Counter Strike
My take on the things and events in the world.


Monday, October 20, 2008
The actual meaning of Dua is prayer. But I tend to think of it as just a wish. Being a non-believer that's the only way I can explain this poem of mine. I haven't prayed to God for years now and neither do I have any intentions to do so in the foreseeable future. But as they say, there is a God-shaped hole in all of us and sometime or the other we try to fill this God-shaped hole with something similar to it. This was probably my time to do it. To add to the rarity of the situation I wrote it to wish someone happy birthday. I normally don't remember anniversaries let alone making sure to wish even my near and dear ones. I even don't like to celebrate my own birthday and find it a little embarrassing when people wish me or make me blow the candles or cut the cake. Anyhow, I wrote it. So this long preface is a kind of confession made to those who would find this poem very unlike-me. Also, I wanted to write a congratulatory poem but that's all I could write:

Kya dua doon tumhe main aaj yahi sochta hoon
Har dua lagta hai ki khud ko hi de raha hoon main

Gar kahoon khush raho, muskuraao, sadaa abaad raho
Muskurate ho tum, tabhi to has raha hoon main

Jo kahoon umr-e-daraaz pao tum hazaar baras
Dekh kar tumko hi toh duniya mein jee raha hoon main

Kya dua doon tumhe main aaj yahi sochta hoon
Har dua lagta hai ki khud ko hi de raha hoon main...
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If You Could Read My Mind...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008
It has been quite some time now since I last updated my blog. It isn't that I have been too busy to write or didn't find any topic worth a post. In fact there are a lots of issues that wanted to write about. A lot has been happening on the political front and in my personal life. I hate to admit this but I just couldn't get my act together. It was pure laziness in most cases. Also, somehow I am unable to complete any artistic work in last 3-4 months. Even if I leave alone my unfinished portrait, the only poem I could finish in this time was about someone very close to me. And even that person didn't like it. Hooo... So here I am, writing about a song that deeply touched my heart. It was written by Gordon Lightfoot at a time when he was going though a divorce with his first wife. I was listening to it almost daily. And guess what, I just got inspired and decided to wave a poem around the thoughts that this amazing work invoked. But now, I don't think I would be able to finish it either. But I can obviously share something that someone else was able to finish:

If you could read my mind, love,
What a tale my thoughts could tell.
Just like an old time movie,
'Bout a ghost from a wishing well.
In a castle dark or a fortress strong,
With chains upon my feet.
You know that ghost is me.
And I will never be set free
As long as I'm a ghost that you can't see.

If I could read your mind, love,
What a tale your thoughts could tell.
Just like a paperback novel,
The kind the drugstores sell.
Then you reached the part where the heartaches come,
The hero would be me.
But heroes often fail,
And you won't read that book again
Because the ending's just too hard to take!

I'd walk away like a movie star
Who gets burned in a three way script.
Enter number two:
A movie queen to play the scene
Of bringing all the good things out in me.
But for now, love, let's be real;
I never thought I could feel this way
And I've got to say that I just don't get it.
I don't know where we went wrong,
But the feeling's gone
And I just can't get it back.

If you could read my mind, love,
What a tale my thoughts could tell.
Just like an old time movie,
'Bout a ghost from a wishing well.
In a castle dark or a fortress strong.
With chains upon my feet.
But stories always end,
And if you read between the lines,
You'd know that I'm just tryin' to understand
The feelin's that you lack.
I never thought I could feel this way
And I've got to say that I just don't get it.
I don't know where we went wrong,
But the feelin's gone
And I just can't get it back!


Here is the man himself singing it live.

And a more recent adaptation.

Its amazing! Isn't it? The lines that bowled me over:

Then you reached the part where the heartaches come,
The hero would be me.
But heroes often fail,
And you won't read that book again
Because the ending's just too hard to take!

And if you read between the lines,
You'd know that I'm just tryin' to understand
The feelin's that you lack.
I never thought I could feel this way
And I've got to say that I just don't get it.
I don't know where we went wrong,
But the feelin's gone
And I just can't get it back!

