Of Poems and Rhymes – Day #4

Today I revisited a poem I first read as part of the reading list for my second year in college, when I was studying English. I remember feeling quite proud of myself for having read and understood something that was written 4 centuries ago, and felt foolishly confident about my ability to read poetry.

That feeling lasted maybe a week till I found out Alexander Pope wrote this one when he was 12. I felt silly not being able to guess that; in retrospect the naivety of its idyllic imagery and wishfulness is something only a child could envision.

In any event, that year of college was one of the most memorable of my life and I always look back at those days with great fondness – and this poem took me back to that time. A humble ode to simple joys of life and of solitude. I have a distinct recollection of a conversation with a friend about the difference between being lonely and being alone – the former is undesirable and truly sad, the latter on the other hand can be liberating.

Here’s to the latter 🙂

Ode on Solitude

– by Alexander Pope

Happy the man, whose wish and care 
   A few paternal acres bound, 
Content to breathe his native air, 
                            In his own ground. 

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread, 
   Whose flocks supply him with attire, 
Whose trees in summer yield him shade, 
                            In winter fire. 

Blest, who can unconcernedly find 
   Hours, days, and years slide soft away, 
In health of body, peace of mind, 
                            Quiet by day, 

Sound sleep by night; study and ease, 
   Together mixed; sweet recreation; 
And innocence, which most does please, 
                            With meditation. 

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown; 
   Thus unlamented let me die; 
Steal from the world, and not a stone 
                            Tell where I lie.

Of Poems and Rhymes – Day #3

Today we read Nissim Ezekiel – a modernist poet, and perhaps one the most famous figures of the Indian Jewish community. A true Bombay poet, who unlike many others did not feel the need to veil the grime and hardships of the city by waxing poetic about its “sprit” and “courage”. He called a spade a spade, and in doing so loved this city more dearly than his peers. In sickness and health, right?

This poem is called A Morning Walk – the title is meant to be alluring, I suppose. Because that makes what lies ahead more impactful than it would be if the reader was forewarned.

I couldn’t find the text anywhere online, so putting up pictures.



Of Poems and Rhymes – Day #2

Happy gibberish today, these fun verses I remember first reading when I was maybe 9. I have a vague recollection of giggling each time I tried to recite these lines, and just somehow always aware of the joys of throwing logic out the window.

It seems the poet is some chap named Tyler Roger – found out only today!

Enjoy 🙂

Two Dead Boys

Ladies and gentleman skinny and scout 
I’ll tell you a tale I know nothing about
The admission is free so pay at the door
Now pull out a chair and sit on the floor

On one bright day in the middle of the night
Two dead boys got up to fight
Back to back they faced each other
Drew their swords and shot each other

The blind man came to see fair play
The mute man came to shout hooray
The deaf policeman heard the noise 
And came to stop those two dead boys

He lived on the corner in the middle of the block
In a two story house on a vacant lot
A man with no legs came walking by
And kicked the lawman in his thigh

He crashed through a wall without making a sound
Into a dry creek bed and suddenly drowned 
A long black hearse came to cart him away
But he ran for his life and is still gone today

I watched from the corner of the table
The only eyewitness to facts of my fable
If you doubt my lies are true
Just ask the blind man, he saw it too

Of poems and rhymes – Day #1

I’ve struggled with reading for over a year now – or any form of entertainment really.

I read a lot for a living and any more text after a 12 hour workday just does not bring me the kind of joy it used to, even if these words are about magical lands and mysterious events.

I’ve noticed my attention span is also quite short when it comes to audio-visual content – I manage to watch no more than 15 minutes of something before getting distracted. So cannot commit to movies or shows.

But then what does the mind do when it does have itty-bitty moments of idleness? There is little to keep it away from going back to work, thinking back to every comma that could be placed better or an adjective that could be more accurate or reading too much into something innocuous someone inconsequential said. This is draining.

So I’m going to start with things that don’t demand that kind of time/attention – little bits of strung words that start and finish before the butterfly that is the mind flutters away. Poems, haikus, short stories, whatever it takes. I used to write haiku back in college, perhaps I should try that too.

