Saturday, 21 February 2015


It comes once a year for everyone and passes by in a flash. I have always wondered about this day and its significance in our lives. It’s the day we were all born, our Birthdays.

What’s it about Birthdays that makes the world go round? Do we really care about Birthdays or has the pressure of society made this occasion bigger than what it should be? More so, why was Happy even added as a permanent pre-fix. Why not Wise Birthday? Sexy Birthday? Or Vintage Single Malt Birthday? Elusive as she is, happiness is too much of an expectation. Why put this extra pressure on day by declaring to all and sundry that this day cannot be anything except “Happy” !!

For some it’s a day they look forward to; for some it’s a day that brings back melancholic memories apart from the fact that you’re growing older, balder et al. For some it’s a day of partying and for some it’s a day of no fuss. For me it has always been a day where I have wanted to give partying a miss, just sit back and be myself.  However, seldom have I succeeded. Call it peer pressure or the inability to say no to loved ones, I have always ended up either throwing a party or going out for one, the only exception being my 40th when I took off alone to Istanbul to bring it in.And at these parties that I have thrown the question is ask is is actually celebrating ??.. Me for being alive another year ..or everyone around for the fact that I was born J a nutshell ,who is paying for it !!

Birthdays get more and more complex as we grow older. The more years that we have been here the more memories we collect, all varying in intensity and enormity. These memories, mostly of people who’ve entered and exited our lives, are carefully stacked away. Birthdays do the honors of pulling open the floodgates to this deluge. All it takes is a message, a call or a birthday wish from someone to trigger off this downpour of memories you’d prefer to keep away from on any given day. These people who were once an integral part of your life are more often than not no longer around.

It’s sweet that for me and I’m sure most of us, our mothers still believe that we wake up at 7 in the morning because that’s the time she calls to wish me a happy birthday. The calls don’t stop. The messages keep coming one after the other. It was easier when there was just one form of communication, which was the telephone. People called you, you thanked them for the wishes, bantered on for a few wasted minutes and that was the end of it. But in this world of social media, you are bombarded with wishes from every possible line of communication. God help you if you feel obligated to reply to all of them personally. You’d spend your entire day doing only that.

Its not about who all wished, but sometimes its about those who didn’t and the questions on why they didn’t. Did they forget MY birthday? Are they upset? When day gets over and in our mental excel sheet we make a list of who called and who didn’t it true that the pleasure of people calling and wishing us is overtaken by the dampner that envelopes us when we make a list of those who didn’t ??

Every year you will have some new people, seasonal friends if I may call them, who will join the party that wishes you and then go away the next year. If you are doing well and life has been kind to you, strangers will wish you on your birthday and if things are not going well, that list will diminish. As a famous film maker told me once, the measure of your success in Bollywood can be measured by the amount of flowers you get on your Birthday until the day the flowers will stop coming. Another fday when we are smacked right in the face with our professional standing in life J

For some people I know, as for myself, birthdays are also a time to get in touch with your mortality. In your youth you never question it. But once you get older its almost like the clock is ticking backwards and not forward, a year less, like a countdown. And every year you knock off another year

So whats the big deal about Birthdays ??

I don’t know the answers, but as I get older, more questions will arise. I guess it’s a way of justifying my resistance to this futile practice of counting years. Everyday should be a re-birth, friends shouldn’t be seasonal and hey ..who ever needed a reason to party?

So Happy Birthday to me J

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

2951 Down Rajdhani Express

It had been boiling for a while and then one day I bit the bullet; I took a train journey from Mumbai to Delhi. Living life in the fast lane had meant that trips were always planned at the last minute was always at a premium so flights had become the norm. But this time due to a combination of factors the train journey was on and am I glad I took it.

There are many things that link us to our childhood or to a time when the pressure to maintain a lifestyle and a career path were not the dominant forces of our life. For me, a trip on the Rajdhani express was one of them. It was the train that brought me to Bombay from Delhi as a 23 year old; the premium train that only the “rich” took on their trips between Delhi and Mumbai and the cream of that rich travelled 1st AC and that is what I booked for this trip. I was ready to connect with a time gone by.

The first whiff of a fuming railway station and I knew this would be a fun trip. The coolie who used to charge 50 INR to carry my bags to the train was today asking for 120 INR. I was happy to pay him 200. His name was Mahendra, 56 years old, had been working at Bombay Central for the past 23 years and in all probability, had seen many youngsters like me come to Bombay for the first time. Every wrinkle and bead of sweat had a story to tell.