I have made a fresh start now. Lets hope I am able to get it back. I would really like to keep publishing my thoughts regularly.
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Being God’s Neighbor

Tuesday, August 05, 2008
I have recently moved to a new apartment which is a bit closer to campus. The interesting thing about my new habitat is that it has three churches in 100 m radius. One of them is right in front of the apartment. So how would it be to live in the vicinity of god? I know that in India if you have a home near to a temple or dargah, life becomes hell (hell is also part of god’s kingdom). You would have that religious cacophony with C-grade lyrics and music copied from popular bollywood songs torturing you day and night. And you can’t do a damn thing about it. You can get away with anything in India except taking on anything that is remotely religious. I am not expecting that here in States. The issues are a bit different here. One of my American friends told me that the church that is right in front my apartment primarily targets homosexual people. Their services and events are designed to cater to the needs of these children of god who are not liked by most of the churches in mid-west. Although I don’t believe in god and am not in favor of organized religion, I like to visit Churches, Mosques and temples now and then. I would have to be careful with this one though. Whether in India or US, being god’s neighbor is not a joke after all.

Also, I am a bit humbled to have Him as my next door neighbor. Ghalib wrote this when he shifted his residence to the vicinity of a mosque:
Masjid kay zere saya ik ghar bana liya hai
Yeh banda-e-kameena humsaya-e-khuda hai.
And I truly share his sentiment.
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Lotus Blooms Across Vindhyas

Sunday, May 25, 2008
Bhartiya Janata Party scored a historic win on Sunday in Karnataka and is all set to form its first govt. south of Vindhyachal. This victory has made it clear that that BJP is no longer just a north Indian cow-belt party but has a pan-India appeal. BJP has been the only party that has been able to challenge congress in a real sense in the last 60 years. It is good for democracy and for people of India to have a real choice.

Karnataka has been a traditional congress bastion that stood by it even after emergency. Congress took it for granted and people of Karnataka have chosen to reject to be taken for granted any more. It is a positive mandate for Mr. Yeddyurappa and for the party that talks about development and a mandate against petty politics played by parties like JDS and Congress. My best wishes for Mr Yeddyurappa. I, like many other people hope that he would be able to provide a good administration and would put Karnataka back on the development track.

Congress once again blamed the defeat on the division of the secular vote. Come on Sonia ji! There was nothing like communal vs. secular in Karnataka. BJP in fact, did very well in Muslim majority seats like last time and simply walked over congress in reserved (SC/ST) seats. This should be an eye opener for Congress. People are sick of your secular talk. It is time to deliver something on the issues that actually concern people. It was a divided house in congress with no clear leadership. Mr. SM Krishna was forced in at the last moment and did not receive much cooperation from other conrgress leaders like Veerappa Moily, Dharam Singh, Mallikarjuna Karge and Siddharamiah. Isnt it wiered that congress blames local leaders for defeats and praise leadership of Sonia ji and mass appeal of Rahul baba for victories.

But it was not really that bad for congress as it was able to maintain its vote share and number of seats. But it was a real defeat for the Gowda’s. JDS has been routed badly even in their traditional strongholds like south Karnataka. Their lingayat vote also seems to be slipping away. The ‘great betrayal’ cost them very dearly and helped BJP in the form of sympathy vote. But it would be naive to write off Mr Gowda as he is a mass based leader and a seasoned politician.

Congress has lost yet another election and BJP seems to be on a winning spree. If it would continue till general elections in 2009 is any body's guess. It’s too early to call, but anti-incumbency coupled with issues of price-rise and internal security would haunt Congress and UPA in the coming elections. Another thing to keep in mind is that the up coming state elections are in Rajasthan, MP and Chhatisgarh, the states ruled by BJP. So it would be hard for them to maintain the winning streak as anti-incumbency is very hard to tackle in India now-a-days. “Dilli abhi door hai” as they say. And as Iqbaal puts it
Sitaaron se aage jahaan aur bhi hain
Abhi ishq ke imtihaan aur bhi hain
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Moditva - The Rise and Rise of Hindu Terrorism

Thursday, May 15, 2008
Hindutva or fanatic Hindu nationalism is not a new phenomenon in India. It was always present in some form or the other during the freedom struggle and even before that. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the primary organization that promotes this ideology, has been quite active for a long time. Lately, Hindu extremism saw rejuvenation in the late 80’s and came to the center stage of Indian political landscape in the 90’s. And from there on, we have seen it reaching new proportions.