But for now we’ll start with a cute little poem about a very good boy indeed, by the lovely Dylan Thomas. One he wrote when he was 11! I heard someone say it’s good he started early because he also kicked the bucket quite early at 39. Death isn’t funny – but it is, no ?

Here’s my nugget of joy for today:

The Song of the Mischievous Dog

There are fewer, of course, who insist that a horse

There are many who say that a dog has its day,

And a cat  has a number of lives;

There are others who think that a lobster is pink,

And that bees never work in their hives.

Has a horn and two humps on its head,

And a fellow who jests that a mare can build nests

Is as rare as a donkey that’s red.

Yet in spite of all this, I have moments of bliss,

For I cherish a passion for bones,

And though doubtful of biscuit, I’m willing to risk it,

And I love to chase rabbits and stones.

But my greatest delight is to take a good bite

At a calf that is plump and delicious;

And if I indulge in a bite at a bulge,

Let’s hope you won’t think me too vicious.

Gaslighting in the workplace – my new boss better like me and other unrealistic expectations

I switched jobs recently. These days I spend a lot of reminding myself to be grateful for even having a job during these trying times when a whole host of people would give up an arm and a leg to find a job – especially a job that pays well.

And this is what I keep going back to every time I have the urge to crib – about the long hours, the exhaustion and loneliness of working from home when I have never met my colleagues in person, the complete loss of any time for myself, the absence of colleagues and mentors at work to whom I did not have to prove my worth and who’s trust I had already earned.

And then there is the (mostly) self-imposed pressure to perform flawlessly. The devil itself. They must believe I am a worthwhile hire. They must know I am good, nay, the best at my job. I must not give them the opportunity to question my work ethic.

All of this is made particularly difficult when my colleagues have never met me, and have worked with me for less than a quarter. I’ve obviously set unrealistic standards for myself and my team. This of course led to serious bouts of anxiety and self-doubt every time I made the slightest error, or even when a draft was reworded to suit the existing stylised format. Because to me all of this translated to my incompetence.

I was talking about this to a friend (and ex-colleague) about a fortnight ago and the wise man simply said, “Dude, would you stop gaslighting yourself?” His theory was simple – you can question everything you do and end up with the same answer – your unworthiness as a resource. That you don’t deserve to be where you are. That the firm did you a favour by hiring you because there are so many better candidates out there. However – (i) that’s not true, in that mistakes obviously (sigh) do not make you a poorer resource; and (ii) you do this to yourself, you make it easier for others to pin anything that goes wrong on you. Not to mention this is a vicious, toxic cycle of thought.

This is all very simple – no-brainers – because we all know this already. We’ve known this a long time. It just takes a lot of skill and practice to actually implement it. If I gleaned one thing from going to therapy – its that the hardest thing to learn is to be kind to yourself. Because we’ve learned to do exactly the opposite throughout our lives.

So I got back to journaling – and now each day I take time out to write down all the things I feel guilty about, or things that make me feel like a bad lawyer or in my imagination would lead to my bosses nodding their heads in disappointment. And then I try to map them objectively – against my experience, skill sets, the timelines – objective criteria that apply to me only (i.e., not against peers). And more often than not I end up with empirical evidence to show I’ve been overthinking this, or the fact that things aren’t really my fault, unlike what I instinctively tend to believe. I also consciously remind myself that I actually like my job – well, most of it anyway. And that is truly something to be grateful for.

I intend to practice this to get to a point where it doesn’t take all of my physical and mental energy to just show myself some kindness – because honestly the boulder in my throat and the weight on my shoulder is just too much to bear any longer.

I’ve also started practising this one technique that is supposed to have helped a great deal of people in dealing with stress – it’s essentially meditation deconstructed. But it’s been helpful – so you may consider trying.

PS – Hope you are all well and safe. Loads of love from Twiggy 🙂 And wear a mask!

