Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Deflowering Cricket

I've grown up following no other game than cricket. As a boy, when there was no television coverage, I would stare for a long time at the newspaper pictures depicting action from a Test match. The pictures would usually show a batsman in a stylish action and the wicketkeeper looking in the direction of the ball with his mouth open.

Then television came and they began to show highlights, and for a long time I believed that in international matches, captains took the liberty of changing bowlers even before they had bowled the six balls. I would not realise that I was watching a crunched version of the day's game.

Those days, cricket meant a five-day business, with a 'rest day' thrown in. One-day matches were unheard of, at least to me. By 1983, when India won the World Cup, watching live telecast had become as integral to middle-class Indian life as the one-day game had to cricket. The man with a transistor glued to his ear, as shown in the films, had become archival material.

Back then, watching a Test match on TV was not just a five-day picnic. Cricket was a sport, and the government felt duty-bound to take the matches to every Indian home. No one had thought money could be made out of it. So the cameras remained focussed on the ground even during the drinks break, and you could see what your favourite cricketers were up to when not playing. And when rains interrupted a match, Doordarshan would pull out live performances of Kishore Kumar or Asha Bhosle from its archives and use them as fillers. What more could you ask for?

Those days you enjoyed cricket because you looked forward to it. You looked forward to it because there was not much cricket happening. At the most two series in a year, which gave you enough time to build up your appetite and salivate. As a boy I aspired to be a fast bowler, and since I am left-handed, I would often watch TV from a hand-held mirror whenever a bowler whose action I admired would be bowling. The idea was to observe how he would bowl if he were left-handed -- bowlers such as Andy Roberts, Imran Khan and Richard Hadlee.

It is a different matter that I eventually turned out to be a leg-spinner whose bowling action was very close to Ravi Shastri's. But even today, at 39, my dream is to bowl like Hadlee. I think he is still the best -- the man who was most capable of knocking off the middle-stump, the ultimate shame for a batsman. Ah, how my dream was to be a left-handed Hadlee: hell, I can still imitate his action in the little cricket I get to play these days, with a tennis ball that is. These days, in fact, I am trying my hand at tennis and am quite pleased with my forehand. And my palm, during idle moments, holds an imaginary tennis racquet instead of an imaginary leather ball.

But cricket is cricket. Every cricket-loving Indian, who was in the age-group 10-60 in 1983, is likely to have the sequence of events of the World Cup final at Lords etched in his memory. I could have said 10-70 or 10-80, but chances are very slim that someone who was 70 or 80 in 1983 is still surviving today. I was 12 years and 6 months old at the time, and India's victory, which I watched on television, proved one thing to me: that the West Indies players were as human as Indians. They were not as invincible as I had thought them to be, thanks to the cock-and-bull stories I had heard from my classmates.

In my opinion, the best cricket took place around the mid-eighties. Perhaps I am saying this because I was a teenager then and eagerly following the game, but it is also true that the mid-eighties was the time when almost all the present-day legends of cricket, no matter which country they belonged to, were at their peak.

Which is what makes the 1985 Benson and Hedges Cup, played in Australia, so memorable. Twenty-five years have passed since then, but I would still rate it as the best cricket tournament I have ever watched. Security was hardly a concern and the dashing Imran Khan, fielding on the boundary, would be spending his idle moments signing autographs for spectators.

Not to mention the India-Pakistan matches played in Sharjah, which invariably had a nail-biting finish and which attracted even spectators like Dawood Ibrahim, who would be shown by Doordarshan cameras pretty often, smoking a cigarette and sitting with a pretty woman. Back then he was merely a fugitive smuggler doing rather well for himself in the UAE. Life was by and large peaceful then -- the Babri mosque was yet to fall and blasts were yet to rock Bombay -- so the Indian cops let him be. India was obsessed with the Bofors scandal and, subsequently, the Mandal Commission report. Cricket was a pleasant distraction.