This re-emergence of Hindtuva started primarily after the demolition of Babri mosque in Ayodhya in Dec’ 92. After subsequent events, we have seen dramatic rise of communal tension and as a result of that more and more riots. Hindu-Muslim riots have always happened in India and unfortunately the “secular” police and state have most of the times helped Hindus to kill Muslims. Also, using religion as a tool to win election has never been a taboo for any community. So what is new in Moditva?
Moditva – Hindutva practiced with the help of organized terrorism and supported by large scale manipulation of democratic process.

What happened in Gujarat in 2002 was blatant state terrorism being inflicted upon its own innocent civilians. There can be no excuse to justify it in any way. It’s much worse than Muslim terrorism as organizations such as Lashkar-e-Toiba or SIMI are banned and no longer part of the society or political process. They are criminals and terrorists by definition. But Hindu extremist organizations such as RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena, BJP are very much part of the society and are intact using society and political process to unleash terrorism. And we as civil society are watching the show helplessly. All our constitutional safe-guards have largely failed. Hindu extremism is growing and sadly getting more and more acceptability in the society.

It really frightens me to the core when I think about Muslim youth in India hearing venomous speeches by people like Praveen Togadiya and Narendra Modi. How much anger they would have felt, while watching the news about Gujarat massacre! How disillusioned they must be feeling, when India as a country failed to bring those responsible, to justice and people of Gujarat reelected the man who we all know, was the main culprit for massacring thousands of fellow Muslims.

I am amused by the amount of restrain shown by the Muslim community in India. At the same time, the thought troubles me a lot, when I think of the day when all this rage would spill over. And, it would be more unfortunate if that doesn’t happen. The legitimate grievances of an oppressed community should be expressed in some form or the other. In the end, I would like to say that India has to be an egalitarian society and a secular country not only because we want to be but because we would crease to exist if we don’t.
What an irony that the proponents of “Akhand Bharat” are working so hard to validate two-nation theory and make Jinnah’s doubts a reality!

There is no real irony here as the two-nation theory was first proposed by Sangh Parivar's ideologue Savarkar in a session of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1937 - three years before the Muslim League's Pakistan resolution in Lahore. Thanks to a friend for pointing this out.
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Confessions of an Atheist - Part I (The Big Question)

Sunday, May 04, 2008
"What is your aim in life?" asked one of my best friends while we were enjoying 'free lunch' at work.

"Umm..., I don’t have any aim..." was my frank reply.

"What do you mean you don’t have any aim? You gotta have some purpose to your life..." he shot back as if I was the only guy in the world who didn’t have any defined aim. This was one of those rare occasions, when he probably saw an opportunity to win an argument with me.

I started eating my sweet dish before finishing the meal just to get some time to think. "I take my life one stride at a time and don’t think beyond 5 years. I set new objectives when I have achieved what I earlier aimed for" was my reply.

"I am asking about your overall objective" he was relentless.

"I don’t have any overall objective and I don’t think that it is necessary" I replied as if I knew that I was right and found the discussion completely useless.

"What is _your_ overall aim?" this was my turn now and I expected to catch him on wrong foot.

But he was well prepared for the question and probably was expecting it. "I wanna go into space." he said looking at me with eyes filled with strong determination and face lit up with confidence.

We went on to argue until we finished eating and as usual didn’t reach any conclusion. As a last ditch effort to convince him that I have a valid point, I later sent him this sher written by Allama Iqbal on chat:

Har makaam se aage makaam hai tera
Hayat zauq-e-safar ke siwa kuchh aur nahi

Frankly, I myself wasn’t sure of what I was arguing for and I now realize that I had no idea of what we were talking about.