I don’t see Billy

Billy the dragon, said my little tyke

Eats flowers and spits fire

Rainbow sighs and five blazing eyes

Twirls on soil and sprints to the skies

Drinking smog and chewing lies

With purple teeth and a silver head

It crushes the monsters under the bed


I believe in monsters, but not Billy the dragon


I don’t see Billy.

My slippery companion

lives not in dreams but in nightmares

From dawn to dusk and dusk to dawn

It watches me with a million eyes

My clothes, my words, my foes and allies

Seducing me with a pack of lies


What does it look like, you ask?

It looks like you and it looks like me

Beauty in the room of darkness,

Melody in gagged silence

Honeyed fangs to slay defiance.


It looks at me with an uncaring smile

For my bearded friend, just icy guile

It waltzes with the monster.

Together, they write songs of sweet love

Love for the smell of blood,

of smoked skin and culled guts.

Hello, my friend”, it hissed,

as it singed my voice,

And buried my screams in saffron noise.


How do I resist?

A mess of guilt and rage

An angry heart, an amorphous cage

How do I resist?

Are my words enough? Is my poem enough?

Is my voice loud enough?

I hold my friend’s hand,

Warm, wet and scarlet

I know I am not enough.

But as I look around,

There are hundreds of me

A thousand blazing eyes,

Fiery tongues and scathing cries

Underneath the noise,

A fervent hymn, an ardent ode

We the people

And so I dare to hope



On Food

Light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.

Not Lolita. I’m talking about food. Love of my life, filler of all voids, bearer of warm joys.

My relationship with food has been a complex one, to say the least. I’ve loved and relished food for as long as I can remember. All aspects of it – preparing, eating and hosting a feast. It’s been my way to celebrate joy, to deal with grief, to fend anxiety.

But it has also been accompanied by a lot of guilt. I have (or had) been overweight since I was a teen. It didn’t bother me for the longest time, because all I cared about was my grades in school. And those I managed to ace.

Eventually life happened and I had to acknowledge my body as much as I did my mind, along with the relation between the two. What I saw was wasn’t pleasant and that’s where I somehow got sucked into a vortex of self-loathing, body image issues and the absolute absence of self confidence.

I felt guilty every time I ate, but food was also the one thing that provided a semblance of comfort. It temporarily filled the voids in my life I didn’t want to acknowledge, hid scars I didn’t want to see, morphed the image of my life I so hated into something that was tolerable like an Instagram filter.

Before I knew I was addicted to that sense of comfort. I was aware of it and yet I wasn’t. I tried losing weight but never did have the grit to give up carbs and my PCOS didn’t do anything to make my life easier. I went through cycles that almost all of us do – lose some weight, gain it all back and more, hate yourself more than ever.

Sometime last year I was unwell and had to undergo a procedure that imposed severe dietary restrictions on me for a few months. I obviously ended up losing some weight, and I decided to use that as motivation and lose the excess weight once and for all.

I’m several kilos lighter now but my relationship with food continues to be complex. I see how I allowed myself to abuse my body with food but how do I get myself to curse something that was my friend in my darkest days? I find my body and my mind reacting to a brownie the same way it did a year ago.

What I did learn in these past months was a way to communicate with my stomach. Nay, I taught myself how to slow down and just listen to my stomach. If food was my friend, my stomach was my guide.

The stomach I spent more than half my life cursing because of how it made me look on the outside was in fact always on my side. It nourished me, took care of me, spoke to me. I just never bothered to listen. I stuffed it with food as fast as I could just so I wouldn’t have to listen.

But now I slow down. I pause so I can hear what it has to say. I stop when it says it’s had enough. We are friends now, at least I hope that we are.

But then its not just my stomach I have to listen to when I pause. In those spaces of supposed silence, I have no option but to hear the noises in my head. Watch the images that flood my mind. Feel the fear.

Fear of uncertainty, of the unknown, or the future, of the past, of the things I know and those that I don’t. Because I can no longer afford to reach for food to make all of that go away. I must now acknowledge the demons.

My stomach was never my enemy. My mind was. What was supposed to be my strength is ironically one that’s somehow entirely unleashed and turned itself into a serpent that has its grip around my neck.