The one-day game was god-sent for the temperamentally lazy Indian man. He could no longer hover or laze around the TV for five full days, neglecting his domestic and official responsibilities. In other words, the emergence of one-day cricket spared him from four extra days of yelling by the wife or the boss. And once they realised that cricket was now only a day-long affair, the wife and the boss too joined the fun. What was so far a cricket addict's fix had now become a family picnic.

So it is pointless to explain why life in India comes to a near standstill during the World Cup. To talk of recent times, most people still haven't gotten over the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, even though seven years have passed, while most people would like to forget the subsequent edition held in the West Indies in 2007, because it was merely a marriage of farce and tragedy. But people still sat through the tournament, more out of habit than excitement.

Now, touch your heart and speak the truth: do you remember where the next World Cup is going to be held, and in case you still care to remember, are you really looking forward to it? Ideally you should, because it is only a year away, and the fever should be building up by now. But between 2007 and 2011, you have watched your favourite teams and players play so often that you wish they took a break and gave you a break.

I mean, after watching the IPL matches for one whole month, would you still have the appetite to watch the Twenty20 World Cup next month and then to watch the regular World Cup next year? If the daily burdensome life is the wife for the lay Indian, then cricket is the seductive mistress that provides him with succour during stolen moments. But if cricket becomes the wife and begins to breathe down his neck 24/7, he is soon going to find another mistress, maybe in the form of hockey or football. The managers of Indian cricket should understand this.

They have already screwed up big time by introducing IPL. To begin with, it made horses, rather asses, out of talented players. Anyone could be bought with money, that too by people who might not even entirely understand cricket but want to be proud owners of a team. Imagine Yuvraj Singh explaining his poor batting to Preity Zinta or Sourav Ganguly falling at the feet of Shah Rukh, begging to be given another chance. Sachin Tendulkar might be the greatest Indian cricketer, but when he plays for IPL, he too knows that he is answerable not to India but to India's richest man, Mukesh Ambani. What a shame: are we watching cricket or horse-racing?

In any case, the Twenty20 format, according to me, is a shame. Cricket, unlike football, is all about style. Each player, be he a batsman or a bowler, has his own signature style, which comes to the fore if only he is given sufficient time on the pitch. But in the Twenty20 format, when you are perpetually in a do-or-die situation, where is the scope to display your style? You have to hit the ball, come what may, or else your ass is on the line.

As for the audience, they are a disoriented lot now. IPL has screwed their sense of patriotism. The non-Indian cricketers they admired but despised for obvious reasons till the 2007 World Cup are now the torch-bearers of Indian cities/cultures playing in the IPL. Shane Warne is the pride of Rajasthan, Chennai can't do without Hayden, Sri Lanka's Sangkarra is the captain of Punjab, and so on.

Tomorrow, if during an international match, Hayden hits Sachin for a huge six, should Chennaiites rejoice that a Chennai Super Kings player has punished the Mumbai Indians captain, or feel sad that an Australian batsman has hit an Indian bowler for a six?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Deflowering A Virgin

Chai, Chai was easy to write. All I needed to do was travel to the small towns, roam the streets, visit the bars, meet people, take notes and return to Chennai.

Back in Chennai, when I sat down to write the book, which was several months after I had finished travelling, I realised I had very little notes to fall back on. I had hardly taken any, except for jotting down facts such as names and years. As a result, Chai, Chai was written almost entirely out of memory. Fortunately, my memory was intact to the last ray of the setting sun, or so I would like to believe. I guess you tend to remember more when you soak in an experience rather than merely record it: the spontaneity of a stray, but fruitful, conversation can be easily killed the moment you whip out your notebook.

Whatever the case, it is much easier to write about a place when you travel there and return home to do the writing. You know you've got what you had gone there to get, and in case you have missed out something, just too bad: you can't travel to that godforsaken place all over again to gather those details. You make do with whatever material you have at your disposal -- notes or in the form of memory -- and you get going with the writing.