(To be continued...)
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Monday, April 28, 2008
Watched Shayam Benegal's Mammo yesterday. Although I regard all his movies very highly except may be Zubeida, this one according to me is one of his best works. Farida Jalaal as Mammo is brilliant and gives her most memorable performance. The way Shayam Benegal tells the narrative of human relations torn apart by political boundaries touches your heart and makes you wonder if national/regional identities matter at all. Kudos to Mr. Benegal for creating such a beautiful piece of art and making my Sunday evening such a treat! To add to my pleasure, movie had a beautiful Nazm sung by Jagjit Singh and written by Gulzar Sahab. It liked the lyrics (specially the last sher) so much that I just cant stop listening to it. Here is the text:

Ye faasale teri galiyon ke hamase taiy na hue
Hazaar baar ruke ham hazaar baar chale

Na jaane kaun si matti watan ki matti thi
Nazar mein dhool jigar mein liye ghubaar chale

Ye kaisi sarhadein ulajhi hui hain pairon mein
Ham apane ghar ki taraf uth ke baar baar chale

Na raasta kahin thehra na manzilen thehrin
Ye umr udati hui gard mein guzaar chale


The Nazm can be downloaded here:
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Mohammed Rafi Tu Bahut Yaad Aaya

Tuesday, April 08, 2008
My roommate today reminded me of this absolutely awesome song, sung brilliantly by one and only Mohammed Rafi. Very few singers know this art of blending feelings and emotions into their voice. Rafi was master of that art.

Watch it here if embedded video isnt working: or

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Kabhi Kabhi.....(The Original Poem)

Thursday, March 27, 2008
Sahir Ludhiyanvi wrote many deep-meaning songs for movies. Some of my favorites are "chalo ek baar phir se ajnabi ban jaayen hum donon", "yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai" and "kabhi kabhi mere dil mein khayal aata hai". Sahir Ludhiyanvi wasn’t just a lyrist, but was a shayar in the true sense. "Kabhi kabhi" was in fact a poem from his collection Talkhiyan. Amitabh Bachchan recited the simplified version brilliantly in the movie with the same name. The original poem is much longer and much more difficult to understand. But once you understand the meaning, its just beautiful and more meaningful than the film version. I found a video of Sahir Saheb reciting the original poem himself on youtube (couldn’t believe my luck):

And here is the text of the original poem along with meanings of difficult words:

Kabhi kabhi mere dil mein khayaal aata hai...

Ke zindagi teri zulfon ki narm chhaon mein
Guzarane paati to shaadaab ho bhi sakati thi
Ye teergi jo meri zeest ka muqaddar hai
Teri nazar ki shuaon mein kho bhi sakati thi

Ajab na tha ke main begaana-e-alam reh kar
Tere jamaal ki raanaaiyon mein kho rahata
Tera gudaaz badan teri neem-baaz aankhein
Inhin haseen fazaaon mein mehav ho rahata

Pukaratin mujhe jab talkhiyan zamaane ki
Tere labon se halaawat ke ghoont pi leta
Hayaat cheekhati phirti barahana-sar, aur main
Ghaneri zulfon ke saaye mein chhup ke ji leta

Magar ye ho na saka, aur ab ye aalam hai
Ke tu nahin, tera gham, teri justajoo bhi nahin
Guzar rahi hai kuchh is tarah zindagi, jaise
Ise kisi ke sahaare ki aarazoo bhi nahin

Zamaane bhar ke dukhon ko lagaa chuka hun gale
Guzar raha hun kuchh anjaani rahguzaaron se
Muheeb saaye meri simt badhate aate hain
Hayaat-o-maut ke pur-haul khaar-zaaron se

Na koi jaada na manzil na roshani ka suraag
Bhatak rahi hai khalaaon mein zindagi meri
Inhin khalaaon mein rah jaoonga kabhi khokar
Main jaanata hun meri hum-nafas, magar yun hi

Kabhi kabhi mere dil mein khayaal aata hai...

