने की

क्यूंकि जब अपने रूह से रूबरू होगे,
तो पता चलेगा
तुम्हारी ज़िन्दगी अलग ही तो है,

अलग ही तो है, खुद देख लो
अलग ही तो है, खुद देख लो
खुद देख लो.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


हमेशा ऐसा कहाँ होता है
की जो चाहो, वो मिल जाये

ज़िन्दगी के दो सिरे हैं
ख्वाईशें और असलियत
दोनों अलग, दोनों जुदा
हम अक्सर दोनों को मिलाने की
बेपनाह कोशिश करते,
पर जब साथ रहना ही नहीं
तो भला वो क्यूँ सुनें ?
अगर वो न सुने तो हम क्यूँ ?

हम से अहम बनता है
और अहम के हाहाकार से अहंकार
और फिर अहंकार का हाहाकार
फिर, हम कहाँ तुम कहाँ?
सिर्फ मैं ही मैं दिखता है
इस मैं के जंजाल में
आदमी फंसता, बेख़बर
और कोसता फिरता, यहाँ वहाँ

ज़िन्दगी उसकी इतनी भी न सुनती;
उसे तनहा देखकर,
उसका अहम भी उसे धोखा दे कर
भाग निकलता
बचता सिर्फ वो, अकेला।
और मैं, हम की तलाश में
ठोकरें खाता, बेबस और लाचार
अपनी किस्मत से गुफ्तगू करता
और हँसते हुए फिर कहता,

हमेशा ऐसा कहाँ होता है
की जो चाहो, वो मिल जाये

हमेशा, हमेशा.

Friday, February 24, 2012

11 things:

Things that I want to do in the next 1 year (things that are in my hand):
  1. Make 5 short films (starting in March, 2012)
  2. Hitchhike across India (first six months)
  3. Publish 4 books (all across the year)
  4. Learn Urdu - (during my travel)
  5. Spend a month in the gurukul parampara with Indian Classical musicians (during summer, courtesy SPIC MACAY)
  6. Get initiated into Kriya Yoga (once I come back to Delhi)
  7. Read 30 contemporary English/Hindi classics (during my travel)
  8. Write 100 songs in Hindi/Urdu (all across the year)
  9. Learn Python, a computer programming language (once I'm done with my trip)
  10. Make a classy FB application, design the UI myself (once I learn Python)
  11. Deliver 30 speeches, in Toastmasters, Oration and other invited arenas. (all across the year)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Route to Roots

Hello friends,

After a really long time, I'm actually writing something. That's because after a really long time I'm actually free. First of all I would like to thank Farhan Ashraf, for suggesting this wonderful title 'Route to Roots' for the memoir that I'm going to pen down during my travel.

My last two years had been very enriching for me. I took some radical decisions: didn't take up campus placement, pursued the idea( that I was passionate about, somehow managed to instill belief into my parents and family members about my decision, steered its growth to what it has become today along with my able partner, struggled to earn every little penny for the venture, so that we don't have to borrow money from our parents; lived with uncertainty when our 'right-hands' deserted us in the middle of the entrepreneurial road and kept on moving forward. It was the toughest and most fruitful period of my life. When your talented friends are making a lac a month, hanging on to something financially not quite rewarding works when you work not for money, but for satisfaction. It taught me a lot about conquering one's fear of uncertainty. I know that now I can manage without a penny for seven days, I can live without food for two days, I can live without bathing for ... oh leave it. Now I can clearly say 'been there, done that!'

On February 8th, I decided to leave the venture that I co-founded. Why did I leave? If that's the question that's circling in your mind, I would say that it's a personal question and I would not like to answer that 'now'. I quit. When I got free, I had a lot of options. I could have started applying for jobs in consulting, advertising or private equity firms, for all I am a fit candidate. I could have begun working on another start-up from the 7 innovative business ideas that I have in my mind. Or I could have continued writing chick-lit stuff and be complacent with it. No. This was not me. I am not going to again put myself in an assembly line situation. At least not immediately.

I had spent my last 2 years in such a state that almost every second minute the feeling of what's up with the venture circled my mind. In short, I was more like a machine, which when on, used to only work in a particular direction blocking every other part of it.

Now, being completely free, I had nothing special in mind. I am associated with this amazing bunch of musicians in the band called Avacara. I spent the entire night of 8th with them, jamming all night amidst smoke and mist with them. Music comforted me. I decided that I would learn Hindustani Classical music as it would help me in composition. For that I needed to go home, since my father is friends with a lot of musicians there. So be it. Going home was decided. My mother has not been keeping well lately gave all the more reasons to go home, which is in Dhanbad (Jharkhand). I decided to leave on 25th February to Dhanbad.

But my mother, who is a lecturer, is going to Chandigarh on an academic trip on 16th March for two weeks and I would have been totally alone during that phase. When she told me this, I decided that it was time. Time to travel. It was time to break into the seamless length and breadth of my country, that has always enamoured me. To meet its people, to live their lives, to learn their inspirations, to get inspired from them, to hear their stories and to share mine, to give whatever little experience I possess and to take whatever magnanimous learnings they possess, to meet my readers across India, be a guest to them and hear what they would want to read from me someday and tell them that they would read about themselves sometime pretty soon.