But how do you write about the place you live in? When you travel to a place and come back back to write about it, it is the distance in terms of location and lapsed time that makes you 'look back' at that place. Only when you look back that you introspect, and only when you introspect that you write stuff that is meaningful.

But while working on a portrait of Chennai, which is my next project, I do not have the luxury of looking back. I do not have the luxury of collecting material in one go and then shutting myself from the world to finish the book. Each day I get to see Chennai, and the Chennai that I see is always different from the one I had seen the day before. I am growing with the city, and the city is growing with me.

So how do I distinguish between raw material for my book and daily dose for my life? When do I play the role of a writer who has been on a visit to the city since 2001, and when do I behave like a resident who has been living here for nine years? It's a tough job, trying to change hats every minute and trying to sniff material for a book out of your daily life.

But it's a job I am determined to accomplish, and my guiding spirit would be the expectation set by a surgeon friend, also a Chennaiite, who wrote to me after finishing Chai, Chai: "You have passed the exam! I loved your book. When you write about Chennai, consider that you are deflowering a virgin. Tell me things that as a Chennaiite I did not bother to get to know and make me feel ashamed of that fact."

Her email has made my job suddenly so easy. You can always trust a surgeon to teach you a thing or two about precision.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dog's Tail

Here is the story of Adam and Eve, made simple. It's a song from Pati, Patni Aur Woh, a film that is funny and gives you food for thought. Sanjeev Kumar, in a stellar performance, drives home the well-known point: man is like a dog's tail, which can never be straightened.

Turn up the volume. Sit back. Enjoy.

Get this widget | Track details | eSnips Social DNA

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Terrible Nagar

I belong more to T. Nagar than I belong to Chennai. I have lived here, in the same building, ever since I came to Chennai over nine years ago. For those not familiar with the city, T. Nagar is the nerve centre of present-day Chennai, a neighbourhood that balances dizzying crowds in its shopping plazas with total tranquility in its residential pockets.

T. Nagar, or Thyagaraya Nagar, is my Chennai and the rest of the city matters very little to me. Why should it, when T. Nagar itself is a mini-Chennai, a self-contained universe? T. Nagar combines the tradition of Mylapore, the sophistication of Adyar and Besant Nagar, the snootiness of Nungambakkam and R A Puram, and the low life of Royapuram.

Today, I consider myself a more authentic Chennaiite than many Tamilian Chennaiites I know because I was baptised by fire upon my arrival in 2001. For the first 15 days, from the day Tamil Nadu Express brought me to Chennai on January 15 till January 31, I lived in a 'mansion' -- a lodge for bachelors. The lodge was located on Natesan Street, adjacent to Ranganathan Street, which is the nerve-centre of T. Nagar and is perhaps the most crowded street on this planet. So right on day one, I had a taste of the magnitude of the crowd, that too Pongal crowd, as I went about looking for a mobile phone connection. I could not find any mobile-phone shop that was open, but I succeeded in saving myself from being trampled over by an army of moustache-wearing men and flower-wearing women.

I had come to Chennai without knowing a soul. Had I had a friend living in Besant Nagar or R.A. Puram who would have been kind enough to host me till I found a flat, my impression of Chennai would have been entirely different. But I was destined to see Chennai at its noisiest, crowded and colourful best for two whole weeks before moving in to peaceful environs of Murugesan Street.

Physically speaking, I had only moved from one part of T. Nagar to another, not even a kilometre away. But philosophically speaking, I had moved from one universe to another, from cacophony to calm. The way it balances the two universes -- that's the beauty of T. Nagar. The day cacophony starts invading calm, it won't be long before T. Nagar comes to stand for Terrible Nagar. The process, unfortunately, has started.

