My garden

My garden is overwrought

nothing have I trimmed

in forever

it’s gone wild.

Creepers of doubt

have taken over

the once neat lawn,

and strangle

the tall trees of ideologies.

Weeds of stray prejudices grow

where good intentions were

once planted.

The storm isn’t helping matters,

it scatters the dry leaves

of hopes and dreams,

they blow and drift

snagging sometimes here

sometimes there.

Roots still try to hold on

to something,


Twisted branches of overthinking

hang everywhere…

The weak seedlings

of new ideas are

gripping for dear life

onto the sticks

of pseudo motivation I

tied them to.

The climbers,

honesty, and truth –

They never die

But never flourish either.

How can they?

When I care so much

about things like

propriety and looking good.

Zihaal e miskeen

Have you heard the song, ‘zihaal e miskeen’ from the movie Ghulami? It’s a much loved Hindi film song. But do you know that Gulzaar based it on a really old song? I absolutely love both versions.

These verses are by Amir Khusro. The language is Persian and Brij Bhasha. Brij Bhasha is a is not a proper language, but rather a dialect of Hindi. What is interesting is that the Khusro uses Persian and Brij Bhasha in alternate lines! In the first verse, the first line is in Persian, the second in Brij Bhasha, the third in Persian again, the fourth is in Brij Bhasha, and so on. Here’s a translation:

Zehaal-e-miskeen makun taghaful,
Duraye naina banaye batiyan.

Do not overlook my misery,
by blandishing your eyes and weaving tales,

Ke taab-e-hijran nadaram ay jaan,
Na leho kahe lagaye chatiyan.

My patience has over-brimmed, O sweetheart!
why do you not take me to your bosom.

Shaban-e-hijran daraz chun zulf,
Wa roz-e-waslat cho umer kotah.

Long like curls in the night of separation
short like life on the day of our union.

Sakhi piya ko jo main na dekhun,
To kaise kaTun andheri ratiyan.

Friend, if I don’t see my beloved,
how will I pass this dark night

Yakayak az dil do chashm-e-jadu,
Basad farebam baburd taskin.

Suddenly, using a thousand tricks
the enchanting eyes robbed me of my tranquil mind.

Kisay pari hai jo ja sunave,
Piyare pi ko hamari batiyan,

Who would care to go and report
this matter to my darling.

Cho shama sozan cho zaraa hairan,
Hamesha giryan be ishq an meh.

Tossed and bewildered, like a flickering candle,
I roam about in the fire of love.

Na nind naina na ang chaina,
Na aap aaven na bhejen patiyan,

Sleepless eyes, restless body,
neither comes she, nor any message.

Ke daad mara gharib Khusro.

In honour of the day I meet my beloved
who has lured me so long, O Khusro!

Sapet man ke varaye rakhun,
Jo jaye pauN piya ke khatiyan.

I shall keep my heart suppressed
if ever I get a chance to get to her trick.

Got this many years ago from

Let me be your nothing

Let me be the darkness
When you shine in relief

Let me be blank canvass
When you’re poised to paint

Let me be your nothing.

Let me be the lull
Before the melody occurs

Let me be your paper
Before the words spill

Let me be your nothing.

Let me be the poem
That you only spin in mind

Let me be the silence
Before you make a sound

Let me be your nothing.

When pain comes to you

When pain comes to you
Embrace it, accept it,
It tells you that you are alive
That you can think and feel
That you have a beating heart
And a ticking mind.
When tears brim in your eyes
Let them flow
They tell you that you allowed
Pain to seep through
And whet your soul
That you were not afraid
To be yourself
And to feel with abandon.
That you lived
And loved
That you didn’t just
Skim the surface of life,
But dived deep
And came up with pearls.
When pain comes to you
Don’t block it
Let it be an old friend
With keys to your heart
Let it come and go as it pleases
And sometimes meet it at a landing
And ask, ‘Hey, how you doin’ now?’

Rustom and the Last Storyteller of Almora

Books that are set in different eras, different places, and about people whose lives are diverse from mine, always make me feel like I am getting much more than just one story. Without passports or tickets, I get to travel these worlds, peek inside the minds of amazing people. This book offered me much more than that.

Rustom is a man of a strange kind of integrity – his actions display a weird mismatch with his thoughts. By outward appearances, he seems reckless, thoughtless, even. But since we’re privy to his thoughts, we know that he is conscientious, trying to right the wrongs, ensuring that his family is safe after him. He is a man who is a sum of many parts. Thinking about tidbits of wisdom that his mother shared with him, thinking about his wife (in her various avatars), thinking about his sister in the hospital (suicide, he believes – because she always knew what she was doing). I was touched by how real he was. The rich Parsi family with a ‘history’ of suicide provided the perfect backdrop  with uncles who kill themselves in a suicide pact – a grandfather who will allow the family to inherit money only if Rustom kills himself.

How much money can you spend in a lifetime? In one scene, Rustom slaps his forehead wondering how the money ever got over. 

