Love in the time of Facebook.

Seriously now! There’s got to be something more interesting than relationship updates right? And definitely something more to our lives, other than the love affairs we’re in? Can somebody please explain why and since when did everything in this world start revolving only around relationships?

I’m in a relationship. Good for you. I’m single. Oh, even better. It’s complicated. Get the hell out of there! I’m confused. I’m dating. I’m double dating. I’m sleeping around. I’m flirting. I’m desperate. I’m heart-broken. I’m so stuck in a life that’s only about my relationship status. And sometimes, yours too. So can we please have something new to talk about now, please?

How I wish it ended just there. We seem to be so stuck with this concept. It’s more like a state-of-mind now. Like nobody thinks outside it anymore. For instance, I put up a status msg a few days back that said ‘in a bad mood’ and I get a hundred comments of which more than half ask me, ‘fought with your boyfriend?’, ‘broke up?’, ‘i know how painful that can get girl’, ‘don’t worry just move on’, ‘find another guy’, ‘wanna talk?’ So on and so forth. Ugh! For god’s sake I’m in a bad mood because nobody noticed my new haircut! And my status updates could also be about me and only me and nobody else, you see!

Aren’t we going a bit too Gung-ho about this whole idea called relationships? I agree it’s a beautiful feeling to be in love and all that. But why do we go overboard in publicizing it so much? Why don’t we have anything better to talk about these days? Why does everything have to be about that? Or are we just making up for all the pseudo love happening around us? With all those fake emotions and expressions doing their rounds, we seem to be finding solace in its popularity. Like talking about it makes you sound profound. Your insecurities are pampered when you talk about the highs and lows of your love life.

And it’s easily buyable. Just look around. Isn’t everybody talking about it? From advertisers to movie makers to writers to singers. Everybody’s got a point of view on love. An opinion, like you know what. And who doesn’t believe in a well-narrated story of love, life and hope these days?

I’m a romantic. An eternal one at that. But I’d love it if love was made to feel special, like it once did. If relationships were not just about status updates and likes and comments. I’d rather go looking for that silly idea it used to be than delve deep into what it really means. I would stop throwing it around and would not make a hero out of it. High time we stopped facebooking love and started showing some real love, people?



A world, far away, lost.

Quiet. Ignorant. Hidden.

Of my own, myself.

Secrets. Whispers. Sighs.

Pieces of glass, in black.

Kaleidoscopic visions.

Illusions, optical, in colour.

Eddy. Deep. In-fi-nite.

Smoked up, high, hits the brain.

Nirvana, through the veins, from the heart.

Sweat, breath, breathlessness.

Guilt. Fear. Insomnia.

Detached, fallen, from the clouds.

Let go, scattered, through terrains.

A quest, tunnels, limitless.

Journeying. Patiently. Maturing.



