वो क्या है?



जो आंसू आँखों से बहा वो ख़ुशी है 
तो जो बहते बहते रुक गया वो क्या है?

जो हाथ पकड़ा तुमने वो साथ है
तो जो छूट गया वो क्या है?

उस दिन जो लम्हा थम गया वो 'याद' है
तो जो आगे बढ़ गया वो क्या है?

जो बात कह दी वो सब कुछ है
तो जो कह नहीं पाया वो क्या है?

जो मिल गयी वो ज़िंदगी है
तो जो खो गया वो क्या है?

कश्तियाँ



उस दिन
बारिश बहुत तेज़ हुई थी
गली में पानी भर आया था
बच्चे सड़कों पर
काग़ज़ की कश्तियाँ ले उतर आए
एक एक कर उन्होंने
अपनी अपनी कश्तियाँ बहानी शुरू कीं 

हर एक कश्ती काग़ज़ से कुछ ज़्यादा थी
उम्मीदें
संघर्ष
और कशमकश से बनी
डोलती हुई कश्तियाँ बहती जा रही थीं
पानी को सहती जा रही थीं
एक लड़ाई सी छिड़ गयी हो जैसे
कभी दायें डगमगातीं
कभी बायें किसी से टकरातीं
आपस में भिड़ती 
ठहरकर कुछ ठिठोली शुरू हो जाती 
दो कश्तियाँ मानो बहस कर रही हों
फिर एक बड़ी कश्ती पीछे से ठेलती
तो सब आगे बढ़ती जातीं
रंग बिरंगी सफ़ेद अखबारी
भीड़ बन उमड़ती जातीं
एक मेला सा लग गया हो जैसे
संगीत पर थिरकती
सुर से सुर जमातीं
होड़ से होड़ लगातीं
नुक्कड़ पर दो धारायें अलग अलग हो रही थीं
बस क्या था फिर
बंट गयीं कश्तियाँ 
कुछ एक रास्ते बहीं, कुछ दूसरे
कहीं धार तेज़ होती
तो तेज़ी से निकलतीं
कहीं कुछ अटकी भी रह जातीं
पानी गोल गोल घुमाता
तो मज़े से संग चक्कर खातीं
सफ़र था लेकिन
ख़त्म तो होना था
एक एक कर कश्तियाँ पलटती भी जातीं
काग़ज़ धीरे धीरे गल कर
पानी हो जाता
बहते बहते.. बह जाता
कश्तियों की किस्मत में सफ़र तो मुक़म्मल है
मंज़िल नहीं
अगर एक नज़रिए से देखें
कहीं ज़िंदगी भी ऐसी ही तो नहीं?

और पीछे से बच्चों ने
कुछ और कश्तियाँ पानी में छोड़ दीं
खेल ही है आख़िर.. 

रात

कहने को तो ये कुछ कहती नहीं 
लेकिन रात बात करती है 
तन्हाई लपेटे सोई सड़कें 
ठंड में ठिठुरते सन्नाटे 
थका हुआ उनींदा चाँद 
और चाँद के सहारे टिकी वो टहनी 
जादू भारी भीनी हवा 
साँस लो तो रूह को छू जाए 
बादलों में से दिखता एक तारा 
ये सब कुछ कहते हैं 
अनजान इशारे हैं रात के 
रात के साथ बहते हैं 
किसी की ना होके भी, रात सबकी है 
बात करती है इशारों से 
तुम कहोगे लेकिन कैसे ? 
जब ज़रूरत होगी, इशारे भी समझ आयेंगे 
बातें भी.

नीले रंग के परे



सूखे पत्ते हवाओं से एक दिन आख़िर
तंग आ गये और बोले
क्यों तुम इतना इतराती हो 
हमें यहाँ से वहाँ बेवजह ही उड़ाती हो

हवा हंसी और बोली
बेवजह नहीं पगलों ज़रा ध्यान दो
पेड़ ने ही कहा था 
 ये बच्चे हैं मेरे इन्हे उड़ान दो

पत्ते खीझे और कहने लगे
हमने तो नहीं माँगा ये
क्यूँ पेड़ अपने सपने हम पे लाद रहा है
बूढ़ा कम्बख़त अपनी उड़ान हम पे टाल रहा है

पेड़ चुपचाप सुन रहा था सब 
आख़िर बोला कि तुम मेरे अपने ही तो हो
मेरे बच्चों ज़रा देखो तो सही
इसमें तुम्हारा ही भला है