The hooting of the horn and the train was off at exactly 16:50. Like clockwork things started to happen in the train and the first thing I looked for and found was the emergency chain. The chain that you saw people pull to grind the train to a stop in Hindi films but in real life you never really dared to do. It was there, at the same place where I had last seen it…. still, I guess, waiting to be pulled.

Then came Md Hamid, my train attendant and like I had seen my Uncle do it, I gave him 500 INR, he used to give him 50 INR. All the rules after that were non existent for me, I was allowed to smoke standing at the door of the bogey, I could mix my drink in the bottle of coke that he got me and I was given two extra pillows, things that I considered royal during our growing up years when we saw them happen.
Standing at the door smoking a cigarette you saw India once again, the villages that passed you by, the tractors carrying people home from work, the lone station master at a small descript station that passed you by as he waved the green flag allowing the majestic Rajdhani Express to pass, the lights that came on as the sun set in small houses that dotted the horizon, the train guard who got ready to offer his namaaz as it became 7.30, the attendant letting you know that the train was running 20 mins late but “raat ko cover kar legi”, families travelling together for summer holidays and the kids excited to be sitting with their grand parents going back to their “native” place. It was like getting in touch with a part that you hardly get to see as you live life in the fast lane. The food still tasted the same as it was when I last took this journey, generous helpings and smiles as they train staff fed you happily, the joy of getting an extra helping of grilled chicken…It all felt the same.
In hindsight, the tomato soup tasted even better than before, maybe because it was seasoned with so many memories.

And then the night came and like clockwork again the families got ready to sleep. It was just 9.30 p.m. A time that seemed alien to me but for everyone else it was time to tuck in and I stood at the door once again just looking at darkness going past. Everything moving yet calm and still. Everyone, I’m sure, had worries and troubles but life seemed more peaceful in the small towns and cities that passed me by.

What is about train journeys that fascinates me...

Is it the silence from the world that it gives the mind which is craving for some quiet moments
Or is it the peace the eyes find when they sight the landscape passing us by opening their arms for us

I sit there..looking outside as my soul tries to find a meaning in the passing world tries to connect with every passing tree ..with every passing hill top

In every sight I try and find a glimpse of my past that have made me who I am..the person that I have become

I look at my co passengers ...sitting in silence as they move from one place to another in this train with me

Everyone has some place to be ..someone that is waiting for them to arrive..another destination to reach ..another person to meet

With every station a few people get off and some new ones join In..carrying with them the same desire to be somewhere ..leaving behind old memories and making new ones

They sit and watch the same sights go past ...Everyone making their own impression with every sight and with every passing station...

What are they thinking I ask myself ..are they taking in life's beauty as it unfolds with every  revolution of the wheel ..or are they just counting the minutes it will take for them to reach their destination

Is the meaning of life being seen in the never ending landscape that passes us by ..or are they just hazy images that our mind makes nothing of ..

Why is that person sitting across me smiling looking deep in thoughts ..why does the woman sitting away from me have such a sad look on her face passengers with their thoughts

I look at them ...wanting to strike a conversation ..wanting to share my thoughts ...tell them what I feel ...listen to them talk to me ..but I stop..letting them make their own journey for themselves

I sit in silence ..looking outside ...waiting for the next sight to unfold life ...till I reach my station ..not wanting this journey to end ..even though I know it will ..for someone else to start theirs I end mine

“There were things that gave me immense happiness and pleasure when I didn’t have the money and stardom, why should they stop being pleasurable now when I have the money and stardom” a line Shah Rukh Khan had said to me during one of my interviews with him. It was a line that I lived today.

Take a break, reconnect with a time gone by, in any way that you can. Believe me, it was a much happier place.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014


You are not the number of years the calendar says you have lived on this planet.
You are not the weight that the weighing scale gargles up when you stand on it.
You are not the colour of your eyes or your skin.
You are not the reflection in the mirror.
You are not the perfumes you wear or the watches you sport.
You are not the fancy car that you drive or the clothes that drape you.
You are not your bank balance or the credit cards that you carry in your wallet.
You are not the number of deals you clinch or the number of miles you fly.  
You are not your name, the God that you pray to or the religion you follow.
You are not the surname you inherit from your husband or your father or the one thrust upon by civilization. 