Devu was all of five when she understood what it was to be a woman. She was aware of her body and she knew what made her different from the boys in her neighbourhood. She would go to school with them but took smaller steps and looked down when she walked. In her white petticoat, she’d rush to the door hearing the doorbell, but hide behind her mother’s saree on seeing Kumar Uncle through the window. He’d make vain attempts to lure her with juicy tamarind and deep-fried murukku. And poor Devu, digging herself into her mother’s saree, would shut her eyes tight. Hoping that she’d become invisible. And if he got any closer, she’d rush to the backyard, squat beside Ponnamma and watch her intently, as she milked the cows.
Devu was all of six. But she learnt a lot more than girls of her age. Devu was asked to talk with her voice low. If raised, she’d be asked not to talk for the rest of the day. So that the next time she opened her mouth, she’d think twice before she uttered a word. To help her grow into a fine woman, her father would say.
Devu was all of ten. But she’d learnt how to walk like a woman. Or so, she was taught. She’d pull her skirt down a million times, so that her knees didn’t show and the boys wouldn’t stare. She took careful steps and made sure she never missed any. She’d give way to the boys as they cycled around like ugly mosquitoes. Her pretty pink shoes looked pretty pink forever, because she knew every puddle that came her way, from home to school and then back home.
Devu was all of thirteen, when she was told not to talk to strangers - come what may. She was told that strangers are bad people. And talking to bad people could land her in danger. And so Devu hated strangers. Devu hated anyone she didn’t know. Or who her father didn’t know or her mother or brother or sister or friends didn’t know. And Devu wouldn’t talk to people she hated.
Devu was all of eighteen. And she had learnt to ignore. She was taught to ignore. Because ignorance, they said, was bliss. So no matter what the strangers did or said, Devu would ignore. She’d wait to get home, lock herself up in her room and vent by crying her heart out. She felt better when she cried. Because a woman was allowed to cry, she was told.
Devu is twenty five. And there’s nothing new about her. She talks softly. She watches her steps as she walks. She wears long clothes. She doesn’t always look good in them, but she feels safe in it. The lesser the skin, the lesser the eyes and so lesser the strangers who’d look at her, she thought. But Devu was wrong.
She felt helpless that evening. In a churidaar, that left no inch of her skin exposed, she felt naked. She cringed in fear. She pulled up her carefully pinned dupatta, so that it covered her neck line and that inch of a shoulder that was shown. She held a bunch of books so close to her chest that it almost felt like she had someone to hold on to. It gave her a sense of security. She ignored the eyes that followed her and hoped to get home faster and safe.
It was half past six. And Devu wasn’t home yet. Somewhere far, in the middle of nowhere, Devu lay helplessly. With nothing to save her from the savagery. At twenty-five, Devu succumbed to her helplessness. At twenty-five Devu wished that she had learnt more. She wished, that she had learnt to raise her voice and not just ignore.


Story of my life

I see a face;

Quite far away.

The hair, the lips;

A mirage you could say.

I start a little slow.

With doubts in my head.

Do I walk towards him?

Or should I just stay?

I think no more.

I decide to move.

I walk straight ahead.

As my steps gain pace.

He’s still right there.

Like he’s waiting for me.

My eyes stay fixed.

And my breath gains speed.

I now see the checks.

On a full sleeved shirt.

They’re blue with some red.

Or wait, is it grey?

There’s a faint little smile.

Is that a dimple that I see?

My heart beats faster.

And my feet go numb.

I take another step.

From just another three.

I reach for him.

I pout my lips.

And like a funny joke of destiny.

A stranger crosses my way.



Famous. Not on page 3. Followed. Not copied. Loved. Not taken for granted. Important. Not fake. Heard. Not for the sake of it. Kissed. Not distracted. Happy. Just like that. Respected. Not feared. ‘Liked’. Not clicked. Free. Not judged. Remembered. Not saved. Lost. Not found. Furious. Not stupid. Silly. Not dumb. Patted. Not Pitied. Envied. Not ignored. Hurt. Not forgotten. The one. Not the other one. Held. Not owned. Pampered. Not possessed. Bad. Not hated. Good. Not easy. Asked. Not assumed. Noticed. Not scanned. Funny. Not foolish. Thought of. Not regretted. Alive. Not the usual. Special. Not another word. Understood. Not defined. The answer. Not an option. Sure. Not stubborn. Wrong. Not questioned. Right. Not confused. This. Not that. There. Not here. Me. Not she. Read. Not between the lines



A silent whisper,

I continue to be.

A shadow missed,

on the deserted street.

A speck of dust,

that nobody sees.

In ancient trunks,

and cobwebbed locks.

I lie inside,

a forgotten sigh.

Through dirty nights,

and foreseen dawns.

Im nothing new,

but a shade of grey.

Warm and calm,

I’ll always be.

A secret I am

I continue to be.


My funny bone.