Shaadaab - Blissful
Teergi - Darkness
Shuaon - Brightness
Begana-e-alam - Alien to sadness/grief
Jamaal - Beauty
Raanaaiyon - Elegance
Gudaaz - Tender
Neem-baaz - Half-open
Mehav - Drowned
Talkhiyan – Bitterness’s
Halaawat - Deliciousness
Hayaat - Life
Barahana-sar - Uncovered-head
Rahguzaaron - Paths
Muheeb - Dreadful
Simt - Direction
Hayaat-o-maut - Life and death
Pur-haul - Full of terror
khaar-zaaron - Small trees with many thorns
Jaada - Path
Khalaaon - Vacuum
Hum-nafas - Companion, Of the same breath

Here is the one recited by Amitji (Jump to 02:09):

For me the real theme of the poem is in these lines:

Magar ye ho na saka, aur ab ye aalam hai
Ke tu nahin, tera gham, teri justajoo bhi nahin

Try to think about something that you loved dearly and couldn’t get. And try to imagine yourself in a state where you don’t have it, you don’t grieve the loss and don’t have any desire to get it either. All the three are conditions are so difficult to attain simultaneously, at least for me. But once you understand this state of mind of poet, the meaning of the entire poem changes. It is no longer just a ghamgheen poem! Listen to it again...
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I am finally done with my Ghazal on the concept of Life. I would like to extend a spacial thanks to a dear friend for proof reading it and helping out in coming up with a nice title. Mulahiza farmaiye:

Zindagi iss kadar tanha kyon hai?
Maut se iss kadar pinha kyon hai?

Woh jo jaane hai qayamat ka matlab
Maut se iss kadar darta kyon hai?

Har koi jeeney ko lutf kehta hai
Zeest sabki toh ghamzada kyon hai?

Zulm sehne ko buzdili maana
Dukh ko sehna phir hausala kyon hai?

Marna gar na-gawaar hai tujhko
Hasti-e-faani pe marta kyon hai?

Kaun hoon main, kahan hoon, meri hasti kya hai?
Kaun hai tu mere jaisa, mujhsa dikhta kyon hai?

Zeest - Life
Pinha - Concealed
Ghamzada - Filled with sorrow
Na-gawaar - Distasteful
Hasti-e-faani - Mortal life/body
Raqeeb - Enemy
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Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Tammana-e-dil bekarar hui jaati hai
Zindagi aur bhi dushwar hui jaati hai

Aankh se khwab bahut door hue jaaten hain
Asliyat khwab se bhi door hui jaati hai

Har khushi dil ko ghamgheen kiye jaati hai
Ek tere gham se zindagi shadab hui jaati hai

Main isse har kadam humrah kiye rehta hoon
Meri vahshat mujh se hi bezaar hui jaati hai

Firaaq - Separation
Shadab - Blissful
Vahshat - Solitude
Bezaar - Fed-up
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Duniya Mein Hoon Duniya Ka Talabgar Nahi Hoon

Sunday, March 23, 2008
My shyarana mood continues and so does my musings on the concept of life. I should be able to finish and share my new ghazal on the same topic very soon. In the meanwhile, I came across this beautiful ghazal by Seemaab Akbarabadi that I thought was worth sharing:
Duniya mein hoon duniya ka talabgar nahi hoon
Bazaar se guzra hoon kharidar nahi hoon

Zinda hoon magar zeest ki lazzat nahi baaqi
Har-chand ke hoon hosh mein hoshiyaar nahi hoon

Is khana-e-hasti se guzar jaoonga belaus
Saaya hoon faqut naqsh ba-deewar nahi hoon

Woh gul hoon khizan ne jise barbad kiya hai
Uljoon kisi daman se main woh khar nahi hoon

Talabgar - Desirous
Zeest - Life
Lazzat - Pleasure
Har-chand - Always
Khana-e-hasti - Existence
Belaus - Without gains
Faqut - Just
Naqsh ba-deewar - Carving on the wall
Khizan - Autumn
Khar - Thorn

(Main source:
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Taslima Nasreen Vs "Secular" India

Friday, March 21, 2008
What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.

How true is this statement by Salman Rushdie! I have neither read Lajja nor Dwikhandito. I am also aware that that these works of art might offend some Muslims or other people in general. If that is so, we should protest in peaceful and civilized manner like grown up gentlemen. A work of art or a book is just a version of the world by its writer's perspective. Truth is one but everyone sees that truth differently. If you don't like someones views, come up with your own version, argue and show the world how your perspective is better. That is how a progressive and open civil society should work.

