A Priest from another Land.

And I almost got converted…


It was around midnight when a blinding light pierced through my eyelids. I squirmed and squinted and shielded my eyes with my palms, but I couldn’t stop seeing the light. I knew I was only conjuring it up, because my palms were perched like a crab upon my clenched eyes, but you know I have this condition that when I think something it just gets into my head. The beam of light broke through my skin, and my veins glowed like neon and my bones smoldered like coal, and the light kept seeping; it burned the tissues, it lit up the blood and it stabbed through the skin, searing each layer of me until it hit my pupils. It made me dizzy. What’s worse was that it wasn’t even real light.

Unable to find solace, I pried open my eyes. There was a white woman with a silver pony, arranging the middle berth on the opposite side. That’s all I could make out apart from her skin tone. I let my eyes dart around for a while. On the other side, I saw another girl. Black hair that sparkled in the light of a distant source, almond eyes that seemed lost in a distant memory – she seemed like a piece of art with deeper hidden meanings. She just sat there, unaware of my existence while I watched her from a shadowed bower that was lit up like a forest fire a few seconds ago. She was making me poetic. Oh my heavens! This compartment was choking full of hot women!

Only that there were slight issues which I discovered the next morning. The white woman actually turned out to be a guy. And the other girl went into hibernation once she got under her blanket. Hmm..so I was sharing a journey with a married woman, a zonked out woman who might as well have been dead, and a woman who was actually a guy with a silver pony – which is not exactly the kinds I picture my voyages with.

I checked the status of the train – it was 9 hours late. I stepped down and took up a seat on the lower berth, by the white guy. He had a rudraksh mala in his hand which struck me as weird. Then I studied him with the precision of a lab attendant. Saffron Kurta, white dhoti, a red tika on his forehead, malas around his neck – the only thing that was odd was his face, white as Sheamus. I wondered if he was an Indian guy with some skin disease. I didn’t ask him anything. I just observed.

“Iskon Temple. “He said as he showed me in his phone. The notifications dropped in a foreign language.

“Where are you from? “I quizzed.

“Russia. ”

“On vacation? ”

“I’m here to learn Bhaktashashtra. “He said.

Oh my…doesn’t Putin love you anymore? I didn’t even know there was a thing called Bhaktashashtra. They don’t offer it at DU, so anyway.

“How much time has it been…”I almost faltered.

“5 years. “He said as he smiled with great satisfaction, the one you get when your daughter finally gets married to a nice guy.

5 years? I mean is that even legal? 😑

Then he showed me his Bhagwad Geeta, and I began to realise he was completely brainwashed.

“You know about this? ”

Yeah. That’s what they made Amrish Puri pledge upon in a Bollywood courtroom. And it’s full of moral preachings and there are no hot scenes in its entirety.

“It’s a part of Mahabharata. “I said.

Then he started explaining stuffs and Krishna’s messages and I felt like a pagan.

“I guess I am an atheist. “I said. The married woman chuckled at my tragedy.

Then came the Russian guy’s girl, from the other compartment, and I froze, my eyes stuck on her like I was an esthete and she was a Michelangelo masterpiece. You remember the fairies they tell you about in pre-school? That was she. Dressed in a saree, with nose stud and all. I felt weak at my knees even though I was sitting. This is unfair, isn’t it? You can’t learn Bhaktashashtra for 5 years and have an ethereal wife at the same time. Such is life, my dear friends, such is life.

They stayed for a while and then the girl went back. The guy tried to show me some more videos of his Keertan but I said I was sleepy and so I climbed up to my berth and checked if the sleeping beauty had woken up but she had not, and so I slept, wondering why foreigners are so queer.

to be continued…


Bookstore @ Bhagalpur Junction

books and strategy 😂

Bhagalpur junction is just slightly bigger than Godzilla’s ass, but it has got two bookstores. There’s a restaurant as well, and not to mention free wifi, and random switch bords with enough holes to allow half a million people charge their phones simultaneously. The icing on the cake, though, are the girls – hot and plenty.

I roll my trolleybag to a bookstore, browse around for a while and then check my pockets. Everything – phone, wallet, key – is at its place. I feel a sense of relief that otherwise only comes with peeing after a long time.