I am getting help though. This time around, I refuse to give in. I am supposed to be in control of my mind, not the other way around. My mental health cannot be anything less than paramount in my list of priorities, even if that means being selfish. If I can train my mind to resist every extra morsel of rice, I sure as hell can get it to build some muscle.

I want my mind to listen to me the way I now listen to my stomach. I want my mind and my body to be one and maybe then, I can learn to love myself as a whole, and not just a sum of parts.

PS -Weight loss is not an achievement, the ability to overcome temptation is. Thin isn’t necessarily pretty, but there is relief in feeling more in control of your body. Weight is NOT the sole parameter of health (or beauty); the number on a scale is not indicative of character.



Customary New Year Post: 2018-19 ed.

Hello, peeps! I hope you’re all doing well. 

I didn’t write or read nearly enough in 2018.

But then again, 2018 was no ordinary year. (Also customary year end posts are convenient ideas, easy to write and a good way to wrap things up)

I graduated as a lawyer. Spent some months working for an Advocate I have looked up to as a role model since my earliest days as a student of law. I got a job. I lost a great deal of weight. (This is not an achievement, but the successful exercise of self-restraint is) I made some amazing friends and managed to stay in touch with the old ones. I did my best to be there for friends who were going through a hard time.

I also received heaps of rejections – from employers, and from people I thought were friends. I struggled with a toxic relationship, and then a painful and  taxing end to the same. I saw my mother battle with unimaginable physical pain, undergo surgery and a strenuous recovery. I got chicken pox in June and serious GI issues is October.

This has been an eventful year, to say the least. But as it comes to an end, I feel grateful for what it taught me.

I spent months looking for employment, and read countless emails of rejection. But my confidence did not waver. Not because I have great self-confidence – I have only trace amounts, I assure you.  I managed to plough through only because of the incredible support I had from friends and family – who checked-up on me, encouraged me, made me laugh, listened patiently if I whined, and most importantly, were never patronising.  I will always, always be grateful to these people, for holding my hand and patting my back and lending an ear (and a shoulder!) as I waded through those trying months.

The many months of struggle also forced me to think about my own ideas of achievement and success. Did I define them for myself, or did I allow myself to be influenced by all the noise around me? Are my parameters of success the same as ones for the boy sitting next to me? Can I measure out my individual milestones in monetary terms? What compromises am I okay with and what are the things for which I am unwilling to bend? These are questions I never asked myself, because I was so busy running.

But then there was a (seemingly) long period when everything seemed to be in limbo – suspended mid air where there was little action left for me to initiate. In that void I could no longer deflect these questions. This, too, I am grateful for. I’d rather know my stance today than discover it at a time when I cannot turn back. Or when the damage is already done. In fact, it worries me now that we are not encouraged to have these conversations with ourselves before making our choices. All the emphasis is on milestones that can be measured in empirical terms – marks, money, balance, promotions. No wonder we have one of the highest suicide rates in the world. I don’t have to lean left to recognise the problem here.

But this post is where I count my blessings. So here’s another one. I have immediate access to wise (and impartial) counsel on my phone. Not an app, no. I find encouragement and counsel (and a lot of laughs. and book recommendations) from some wonderfully wise and phenomenally mad ladies on a Whatsapp Group. We like to think of ourselves as four misfits who belong here, complete with all of our idiosyncrasies and flaws. One of them is my favorite-est storyteller of all time. Another is a wonder woman who can save the world by simply writing code. The third is one gifted with the ability to dissect a situation that seems chaotic, identify a pattern and offer a solution. The fourth, of course, is yours truly. We are the antithesis to Fight Club. We all like to read, we hate wearing pants, love to eat but have shitty metabolism rates. We want to have a social life but wish that was possible to accomplish in our PJs, inside our homes. You may find these women lurking around on this blog every once in a while.

Then there was the MeToo movement, which, for all its strengths and flaws, finally gave me the push to talk about my experience with sexual assault. Social Media allowed me to share my story anonymously with thousands of people. Despite some toxicity here and there, I found a sisterhood of women all of whom share a similar history. And there I found the courage to speak more openly, without the veil of anonymity. And that was cathartic.