But the actual point here wasn't the views expressed by Taslima Nasreen in her books that she even took back after those planned demonstrations. The point is that how these communal forces (read CPIM and Congress) used these religious sentiments to divert media attention from a public movement in Nandigram and then in Kolkata. The real tragedy is that Muslims allowed them to manipulate their religious sentiments and we as a "secular" civil society watched the show helplessly. Worse, those who did this, are now claiming to be the champions of Muslim cause. This, according to me, is a complete and collective failure of the system and society.

Both her books have been in print for long and she too has been living in India for a some years now. So what happened suddenly? Answer is Nandigram (see The Ugly Face of Communism in India). When people started protesting in Kolkata against violence in Nandigram and media stated reporting it in a big way, CPI/CPIM staged these protests against Taslima Nasreen and drove her out of Kolkata. Our central government wasn't war behind. She calls the place she was kept in as "the chamber of torture and death" and has accused government officials and our revered foreign affairs minister and second in command after PM, Mr. Pranabh Mukharjee of mental harassment. GOI made mockery of even basic spirit of human values by not even allowing Mrs Nasreen to see a doctor by citing security reasons. And this ultimately forced Mrs Naseen to take the step that they wanted.

Incident after incident, governments in India are bowing to communal elements and our constitutional institutions have failed to up held the secular spirit that our forefathers enriched in the constitution. Be it Gujrat riots or this latest episode, we are just serving the interest of extremist elements of different communities. We are undermining moderate voices. This not secularism, not even schudo secularism, this is blatant communalism, religious extremism, right on the face. The interesting thing is that we just change our sides based on our interests and our cowardice. Sometimes we align ourselves with Advani and co to bring down Babri mosque and never take any action and at some other time we harass, torture and throw out a liberal writer out of the country.

You took the right decision to leave India, Mrs Nasreen. India is no longer an open and progressive society. We are now becoming a model failed state that doesn't follow its own laws but is governed by diktats of fundamentalist of every religion and cast. She herself described the situation after leaving India as:

"A person who couldn't be scared by fundamentalists has been defeated by cold-blooded state terrorism inflicted by the Indian government. My terrible experience has shattered all my notions about a secular, democratic India.”

So has mine! Sadly, I no longer consider India a secular country after watching and analyzing the political developments in last 15-20 years. Right from Shah Bano case to Babri demolition, and from Gujrat massacre to Taslima's exile. It is a shame for all those who call themselves secular and liberal but don't have the guts to take a stand to defend it. Shame on you CPIM, shame on you UPA and shame on you India for being such a spineless communal state.

In the end, instead of Ghalib, I would like to quote actor Nana Patekar's dialog that captures my rage and frustration more appropriately:

Saala ek machhar aadmi ko hijra bana deta hai.

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Life or Death

Wednesday, March 19, 2008
To be, or not to be, that is the question.

As Shakespeare asks in Hamlet, is it better to live or die? Is it better to keep battling with life's challenges than to surrender and embrace death? On the other hand, isn't living just because you are not dead like everybody else, a form of inaction or running away? If life is always a misery, isn't it cowardice to bear it silently? Why not revolt? Why not challenge your fate? Why not refuse to suffer and see what death has for us?

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008
जब सवालों भरी निगाहें
बेरुखी के जवाबों से मिलती हैं
तो एक अजीब सी उलझन पैदा होती है
एक कश्मकश
जो बेचैन कर देती है
सरसराहट बन कर
पूरे जिस्म में दौड़ जाती है
और दौड़ती रहती है
आखों में आरज़ू बन कर
ख्वाबों में जुस्तजू बन कर
और दिल में मोहब्बत बन कर
यह आरज़ू है, जुस्तजू भी लेकिन मुहब्बत...
क्योंकि मोहब्बत का जवाब बेरुखी नहीं हो सकता
क्योंकि मोहब्बत तो सवाल है ही नहीं
यह तो जवाब है
सब सवालों का
बेरुखी नहीं...
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Saheb, BB Aur Nawaz

Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Before I start with my analysis of the current situation in Pakistan's political landscape, let me applaud the role of General Musharaf, international community specially USA, all constitutional institutions, media and the people of Pakistan in conducting free and fair elections.

No single party has got clear majority in any of the assemblies (national or state), but PPP and PML(N) are being seen as the winners. PPP as the single largest party is expected for form the govt at the center with support of Nawaz Sharif. Musharraf's future seems bleak at this point as PML(Q), the 'King's Party' or 'Qatil League' has been routed badly in the elections everywhere except in some the rural areas where jagirdaris are quite strong and party symbols matter less.