हवा ने सरसराकर हामी भारी और बोली
मैंने दुनिया देखी है, बहुत खूबसूरत है
तुम खुश किस्मत हो प्यारे पत्तों
तुम्हे भी ये जहां देखने की ज़रूरत है

पेड़ ने हार ना मानी और समझाते हुए कहा
कई रंग, कई खुशबुयें और भी हैं
मेरे बच्चों ये ज़िंदगी छोटी सी है लेकिन
इस नीले रंग के परे और आसमां भी हैं

पत्तों को लेकिन बात समझ में नहीं आई
चिढ़ गये और बोले
हमें किसी और के सपने नहीं जीना
तुम खुद ही क्यूँ नहीं देखते सारे जहां

पेड़ की आँखों में उस शाम नमीं थी
हवा भी गुस्से में कुछ तेज़ बही थी
सुबह जब हुई 
तो पेड़ ज़मीन में गिरा मिला
मानो मिट्टी से गले लग के रो रहा हो 
पत्तों को दुनिया दिखाने की चाह में
शायद रात उसने खुद उड़ने की कोशिश की थी.. 

अनजान हैं वो


मेरी नादानियाँ भी तेरी
मेरी शैतानियाँ भी तेरी

मेरी मासूमियत भी तेरी
मेरी चालाकियां भी तेरी

मेरी हैवानियत भी तेरी
मेरी इंसानियत भी तेरी

मेरी बातें भी तेरी
मेरी सोच भी तेरी

मेरी राहें भी तेरी
मेरा सफ़र भी तेरा

मैं टुकड़ा हूँ तेरा
टूट कर गिरा था कभी
तुझमें मिलना मुक़द्दर मेरा
मैं नदी, तू समंदर मेरा

नादानियाँ
शैतानियाँ
इंसानियत
हैवानियत
बातें
सोच
राहें
और सफ़र

अनजान हैं वो
जिन्हे लगता है ये उनका है
अनजान हैं वो
उम्मीद है, सोने से पहले इक बार जाग पायें वो!

Fall Colors





Fall is, the season of colors, the season of pleasant weather and like all other seasons, the season of change as well. It is that time of the year when the leaves start changing their color from green to yellow, orange, red and brown. You don't usually get to see this phenomenon in India, in fact I understood the fuss around Fall only after coming to US. And boy, wasn't it gorgeous! Just having a look around ripple wonders because what you witness is nature-talking-in-colors. Trees completely change their costumes from green to an all new colorful fabric. When the wind blows at slightly higher than normal speeds, the leaves start falling, creating what I call 'the Mohabattein effect'. 

I go to my work place by the university shuttle, it was last week I guess when I was talking to the driver about fall colors. It was a lovely neighborhood we were passing through, she told me that the houses there were very expensive and she would love to have a house like that - oak wood doors, large backyard, patio with a wooden railing and two swinging armchairs, a porch swing for the kids, two pet dogs - Labradors perhaps, high ceilings, a terrace on the top floor, two bedrooms, a room for the occasional guests, a big kitchen, drawing room with adjacent dining area, some nice carpet and wallpaper... 

Indeed, they were beautiful houses surrounded by trees and lots of open space. I drew her attention to the fall colors by praising the trees around, she agreed. The trees stood in all their glory, some of them old and experienced, some were seeing their first fall, some waved like a dancing madman to the symphony of the wind, some - the bamboos - tried to touch the skies, some of them looked humble, while some seemed vile, talking among themselves as if bitching about mankind. I kept staring at them till we crossed the neighborhood. It was peaceful. Serene. Leaves turn from green to yellow to orange to burgundy to brown before eventually falling from the trees. If you spare a thought, our lives are no different than the leaves.

The driver didn't pay attention to my musings and concentrated more on driving. I didn't mind, I thought the Americans never ponder over things that really matter. But I was wrong as I later realized, we were looking at the same things, same houses, same trees, same leaves, the same neighborhood; I saw the fall colors, she saw a future. 

कहानियाँ



दादी की और नानी की
सूरज चंदा तारों की
मीठे खट्टे फसानों की
रानी के रूठने की, राजा के मनाने की
परियों के देस से आने वालों की
कुछ कहानियाँ हैं, मासूम से ख़यालों सी..