Probably I should stop masturbating, a random thought brushes my mind.
I start thinking about my dick after that, and it takes a while. Brain is a shitty dirty place. I mean you think about your loved ones and then you think about penises, all through just one organ. That’s really absurd if you see it that way.

Since the train is still a few stations away, I take the liberty of scanning through the stacks of books. There are Paulo Coelhos perched over Chetan Bhagats, there are Tolkiens mixed with Preeti Shenoys, there are Dan Browns lying around with Amish Tripathis – this pacific disarray makes me wonder that the world could be at peace if humans were just the books they wrote.

My eyes catch a book titled Omnibus. The author – one of my favourites – Jerome k Jerome.

“What does that cost? Omnibus? “I ask the shopkeeper as I point at the book. He isn’t much for books, if you ask me. Fat guy with eyebags, and he is using a Salman Rushdie as his tea coaster. It takes him about a minute to locate Omnibus. He checks the MRP and plonks the book at the countertop as if he were tossing a dustbag.

“200 bucks. ”

I flipped the book. 200 it is.

“Don’t you offer some discount? “I ask. I mean I love Jerome K Jerome but Amazon was offering the same at 175. And they give bookmarks for free.

“No. “He says. I turn around and start moving. An old trick I learnt on wikihow.

“10 rupees. “He calls.

Alright, it’s working. So maybe if I keep walking he’ll bring the price even lower. Good, you’re learning. Okay, if I have to draw a price-distance graph, at what point will the Omnibus reach the upper limit of my book expenditure fund?

Ummm, now would be a good time to check your phone. And wallet. And key.

I have reached the edge of the platform but the shopkeeper hasn’t called yet. Something is wrong. I could have carried on, but I don’t want to be found dead on tracks, so I move back, mortified, and start walking towards a fast food joint that promises delicious biryani.

to be continued…


Cricket and Balcony



I’d start with a cliché – In India, cricket is a religion. It’s the bond that binds a billion people. You’d know that better if you follow Indian media on the eve of a great ICC event. Or just tune into any IPL finale. It’s a huge thing, like, the first question they ask in UPSCE interview is this – Who is the first double centurian in ODIs on the planet?

It’s Belinda Clarke. She did this on December 16, 1997.

We have been playing a lot of cricket this holiday. A surprising change, however, has been in my status, which has miraculously shot up. I used to be the third man guy in my early days. On some lucky days, I’d be the umpire who also kept score. Umpiring, I tell you, is like this boring government job where there’s plenty of time to deviate and slip into a lovely trance. I’d imagine me and Doctor walking down a bridge or something, the sun lighting up the stray strands of her shoulder-length hair, her pearly smile lighting up my existence. And so, I’d often get the figures mixed. (The other reason was that there was so much Math involved in counting, it made me puke). They’d then send me back to being a third man, where again, I’d glance up at her balcony wondering if she’d be out there today. In doing so, I’d misfield a couple of times, and they’d rebuke me for that but not change my position. Well, after third man, there’s no lower point you can hit.

When the other team needed 40 runs in an over, they usually gave me the ball and say,

“We trust you. That’s why we are asking you to bowl in the most crucial over. ”

And then I came charging down like Shoaib Akhtar, jumping like Zaheer Khan and throwing like Majid Haq. And at the end of it, our team would win by 1 run and I’d be the unsung hero of the match.

This time, I’m the – wait for it – captain. Yes. I open the innings if I want to, I go bowling if I want to, generally I don’t, but anyway. Today, I got the innings fired up with back to back sixes in Mama’s overs. I am batting left-handed these days, and it’s coming off well. I might try it again. Hell, I might have discovered something legendary about myself.

I don’t think about Doctor though. Well, that’s the irony right there. When you mention you’re not thinking about somebody, you’re actually thinking about them. It’s so JohnGreen-ish.

Her balcony isn’t the same anymore. The ghost has faded away from those railings long ago. There was a time when it all came naturally, now I have to imagine her and place it there and at the end of it, it’s just artificial. It’s interesting how time erases life, part by part.

I don’t even know where she is. Do I care? I don’t even know that. Am I crazy?



Safarnama : Qutub Minar #1

The prologue to the Qutub Minar visit.