Nawaz Sharif is playing the role of a king maker here. Unlike Zardari, he is a seasoned politician and is looking at his long term prospects. This assembly, as most people are rightly predicting isn't going to last long. Its risky to predict but two years should be long enough. Nawaz Sharif has already his eyes set on two-third majority in the next election which doesn't seems an unlikely scenario given the fact that PPP would have no Benazir Bhutto next time and nor the sympathy wave, coupled with the anti-incumbecy factor that would go against them. He would need it to make constitutional amendment to enable him to become PM for a third time.

The current direction of born-again jamhuriat looks so similar to what it was in its previous incarnations. The current state of affairs in terms of democracy can be analysed by the fact most people have voted on anti Musharraf plank or due the sympathy factor generated due Mohtarma's assassination. The ruling coalition to-be doesn't seem to have any real political agenda except for a few largely useless and symbolic issues like restoration of judges and removing Mush. Then what? Do they have any plan or capability to tackle with religious extremism? Would they be able to really deliver on the issues concerning common man rather than just playing divisive politics. Would the be able to provide a clean and effective administration instead of increasing their Swiss bank balances? Answers to all these questions seems no. Also, we have a very good understanding of the administrative capabilities and habits of Zardari (Mr 10%) and Nawaz Sharif (Mian Zakhmi Sher-e-Punjab). Mr Zardari's true colors have also begin to be seen now. After earlier proposing Makdoom Fahim's name, he now seems desperate to become PM himself. Nawaz Sharif too is hell bent on taking political revenge and is simply heading towards a path where a confrontation with Musharaf and possibally with Army seems inevitable.

Even at a time when Pakistan is on the crossroads and suicide bombings have become a daily feature, they are after power and political revenge. The real fight in Pakistan should not be between Musharaf and Nawaz Sharif, nor between Army and civilian control, it has to be between moderates and extremists. People have already given their verdict and religious parties have lost badly. Now for the sake of Pakistan's existence at least, they should get together, work with each other to rebuild democratic institutions and to defeat backward looking forces for the good of Pakistan and the world.

So much has changed in Pakistan in the last few years yet everything looks the same. In the words of Ghalib:

फिर उसी बेवफ़ा पे मरते हैं
फिर वही ज़िंदगी हमारी है
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Friday, January 25, 2008
किस तरह शोक करूँ कैसे रुलाऊँ दिल को,
कई बरसों का दिल से इंतकाम लेना है
कैसे अफ़सोस करूँ कारवाँ के लुटने का,
मेरा माज़ी तो कभी खुशगवार था ही नही
किस को मैं याद करूँ बस कि तड़प उठ्ठे दिल,
किसी हबीब का चेहरा ही मुझे याद नही
और जो याद है मैं उसका कभी हो न सका,
अब उसके रूठ के जाने का ग़म करूँ कैसे?
किसकी तमन्ना करूँ अब कोई मेरे पास नही,
दूर से देखता हूँ मंज़िल को सहम जाता हूँ
किस तरह शोक करूँ कैसे रुलाऊँ दिल को,
कैसे यह आह निकालूँ तुम ही बता दो मुझको
आह को चाहिए एक उम्र असर होने तक,
हम ने एक उम्र बिता दी ये आह नही निकली

(Dedicated to Mirza Asadulla Khan Ghalib, as the inspiration to write every word of this poem has come from his immortal lines "Aah ko chahiye ek umr asar hone tak...".)
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The Secret Conversation at Harbhajan's Hearing

Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Procter: As you all know we are here to hear about the interesting conversation that took place between Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds that no one was able to hear. Before we start the proceedings, I should make it clear that it is the duty of all players to entertain the spectators and not each other. So, in future you should be loud enough so that our strategically placed stump microphones could hear it clearly. What you all think they are for, when no umpire ever refers to the third umpire? You must understand that it would increase the TRPs of our broadcasters. That’s how you would get ads. Sachin, at least you should understand.

Sachin: Aaila...You are absolutely right sir. Actually that is exactly what I was telling Bhajji and Andy, when they were talking.