I posted my desire about an India trip on a shoestring budget on Facebook asking for hosts and I was absolutely touched to see an overwhelming response from friends and readers across the country, who were willing to let me reside at their place for free for 2-3 days during my travel. I laid down the dots that my friends had responded and connected them. When I finished, I was astonished to see that it resembled a bird. A bird ready for flight.

I recalled my school days when I read biographies of Steve Jobs or Kalam Saheb or Einstein. All of them had faced this vacant phase where they didn't know what to do and they just kept on travelling and it gave them the next direction to proceed. They met people, they discovered ideas and ideals, they learnt something entirely new during this vacant phase that shaped their lives later on. I am sure this journey is going to cast a deep impression in my soul and is going to change my life in some way, making me a better person and definitely, a better and a more experienced writer.

I'm going to begin my journey from 16th March. I am going to travel alone; with limited baggage, limited money, no laptop, no internet, one diary, one pen and two books titled 'Into The Wild' and 'The Autobiography of a Yogi'. I'm going to meet students, entrepreneurs, my readers, designers, techies, musicians, photographers and more at all those places and going to include my experience with them in my book. The basic intent of this tour is to explore how does the city affect the ideologies and aspirations of people, in the meanwhile searching for the next big idea for another start-up. I am low on cash as I'd exhausted all my royalties(my only source of money) into the venture. I am searching for a sponsor for my trip.

P.S. If you can refer some organization which may be willing to sponsor my trip, I would be more than glad. Not boasting, but just to give you an idea: I have a reach over 60000 young people of the age-group of 13-25 in India via my books, and I would be releasing two books before releasing my travel memoir, so the number is supposed to cross 2 lacs by then. I can easily dedicate a chapter to the sponsor in that book and carry promotional materials(bags/caps) across. Also, part sponsors would be welcome, whose story would be subtly embedded in their cities' stories.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Unfair World

Whenever things don't go in our favour, we start accusing the world. The paranoia in us takes over us and everyone starts seeming vindictive. Drastically, the case isn't the same when we are having happy times.

This is due to our inability to think negative about ourselves. However, this inability turns into a gifted ability when we are thinking about someone who we do not like. Often, what we like and what we don't like combine and make us think was it indeed something that was worth liking. And thereafter, realization begins that I did not deserve what happened. And this realization will keep happening until you realize that you don't get something because you deserve it or not, but instead, you have to grab that something. Rarely, something would come to you because you deserved it. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Review: A Flawed God

I was relatively free in early December and for the first time, I opted for the BookReviews programme of Blogadda, the site that I'd been following for long. After two weeks of struggling with logistics, it managed to reach me, but I was no more relatively free. It carried a personalised letter for me from the Founder of Blogadda and that was really sweet of them. The book that arrived was with a really interesting name and a pretty refreshing cover, named The Flawed God by Arjun Shekhar. Much like every other book that arrives in my lap, I was absolutely excited and began reading it immediately.

The narration was fresh, could be aptly called as engrossing, good metaphorical usage and without going totally flowery. The subtle humour when the protagonist keeps blowing his nose seemed very innate at first, however the repeated use of the same act, made it a bit draggy and irritating, because I could expect after every couple of paragraphs that the narrator is going to blow his nose. As I'm a straight-out-of-college entrepreneur, having not experienced even a tinge of corporate life, the book didn't quite manage to strike a chord with me and I had to leave it mid-way because I could not relate it to my own life or experiences. But it indeed convinced me that I had chosen the right path of entrepreneurship because the job life is pretty monotonous and the secret societies which could bring some excitement in job-life exist only in fiction.

The book is worth a read if you are the one who's agonized by your current job, irate boss or planning to get something more than promotion from your corporate life. Note to all Chetan Bhagat fans: you might need a dictionary while reading this book, and even after that, you might not get it, so my advice would be to not bet your money.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

NOTE: Opt for only those books which really interest you otherwise, you would end up vexing yourself, Blogadda as well as the author at the other end; much like me. I happen to be the last one submitting the review, sorry to Blogadda and Arjun. All the best to Arjun for his future work! :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Surreal World

How many times have you felt the need to express what you are seeing, what you are hearing? After several years of association with different forms of art, I can somewhat feel why great painters like John Constable used to start painting in the middle of meadows just to express the beauty that they used to see, how Rahman got the tune for the soulful song Tere Bina of the movie Guru in his dreams, how writers can see stories floating in the air and how avid travellers can explore the best of unseen places without prior planning.

I can feel this need to express. When I saw the Taj Mahal last week, or when I saw Van Gogh's original paintings some years ago and now, when I heard Adele carefully for the first time. I can go on and on writing about how deeply moved I feel when those masterpiece stir my soul with their impeccable beauty and inimitable charm. And the appreciation would never stop, just because they are not just real, but surreal.