MeToo also made me realise that I’m surrounded by extraordinary women in my life. Women who’ve shown courage, compassion and wisdom in the face of adversity and heartache. Women who embody the true spirit of feminism, which at its core, is about empathy more than it is about empowerment.

I also coloured my hair pink, which didn’t work out well and the colour bled too fast and I was left with weird blond hair with the texture of a much abused broom. I chopped it off and swore I’d never color my hair again. But I did. A burgandy+mahogany thing. And I love it. Good thing I was a putty in the hands of the rather charismatic hairstylist who was simply supposed to trim my split-ends.

I also did not purchase any perfumes this year. Not myself, anyway. I did convince the mother to buy one. But that was on duty free, okay? It’s criminal to walk away from a good deal on Chanel.

Ultimately, 2018 has left me with a thicker skin and a more hopeful heart. I wish you all a joyous new year. I wish you emotional and financial independence above all else. And good health to you and your families.

The Board Tornado

Note to all kids/cousins/friends et.al going through the fucking tornado that is Board Exam Results:

I won’t be foolish enough to say your marks do not matter. They do. But the only thing a high score can do for you is maybe allow easier access to a few opportunities. That’s about it.

And believe me, NOBODY will care about your marks or whether you managed to score .002% more than your friend once the admission season is over. It is by no means indicative of your intelligence or even hard work. Or what becomes of you in life.

Yes, you might have to work harder to prove your calibre to those who for some reason believe that an examination reflects your competence. But in my humble opinion, don’t begrudge that. It’s not fair, but we live in a country where being one in a million isn’t enough. You’ve got to be one in 10 million (or something on those lines). It’s a logistical impossibility for a college/employer to objectively select candidates based on qualitative criteria. Understand this, accept it and work accordingly. (In any case the world isn’t a fair place. We all have to deal with that)

And since I’m now giving gyaan, here’s some more of it – Things WILL get better. In a few years from now you’ll look back at this and realise how none of it really matters. Not the numbers anyway.

Personal experience: I’d scored well throughout my school life, thanks to our TamBrahm obsession with stellar academic performance. This was till I entered Class 12 and  suddenly realised I had little aptitude or interest in the sciences, let alone JEE. And I scored miserably. I didn’t crack entrance exams. I was this close to a breakdown.

In retrospect, it was the best thing that happened to me. There was no way I could’ve convinced my parents to allow me to pursue Arts, let alone meet the amazing people I came to know along the way, had I performed well in 12th and managed to make it to a decent engineering college. It allowed me to realise that my skill sets lie elsewhere and they are NOT worthless.

Here’s the thing: I cannot for a second say that the poor scores never came back to bite me in he ass. They did and still do. I’m asked about it in job interviews some times. When I applied for admission to Law School. But it’s hardly insurmountable. You just need to have something else to show for your abilities – later performances, projects, experience, research, innovation – anything. You’ll figure it out. Just keep working hard.

Gyaan #3 – The world doesn’t owe you anything. Stop grudging others or blaming engineering colleges for your problems. They are a problem, sure, but they have also paved way for countless opportunities for people to make a better life for themselves. Acknowledge that, and then the fact that you are consciously choosing a path that’s going to be harder. That you might have friends earning in lakhs while you still have to beg for an internship stipend. But this is your choice and you won’t look back. And you will eventually get where you want to be, as long you keep at it.

PS – Yes, yes, easier said than done. I still have days when I think I should’ve maybe just “worked harder” and done engineering and gotten a job and “settled”. But when I get into the details of this delusion, I realise what a nightmare it would be. And then I’m back to being grateful for the way things turned out. It’s not easy, but it’s mine and I like it. (Interspersed with days of anxiety and doubts but thats just a part of life.)

All the best for everything, you guys! This is a full on Bollywood masala and you haven’t even come to the interval yet. You’re probably at that hit song that comes up shortly after the opening credits in which Govinda dances on the streets . Tujhko mirchi lagi toh main kya karun?


Firdaus. Urf Jannat. Heaven.


