December 11, 2014

Of Context and Timelessness - My College Diaries

I believe in context, in my approach towards everything in life. Nothing makes sense to me unless I understand the bigger picture. My actions, especially, must be in accordance to this philosophy. I apply the same logic while blogging.

What's the context of remembering college days, 5.5 years after graduation? It's almost three years since my Masters graduation as well. Life has changed. It no longer revolves around the Food Court, silly crushes and GPAs. What's there from my late teens to early twenties that I can relate to in my late twenties? As I sit back and introspect, I could see 2 very significant factors that make my college days relevant, even now.

The first and foremost is the relationships that I built there.

Over the years, I have come to realize that it's harder to make friends now. There was something in that age of 18 to 22 when making friends came naturally to us. May be it was the naivety, but it gave all of us some of the best people we have met in our lives.  My core group of friends, still remains the same. Distances, jobs, marriages, and even, not meeting each other for years,  has not affected that. These are the people I share my laughter, sorrows, successes and failures with.  They are, as I often call them, my circle of trust. None of us are overachievers or possess an extraordinary prowess in our respective fields. All of our struggles made us stronger and sharing them with each other made the successes sweeter and the failures easier to live through. That also kept us relevant in each others’ lives. So, whether it was a setback in USA or a roadblock in Hyderabad or a hiccup in Germany, it was shared. It also taught us how parallel our lives still remain despite of all that differs. The assurance to have people, who have known you for a decade, on speed dial, is priceless.

The other thing that  I attribute to my college days is my writing. The first opportunity, applause, feedback and motivation, all came from my college. Writing has also always been cathartic for me. It’s the best outlet for my emotions and opinions. When I left college, on May 19, 2009, I felt devastated and so did most my friends. I felt lost even though I had a roadmap for my future. And writing came to my rescue.

I struggled for a week and finally, on the night of May 25, 2009, sat down and penned a post to calm my inner self. I recounted my last days, the lessons learnt and a promise to move on. It was 1550 words of raw emotions. This contest made me go back in time and read through those words and I would like to share some excerpts –

Lesson I – A Myth broken- Night of May 9, 2009 (when the first group of friends left)
Boys don't cry. The only occasions when boys do cry is their sister's wedding, that too in the end, hiding and wiping off the tears as fast as possible. However, that night was an exception. There were very few words exchanged but still no tears! The taxi arrived and we started to arrange the luggage. A strange silence surrounded us. Then something happened. 2 friends hugged each other and started crying. It was sudden, like opening the floodgates! I looked up to Naveen, the biggest and the most muscular guy of our group. He was off, totally. He couldn't hold back and dragged all us into a group hug. Strangely, it all felt good. Boys don't cry, alright, but boys can cry, and that’s alright too.

 Lesson II – A Truth Realized- Night of May 17, 2009 (second last day of college)

In the middle of the night, myself and Udayan started talking of the past and soon we both became quite vulnerable and called up our mentor-Rishi Bhaiya. He made us realize that we will learn to be apart from each other. May be this separation from people, we have been with 24x7 for the past 4 years, is necessary for our growth as individuals.
There was nothing new that he told us. But it was the timing or the way he told us that it struck the right chord. We just looked at each other, shook hands and I left. On my way back, I was thinking about MS in USA, Stony Brook vs Rutgers etc, nothing of the past but every trivial thing of the future. The Rishi Magic had worked."

 " Lesson III-An Era Ended- May 19, 2009

All said and done, we were still leaving the place we loved to hate for four years. There were a lot of people leaving that day. Hence, a lot of goodbyes and hugs. There is no better feeling to be seen off by our best friends. It makes you feel that there are people who care, there are people who miss you and there are people who want to see you again. The train moved and VIT was left behind- a place we loved to hate."

Looking ahead, doesn't mean forgetting the past. My college life did shape me for the future. I have met some amazing people in the past 5 years and, I could build new memories with them, only because of my experiences in my formative years in college. For all that, and a lot more, I treasure my college days.