प्यार में जीत की, हार की
कवितायें रंगने वाले कलाकार की
एक गाँव है, गाँव के मल्हार की
सावन की पहली बौछार की
सपनो को उड़ान देने वाली आवाज़ की
कुछ कहानियाँ हैं, परवाज़ सी..

मजबूरियों से बँधे हालातों की
जज़्बातों की, ख़यालातों की
यादों के धागों में उलझी हुई
पल्लू दाँतों में चपेटे, राह तकते
चौखट पे खड़े खड़े इंतज़ार की
कुछ कहानियाँ हैं, गुनहगार सी..

फिर कुछ कहानियाँ ऐसी भी हैं
जो सुनने में बड़ी अच्छी लगती हैं
आधी झूठी, आधी सच्ची लगती हैं
दिलचस्प मोड़ों से भरी 
कभी एक राह, कभी दूसरी राह मुड़ी
गहरे पाठ पढ़ातीं 
हंसाती, रुलातीं, डरातीं, समझातीं
बहलातीं, बहकातीं, फुसलातीं, लुभातीं
कहानियाँ जिनका अंत तो है, लेकिन वो रुकती नहीं
गहरे ऐसे उतरती हैं कहीं, कि फिर ठहरती नहीं
रातों से काली, उमरों से लंबी
कहानियाँ जो लोगों में ज़िंदा रहती हैं
बहती हैं, बहती हैं, बस बहती हैं..

तुम, मैं, हम सब, आख़िर कहानियाँ ही तो हैं .

वो आँखें



वो आँखें
हँसते हुए भी मायूस लगती हैं
खिल खिलाना भूलीं
लड़ना झगड़ना रूठना मनाना भूलीं
ख़ालीपन लिए लगें सूनी सूनी
डांटना गुस्से में लाल होना, सब भूलीं
उनके पार दिखना अब बंद हुआ
सपने जो वहीं किसी कोने में पलते थे
अब वहाँ नहीं बसते 
वो झील जहाँ से आँसू बह निकलते थे 
कब की सूख चुकी
थकी हुई शामों को एक टक निहारती
वो आँखें
आशाओं की लौ जलाकर, प्रार्थनाएं करीं थी कुछ उन्होंने
आशायें अब भी हैं, प्रार्थनायें अब भी हैं
बस मकसद बदल गये हैं
तब ज़िंदगी के लिए फरियाद होती थी
अब ज़िंदा रहने के लिए..!

Hey, Wassup?

कुछ दिनों में Jokes फीके पड़ गये
Cute हरकतें Cheesy हो गयीं
ग़लतफ़हमियाँ पनपी
झगड़े लाज़मी हो गये
कुछ दिनों में बदलते बदलते
बहुत कुछ बदल गया

Priorities बदलीं, बदली पसंद
बदले दोस्त, बदले ढंग
नए लोग मिले पुराने छूटे
नए हुए Exciting पुराने पड़ गए फीके
बदल गए अंदाज़-ए-यारी
Juices छूटे आई Tequila की बारी 
भूले सादगी सीखी होशियारी
सीखे Excuses और नए झूठ
दिल बदला दिमाग बदला 
रूह सह न सकी ऐसा लिबास बदला 
कुछ दिनों में बदलते बदलते
बहुत कुछ बदल गया

नहीं बदला तो वो यादों का Collection
जो वक़्त के साथ धुंधलाता तो गया
लेकिन ज़हन में साँस जैसे घुलता रहा
वो एहसासों का काफिला
जो कभी किसी गाने किसी Movie के साथ
कभी किसी जगह किसी बात के साथ
कभी ऐसे ही, कभी बरसात के साथ 
आँखों के सामने चला आता है 
आज भी !

वैसे वक़्त तो मरने का भी नहीं आजकल
लेकिन कभी पुराने 'मैं' से मिलो
और नज़रें मिला पाओ 
तो 'Hey, Wassup?' ज़रूर कह देना !