There’s a popular saying in Persian about Kashmir – Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast, hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast. It roughly translates to “If there is a paradise on earth, it is this.”


I saw it for myself earlier this month. It’s been on Dad’s bucket list forever. And I’ve grown up listening to my grandfather’s anecdotes about the chinar tree from when he spent some months in Srinagar back in the 1960s.


As a family we’re making full use of the fact that I have all the time in the world (as of now). So we packed our bags and headed to Kashmir.


12 years of schooling etched CBSE into my DNA so I am only comfortable sharing experiences in points and lists. Read on to see how I struggle conditioned dispassion towards everything with genuine awe in trying to elaborate on my time in Kashmir.


  1. Will start with the one that is most obvious and hence, would get me max marks if this were an exam.

    Kashmir is stunning. Gorgeous. The many poems and songs in praise of its beauty have at no point overstated anything; if anything they’ve been rather modest, perhaps succumbing to the inadequacy of words.

    The hills are lush, the rivers crystal and ferocious, the roses across the valleys giant enough to put the finest bouquets to shame. The chinar trees spread across the valley are majestic and mighty; the matriarchs of Kashmir. (I was told by the local people that the Kashmiris regard the chinar as their mother) The wilderness is unkempt and unpruned; the closer you go, the more mysterious they get.

  2. As if the landscapes weren’t pretty enough, you have the people. Kashmiris are the most exceptionally attractive population I have ever laid my eyes on. Cheeks as if kissed by dewy roses and a jawline so chiselled, Sephora should launch a contouring kit named after them.


  1. Khoobsurati chehre pe hi nahi, dilon me bhi hai.Tots Bollywood but also very true. I’ve usually preferred travel destinations abroad over travelling within India for two reasons: cleaner toilets and more amiable people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting Indians are bad people. They just don’t find the need to be polite to tourists, especially domestic tourists. And they’re not always nice to women.

    Toilets were far from comfortable even in Kashmir. The people, however, are exceptionally wonderful. It took me a long time to wrap my mind around the fact that these people were genuinely nice, and I wasn’t experiencing a series of aberrations.

    Kashmiri people are kind, generous and unbelievably courteous. Sure, tourism is their primary source of income and they cannot afford to piss the tourists off. But they go way beyond common courtesies and efficient service. The staff at one of the lodges we stayed at prepared a whole host of Kashmiri dishes for our dinner, something that wasn’t included in the buffet we’d paid for. Another hotel refused to charge us for a halwawe decided to order in one night, insisting that it was their privilege to acquaint people with their local cuisine. They follow traffic discipline in a way that would put most Indian cities to shame (except in the matter of seatbelts). And these are just few of the many instances that left us absolutely floored. It’s almost idyllic in the way they help the ageing cross the streets and bring water to the homeless and ponies that seem to always waiting outside every window. Not exaggerating, aai shapath!

    These people are unfailingly warm and respectful, and this is despite their rather palpable issues with the Indian State (I’ll come to that in a bit)


  1. Speaking of lovely people, I must mention here our driver throughout the trip, Mr. Gulzar. (I prefer to say Gulzar saabthough, does more justice to the weight of his character)

    He saved the lives of 16 soldiers during the Kargil War and almost bled to death in the aftermath. Once he was done being a hero in real life, he went on to become quite the villain in reel life. It seems he was that guy in the bad guy gang that beat up Randhir Kapoor in Kasme Vaade and Rajesh Khanna in Roti. He’s also driven many of the 80s stars around in his car for shoots across the Kashmir valley. The man has several amusing anecdotes in his kitty, starring the brightest of Hindi cinema’s stars from the 80s.

    How do I explain his pleasant disposition except to say that I shall always fondly remember his hansmukh misaaj?


  1. I don’t remember having mentioned my obsession with rivers/oceans (water bodies in general) on this blog. So let me mention that now. I LOVE THE WATERS.