05BBT215 would always be significant.

College, Context, Diary, Emotions, Friends, Laughter, Love, Memory, Optimistic, Pain, Sorrow, Tears, Time, Vellore,
In 5 years, one thing hasn't changed, my best friend , Ramya, still oozes the same energy!

College, Context, Diary, Emotions, Friends, Laughter, Love, Memory, Optimistic, Pain, Sorrow, Tears, Time, Vellore,
The "Circle of Trust"- over the years- from left pic 2- Rohit, Siddharth, Swagat, Udayan and Pankaj

College, Context, Diary, Emotions, Friends, Laughter, Love, Memory, Optimistic, Pain, Sorrow, Tears, Time, Vellore,
And we meet again. Naveen and I at Times Square, 2013

'This post is my entry for 'My College Diary' contest held by travel blog My Yatra Diary in collaboration with' 

I tag Rishikant (,
Udayan ( 
and Aseem ( to write on this topic

November 2, 2014

Happy New Year

At 11.59 PM, he leaned over to kiss her. With his eyes closed and lips quivering, all the years spent with the anguish of being on the fringes, leading to this, flashed in his mind. This was his moment to seize.

At 00.00, she raised on her toes, reached for his face and  gave him a peck on the cheek.

And suddenly, January 1, turned into any other day of the year.

There are still 365 days in this year, he thought to himself.


At 11.59 PM, he looked around the house once again making sure that it was just two of them. It's been years since the kids' room was vacant but he hadn't got used to it. He leaned over to kiss her. With his eyes closed and lips quivering, he felt anxious just like the first time they had kissed. 30 years of marriage had turned them into familiar strangers.

At 00.00, she raised on her toes, reached for his face and  gave him a peck on the cheek.

And suddenly, January 1, turned into any other day of the year.

There are still 365 days in this year, he thought to himself.


At 11.59 PM, he clenched tightly to his walker, tested the strength of his creaking bones to the maximum, stood up, and walked to her bed. With his eyes closed and lips quivering, he held her hand in his and kissed her.
When medical science has failed, it's his gestures that will wake her up, from the vegetative state, he believed.

She didn't.

And suddenly, January 1, turned into any other day of the year.

There are still 365 days in this year, he thought to himself.


P.S. I would like to credit my friend ARA from But The Words Prevailed  for invaluable inputs

P.P.S. I look up to my peers and readers to  share and promote my work, if they deem it worthy. My sincere thanks and regards to all of you.

September 21, 2014

The Prisoner

I silently stood behind 50 odd boys in the line. One thing that this place makes you habitual of, is standing in lines. There are lines for everything - to eat, to use the bathroom, to take a shower, for a chance in the playground etc. Sometimes there is a line to get to the main line too. They say it imparts discipline - a trait lacking dearly in all of us, punctuated by the very fact, that we are here. The warden tells us that in the most distinguished  boarding schools too there are lines for all these things. Even the army operates in the same way, he adds. But I  simply think it's because it's an insanely overcrowded place. Mostly the bigger and the stronger boys get their way every time.  They will probably justify that by saying it's the valuable life lesson where the mighty would always win. I will remember it, once I am free.

This is the New Delhi Juvenile Correctional Facility. Today is the day of my release  and I am in the line to collect my clothes and belongings. All that stands in the way of my freedom are a few people ahead of me, also awaiting release, and, some papers to sign.

Yes, sign. I can do that now.

I have spent the last 3 years in isolation. They kept me separate on the pretext that me getting attacked and killed by fellow inmates was a very real possibility. Honestly, I don't believe it. Even if it was true, it still beats the purpose. This is not a prison. It's a Correctional Facility designed, by definition, more  for rehabilitation than penalization.  How do they expect me to rehabilitate outside if they won't even let me blend with the other convicts? Even though I wasn't sentenced to it, I got Solitary Confinement.