But the who are you ??

You are all the books you read and all the words you speak
You’re the smiles that you spread and the tears that you wipe away.
You are the laughter that comes from your heart and the pain that you try not to show the world.
You are the light in your children eyes and the pride in your parents smile.
You are the songs that you sing all alone when no one is listening and the characters you become in your dreams at night
You are all the places that you have been to and the people you made memories with.
You are all the women or men that you have been with and the love (sometimes dejection, real emotions nonetheless!) that they hold in their heart for you.
You are the photos in your bedroom, the notes in your journals and the unsent letters in your drawer.
You are the knick-knacks that you have collected from the paths that you have travelled and the T-shirts you refuse to throw away for the smell that they carry.
You are the past that has made you and the future that beckons to be made.

And yet, more often than not, we define ourselves by measures that were never meant to define us at all.  

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Dont Say NO...

It’s a discussion that I have had rather frequently with many and I’m almost always baffled by the arguments that are put forth on this topic. It’s a phenomenon that I have observed at parties, in bars, music concerts; at almost at every place where there is an interaction socially between men and women. There is this palpable air of unapproachability that looms over either of the sexes when trying to build a conversation with the other; a fear of rejection that kills the chance of any kind of relation even before it begins.

Why are we so afraid of rejection? What is so drastic about being rejected that puts so much of doubt in our head about trying anything new? I have heard several reasons on what it means to people, how they doubt their self worth after having faced rejection and how it subsequently how it plays on their confidence levels.How they have had to face rejection in their growing up years ,and how that makes them suffer from low self esteem . I have heard them and understood them. So after considerable theorising on the subject, I will tell you my reasons of why I don’t fear rejection and hopefully they will make some sense.These are my theories and have helped me overcome my fears of rejection

Also before I begin postulating, let me just put it out there, I’m only really talking about rejection in matters of the heart. J

So Here goes…

The one thing that I have always believed in and can be called my mantra is that by being rejected by someone I am not in a worse place than where I was when I started. Think about it, before you approach someone in an effort to begin a relationship, you never had her/him, if she/he rejects you STILL don’t have her/him. So how much of a difference did it make in life to you?
You have to believe that being rejected doesn’t push you back in any way…you will be where you were before. No loss no gain. Think of it as striking of one person from a list of people you might stand a chance with

Now if you have mustered up the courage to make someone a part of your life and you invest your emotions in that but then get rejected, the common complain is that the emotions that got invested were a waste.

Really? Is that completely true? Maybe in the face of soul crushing pain of rejection, the first thing that comes to your mind is what a failure/tragedy that relationship was.

But is it okay to completely disregard the beautiful memories that you created together? What about those moments that were built on these emotions you invested? At that very instant, it made you giddy headed, it made you feel invincible, inexplicably happy. So net net, was it really a waste? I think, not.

If one was to think of the damage that one causes by any manufacturing, nothing would ever be made…anything that is created  will leave some negativity in its wake , but isn’t that stating the obvious? What about the positive that it has created in its fold? No experience will ever leave you with only happy memories and by products ,the negative all also come with it .

Sometimes the main thing that we need to understand about rejection, is that its not about us …its about circumstances. It’s about other things that are happening in someone’s life. It’s about what they are feeling…it’s very easy to make everything especially rejection about us …but its not. Sometimes people reject the idea of a relationship or the chance of a relationship because they don’t want one or they don’t need one or just because THEY and not you, suffer from some fucked up chemical flux in their head. It’s not about what you want…it’s about what they want

And lets admit it being rejected is the by-product of the game of courtship. I believe that feelings don’t cause us hurt and harm. It’s our failure to deal with the consequences of our feelings that cause us pain. If we devise a method to deal with the by products of rejection, then the fear of rejection will no longer scare us. If we start believing that being rejected is not always about us, its not the end of the road and its not put you in any worse spot that you already were in, maybe the fear will stop hounding us .We all have to start thinking that the end result is not always what makes the journey so wonderful, it’s the moments we gather along the way that make it worth it, however it may end.   

So for all those that fear rejection, you have only two choices; One; Keep fearing it and do not step forward, in that case your chances of success are 0% …or step forward and take the leap…chances of success 50%.

Even mathematically it makes logical sense! So don’t be afraid of No, just be prepared for it. And remember, it might just be a YES ;)