Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cricket brings out the bigot in all of us!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 was a nail biting day for Indians and Pakistanis across the world. Some of our friends made it to Mohali, India to watch this legendary match. Legendary: umm, this was probably Cricket God Sachin Tendulkar’s last world cup. So, yeah. Legendary! The saying, “Cricket and cinema are India’s religion,” isn’t an exaggeration!

When we woke up on the day of the match, the first thing I did was log onto Facebook. Best place for news, statistics, or any kind of updates. I noticed people had posted doom and gloom. You could tell India wasn’t doing too well. Honestly, It was disheartening to watch her get beat up. Most of us were betting on a 300+ score. But the Indian team ended with 260.

I called up my father in India to whine about the country’s poor score. He told me that on the streets back home, people had started praying and reading from religious texts. Some were even burning effigies. I told him I wasn’t very different; I had pledged to give up wine for two weeks if India won the semi finals. See, not that I don’t care about the outcome of the finals. But the India-Pak game is sacred. It brings out a dark side in citizens of both the countries.

I had a reading last night, at one of the oldest reading venues in New York City. I had informed my event organizer ahead of time that if India lost, I would wear the defeat on my face. Not deliberately, but I couldn’t help it. C’mon, the day before, I went and got my nails painted saffron. I had my outfit ready to flaunt the tri-color of the Indian flag. All in support of team India. But fortunately, we kicked ass. Pakistan played well. No doubt. But we won.

I went dressed in saffron, green, white, and blue: colors of the Indian flag. In fact, I announced to the audience: "The reason I look like someone who sipped from the rainbow is because India won." It was such a proud moment.

When one of my friends said that he hoped both the countries would be happy irrespective of the outcome until such time the game was good, I told him that he’d lost it. Perhaps, he was smoking something. I was irked when I heard Indians say that they wanted Pakistan to play Sri Lanka in the finals.

In know it’s a free world. And people are entitled to their opinions. But when it comes to cricket, an inexplicable surge of patriotism takes over me. I might not always watch it, but if I do, I won’t root for any other country playing against India. I get thirsty for loyalty.

I am not bragging, but I would like to think of myself as a religiously tolerant, open-minded, and empathetic human being. Writing, especially poetry, will do that to any one. Art teaches humanity. It preaches non-violence, questions archaic doctrines, focuses on global peace. I felt solemn when Pakistan faced floods or the time when their Punjab Province's Governor, Salman Taseer, was assassinated. But even the balm of poetry can’t touch the India-Pak animosity when it comes to cricket. Like the billion of us, I wanted one thing: An Indian victory.

‎I read on a friend’s status update: “1 billion people. 1 billion prayers. 2 billion chappals...!”:-) Did the fear of assault turn the game around? I hardly think so. But that’s what is so ridiculously awesome about Indians. We love fiercely, revere incredibly, and admonish equally when it comes to cricket and cinema.

My writer friends from Pakistan feel the same way about their country whenever there is an India-Pak match. All our ethos of “One world, one love” goes out the window when the two countries compete:-) After all, our roots are the same.

More until next time,


Copyright © 03.31.2011

“Cricket to us was more than play, it was a worship in the summer sun.”

Edmund Blunden

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Not All Birds Sing"

The world is trembling.

A lot has happened in the past couple of weeks: massacre in Libya; earthquake in Japan; bomb blast in Jerusalem. The legendary Elizabeth Taylor is dead. I have endured a few personal losses too. And so have others close to me. But let's not talk about the chaos and my thoughts on the mayhem until next week. It's Thursday morning. Another day closer to the weekend. Time to get a little less morose.

Nietzsche said, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Like the rest of the human race, I too am hanging in there, waiting for this March madness to dissipate. And few bright clouds to shine over us. It's the hope that keeps us all going, right?

Here comes some good news on an otherwise ordinary day: my first, cross-genre, collaborative collection of poetry is now available for purchase. The book, "Not All Birds Sing," contains a unique blend of art and poems.

Claire Watson, a visual artist, and I met at a writers' residency in Europe. We instantly clicked. And became good friends. Aside from our common taste in humor, wine, long walks, and sightseeing, we bonded over our respect for the creative life. And that's how the book was conceptualized. We trusted each other's strengths and compensated for the weakness.

Take a look, you won't be disappointed!

Thank you to each one of you for all your support and encouragement. After all, artists and writers are nothing without the love and acceptance of their audience.

A side note: if you are in the Kew Gardens area on Sunday, March 27 send me an email. I will be reading FICTION at an incredible cafe along with Jay Neugeboren that afternoon.

More until next time,

Copyright © 03.24.2011

"To have great poets there must be great audiences too." Walt Whitman

Thursday, March 10, 2011

It’s okay to shut up

At the beginning of this week, I received a few emails from some wonderful readers. They wanted to know about my “missing” blog. Since I didn’t post anything last week, folks asked if all was well.

I know, it’s hard to believe that someone as opinionated as me had nothing to say for an entire week. :-) Hardly the case, I promise. :-)

I had plenty of thoughts racing through my mind. Some simmering, eagerly waiting to pour over the page. Turn into words. Poetry. Prose. Blog posts. Hit the heart. Piss off the mind. Condemn hypocrisy. Applaud democracy. Expose the sham.

A few others hoped to never see the light of life. Their birth would mean the end of some beginnings.

I wondered if the contemplation was worth my time. If the care was worth the seconds, minutes, or hours wasted. Does recognition of the problem lead to acknowledgement? Is denial the path to choose to traverse through the travesty of modern civilization?

Who knows? Some questions have no answers. Some questions lead to complicated questions.

I could share every passing thought. But I don’t think the world is ready. I concede it isn’t a haven for idealists. I am learning each day. And I am able to learn because I take time from my life to shun voices. I make an attempt to find my bearings. Recharge.

Writers and artists are often stereotyped as the group who need silence and seclusion to connect with their inner selves.

I am not refuting the postulation. If anything, I personally believe it should be incumbent upon all of mankind to temporarily detach themselves.

Detachment is a loaded word. I am not saying give up on your family and friends and meditate on Mt. Everest. What I mean is that all of us should take some time out to become more human. Grow as an individual. Learn to be nice. That can successfully happen only if we shut up, literally. Ponder. Rejuvenate. Cleanse. And then strike back.

Remember, just because you have a mouth, you don’t have to speak. Just because you are in a position to intimidate others, you don’t have to use threats. Just because you don’t have a life, you don’t have to feel entitled to mess around with someone else’s. Just because someone is nice, don’t take it as their weakness and abuse it.

Many people don’t even give enough thought to their actions. Often the unwanted chaos is because of the silence we try to fill with words. You don’t have to own the last word. Sometimes you will break hearts; other times, make a fool of yourself.

Leave words alone. Let them be. When the time is right, the shell will break. The larva will wriggle. Fly into the world like a beautiful butterfly. And bring happiness.

More until next time,


Copyright © 03.10.2011

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” Mark Twain