It had been pouring all morning. The rain pelted down like Spartan arrows, and as whatsapp texts swore, the lower half of Shyam Lal College was already drowned. Some of my friends though, despite the torrent, had travelled all the way from Rohini and Nangloi to Shahdra to attend college, but now they sat with sullen faces, playing Balloon Pop in their generous smartphones, waiting for the rain to go ebb away.

the rain…

Rohit dropped in at around 10 am, followed by two more people. We set up the chessboard and played a few boring games. It was decided that we would take a day off, but sitting idle only wakes up the wanderlust inside Rohit, and so, he came up with this great idea,

“Let’s go somewhere. Qutub Minar? ”

It took me some time to make up my mind. Lazybones! After I prepared myself for a long drenched day, I started calling everyone. A few of them said it was pouring in buckets and they hated rain and everybody should hate rain because rain brings flood and that we should drop our plans. As you know, every adventure comes with a bout of hitches. There were plenty in this one too.

Two of them didn’t have a metro card, so, as we reached Welcome Metro station, we went upto this vending machine to get the tokens. They put the money in and waited for the tokens to drop.  But the machine was a bit of a runt – it won’t take anything but fresh crisp notes. Some billion light years later, it took pity on us and accepted the note. But didn’t release the tokens. 

“What the fuck! “They shouted together. The screen promised that it was processing the transaction, so we stood by, waiting patiently, wondering if it was Mishra that should be blamed for the ordeal. Mishra is a jinx – once he had accompanied us to the zoo and it turned out that they kept it closed on Fridays. 

“That’s not fair. “Mishra protested. “You should have known zoos are closed on Friday. ”

Nobody believed him. 

The crowd behind us was growing fretful with time. 

We called the staff and he pretended to study the screen carefully. 

“There’s a countdown. “He pointed at the upper right corner of the screen where infinitesimal numbers were decreasing every second. “Wait for it to finish. ”

And so, we waited. It was just a 90 second wait, but when you have a digital clock making you aware of the existence of every single second, the wait becomes a billion years long. The tokens dropped back, eventually. And we took the train and reached Kashmiri Gate at around 12:00pm. 

There, we met Shivam, and as the train arrived, we jostled through the crowed to bag a seat. Three of us got the seats, one being Mishra. It was a long journey, so we spent it playing the game How-Jinxed-Mishra-Is? Everybody started throwing their ideas, and somebody said Mishra is such a jinx that when he visits a haunted house, the ghosts rush to the priests to get themselves cleansed with Holy Water.

On the way, it started raining again. The train stopped at a bridge, from where all we could see were wet lush green trees and a dense valley, and it seemed we had been teleported to a hillstation.

the panoramic view from the train…


It was a beautiful stillness, and the only thing that budged was raindrops on the window pane.

all we could see was green…

 The train started again, and the rain grew stronger by the time we stepped onto the platform. We clicked a few selfies on the metro, and then exited the station. We waited outside for some time,waiting for it to go slow, but it never did. 

“Maybe we should take an auto. “Hemant suggested. I didn’t know of a way to fit 7 people in an auto, so I wondered if one of us will have to sit on the lap of one of us. When I was a kid, I sat in a jeep on the lap of this uncle of mine. A few seconds later, I felt something hard beneath my butts. (No I wasn’t raped). I hate to sit on men’s lap since that day, though. 

outside the metro….

We waited for some time, and when the rain slowed down, Mishra walked out and we followed him. It was a mistake, because seventeen steps later, it started sheeting down. We ran, completely deficient of a strategy. I was sure we were running for an auto, or some cover, but a minute later, I realised we had left behind all the autos and were still galloping aimlessly down the road for some heavenly reason. 

“What are we doing? “I screamed.

“Following Mishra. “Shivam shrugged his shoulders. 

A minute later, Mishra stopped beneath a small tree. Everybody else stopped as well. I peered out into the distance, wondering if we had reached the Qutub Minar. Was Mishra jinxed enough to displace Qutub Minar from its place?  Mishra looked at us in utter confusion, we looked at each other in utter confusion. 

“What the hell just happened? “I asked. 

“Were you guys following me? “Mishra asked, baffled. “I was just looking for a shelter. “He explained. I was so apoplectic I felt like punching Mishra. I ran for cover, and everybody followed me this time. People are fool, they will follow you for anything. 