I could write an entire book on Murugesan Street. It is the calmest street I have known. It is the street on which Illayaraja, the R.D. Burman on Tamil music, lives. It is the street of my life: the street on which my creativity sprouted, on which I spent the most crucial decade of my adult life. I came to live on this street when I had just turned 30, and today I am almost 40. From the age of 20 to 30, you don't even know who you really are, while from the age of 40 to 50 you ruminate about what life has been or could have been. It is only between the ages of 30 to 40 that you really live life. And I lived that life on Murugesan Street.

The street seems to have sensed that I have lived out the best part of my life on its lap: its obligation over, it has now decided to surrender itself to Changing Times, the new god of death. Yes, my street is dying. Right in front of my eyes.

One, the street has become a thoroughfare, thanks to the new flyover that has come up on North Usman Road. The flyover begins right at the point where my street meets that road, so vehicles not taking the flyover are left with two choices: to go under the flyover and get caught in the perpetual jam, or take the left into my street and find their way out, which is what most motorists do. So all day, all I hear now is honking.

That's only a part of the problem. What actually lent a sense of peace and calm to the street were the old buildings -- not very old in terms of years, but old-fashioned enough to be just two-storeyed instead of twenty, whose owners were driven by need and not greed. Need is when you have just one house but two sons: so you build the first floor as well so that the property could be equally divided between the two sons. Greed is when you sell off the house to a builder for a neat sum so that you could buy a beach house -- be it in Mahabalipuram or Miami -- and the builder could construct a 20-storey structure on the graveyard of your father's or grandfather's dream.

Such houses are falling like ninepins. My balcony, which overlooks the street, also overlooks two private houses that are right across my building. On the rare mornings I have managed to wake myself up early enough to sip tea on the balcony without nursing a hangover, I have found myself thinking: "The day I have the money, I would buy either of these houses in 'as is, where is' condition."

Today, I can't even see those houses from my balcony. Last week, thatched walls were erected high enough to shield them from public view. The labourers have moved in. Soon the two buildings would be razed to the ground to make place for the parking lot of a jewellery store. Imagine this: a man comes to the jewellery store in his car in order to fulfill his dream of marrying off his daughter in style. The valet takes his car away and parks it on the grave of another man's dream.

Dhoop dhaap, dhoop dhaap
. That's the only sound I hear these days -- apart from the honking -- as labourers hammer their way into demolishing the two handsome houses. I dread imagining the sight from my balcony two months from now. I can't bear to watch Murugesan Street die. So I have decided to leave the street. From June 1, if things go as per plans, I shall have a new home in Chennai. The new home, far from the madding crowd, shall also be in T. Nagar: I can't imagine living elsewhere.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Even now, every time I come across an article related to heart disease, I tend to store away as much information as possible so that I can call my mother and lecture her how to take care of herself. Just when I begin to read such a piece, I feel the tap of an invisible hand on my shoulder. I turn around to find my mother. "Don't bother, I'm gone now," she tells me. But a habit formed over 10 years does not die in just six months.

Only now when I am writing this post it strikes me that today happens to be two unsavoury anniversaries for me. Exactly 10 years ago, she underwent a bypass surgery in Delhi after it was found that she had had a silent heart attack. For nearly 10 days that she was in the intensive-care ward, we slept on the hospital floor at nights. In the morning I would return to my bachelor's pad and after a shower head for work. One of my assignments, even when my mother was in ICCU, was to cover the joint press conference of Bill Clinton and Atal Behari Vajpayee at Hyderabad House in Delhi.

I found Clinton boyish and charismatic. But what I liked most about him was the manner in which he closed the cap of his pen after signing a bilateral agreement with Vajpayee: he didn't replace the cap like we all do; instead, he gently placed the cap at the head on the pen and then, raising his palm, slapped it shut. What action, what style!

After turning in my copy, I took a bus to the hospital in the evening, hoping -- as I hoped every evening -- that my mother would have been taken off ventilator. She and a fellow patient, Krishna Gopal Kapoor, had remained on ventilator for an unusually long time after the surgery. That worried us. One night, while making our bed on the hospital floor, two young men, who were also going to sleep there, offered us a blanket. "We have a spare one, we don't need it, why don't you use it?" one of them said. They were the sons, or perhaps close relatives, of Mr Kapoor.