I’m not the funny types. I’m not the one who can hold a straight face, crack a joke and have the whole room rolling on the floor laughing. That’s just not me. But yeah, I can laugh at your jokes. Each and every one of them. If your joke’s not funny, you still have no reason to worry. I’ll find them funny.
Probably, when God gave the funny ones a funny bone; he kept one last piece aside. One that had a problem. And to make sure it goes to the right person, he first tried it on himself. To his surprise, he noticed that, he just couldn’t crack a good joke anymore. People stopped looking up and going, “God, are you always this funny?” And instead, they went, “Hey you, up there! That was a bad one.”
However he noticed that often, very often, he looked down and cracked up at the silliest things man would do. Like when he planned his future or he worried about his past or cried over a lost opportunity. God would burst into the loudest, funniest, squeakiest laugh ever. Tears rolled down his cheeks, his stomach ached and he gasped for breath.
This went on for a while; until one day God decided that it’s time he parted with the funny bone and passed it on to somebody more deserving. Sitting on his mammoth throne, he looked around. And! He spotted me!
There she is!
I was in the car with a friend, having a very very heated argument. My friend, in his defense, addressed me in the loudest tone ever. “But Saritha!” And turned around, to find my eyes crinkle, nose cringe and lips widen. I burst into the most hysterical laugh ever. And that was just the beginning.
Honestly, the funny bone’s been quite a boon to me. And to some of my friends too. Today, I manage to laugh at almost everything around me. Nothing seems to be too serious or too boring. God’s been good to me. God ought to make more such mistakes. Give everybody a funny bone like mine.
Then there won’t be grumpy bosses anymore. They’ll be too funny, for you to notice their grumpiness. All that once made you sulk, will now make you laugh. Short deadlines will make the client look funny. That wannabe colleague, who stole your idea and got a raise, will look pathetically funny. That college sweetheart, who dumped you for Miss Fresh Face, will give you cramps in your tummy, as you laugh hard pointing your finger at him. The auto driver’s expression, when he charges extra, will look insanely funny. You’ll laugh at the weighing machine, you’ll laugh at those dark circles, and you’ll laugh every Monday morning. The “out of order” board on the lift will look funny and your boss’s mail, that says “not working”, will look funnier. When your bike stops half way, for the hundredth time in the past two months, you’ll kick it hard and then laugh at yourself.
You’ll realize that there’s so much to laugh at, than to cry for. There’s so much to brush aside than crib over. And then one day, God, from his mammoth throne, will look down with pride, and smile, as you laugh at your own mistakes.



It’s so cool no? What’s so cool? Whatever. Everything. We live in a cool world. Yeah. And we do cool stuff. Aha! We find this cool and that cool. Cool is so the in thing. Cool is so hot! One fine day, you wake up to find out that everything, that was once hardly even noticed, has now become cool. So many cool things around us. So many cool people around us. Wearing bathroom slippers to office is cool! He who uses the “F” word in place of every second word is oh so cool! And she who uses the “F” word is oh so cooler! Fighting with the auto waala and winning is aah cool! The reply to a “I’m sick today” SMS is “cool! Ugh! What’s so cool about using cool? There ought to be a cooler word than cool? But look around and you’ll see how cool, cool is. Falling in love with a man twenty years older to you is cool. A woman conceiving a kid in her seventies is cool. A kid who calls her mother by her name is cool. How uncool! A forty year old man with salt and pepper hair is cool. Oh yeah! ;) Knowing that it’s “my” life at 18 is cool. Doing my own thing at 20 is cool. Ignoring questions is cool. Cool comebacks are cool! Doing what the world doesn’t do is cool. Doing what’s not so cool, is cool! “Ok” is so out “cool” is so in. I’ll be late. Cool. So let’s do that. Cool. Get lost, you! Cool. If the question’s cool. The answer’s cool.
Maybe cool should become a religion. So everyone who belongs to cool, will be cool. A cool guy can get married to a cool girl. There’ll be cool temples or cool churches. Cool festivals. Cool rituals. Everything about cool will be cool. Cool Gods. Cool prayers. Oh wow! Now that’ll be soo cool! I’ll convert to cool-ism! And make my kids cool. I’ll be a cool mom! They’ll go to cool institutions. And learn cool stuff! Cool will be the coolest thing!
So here’s to a cool world. A world full of cool people! ;)


Lazy we!

