Chasing Durga

It’s Dusshera today… Vijayadashami, a festival that celebrates the triumph of good over evil and… a woman among other things.

And ironically in India despite the plethora of goddesses that we worship and honour – our women are not accorded the status that’s rightfully theirs under the law. I won’t say a right that’s theirs by birth since often even getting there is a challenge in itself.

Yet we claim to be an evolved society, with a history that goes back many thousands of years – and through it all we’ve learned in part to idolize certain women as deities – real and mythical, placing them in spots from which they dare not step down even if they desired. And then we also treat our women – wives and daughters, and everyone else’s sisters in particular with contempt – as though their taking birth is in itself an offence which we’re compelled to tolerate.

Makes you step back a second and think… doesn’t it?


If the Shoe Fits

How much does it cost to air- express a pair of shoes?

Mayawati’s perplexed at the unnecessary attention being given to her footwear. And they aren’t even Blahniks for crying out loud. Talking about Maya’s shoes, the poor woman was hauled over coals earlier this year when some lackey in her security detail wiped the dust of a pair of them.

What’s the big deal? Haven’t you people heard of chivalry or is that a concept alien in our part of the world? Walter Raleigh… Queen E the First ? Jogs the little grey cells eh?

And now there’s more on her footwear… come on give the woman some leg room. With the number of times she ends up sticking her well shod foot in it… its no wonder she keeps running out of them.

Spring-cleaning the Self and Shelves

I’m off to meditate.

Ten days of peace and harmony being put through one of those old clothes-wringers. The manually operated ones that have to be stopped every now and then, just to rest the tired arms of the operator, before he or she starts again, slowly turning those handles while the cogs creak and the clothes squeak. It’s sadistic.

So you get a couple of moments where the cool air courses through every fibre, and then it starts again, that slow wringing out. I’d much prefer the dry cycle on my washing machine, no human intervention apart from flipping on a switch and turning a couple of knobs. Sure, it pauses, but just to cool off, but when it goes… it goes and then everything is wrung through. Dry as the Sahara in summer.

Speaking of the weather I’m glad the rains are here. But it also means I’ll have to dust down the book shelves and turn out my cupboards, putting in little dehumidifiers just so that the mould stays away. Which makes me wonder how much I’ve collected since I last sat down to meditate. And I’m not talking about those daily sittings, the fifteen minutes or half hour breaks in between the insanity of a Mumbai day. It’s those 10 or 30 days of silence, of observation, of introspective emptiness and realising rather sagely how much refuse one has accumulated and the passage one has to take, the rocky road one has to travel towards getting rid of it.

But its not all bad. There are incredible moments as well. Moments of understanding and of revelation… of everything arising to pass away. The good and the bad, the nice and the not so…


I used to be a regular at meditation centres… the quintessential dhamma bum. It’s a rite of passage. You’re born. You go to school. Then get a job. Work sixteen hour days. Make money. Party hard. Quit that job. Shave your head, grab your bowl and sit in contemplative silence. It’s enlightening. I’ve done that.

But its been five years since I last took time out to meditate and in the interim, I’ve changed, collecting so much mould and lichen, I need airing, a firm brushing… a sloughing off.

And my washing machine is on the blink.

Purging at the alter of Anna

As Heidi Klum puts it… “either you’re in or you’re out”.

While some throng the refuse laden waters of the Ganges or the Sangam at Allahabad and others sit in confessionals before tainted priests in an attempt to cleanse their souls, a new breed of Indians have found another mode of dry-cleaning their conscience and it costs… nothing. It doesn’t matter what your sin…. come one, come all…for one week only, or at least till our Chantilli soaked brains can sustain it… Jump on to the bandwagon, the circus is in town.

Don’t get me wrong and it doesn’t matter even if you do but I like Anna Hazare and I’m all for people’s movements just as I’m okay with vigilantism at times if that’s what it takes to make a difference, even though we try and sanitise it by calling it citizen justice…. Boo hah! Which brings me to intent and I ask myself whether it’s okay today to cheat, defraud, defame someone we don’t like, squirrel away all that cash we tried so hard to hide from the IT department and ask for favours from this ‘Uncle’ or that, as long as after we’re done, we can sit back, knock down a few, glue together our Gandhi caps made from today’s edition of the Times, and haul our beery or wine soaked butts on to the street to rabble rouse. Newsprint has suddenly got a new purpose…the rad-rag, if you must….we want to read it and wear it, but only the glossy pages please… I just conditioned my hair. And since Bollywood just jumped on the bandwagon, albeit after the main show was over, we’ll soon see Manish Malhotra’s line of newsprinted pretty boys hit the runway… Remember… You got it from here dude! So out we go, distributing the tricolour to bemused urchins who dump it in the gutter, because they’d rather have a tenner, lustily belt out anti-corruption slogans and songs and suddenly we’re in.

A friend showed me photographs over the weekend, posted on someone’s facebook page of one of those slogan ranting, newsprint topi wearing rallies. Regular pictures taken on one of those little Kodak digital cameras, of a motley bunch, mostly friends of the organisers I guess, all tagged just in case you couldn’t recognise them in their conscientious avatars, and among them a picture of two women standing on the sidelines, passers-by, watching the procession. One of them taking a picture on her cellphone while the other looked on confused… but hey what the heck, it’s her face and her prerogative and I thought we were a democracy… and the photo was captioned… “Politicians! These ladies stood by and took photos on their mobile fones (sic)”.

Which brings me right back to Heidi….”Auf Wiedersehen!”

eating right… or knot

My stomach is knotted and groaning under the weight of all those chocolates and chips I’ve been scoffing down… Candies and my mother are the guilty ones here… or perhaps it’s got to do with those meds I’m taking. They bring on the munchies and before I outgrow my new jeans I have got to cease… resist the call of Lord Munch ( no relation to those annoying little munchkins from the Wiz… thankfully!… anyway as an aside I saw the film over ten times when I was a kid coz I was in love with TWWOTE.

Which brings me to cauldrons and assorted things been tossed into them…. and I’m out of leg of newt and eye of toad… but what I do have is a fridge full of veggies… and it’s important to eat right… so I’m sitting with a gigantinormous bowl of assorted boiled beans of the sproutable variety, finely sliced cabbage, juliennes of yellow and red bell peppers, cubes of par-boiled baby corn… and spring onion greens… all lovingly tossed together with lemon, salt, a pinch of sugar, a small splash of sesame seed oil and 3 de-seeded green chillies…. healthy and absolutely delicious…

Did someone say I’ve got to give up coffee… a pox on you!