But I don't think too much about it. I have tried to make the best of this time. I learnt to read and write. I revived my hobby of painting, the loss of which, came as a collateral damage with the move to the city. One of my paintings recently won an award too. Of course, I couldn't go to receive it, but I will get it once I am free.

I am fifth in the line now. Closer to freedom.

My counselor tells me that I have no trace of anger in me and that's a good sign before release. Actually, I have never had any anger. I  was always more amazed being the subject of universal hatred.  I was caught, tried and sentenced promptly. I never denied my crime. Everything went by the book. Still, there were strangers on the roads asking for my head. I became the poster boy for the media with the veiled face. People who had never met me or known me wanted an exemplary punishment, for me, even more severe than death.  How did I become a bigger criminal than the ones accused for matricide or patricide or child molestation? Or even the same crime that I did.

However,  nothing changes the fact that I committed a heinous crime. I destroyed a young woman's life that night. An act, so repulsive and irrevocable, that others  got death sentences. I did unspeakable and unimaginable things to her. The fine details, like I was accompanied by 5 adults whom I had known since childhood or that I had to be a drunk to fit in with all the adults or that they provoked me, are meaningless. Intricacies hold no value for my demonic act.  I realize it more than anyone else but nobody would ever believe so.

That's the last of the papers that I had to sign. I have seen this walk way , from the office to the main gate, everyday through my small window. It didn't seem so long.

I was never scared of coming to this place because deep down I knew I deserved it. Being surrounded by dangerous convicts wasn't intimidating because captivity is a big equalizer. But I am frightened of freedom now. As I walk through this final passage, I know there's a world outside that hasn't forgiven me. It might have forgotten me but the society doesn't believe in rehabilitating criminals. And as anonymous  as I might be, she  would always know me. I might be one among thousands but I am the one for her. And I shall always remember it.

I am the prisoner of my destiny. I am the prisoner of the society. And I shall accept my fate.

But there has to be a reason why they don't send 17 year old teens like me to jails. They must believe we still hold some hope for future. I think so too. I want to start afresh. I have always been a captive - of poverty, of illiteracy, of responsibilities - but now I want to be relieved in all aspects.

I am outside. I am free.

With my hands spread, as I take a deep breath, the earth's scent smells different than it was inside. This is how salvation must feel like.

I feel as if I am reborn.

I was shot thrice. Once between my eyes, once in my throat and the last one in my chest.

As I collapsed in the arms of the guard I saw her in my fainting vision.

She shot me. 3 in 3. She must have practiced all this while.

She had been a prisoner of destiny too.

Now, we both were free.

My rehabilitation was complete.

* Suggested reading and inspiration to this post - Washington Post article on December 16th Juvenile Rape Convict
* My earlier work on a related topic - Faces

**Image Courtesy -

August 31, 2014


He pressed the accelerator hard and sped suddenly. 

The light is only yellow, he thought ! He knew he could make it. 

The scattered books, pair of shoes and heart wrenching cries suggested that both couldn't.

August 16, 2014


He carelessly threw his bag on the bed. Some books flew out on the floor. He didn't bother. Not needed anymore, school year over, he thought.

 She waited for him to leave the room, kept her broom aside, picked up the books, brought them to her forehead and smiled. They were hers now.

Knowledge passed on.

P.S. Originally written as a tweet reply to @harshsnehanshu for the prompt "Book". 
P.P.S. 50th post on this blog !

June 29, 2014

My Liebster Award Nomination - A Toast To Blogging !

For anyone who loves his/her craft and is passionate about it, a recognition or even a few words of praise by their peers is the best compliment of all. Not only is it devoid of flattery and formality, it's inherently honest as someone of your field has decided to lend their name to acknowledge your work.