We found a shelter, a roof above a flight of steps, and sat there, watching the rain come down like magic, dipping the world in lush green. 

The board above us read – Sulabh Shauchalaya

To be continued


The Disneyland and the Fireflies 

When light is darker than the shadows..


The night is ablaze again. The sky burns with unsteady flickers of turquoise and emerald. It seems like the heavens are awaiting a sorcerer’s spectacle. Down on the earth, one million LED Boards, shaped like peacocks and flowers and women holding flowers, sparkle brilliantly. In the shadows echo the blissful laughters of small, rugged children….

Welcome to the Disneyland, the small travelling funfair that is set up every year in my hometown. The preparations begin a month before and a century of trucks get parked in the Rangbhoomi maidan. Workers start setting the poles and gradually we see giant swings rising up, part by part, till they are ready to launch your soul up in the sky. 

When I was a kid, I’d clutch my mother’s fingers and hop for the next 20 minutes till we reached Disneyland. It was my dream to enter the place and never leave. I so wanted to hide beneath those counters and sneak out when everybody left. I’d go on from stalls to stalls, eat everything and sneak everything and maybe even take the taking parrot home. No I won’t go home. It was a dreamy world, my own spectacle, the Disneyland. 

Then, as it happens, I grew up. The sparkles don’t attract me anymore. I stay outside, licking Ice Golas with my friends, discussing the outrageous pricing policies of Samosa Vendors in the fair. 

“The same Ice Gola would cost double inside that little tent. “Atif says as he crushes the ice to make a solution. 

“They wouldn’t call it Ice Gola inside that little tent. It’d be a Ferrero Ice or something. ”

We laugh at this silly joke and carry on. 

Last night, my friends desperately wanted some cigarettes. I accompanied them to the kiosk in front of the Disneyland and they made a face and said,

“Ravish. You never gave us a treat. ”

I knew those bastards were asking me to pay for their cigarettes. I could have refused but it wouldn’t have changed anything. So they bought two goldflakes and vanished into the distant shadows to blow up giant smoke rings, feel weightless and heavenly as their souls floated and their lungs rotted. 

I meandered about, watching those lightboards, and how those lit the empty sky but left the crumbling earth with a sad silent bleakness. 

The world above my chest was a world of light. The kids in front of my eyes, however, weren’t tall enough. They hid behind the cars, chasing each other, playing hide and seek, running with unrestrained shrieks of laughter. They collided with light occasionally, exposing their boney frames, their tattered clothes, their immortal smile, but the next moment they disappeared again. When you stared hard you could make out their existence. There was a time my eyes would follow the lights, but age changes your perspective. Now shadows attract me more. I followed those happy little kids and all those people who lived in the mini slum at the periphery of Rangbhoomi, all of them enjoying their own picnic on the carpets of grass, talking amongst themselves sitting in the dark and watching the lighted sky. 

I wished I could listen to them, the things they talk, the jokes they crack. But no matter how close I went, the posh roar of Disneyland buried their feeble whispers. The crackles and the joy, everything seemed muted, yet unwavering. The delight was pure. But the dazzling lights exposed their misery. I could see their wounds, the gradual, persistent erosions that had washed away their layers, but not the souls. Perhaps they were the lives of the shadows, it was the light that made them look ugly. 

The world of light is actually darker. Full of shadows sneaking about, wearing a million faces, sneering, jabbing, lying, squabbling. 

The people in front of me were the fireflies of dark

“Do you have more money, we got to have chewing gums? “My friends asked.

“Fuck off. “I said and we moved. 

The kid inside me jerked to life again. But this time, I didn’t want to stay in Disneyland all my life. I wanted to stay in the shadows, with those fireflies… 


The Summer Odyssey #2

With few minutes left to board the train for a 30 hour long journey, would you take the risk to find the rare toilet of Anand Vihar Railway Station?


I have a problem. A disease maybe. Whenever I achieve something difficult or am almost asleep, I get this insuppressible urge to pee. I might be a monk and balance myself on a sword with my little finger, or pull heavy duty trucks with my eyelids, but I can never manage the pressure of my stupid bladder. So when my bladder started ballooning at platform number 3, I nearly went mad. 