The world’s filled with lazy people. Including me. Blame it on technology, and the stuff it brings along. I mean, how else do you explain the LOLs and the Hmmms and the WTFs?

Take a normal chat conversation, for instance.

Reena: And then I said this..and then he wus like whoa..oh god it was so funn! you shud have been there and damn I don’t believe it happened.

Me: LOL.

(Hand on chin, droopy eyes, breathing through my mouth.)

Now that’s definitely not how I LOL. I’m just too lazy to even laugh and too lazy to even type out anything more that I feel, about my friend’s funny experience. So I LOL. How convenient.

Here’s another one.

Tina: So babe, you know what I mean right? It’s like serious. You know I’d say it coz there’s a reason. Right?

Me: Hmmmm.

(Minimising windows, replying to Mary who just popped up from another window and trying hard to get some Maggie twisted on to a fork.)

“Hmm” just means, go on, whatever!

Hey now don’t give me that look. It’s not just me, right? It’s what you, Reena, Tina and Mary would do too! We’re lazy. Let’s just face the truth. Too lazy to even express. Forget the online conversations. When was the last time you told somebody how much you love them? Or even worse, when was the last time you actually LOL?

While on one hand, we spend half our time romancing with technology and expressing half heartedly with fake emotions, we’ve forgotten how a warm bear “hug” feels or what the joy of receiving a tight, passionate “mmuah” is! ;) Lucky are those, who haven’t.

Like now, as I type this, I’ve keyed in a lot of “hmms” and “lols” and “ohhs” and “hehehes” across various chat windows. Sorry you, on the other side, you still have all my attention. Swear to God. And I promise, that when I LOL to your last ping, mom walked in to my room and went “What the hell was that?” See? I did laugh out loud!

So I hereby make an oath. That no matter how stuck to my chair my ass is, I shall express more. I may not “roll on the floor laughing my ass out”, but I will, for sure, smile when I click on a smiley, listen carefully and ponder when I “hmmm”, and will not stop at a “hehehe.”

;) (I just winked, really.)



And then just when Sasi thought that he was done dealing with the most difficult aspect of being in a relationship, just when Sasi had given in to the million-dollar, diamond studded, salt rich tears that rolled down those wrinkled cheeks, Sasi was in for problem no.2!

Sasi’s ex-girlfriend’s best friend! Tada!

Aaargh! That bleddy biatch! That nightmare of my first nights! That fighter of a woman who’ll scratch, bite and shred me at sight and inject those venomous thoughts into my poor little, angelic ex-girlfriend’s mind! She who ripped me off my aww-nice-guy image and crumbled me into teeny weenie pieces of shame, disgrace and humiliation. She who made me the bad boy of every Hindi movie.

Tsk..tsk..tsk! Poor Sasi.

So now what do I do! Oh there’s an update. Oh a new pic. Shit! The biatch’s liked it! Ugh. She commented. Oh my God a new note! It’s all about me. I know it, I know it! And there a thumbs up! The world’s going to see it. They’re all gonna know it’s about me. They’ll all hate me now. Can’t these women stop talking about me? Can’t they just let me be? Oh! Oh! I know what to do! Aah! Why didn’t I think of this before? You wait and watch you best friend, you woman! Here I go, I UNFRIEND you! CLICK! And, she’s gone! Phew! That was close.


So safe Sasi feels in his new found world. So blissfully unaware of the action outside. Locked from all sides, blocked in a page of his own, Sasi chooses what to see and what others must see. Sasi’s startled at a post and Sasi trembles down a note. Reading between lines and staying awake all night. I pity Sasi so much. And Sasi’s scary sad life. But then like they say, boys will be boys. And sasi will always be Sasi. Looks like they’ll never grow up.