I got such a pleasant surprise last week when my fellow blogger Yashi, who creates her magic with words at Split Strings, informed me that she has nominated Me And My Dark Side for The Liebster Award. I humbly accept her nomination and thank her a million for this recognition. I hope motivates me to increase both the quality and the frequency of my blogging.

The word liebster is German for kindest, sweetest or nicest. The Liebster Award is not a physical award but is a chain where bloggers nominate their fellow blogs (with less than 1000 followers) who then can pass is along, keeping the chain of recognition active. It has some standard rules that I have sourced from Yashi:

If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award and you choose to accept it, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you:

1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
7. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

Here's my answers to Yashi's questions-

1.Your secret obsession?

Political satire. I spend hours watching Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, and John Oliver. 

2. Your favorite smell?

Unless your follow up question is about my weight, I am going to say, the smell of Indian food :).

3. What inspires you to write a post?

I need to channel my thoughts and sometimes my energy as well. That's my biggest inspiration to write.

4. What is your therapy to get through the lows of your life?

Talk to a very exclusive group of friends that I call "circle of trust",  and/or write about it.

5. One destination you have dreamt of visiting?

There is not one destination that I can think of but if I can make it to any destination off those Buzzfeed lists that one should visit before dying, would be amazing! Also, for me, it's more about whom I am with, rather than where I go.

6. Do you think love gives way to reality?

I believe the other way round. It's the reality of circumstances that decide the fate of love; Distance, compatibility, timing etc.

7. What do you love getting as gifts?

Anything that's well thought of.

8. Given a chance to undo a mistake would you do it or leave it as it is?

I will undo it but I am pretty sure I cannot foresee the consequences even then. There's a reason we are humans, isn't there! :)

9. What do you like to blog the most about?

People in different situations and complexities of life. And their Dark Side !

10. What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

Walked a mile or so in -11C (that felt even lower due to wind chill) and knee deep snow in my first winters in USA thinking I could make it. I did make it but it was painful. 

11. What is the biggest dream for you right now?

That I could define "settling down" to myself! 

I put forth the same questions as Yashi's to my nominated blogger friends.

And now's the time for the scoop !

11 Random Facts about me

I love being the Devil's Advocate in a debate.
I am not as serious a person in real life as my blog topics and content may suggest.
I enjoy reading and sharing blogs. Anyone who knows me can tag me in any link they share and I read it!
I can discuss politics with anyone , anytime of the day! If you disagree with me, even better!
I inadvertently quote the show F.R.I.E.N.D.S. because I have seen it innumerable times.
I am obsessed with the idea of analyzing minutest of events in my life. If I don't learn, its a wasted opportunity.
My writing began with a funny post on engineers and assignment in colleges. It was on my first blog and an amateurish attempt of a 22 year old. I still cherish that memory :)  .
I miss my grad school !
My appearance has changed so drastically over the years that if you haven't seen me in 4 years, which many
haven't because I am not in India anymore, there is a good chance you won't recognize me! (It has happened
and it's an amazing feeling!! ).
I believe strongly in Karma.
My Magnum Opus post is in the "making" !

I would like to nominate the following blogs, that I believe are never short of good content, for the Liebster Award:

1) Richa at The Philosopher's Stone
2) Aravind at Rhythm of the Soul
3) Sreeja Parveen at The Alter Ego...
4) Wildflower at Wildflower
5) Rishikant at Many Absurd Thoughts
6) Rachit at  Half Baked Thoughts
7) Vishwaroop at  Zindagi Megh Zara

Thanks again, Yashi. 

June 14, 2014

अबके हम बिछड़े....

आज आसमान को देखें और इबादत करें
शुक्रिया इस मौके का जब फिर हमारी राहें मिलें

आज बदल दे तक़दीर को और एक नया फसाना लिखें

यह पल तोहफा सा लगता है....

क्योंकि अबके हम बिछड़े तो शायद कभी ख्वाबों में मिलें....