Here were people, all happy and excited and fulfilled, waiting for their trains, passing time by munching on nuts, reading newspapers, or talking among themselves, and here I was, carrying a squirmed face, waddling to and fro along the whole length of the platform, looking for the FUCKING chamber they call a toilet. Twice I stopped at the lift, and half a dozen times I almost peed in my pants. I could go take a leak in one of the train toilets, but I didn’t want to end up being exported to Bhuvaneshwar in the process. After what seemed like a millennia, I was sure they don’t build toilets on platforms in Delhi. And whoever rated Anand Vihar station so high  probably peed through transpiration. 

I ran away, not caring about the time or the train lodged at platform number 3 and never stopped till I found a toilet at a desolate corner of the station. There were three rooms one each for Women, Men and Handicapped. For a second, I wondered if that meant handicapped men and handicapped women were allowed to pee together (sexy) and then I moved to men’s chamber. 

Now, men’s toilet have two different  arrangements. They have doored commodes and they have open thigh length basins. You pee in basins and you shit in commodes. So when you are peeing others can watch you without any obstruction. What’s odd is that almost all men are quite okay with it. They really don’t care about the audience. But my little Godzilla is a shy animal. I can’t pee unless I’m locked within six walls. Even on long bus rides, when the conducter announces a pee break, and all men just get out and pee around the bus, I find the most isolated, haunted place and shhhhshhhh myself to pee. Twice I’ve nearly missed the bus in such situations. 

Anyway. In public toilets I use the commodes. This one had five toilets three of which were already occupied. There was a man waiting outside the third and another outside the last. I wondered why they weren’t going into the two vacant chambers. I moved towards one. It was choked with turd. I almost vomited at the sight. 

I had two bags and no friends. And I HAD to pee. Inside a locked door. I couldn’t take the bags with me. It seemed like the prelude of a tragedy. I was either going to lose my bag or wet myself. A sadist would love this as Omorashi porn. When the third toilet was finally vacant ( 2 dumps later ) I went there and tried setting my bag against the most hygienic side. As it had wheels, it wouldn’t stand properly. Everytime I tried propping it against the wall, that stubborn bag would start rolling like an ice skater. Setting it up took a bit longer and a constipated man sneaked into the toilet amid that. I was so apoplectic and destroyed, I wanted to cry. I wondered if I should just jump into the ladies room without caring about the consequences. I mean it’s not as if they cut your little Vince McMahon for entering a ladies toilet, do they? I also wondered if I should just play a handicapped. Who knows I might have even met my soul mate in the handicapped room. Fancy the first encounter! It could be the superhit sequel of How I Met Your Mother. I had TRPs floating in front of my eyes when I recalled I had to pee. That’s the thing, when you start thinking about it, it only gets worse. By the time that asshole came out, my intestines were submerged in pee. My whole body was shaking and I could piss through my earholes. 

I shot in, shut the door properly, but leaving a chink, and found myself enveloped in the post-potty scent of a toilet. I was sure Nazi concentration camps used the same gas to kill people. I pulled down my zipper and told myself to feel good about this. I was finally ejecting the heaviest liability in a human’s life. I peed for a while and then turned my head to look for the bag. It was there, safe and still. So I continued to pee. Also I considered variables like the speed of my stream and worked out on a theory that If I looked for the bag every 8 seconds, I would have a fair chance at catching the culprit, in case I get screwed. So I peed and looked and peed and looked and kept on doing this till my neck went stiff. But let me tell you this, ladies and gentlemen, there’s no such thing as peeing. It’s the most comforting orgasm one can ever have. I walked out with a triumphant smile on my face. The bags were still there. I washed my hands and ran for the train. 

It was 6:30 am.

To be continued…


What a mess! 😡

Here’s why you should never seek a mess in Delhi.


My mess owners are descendants of Satan. They are pure, unadulterated anthropomorphic incarnations of evil. If Magic Mirror existed in real world, it would show them as red, horned, sharp-toothed, fork-tongued, tail-bearing, trident carrying dwarf creatures. When my mess owners die, wars shall stop and epidemics would dissapear and everybody would be happy and Gods would descend down to take free, relaxed morning walks in the pure rejuvenated air of earth. 

“Ah! The world is so less polluted now. “They would say, and casually look around for some tight assed girls.