Procter: So Andy, what are your charges?

Andrew: Uncle...uncle... when Bret was returning after bowling a delivery, what I saw...that this Bhajji...he, uncle, patted Bret on his back side.

Procter: Bhajji, this is not decent. After all cricket is a gentle men's game. Why did you do that?

Harbhajan: I just wanted to patt him on the back to say that he is really bowling well. As there was no wicket falling, I thought I should give him some encouragement. Poor Aussies are not used to it. But as I am also not used to batting so long, I was tired and that's why my hand went a bit lower.

Procter: Ok, looks reasonable.

Ponting: But sir....

Procter: So Andy, what did you do then?

Andrew: Me uncle? I didn't had any choice but to intervene. Otherwise my hard earned reputation of Mr. Poke-My-Nose-In-Everything would have been ruined. So I told Bhajji that you should stop your indecent acts or I would complaint to Steve uncle. But he told me to f**k off and called me.....called me.....uh uh...a monkey.....uhuhuh...

Procter: Hmm...Bhajji this is a serious issue. Crowds in Mumbai did the same thing to Andy during thier last India tour. But you people got away with it.

Andrew: Uhuh....uhuh...

Procter: I must tell you that animal rights are very strict here in Australia. You cant abuse a monkey here and get away with it.

Ponting: But sir, this is a kind of racial abuse and not animal rights issue. You should take strict action.

Procter: Yeah Ponting, I was coming to that. Bhajji, did you call Andy a monkey?

Harbhajan: No sir, by god ki kasam! I will explain you everything. After I patted Bret, this monk...uhmm...I mean Andy started abusing me. I said who the hell are you to tell me anything when the guy I have patted is silent? So as we normally do in India, I told him "teri maan ki...". But even before I could complete it with the most important word, he said that I have called him a monkey. You are mai-baap. Now tell me if I have done something wrong?

Kumble: He is right sir. We use it like comma and full stop back in India. You should see during India-Pakistan match, hum kaise ek doosre ki maan-behan ek karte hain. There is nothing racial about it.

Procter: Sounds logical.

Ponting: But...

Harbhajan: No but...sirf jatt...

Procter: Sachin, you were there in the middle. What do you say about the whole thing?

Sachin: I think we played well. And all the boys played well. The ball was coming on to the bat and I knew if I could hang in there for some time it would be lot easier to bat. In the end it is important that we played well as a team....

Procter: I was asking about the incident between Bhajji and Andy.

Sachin: Oh...aaila...I think, Bhajji is right. These things keep happening in the middle.

Procter: I think Bhajji abused Andy, but not racially. At least Australia should not complain about indecent on-field behavior.

Ponting: But sir...

Procter: So I dismiss the....

Harbhajan: (Jumping with joy) Oye...balle balle...(looking towards Procter) 0ye teri maan ki jai....

Procter: calling me a monkey! This is ridiculous. I ban Harbhajan for 3 test matches for racially abusing me...uhmm...I mean Andrew Symonds.

Andrew: Hurray...huray...thank you uncle...I love you uncle.

Ponting: Very good decision. No one should question my integrity.

Kumble: This is cheating. We are not playing. What do you think Sachin?

Sachin: I think we played well. And all the boys played well. The ball was coming on to the bat and I knew if I could hang in there for some time it would be lot easier to bat. In the end it is important that we played well as a team....

Kumble: Shut up Sachin! We will also complain to Pawar uncle.

Harbhajan: Tumhari maan ki ^*%$#.....{sensored}
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Matrix - Ek Khayal

Thursday, January 03, 2008
Watched Matrix yesterday. Yeah, 8 years after it was released and I am still not sure if I was able comprehend it fully. But I liked the theme. It reminded me of a scene of one of my all time favorite Hindi movie Guide, in which Dev Anand says:

ज़िंदगी एक ख्याल है,
जैसे कि मौत एक ख्याल है

न सुख है,
न दुख है,
न दीन है,
न दुनिया

न इंसान,
न भगवान

सिर्फ मैं हूँ, मैं हूँ, मैं हूँ, मैं...
सिर्फ मैं...
The only thing that is real, is illusion!
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