आज इस कहानी के पन्नो को समेट लें

दिल में जो खिरचें हैं, उन्हें सी लें

यह अंतिम मौका सा लगता है

क्योंकि अबके हम बिछड़े तो शायद कभी ख्वाबों में मिलें....

आज हाथ बढ़ादे ओह हमराही

तुझे थामें किसी नयी डगर पे चलें

यह मोड़ दोराहा सा लगता है

क्योंकि अबके हम बिछड़े तो शायद कभी ख्वाबों में मिलें....

आज कह दे कुछ ऐसा कि ख़ुदा भी मुस्कुरा दे
जिसे सुनने के इंतज़ार में ना जाने कितने मौसम बदले
पतझड़ के बाद अब हमारे दिलों में भी तो बहारें खिलें

जीवन का यह अंतिम संवाद सा लगता है

क्योंकि अबके हम बिछड़े तो शायद कभी ख्वाबों में मिलें....
सूखे हुए फ़ूल जैसे किताबों में मिलें 

इस कविता कि प्रेरणा अहमद फ़राज़ कि अमर रचना -

Pic Courtesy- Bakar Adda Page on Facebook (Published May 18) 

May 31, 2014



दीवारों के कान नहीं, ज़ुबान होती है

ज़रा  ध्यान से  सुनिये 

आपसे बातें करने की कोशिश करतीं
ये दीवारें कुछ कहती हैं

कोई बात वोह चित्र, कोई किस्सा वोह घड़ी 
इस दीवार के रँग कि, 

कहानी भी होगी बड़ी

जितना प्यार है

 उतनी ही छिपी है असहमति

इसका हर एक कोना
एक कलाकृति, एक अभिव्यक्ति 

ज़रा आभारी होकर देखिये
एक मकान को घर बनाती
ये दीवारें कुछ कहती हैं

यहाँ यादें हैं तस्वीरों में

वो हँसते चेहरे
वो गुज़रे ज़माने
वो दोस्तों कि शरारत
वो अधूरे तराने

ज़रा पलकें उठा के देखिये
एक जीवन का सार बताती
ये दीवारें कुछ कहती हैं

Image Courtesy-

March 25, 2014


I have struggled immensely to write this post. I gave up a couple of times as well. But I felt a deep emotional connect with the idea and my initial thought process as if I owed this piece to myself. What started off as a tribute to a memento, finally  became a way of closure for a memory.

My most cherished memento is a hand written letter from my late grandmother, from 9 years ago.

I was 18 years old then and was leaving home for the first time to join a college, 2200 kilometers away. She suddenly marched into our prayer room and handed me a white empty envelope. Behind the envelope was the hand written letter. It was a hurriedly written small letter, essentially, ruing the fact that I was going far away, asking me to take care of my health, study well and keep in regular touch.
The contents weren't extra-ordinary that you wouldn't expect from a grandparent. However, what made that letter so special for me was the fact that my grandmother had been practically blind for almost 15 years. I have distinct memories of her reading newspapers every morning holding them less than an inch away from her eyes. I remember her watching TV sitting barely a foot away, with her ears glued on the screen (yes, not her eyes!). Someone with such severe disability, to put that much effort, makes it priceless for me

I took the letter that day, put it in my wallet and it has stayed in every wallet I have had since then. But I didn't realize the importance of the letter till very late even though I was always emotionally attached to it. I believe our memories are conditional. We can't miss even our most prized possessions everyday owing to our hectic and roving lives. I never really "returned" back once I left home. Those childhood memories of my home and my grandmother were locked away and were overshadowed by the last 9 years when I moved cities, universities, jobs and countries. 

I met her twice in the last 3 years of her life and hadn't seen her for a year when she passed away. I couldn't return home for another year after that. Since I was away for so long, I never really felt how much difference her passing away had on me personally, till I returned back to her empty room.It was only then I re-lived those moments in my head, and thanks to this contest, I realized the significance of this memento and got some closure to her memories. 