I had read about pathetic mess facilities in books, especially in Chetan Bhagat novels, and I had witnessed the appalling condition of mess on news channels. There were runny sambhar, bug infested rice, charred rotis. Not to say they all tasted the same. My mother used to warn me when I criticised her cooking talents. 

“Once you start living away from home and join a mess, you’ll know what a magician your mother is. “She would say as I made fifty different expressions of disgust at the dinner table. 

Now that I think of it, Ranchi was still bearable. I mean they did provide Paneer twice a week and Friday nights were Fast Food Specials. That apart, salads were fresh and free. The cost was minimal, too. And the mess owner was hot. Okay not so hot maybe. But at least she was not 80. The delicacy and comfort of home-cooked food was absent, but I coped. I mean what could have been worse!?

My definition of worse changed after I started living in Delhi. Here, you can’t define worst. You think this is the limit to which evil could be thrusted upon you, but yayyy, surprise! that was just the starting line. Get fucked more. 

switched to my current mess after I was fed up with the former one, who charged thousands for shit. I mean how long can you survive on type 7 human stool they call Dal, manufactured and salted citrus droppings they call Pickles, and half-baked circular pieces of dung they call Roti!?

Once, they cooked Paneer. The excitement and joy that flooded the PG at once could never be equalled, not even if there was a bukake festival in town with a free entry. I had suddenly started feeling grateful for my mess owners. Then came show time. 

It looked like paneer. I mean only paler and less attractive, as if it had been boiled and peeled, and poisoned, but it did look like paneer. I stared at my ex-neighbours’ faces, and they stared at mine. I took a lump. And how unlike paneer the paneer in my plate was! It didn’t taste like anything. If I were blind I would have sworn on my mother it was potato, or lady finger, or whatever the hell they cooked because everything tasted the same. I was sure that the cook believed all of us either were diabetic or had damaged tastebuds. 

“How’s the Paneer? “The cook asked. 

I wondered if I should suggest him to quit cooking and look for some other career options, maybe even make his profile on jobs.com, but I just smiled in fake appreciation. Ah! How bad it was! If that guy went on Masterchef Sanjeev Kapoor would have him executed. 

“It’s awesome. “My ex-neighbours said. And so did everybody else. I came home wondering if my ex-neighbours and the cook and everyone else were plotting against me. 

“It was shit. We were just being polite. “They later clarified. 

The new mess is owned by a pair of ancient people, who are old enough to enter Guinness World Records. I’m convinced they practice black magic. 

The old lady is sweet but shrewed. And her man is a talking machine. First, I’ll describe the old lady. So good natured she is, you’d wonder if she lives a secret life chopping kids and storing their pieces in the refrigerator. A wrinkled face that evokes sympathy, a speech full of honeytalking and oversentimental stuffs, and a brain full of evil and selfishness. She’s such a drama queen. One day she was looking at her grandson’s photo, her eyes wobbly and quivering. My neighbours spent a good deal convincing themselves that the young guy sitting like a crab in the sofa in the next room is actually her alive grandson and not his ghost. 

“I mean her grandson was like four steps away. And not even dead. And she’s was like this is my grandson, you see? “My neighbours later told me.

The old lady once offered me some almonds. I was so thankful I wanted to hike her pay at once. Then I came to my room and chewed those almonds. I had to take three Listerine gurgles to erase the horrid taste. 

Her husband is pretty delusional. Maybe it has to do with old age, or maybe he is a genuine asshole. Once I was standing right in front of him when he asked,

“Has Ravish gone yet? “I was so speechless. 

Once I showed up without a lunch box. When I asked if he had spare lunch boxes, he said of course, and pulled out a Shenaz Husain Gold tub and started pouring Dal. 

“Uncle, “I said, “I guess I’ll run back to fetch my lunch box. ”
My neighbours were sick of their parasitic nature. So once they went to seriously warn him to improve the quality of food or be prepared to lose customers. 

“Uncle! “They satarted.

“Oh! Kids. Blah Blah Blah…..Blah Blah…BLAH….I HAD A HEART ATTACK ONCE….Blah Blah Blah Blah. ”

3 hours later.

“You were saying something, kids? ”

“No. Uncle. Nothing. Nothing at all. “My neighbours said.