The Wall


[Inspired by  George R R Martin’s “A Game of Thrones” which I just finished]

They were in a small clearing, many miles away from battle. The dense woods hemmed them from all sides like a phalanx of ancient giants, silent sentinels from the time of Early Men. The roars, the battle axes grinding against each other, the fizzle of sparks flying, the cries of anguish, the jeering of the crowds seemed far far away, almost as in another world. The only sound was that of the brook gurgling forward, its waters glistening like diamonds as it caught the last rays of the setting sun.

The Wall sat on a giant black rock by the side of the stream balancing his chin at the edge of his broadsword. His chain armor, heavy with the memories of blood, tears, sweat and time. His face, black and ominous as an approaching storm. His lips pursed into a grimace, as if trying to dam an ocean of wrath.

But the Wall crumbled. It had to.

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Why Some Are Not Anna


If there is anyone in today’s India that would receive more scorn than the pedophile and the baby-murderer, it is he who does not provide the fullest support to Anna Hazare and his Jan Lok Pal campaign. So much as express a smidgen of doubt about the “Second Independence Struggle” and be prepared to be digitally and socially mauled, unfriended, unfollowed, drawn, quartered and subject to death by a thousand cuts. “Congress agent” “Traitor” “Jealous of Anna Hazare’s success” “I cannot believe you are the same person I once respected” and “What have you done for the country? I am bunking work and sending SMS and have you done that?” are just some of the more polite responses you should expect to encounter should you not be a member of “100000 Indians in support of Anna Hazare”. This invective is ironic considering that Team Anna and its supporters, being so zealously possessive of their rights of dissent (and rightfully too),  would be expected to give others the right to disagree without making them run the gauntlet.

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There was Raj Kapoor, with the gentle smile and the jee at the end of each line, the right hand pointed to the heavens, the Charlie-Chaplin gait. There was Dilip Kumar, tragically intense. There was the suave Dev Anand, with the head cocked to the side, the fluttering eye-lids and the machine-gun dialog delivery. Together they defined the space of the Hindi film hero—-decent, clean-cut and more than a bit stiff-necked.

And then he came, like an avalanche, rolling down the slopes. Stretching his hands out, throwing his head back, rolling his eyes, mimicking the haughty heroine as she walks by ignoring his advances, stumbling forward, hip-shaking, stumbling, shaking and pouting. This was acting as had been never seen before—- physical, raw and very very in-your-face.

Shamsher Raj “Shammi” Kapoor.

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The Boy Prince Holdeth the Great Sword


[An abridged version of this post appeared in the Times of India, August 14th 2011 issue]

Grandpa: That the Boy Prince would ascend the throne and take his place in the Line of Gandhars had been prophesied ever since the Young King, his father, fell to an assassin from the Deep South Lands.

Little Girl: Ohh the Line of Gandhars? You told me about them before.

Grandpa: Yes I have little one. Remember The Rose Monarch who started the line of Gandhars and the Iron Empress, his daughter, in front of whom all enemies trembled, the mother of the Young King?

Little Girl: Yes yes I love their stories. But tell me, being the Prince, he should have ascended the throne right after his father’s death right?

Grandpa: Yes he should have. But the Wise Men of the Hand, a secret cabal of powerful nobles, were of the opinion that The Boy Prince was not yet ready to rule. He was too young and there were enemies all around. They decided to let the Queen Mother rule in his place, till he was able to take what was rightfully his. But there was a problem with her ascending the throne.

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A Very Personal List of My Favorite Bengali Songs of Kishore Kumar


[In No Particular Order]

1. Ami Chini Go Chini [Charulata]: When Rabindranath Thakur meets Satyajit Ray meets Kishore Kumar, greatness is guaranteed. There are reams that can be written about the movie and this song in particular, about Kadambari Devi (the story “Nashtoneer” on which “Charulata” is based being inspired by Tagore’s relationship with her), and Victoria Ocampo (the song “Chini Go Chini” written by Tagore’s supposedly as a paean to her with her) but for now, I shall ask you to listen.

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