दर्द



दर्द घुला है हवा में
छुपा हैं कहीं, यहीं
आँखों की नमीं के पीछे से
आँसू बन बहता नहीं
बेज़ुबान कुछ कहता नहीं

हंसो कभी तो दिखाई देता है
एक चेहरा अक्सर सुनाई देता है
खुरदुरे गर्म हाथों का एहसास
पैनी चीरती नज़र का एहसास
एक आवाज़ जो अटक गयी है हलक में
और साँस.. जो फैल गयी है फलक में
नर्म उजले सवेरों की तलाश है
अब तो बस खाली.. खाली आकाश है
शायद ये ही दर्द का एहसास है
दर्द.. घुला है हवा में
छुपा है कहीं, यहीं

राहें जो सीधी दिखाई पड़ती थीं
ज़िंदगी को साथ ले एकदम से मुड़ गयीं
कुछ तकदीरों का साथ छूटा
कुछ यूँ ही जुड़ गयीं
यादें साथ हैं बस
बातें रुकी नहीं, बहती गयीं
टूटे तारों के सामने आँचल फैलाए
आँखें अब सुर्ख लाल हुईं
कुछ महसूस नहीं होता अब
कम्बख्त घुला है हवा में
छुपा है कहीं, यहीं

दम निकले तो जान आए.

यूँ भी तो करो



यूँ भी करो बैठे बैठे कभी
कि तुम सोचो ना कुछ
बोलो ना कुछ
रहो ना कुछ

आसमां में मिल जाओ नीले रंग की तरह
उड़ जाओ टूटी हुई पतंग की तरह 
पंछियों से होड़ लगाओ
उठो, उड़ो, परवाज़ जगाओ
ये क्या तुम थके थके से रहते हो
यूँ ही सबसे कटे कटे से रहते हो
आँखों में पानी जलाते
अनकही कहते हो
भीड़ में यूँ बहते हो
क्यूँ इतना सब सहते हो
आओ, बैठो
सोचो ना कुछ
बोलो ना कुछ
रहो ना कुछ

देखो ये ध्यान मग्न आसमां
ये नदियाँ, ये फ़िज़ायें, ये दास्तान
बातें करती तितलियाँ
गोते लगाती, चिढ़ाती, मछलियाँ 
ये बूढ़े पेड़, जो जवान है अब तक
परिंदों के घरोंदे बसे इन पर 
नर्म घास का ये फर्श
तुम्हे बुलाता, हाथ बढ़ाता, अर्श
ज़हन को साँस देती हवा
कितना कुछ है यहाँ 
बस नज़र नज़र का खेल है
आँखें बंद करो तो सब कुछ है
वरना जीवन जेल है 
थोड़ी तो फुरसत निकालो 
बैठो
सोचो ना कुछ
बोलो ना कुछ
रहो ना कुछ
यूँ भी तो करो कभी. 

अच्छा लगेगा.

बादल



धूप छानते उमड़ रहे हैं ये जो बादल 
आसमां पर काजल सा लगाते कभी 
कभी सूरज का घूंघट बन जाते
इतराते हुए ये मंडराते 
बड़ा नाज़ है इन्हें खुद पर
नीले आसमां को सफेदिया रंगते 
और कभी सूरज से गुस्सा हो लाल पड़ जाते 
सतरंगी इन्द्रधनुष का बसेरा हैं ये 
मुट्ठी में लेना चाहो तो ख्वाब हो जाते
थामना मुमकिन नहीं इन्हें 
ढेरों उम्मीदों का बोझ लिए
खुद को मिटाकर इन्हें
आखिर एक दिन बरसना भी तो है .. 

यहाँ


काश तुम यहाँ होते
तो मेरी आँखें शायद सुन पाते, समझ पाते

लफ़्ज़ों का मोहताज़ जो हो गया हूँ
वो मैं न होता तब
मेरी आवाज़ से बेखबर जो हो गए हो
वो तुम न होते तब
खामोश बैठ बातें कर पाते हम
खामोश.. सी बेचैनियाँ मेरी शायद सुन पाते तुम
थकती साँसों को सांस आ जाती
पथराई आँखों को नींद
मुझे मैं मिल जाता
तुम्हे तुम

काश तुम यहाँ होते
काश.. मैं यहाँ होता

चेहरे



तुम कभी अपने चेहरे से
चेहरे हटाकर देखना
कई रंग, कई मौसम नज़र आयेंगे
एक नहीं, दो नहीं, सौ लोग नज़र आयेंगे
पुरानी बातें, वही कहानियाँ
दबे हुए ज़ख्म
अधूरे प्यार
हसीं लम्हे
धोखे खाई पथराई आँखें
एहसानों तले दबी सांसें
तजुर्बे से पड़ी चंद लकीरें
सब नज़र आयेंगे, देखना.

तुम कभी अपने चेहरे से
चेहरे हटाकर देखना
शायद किसी कोने में सहमी सी बैठी
मासूमियत नज़र आ जाए.