She and this letter, although close to my heart and ever present, aren't a part of my daily life, I must admit. We learn to live without our near and dear ones, such is life. But I do miss her in small gestures. Like, how she wanted to add Ghee to everything , including Maggie! Or when I see my father putting his car keys everyday in front of her photo as he couldn't take her blessings for this one as he took for his previous cars. The most we all miss her when we look at the empty eyes of our grandfather who spent 68 years and 10 months married to her.

The back of the envelope, she wrote on
The Letter. I am addressed to as "Maan".

Late Smt Kanta Devi Mathur (1927-2012)

Suggested Blogs-

"This post is my entry for the ‘My Most Memorable Memento’ contest conducted by My Yatra Diary travel blog and Indian Coupons."

March 17, 2014

मेरी होली

Let me introduce a first time blogger to our beautiful world of Blogosphere through my blog. She goes by the name RJ and is a working mother of a teen. She loves nature and is a music buff. With our interactions, I have felt that she is free spirited and unbridled in her expression that will make her a fantastic author. 

Let's welcome and wish luck on her poetic take on Holi...

जब होली के हर रंग को टटोल कर देखा
तब पता चला  इनमें से कोई भी रंग अपना नहीं था

लोगो के खिलते  चेहरों को देखा तो अपने सूने दामन का एहसास हुआ

क्या होली के इन रंगो को हमेशा अपनी ज़िंदगी  में धूंढती रहूँगी  
कभी तो सूनी हथेली को इन्द्रधनुष के रंग भा जायेंगे

ऐसा कह इस होली को किया अलविदा  मैंने  

और उस होली का इंतज़ार फिर किया

जब दिल कहेगा  "सखी इस बार मेरी होली आई"...

February 10, 2014

साथ साथ

क्या तुम्हें याद है वोह दिन
जब कुछ घबराये हुए
कुछ सकुचाऐ हुए

उस अप्रतिम उत्साह से
एक नयी राह पे...
हम साथ-साथ चले थे

अन्‍जानों में अपने ढूंढे
छोटे-छोटे पल, छोटी-छोटी खुशियाँ ज़माने से छीनी
मकानों को घर बनाया
हर एक दिन को यादगार बनाया

और कभी खुद को, कभी दुनिया को आज़माने भी तो...
हम साथ-साथ चले थे

फिर अचानक  लकीरों के खेल में तुम आगे निकल गए
मैं हारता रहा और तुम जीतते रहे
अब मिलन होना सम्भव नहीं
मेरी हस्ती का होकर भी कोई महत्व नहीं

पर जब कभी धूल के गुबार को छोड़
सरपट आगे जाते हुए, पीछे देखो
तो बस इतना याद करना कि

कोई था जो गुम गया जीवन की इन गलियों में
कल की चाह में, कल को भुलाने में
उन सपनों की हकी़कत में
जिन्हें सीने से लगाये एक दिन

हम साथ-साथ चले थे...

बहुत दूर गया हूँ कहीं
आगे-पीछे का अब गुमान नहीं
अब बस मैं हूँ और हारने का एहसास हर कहीं
बहुत कुछ है दांव पर फिर भी
जीत की हर दुआ में तुझे ढूँढता हूँ

इन अंजानीं राहों में
तेरे निशान  ढूँढता हूँ

तुझे याद करने का हर एक बहाना  ढूँढता हूँ
बादलों में तेरा चेहरा
और पवन में तेरी आवाज़  ढूँढता हूँ

बहुत दिन हो गए सोए हुए आज
क्यूंकि आँखों में जो अक्स बसा है तेरा
हर रात पलकों से उसे  ढूँढता हूँ

तू बता

उस आसमान को देख कैसे तेरी याद ना आए
आखिर चांद को पाने और तारों को सरताज चढ़ाने के लिये भी तो

हम साथ-साथ चले थे...