I can't quite recall if we accepted the blanket, but I can distinctly recall that it was about four in the morning when a hospital staff came out to the lobby and called out for the attendants of Mr Kapoor. I happened to be wide awake at the time, and I saw the two young men wake up with a start. They were taken inside the ward.

Early next morning I saw Mrs Kapoor sitting outside the ICCU ward. She was reading the Hanuman Chaalisa with such desperation as if she was holding Hanuman by the neck and telling him to ensure that nothing went wrong. Little did she know that her husband was already dead. I knew it, though I didn't have the heart to tell her that it was pointless to read Hanuman Chaalisa now. It was none of my business anyway: I was now even more worried about my mother.

Within minutes Mr Kapoor's body was wheeled out. The chants turned into wails. I could not bear the sight of the hysteria and went down for a smoke. Since his face was covered, I never got to see Mr Kapoor -- the man whose medical bulletins I had begun to follow just because his case was as bad as my mother's.

My mother, in spite of having a diabetes-weakened heart, was destined to live. She returned to Kanpur. Life returned to normal. And nine months later, I moved to Chennai, with the blessings of my mother. I was a bit hesitant to take up a job in Chennai, about 2,000 km away from Kanpur, considering she had just undergone a bypass surgery. But she asked me to go ahead: she was very fond of Chennai because she had spent much of her childhood here and spoke Tamil fluently. For her Chennai was still Madras, even though in day to day conversations with me she would take care to refer to the city as Chennai. That should make Karunanidhi happy.

Whatever I am today is because I live in Chennai, a place I might not have even thought of coming but for the encouragement by my mother. When it comes to taking important decisions in your life, you must always listen to the women -- be it your mother, wife, girlfriend or almost-girlfriend. They will never show you the wrong door.

Today is also the first anniversary of my last meeting with my mother. I have always made it a point to be home in Kanpur during Diwali, and any visit other than during Diwali has been purely whimsical. Last March, after I had just submitted the final manuscript of Chai, Chai to the publishers, I suggested to my wife that we pay a visit to Delhi and Kanpur. In Delhi my wife and I caught up with respective long-lost friends, while our visit to Kanpur reminded my parents that they also had a son other than Naano, the dog who would refuse to sleep unless he was allowed to rest his head on my mother's pillow.

In other words, the same time last year, Naano was alive, and so was my mom. That was the last time I was happy, really happy. Naano died in April, hit by a car as he joyfully sprang out of home in search of respite from the attention he got at home. I knew mother wouldn't last too long. She died in August.

I had dedicated Chai, Chai to my parents: I had no idea my mother would die barely a week before the book came out of the press. She never lived to see her son's first book. Worse, I am going to dedicate the book I am writing on Chennai to "the memory of my late mother." How I wish she was alive to read her son's book about a city she loved so much. She would have loved the book. For her, her son could never go wrong.


Writing, to me, is a lot like having a bath on a freezing winter morning in a geyser-less bathroom. Since the water spewed by the shower is bone-chilling, you rarely have the courage to stand under it straight after getting into the bathroom.

You have foreplay with the water first: you show your palms to it and slowly wet your arms. If courage still shows no signs of showing up, you raise one foot under the shower and then the other. If courage is still elusive, you put your head under the shower and wet your hair. It is only when you are left with no more choices or are running horribly out of time that you finally decide to take the fusillade of chilling water on your chest. The torture lasts for a few seconds but after that you can spend hours soaping yourself under the shower.

Something similar happens to me when I get back home every night and switch on the laptop in order to write. I stare at the blank screen for a while and if nothing comes to my mind, I get up to fix a drink. It would have been easier if I had a Man Friday who served me a drink, but that would not have served the purpose. The idea is to let your thoughts ferment while you go about finding a glass and getting some water from the kitchen to pour into the whiskey.