Looking for advice.

I walked into the advice store to find advice. The big bold fonts, that flashed in bright yellow neon, wooed me in. “Now these guys ought to have something for me.” I told myself. I’d gone almost everywhere tried almost everyone, but nobody really had what I really wanted. They were either too old or they simply wouldn’t fit me. The advice store however, looked quite promising.

A warm smile stood by the door to welcome me. I walked in and a tight hug greeted me. There was a couch waiting and I rested myself on its lap. I leaned to the side and I felt light in the head, already.

The store was big. And there was advice of every kind, hanging in almost every corner. There were shelves full of it too. And baskets and cupboards and folders and bags. There was advice spilling out from everywhere. Like nobody needed them anymore. Like they’ve been there for years together but nobody’s walked in looking for one.

It was started, they say, by a man from the hills. He traveled around the world looking for advice and finally found so much that he had to find a place to put them all. There was advice from the mountains, advice from the seas. Advice from Texas, from Greece and even from the trees. There was a piece of advice, heaps of it, there were harsh ones and the ones you just wanted.

There were pretty ones, knitted with lace, and dark ones you’d never want to take. There were funny ones, sincere ones, some friendly advice and unwanted ones too. I looked around and wondered what to take. I scratched my head, bit my nails, frowned a lot but just couldn’t decide. Everything looked so good, like they were just right for me. But every time I tried one, I’d wriggle out of it.

So then again I decided that this isn’t perhaps what I need. And just when I did, a note caught my eye. A crumbled piece of brown paper, with red ink smudged all over. And written in awfully bad handwriting, was the following text:

“Oh dear one, looking for advice. Why come here for what you seek? It’s all out there and ready for you to take. Look at where you’ve been and think of what you’ve done. You’ve perhaps missed something, and that’s probably what you need. Look at where you’ve been and think of what you’ve done.”

It was signed, the man from the hills.

And so I leave the advice store and all the advice there. And go on looking for mine, from everywhere I’ve been. I try them each, one by one, and to my surprise, they fit me just right. Like they were made for me and nobody else, but me.

Who else would know what fits me best? Who else would know what exactly I need. No lacy advice, no friendly ones, none of those work for me. What does is what I have. Made from what I know of me.


Shoo Cow!

A random ranting dedicated to the cows of the world. You cow out there, this one’s for you!

Such cowards, these cows.

So little, their thoughts

Their tails, so long.

Their horns, so sharp.

And yet so dumb.

Such cowards, these cows.

They moo as the pout

Or pout as they moo

That’s all they do

Such cowards, these cows.

They chew and spit

And chew and spit

They take it back in

And squeeze it all out

Oh cow do you know how fake you look?

With those big fat lips, and that stained brown teeth.

You poker faced meat, oh you poor thing, you.

I love you, yes, but I pity you too.

You thick skinned fellah

You dirty old creep

Go dig some junk

And dig deep in.


The forgotten

Cochin. February 21, 2011: Ok cool. So you’re on facebook now. Looking through albums, commenting on them, liking status updates, staring at your profile page for minutes together, sometimes hours. You’re just there. Like me. And damn are we lucky or what! Lucky that we have our asses firmly rested on a chair, palm sweating on a mouse, eyes fixed on the screen and our minds wandering aimlessly.

I love my life.

Bhopal. February 18, 2011: The city wakes up late. It’s 8 am, the windows are closed, streets empty, and there’s silence in the air. The night of December 2, 1984 is not one that the people of Bhopal want to wake up to, ever again. Sadly, they’re left with no choice. They sleep with nightmares from that fateful night still haunting them. They close their eyes only to see dark yet vivid images of their loved ones falling dead on the streets. They’re woken up by the sound of their five-month old crying, whose body they found amidst the debris that lay scattered. The poisonous gas that engulfed the city 26 years back continues to do so. In Bhopal, there hasn’t been a dawn since.