He is desperate, and desperate people do desperate things. Even things like plotting to kill themselves. Suicide is a topic I personally wonder a lot about too.
But Rustom is not the depressed, suicidal kind – he was driven to it – thinking himself into a dark corner, whence the only escape is the narrow window that suicide allows him.

Enter Kahani Baba, the lovable, rotund psychic who shakes Rustom’s consciousness with his visions. In each vision is hidden a clue that could end Rustom’s misery. The clues are random and non-linear – as a reader, I found myself sucked into the vortex of Rustom’s mind, trying to solve and make sense of the Kahani Baba experience.

Will Rustom crack the clues? Will he be able to get out of the corner he’s boxed himself into? For Rustom, the entire story plays out between the bullet and the skin – which, by the way, was an alternate title for the book, I heard!

On the writing – even while dealing with a subject like suicide, Gaurav keeps it pacey, and full of mystery. As a reader, you’ll find yourself turning the pages swiftly. The shorts within the main story were fantastic – each one a gem. Well done, GP!

A few books leave you with a feeling of having walked a mile in another’s shoes. This one does that really well. Another review called it, ‘an almost perfect debut.’ I couldn’t agree more, almost perfect! Go grab your copy! Highly recommended.

You can order your copy of Rustom and the Last Storyteller of Almora HERE.


How audacious to think that I'm beautiful
how impolite to say it
how rude to open my hair, 
let it fall down my back, and sway it
how proud to hold my head high,
to look you in the eye
how unthinkable to have my own thought
and unflinchingly relay it


The rain…
It fell all around me
And on me
And it was also sunny
And I wondered why such contrast exists
I exist
You exist
Yes, contrasts exist in this world
And when we mix
Sometimes a rainbow emerges
Epic, stretching from forever to forever
Arching over our lives
And wondrously beautiful

On friends and friendships

Got this as a forwarded email:

Bonding with your gal pals is the best way to deal with life's ups and downs, here are six types that every woman relies on for advice and emotion support

We need different friends to fulfill different needs. Some make good counsellors, others are good listeners and some are miss fix-its. Each one plays an important role in our lives, and we cannot do without them. Here are six types of friends every woman needs in her life.

The new friend:

As much as we love our old friends, it's always nice to meet new people and add them to your friends list. New friends add a spark to your life, and help you re-evaluate your world, adding a new perspective to your life. They inspire and excite you, motivating you to get out of the routine and try something new.

The counsellor:

Can't afford a shrink? She is your best bet. She will listen to all your problems and offer you sound advice without being critical or judgmental of your situation. You can rant about the problems you are having at work, in your relationship or with any situation that requires your attention.

The strong as a rock friend:

She has been there with you like a solid rock in the ups and downs of your life. She knows you better than anybody and has seen and handled your various mood swings. You have had your share of fights, arguments and misunderstandings and have worked your way through it. You love each other and are inseparable.

The fun friend:

This one knows how to have a great time and she is the one who does not mind adding that crazy energy to your life. She always knows where the happening parties are and does not believe in getting home till the sun rises.

The honest one:

She will not say things to please you, and will not shy away from telling you the truth no matter what.

The mother hen:

She is the one you go to when in need for some TLC. She is gentle and comforting and will fix you a quick meal when your feeling down in the dumps. She will not lecture you, but will comfort you like a mother.

This got me thinking – what kind of friend am I? I am not a mother hen. I am not ‘the fun friend’. The shrink? I can listen and give advice, but with a caveat – it may not be sound; I give, ‘use at your own risk’ kinda advice. I am honest, generally speaking, but I don’t believe in ‘hurt the other person’ kind of honesty. So if you look fat, don’t ask me if you do, because I’ll never say yes.

I don’t know what I inspire as a new friend, ‘creative ways to avoid new people’ maybe. I am a bad new friend. Most of time, I am faking it. I am losing interest in getting to know new people – just takes too much energy and they soon show some side of them that I dislike. Dear god, am I turning into a misanthrope?

Looks like I don’t fit anywhere on this list. Does that mean, I am no friend at all? O_o

I have been wondering, this disinterest in making new friendships - is it me or is it them?

That day

     Image source:

That day

I didn’t have the courage

To say, ‘Don’t.’

That day

I hid my face and

And today

As I step into my closet

To hang another face,

My eyes wander to that one,

The one with

The shame of cowardice

Writ large,

Stowed behind cobwebs

Of escapism.

I pull it out

And hang it away with

Myriad other faces:

The caricature of bonhomie

The grimace of being me…

One day

I’ll have courage again

To pick it up

Stroke it,

Own it, and say,

‘Yes, I was a coward

But I am who I am.’

And from that day on,

I will have no more

Need for facades

Your name

I want to taste your name

... savor it…

Bite off a corner of it,

Suck in the rest of it,

Slowly swirl it around my tongue and

Breathe it into the air,

Wrapped in a whisper

Inspired by something a four-year-old said about love.