    I’ve been lucky to have grown up in a city situate on the coast of the massive Arabian Sea. The vast waters have always been a source of comfort and calm, and in that regard, Kashmir was my happy place. I had the fortune of dipping my feet in the icy cool waters of both Lidder and Sheshnag rivers and rafting across a small stretch of the Sindhu (Indus). And watch the foamy, ferocious flow of many others, especially the Jhelum.

    Couldn’t keep my feet in the ice cold water for any longer than 7 seconds at a time but the thrill was worth it. It makes me a little sad to think that the people living in the valleys have the fear of gunfire to mar the gurgle of its pristine waters.

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  1. About gunfire. We personally didn’t witness any; the trip was entirely peaceful. But there are armed personnel everywhere. EVERYWHERE. It’s hard not to be struck by the stark contrast between the vast saffron fields and the giant lethal weapons in the hands of those guarding them. There is palpable tension between the locals who feel like their homes have been encroached by the armed forces and the army that is probably just trying to do its job. This friction is the smog that clouds the heavens hiding in between the valleys. The elephant in the room, at least as far as tourists are concerned. We know its there but we don’t talk about it. You’re never quite sure what side you’re on, who is the wronged and who are the wrong doers.

    So you talk about the weather and the blooming fields and the saffron and the almond trees and the apple orchards and the walnuts and the cherries and the Mughal gardens and pretend that everything is fine.


  1. Speaking of elephants in the room, there is another thing that occurred me after almost a week into my stay in Kashmir. There is abundance of heritage and culture and yet, there is one thing that is strikingly absent.

    The Kashmiri Pandits. Had I not known about them, I would never have been able to guess that those people ever existed. All trace or evidence of their very existence is all but extinguished from the face of Kashmir. (or at least the towns and cities I visited and/or drove across) No sign boards, no shops, no houses, no temples (except the Shankaracharya, but that’s a heritage structure and there is no way to destroy that without inviting attention). Nothing.

    Our understanding of what happened to the Kashmiri Pandits is based entirely on stray media coverage (that gets little attention in light of the gravity of AFSPA) and heresay from refugees spread across the country. This is a tragedy. One I wish was spoken about more actively. I do not by any means intend to imply that other tragedies that have plagued the valley are in any way less significant. But the story of Kashmiri pandits cannot, should not, be erased from the pages of history, as it has been from the valleys that were once their home.


  1. There is one thing that every Kashmiri we interacted with asked of us when we said our goodbyes. “Pray for Kashmir”, they all say. And pray I shall.

    There are cinematic clichés about civilians paying the price for political power games on one side and extremist terrorism on the other. Now I see why the cliché exists. It is rooted in reality – a reality so evident and obvious it’s almost funny.

    It’s hard not to empathise with the people – so full of kindness and generosity, being eyed with suspicion by virtue of their very presence. They have got to be really, really nice if even someone as cynical and generally sceptical as me was so moved. There is such warmth in their welcoming smiles that even an atheist would perhaps wistfully hope for the cosmic powers to watch over and take care of these people, their homes, their fields, their rivers, their sheep, their children. (If I’m being blind or naïve or foolish or guilty of oversimplification – please don’t tell me about it. I choose to be foolish this one time)


  1. Too much sentimentality? Doesn’t sound like Twiggy, no? Moreover, I am not a fan of the number 8. Nine is way better. So I’ll come back to the hotness of Kashmiri men. I don’t understand why all of Bollywood is not full of Kashmiri people. Oh, and the men are very good at flirting! Old school, sledgehammer flirting. No time wasted in trying to be subtle or coming up with witty pick up lines. I’m going to miss being hit on by cute strangers who don’t sound the least bit creepy and actually leave you alone when you express disinterest. No questions asked, no dirty expletives spouted in a failed attempt to mask bruised egos. Such genuinely respectful people!


Okay so here are some photos. And CBSE also recommends ending every answer with a line of conclusion for getting that extra point. So,

Conclusion: Visit Kashmir, people! Beautiful place, beautiful people!


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PS: If you intend to buy Kashmiri carpets, pashmina shawls and other handicrafts, visit KCI Emporium on Shalimar Road, Srinagar. I can provide contact details to anyone planning a visit.