My visit to this city has left me feeling uneasy. A sense of restlessness crawls into me every time I sit back and yawn. What I feel, what I see and what I do, seems to go all the way back to what I saw there. The ‘gallis’ of JP nagar made me feel nothing less than despondent. Ask me if it was disbelief, helplessness or disrespect to myself that troubled me more? And I wouldn’t know. One question, however, haunted me throughout. What the hell was I thinking when I cried last night about how sad my life is. When I freaked out on hearing that my salary hadn’t been credited? When I yelled at my mother for not “understanding” me. What the frikkin hell was I thinking? Truth is, I wasn’t even thinking. Coz if I were, I’d have had a zillion reasons to feel good about. And that I realized right there. In Bhopal. When I met the victims of the Gas tragedy.

They were there, in front of my eyes. Mothers who couldn’t stop crying as they spoke about their baby they left behind, when they ran to save their lives. Girls in purdah, with mehendi till their elbows, who peeped from their little huts to catch a glimpse of us - the “shooting waale”. Kids who knew nothing. Who struck a pose in front of my mobile camera to give Shahrukh Khan and Hritik Roshan a run for their money. They stood there with silent questions that hit me right in my face. And as one among the zillion witnesses across the world, I knew that I owed them an answer.

Two decades since, the threat continues to linger. Kids are born with alarming defects. Their brain outside the skull, deformed bones constantly at war with their mind, refusing to give them a reason to stand. Flaking skin that peels off bit by bit as they smile. Eyes that see nothing but darkness. The tragedy screams into deaf ears. And it doesn’t end with what’s now. Pregnant women do not know what to expect. They don’t pray for a boy or a girl. They pray for a fully-formed baby. Nothing more. Nothing less. But they know that everything that’s granted will still leave them weeping in distress.

Where does the voice of the people of Bhopal sink into? Why aren’t they heard? Is anybody even listening?

The water the people of JP Nagar drink, remains contaminated. Fresh water is a need that’s ‘waiting’ to be considered at the court. Wrong drugs are still being administered. Death continues to loiter. And the people of Bhopal still find reasons to be happy.

Is this a tragedy we can afford to forget? Is it nothing but a thing of the past that can be brushed away with a shake of the head or a deep sigh? The Government continues to turn a blind eye to the world’s worst hit tragedy. While no compensation can make up for the memories they’ve lost, and will perhaps never find, it could give them the strength to build a better future. All this, if we make sure that the disaster’s not forgotten.

Bhopal. The heart of India that stopped beating 26 years back.


That day.

One day is all she got to live a dream. And she knew she had to make the most of it. So the first thing she did was, to dig out her conscience and keep it aside, carefully. Coz she knew she couldn’t do without it. But that day, she didn’t need it. And of that, she was sure. Then, she stopped asking questions. Something she’s never been able to do before. She quite beautifully, let her mind go blank. Well, not exactly blank. But sans questions. And that felt good. She just saw what she wished to. She was so much at peace. The doors of her mind opened wide. And she welcomed every beautiful feeling with a smile. She was in love. In love with the feeling of being at peace. In love with the fact that there was no struggle. In love with herself. She smiled. Letting go off all those promises she made to herself, she embraced the moment, the minute, the hour. She made love to the freedom of her mind. So passionately, it brought tears. As they rolled down her cheeks, she felt warmth. The kind that makes you cringe and never unwind. She held tight coz she feared she’d forget. She feared that she’d never want to walk out of the dream. Like the last time. So she treaded slow. Out of every minute, every moment. She closed her eyes, they were half open. They began fading. First the smile, then the love. She could feel her feet on the ground. It was heavy now, inside her heart. She thought she’d never open her eyes. But then she did. And somewhere she felt the smile come back. It was then that she knew that she was out of it. The dream she saw, she had left behind. She turned around and looked at it. From a distance, with a giggle in her heart, she smiled.