Once I return to the computer with my glass and if inspiration still refuses to strike, I take two sips and try writing a sentence. That's the test. If the first sentence is spontaneously followed by another and yet another, you are on. If not, you have to think all over again. And in order to think all over again, you try not to think for a while and look up the list of friends online on Gmail.

At one in the night, there are not many friends online, but those who are there are your kind: people kept up by an unexplained restlessness. They are drawn to the night like moths to the flame. It is only in the night that you talk to yourself: the rest of the day you are talking to others. And when two people talking to themselves talk to each other, you get sufficiently warmed up to stand directly under the chilling shower. By then, the alcohol would also have had its desired effect. Sentences start flowing.

I am sure the result would be the same, maybe even better, if one started writing at the crack of dawn, after a good night's sleep, instead of midnight. Sentences will come to you if you summon them with sincerity: you don't need help in the form of alcohol or online friends. But can't help it. Just like you have a style of writing, you also have a way of writing. We are slaves of habit.

Also, in order to write, you need to think. What can make you think more than the silence of the night, the stimulation provided by alcohol and the solace offered by the invisible arms of an online friend?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


During the past one month or so, thanks to Facebook, I have bumped into a number of my schoolmates -- people I last met some 20 years ago. Go through the friends' list of one and you find two others, and then you go to their friends' lists and discover a few more, and so on. It is strange, rather not strange at all, that you remember their names without any distortion that time might induce. As if it was just the other day when you sat in the same classroom -- oh well, it was.

Twenty years is a very, very long time -- toddlers get past teenage, teenagers become middle-aged, the middle-aged become old -- but the moment you reconnect, it all comes back in a flash. As if time never passed. Suddenly the cacophony of the classroom begins to hum like a bee around your ears. You find the pranks, the rivalries and the bonding being played out in front of your eyes on the screen. Time may be a great healer, but it is powerless when it comes to dimming the memories of your childhood, your adolescence.

I distinctly remember an incident that took place when we had just moved from Class 7 to Class 8. It was our day one in Class 8, and the new class teacher -- a good-looking but stern woman who had newly joined the school -- was laying down the do's and don'ts for us when an impish classmate (he's now on my Facebook) drew my attention to the girl sitting ahead of us.

He whispered to me, "Yaar, tujhe lagta nahin ki uski jeb kuchh bhari bhari si lag rahi hai?" -- Pal, don't you think her pocket looks a bit filled out? He was right: the breast pocket of her shirt was indeed bulging, which was not the case when we saw her in Class 7. To my great horror, the girl turned her head and gave us an amused look before returning her attention to the new teacher. She had heard the whisper. I was so embarrassed and angry that I ignored my impish classmate for the rest of the day.

Life is all about physical change. Some changes are welcome, some have to be reconciled to. But change one must, in order to live. The physical changes that take place in the two months that partition Class 7 and Class 8 are the welcome sort: the girl eagerly wants to be a young woman, while the boy eagerly wants to become a man.

On the other hand, the changes that take place in the 20 years that partition the Class 12 farewell party and the discovery of each other on Facebook are the ones that have to be reconciled to. Girls with bulging pockets suddenly become women who worry about their pockets drooping, while men who till the other day found it funny to see hair sprouting on their genitals now worry about losing the hair on their heads. The process is called aging.

Aging can be easy and acceptable if two people watch each other age. But it can strike you like a thunder if you reconnect with a classmate after 20 frozen years. You look at your respective profile pictures and suddenly realise that you are no longer those two boys in the classroom. That's not all: what's more heartbreaking is when you realise you are no longer the same people. It is so easy to reconnect, but so difficult to connect after the reconnection.

Why I am saying this is because AM and I bumped into each other on Facebook only two days ago. AM used to be my best friend during my adolescent days, and life was unimaginable without him back then. He was the smart, handsome guy, who the girls in school and college had nicknamed as 'Aamir Khan'. It was he, and his two outrageously mischievous friends, who taught me how to smoke and it was in their company that I had my first ever drink in life. And it was they who introduced me to the world of porn: how can I ever forget the countless Malayalam movies we'd watched in Kanpur theatres!

Today, I am a habitual smoker and I cannot write meaningful stuff unless I am sure there is enough alcohol to last me the night. And when I am unable to proceed from one sentence to another, I often seek distraction in porn in order to clear my head. All this, because of the training I had received from AM early on in life.

I spoke to AM yesterday. After 18 years! What a joyous moment. Like me, he too remembered names and details. It was as if we had met only the night before. We spoke for about an hour and promised to meet up soon. He also suggested that we all -- his two impish friends included -- meet up once again in Kanpur for old time's sake.

"Do you still drink and smoke?" I asked him.

"No yaar," he replied, "I gave up all that seven years ago."

Their boyish faces shone clearly in my mind as I visualised a get-together. What fun it would be. Would it be? The men who taught me how to smoke would perhaps ask me to step out to the pavement to smoke during the get-together.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Of Swamis And Sex

So yet another swami has been caught in a sex scandal. Don't you feel like saying: "Big fucking deal?" Only that in these days of spycam and You Tube, whenever a swami is caught, you have the privilege of watching him in the act. And that's when you realise that the swami is as human as you. But it is you humans who first make a God out of him and then stone him once you realise that his desires are very human.

The question is, why do need a swami to make life easier for you? Hasn't God given you sufficient brains to sort out your problems for yourself? But no, you still need a swami to tell you the obvious things in life. Such as, death and disease are inevitable, or, whatever happens happens for the good. If assurance is all you want, why don't you buy a copy of the Bhagavad Gita? It will cost you barely a hundred rupees and you will have none other than Lord Krishna counselling you -- directly. Yet you fall for these long-haired bogus bastards?

Actually I don't blame the so-called swamis at all: for them swamiship is a lucrative career option. They are smart people and I salute them for that. In which other profession do you get so much of respect as well as cash and female attention, that too without going to college ever? Being a poet could have been one such profession provided you were Rabindranath Tagore, who barely went to school but still had fame kissing his feet and women eating out if his hands. But Tagore was called Gurudev, not a guru or a swami.

Today, it is so easy to match -- or even beat -- Tagore. All you need to do is grow long hair and learn the Bhagavad Gita by heart and set up a camp in a small town. In the beginning you may have just 20 followers, but if you are convincing enough during your discourses, then the number will soon grow to 200, then 2,000 and finally 200,000. It's like spreading your business over the years. If our swamis were all incarnations of god, then why do they have minuscule following in the beginning and not start directly with a following of 20 million? That's because they are nothing but ambitious businessmen seeking to expand their base and following. More the following, more the money and women (or men, depending on the sexual orientation of the swami). Yet gullible Indians fall for them.

A perfect swami, according to me, is someone who has given up the pleasures and luxuries of life, which includes sex. Such a swami, according to me, either lives in the Himalayas, cut off from human civilisation, or works selflessly and relentlessly to save the civilisation without expecting his followers to build an opulent ashram for him. When a swami demonstrates a materialistic expectation or desire, you can be sure that his sexual desires are alive as well.

Sex is the nucleus of human existence whichever way you look at it -- pleasure or procreation. You just can't do without it as long as you are living amid fellow humans, no matter how strong-willed a swami you are. And as long as he does not intimidate or con women into bed claiming special powers, even a swami is entitled to some fun.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


Walking in the desert
not a twig in sight
under the scorching sun
waiting for the night

But night is far away
for the day has just begun
Of what happened yesterday
today is another rerun

Sweat-soaked, deep in thought
you wonder: what if?
Lo behold, a crevice opens
and you plunge into its whiff

Streams wash your sore feet
pleasures compensate your pains
angels give you fruits to eat
In Netherland happiness rains.