छींटे मॉनसून के



सुबह सुबह जब बारिश में नहाया सूरज
बादलों में से अंगड़ाई ले
जब चमकते हॉकी के टर्फ से लगते
गीले लॉन पर हीरे खिलें
जब ठंडी नमी भरी पैनी हवा
ज़हन को सांस दे
तब लगता है कि मॉनसून आ गया..


जब न्यूज़ पेपर गीला हाथ लगे
और ऐहतियात से पलट पलट पढ़ना पड़े
जब अदरक वाली चाय तो हो कड़क गरम
लेकिन बेचारा बिस्कुट हो जाए एकदम नरम
जब इमली की चटनी हौले से
पकोड़ों पर बहती चली जाए
तब लगता है कि मॉनसून आ गया..


जब धूप खेले दिन भर आँख मिचोली
बैट-बॉल ले निकले बच्चों की टोली
जब एकदम से कभी बरखा बौछार आये
और माँ छत पर सूखते कपडे उठाने दौड़ी आये
जब भुट्टों की महक से सजे ठेले
अक्सर ही मन को ललचायें
तब लगता है कि मॉनसून आ गया..


जब रिश्तों के नाज़ुक धागे
वक़्त के थपेड़ों से डोलने लगें
जब सारे अपने, पराये हो जाएँ
सुकून नीलाम हो, खुशियाँ बिक जाएँ
और जब ऐसे किस्मत के खेल में
एक साथ, हाथ बन सहारा दे
जब उस फ़रिश्ते से खुदा की रहमत
नूर बन बरसे
जब आँखें हो जाएँ बेज़ुबान
और आंसू बोलने लगें
तब.. और तब लगता है कि मॉनसून आ गया..

आज रात नींद कहाँ


आज रात नींद कहाँ

कई ख्याल हैं ज़हन में
अच्छे
बुरे
झगडे हैं
कुछ बातें जो कह दीं, नहीं कहनी थीं
कुछ बातें जो नहीं कहीं, कहनी थीं
कश्मकश है
खुमारी है
गणित है
हिसाब किताब हैं
आज रात नींद कहाँ

कुछ चीज़ें जो हुईं, नहीं होनी थी
कुछ चीज़ें जो नहीं हुईं, होनी थीं
आग है
आंसू हैं
सरफरोशी है
गर्मजोशी है
गुस्सा है
डर है
दर्द है
उम्मीदें हैं
हौसला है
जज्बा है
बस चैन नहीं
कई ख़याल हैं ज़हन में

आज रात नींद कहाँ

Voices in my head



These are just some voices
I keep telling myself
Time and again
Through the pain

They fiddle with my thoughts
Making me cringe with fear
Shattering the hopes
Taking me in ropes
But, I keep on believing, These are just some voices

I try to defy the odds
Fighting with enormous intensity
May be, I try too hard
May be, I should just let it be
After all, these are just some voices

I open my diary
And start writing a poem
But words fail every time
Every time emotions overwhelm me
Still, I soothe myself, these are just some voices

I switch on my music player
Trying to sleep it off
Volume goes higher
The song starts screaming
Voices fighting Voices, but it doesn’t last long

I shut my eyes as hard as I can
Pulling them inwards
I start seeing colours, and the light
Voices fade away for a second
Then, from the distance, I hear them again

I’m lost.
I feel helpless.
I wish I could run away.
Damn the voices, let’s just say.
I keep on fighting.
I don't know why, but I’ve always been.

These are just some voices
I keep telling myself
Time and again
Through the pain

FICTION: "Ghosts are not real, but.."




She didn’t believe in Ghosts. How could she – being born and brought up in a Metro where, forget the Ghosts, humans barely survive. Everyone in her family was a radical thinker and an atheist. She had often debated with great zeal about the (non)existence of ghosts and God. On a hot summer afternoon, she was discussing about ghosts in her cubicle on chat messenger. It can be imagined how depressing the office would have been that day, she had no work so she needed something to kill time. Moreover, she never tolerated educated people who believed in ghosts. This friend of hers - whom she was chatting with - belonged to a small village in Bihar who had struggled his way through and made it to the IT industry. He was sharing the experiences, that the people from his village had had with ghosts, and there were plenty. The chat:

She: hv u evr seen a ghost urself?

He: No! but I knw a lot many ppl who hv :)

She: how can u be so sure that they were not hallucinating…if u keep on hearing the tales from an early age, u start believing in things tht dun even exist

He: Okk, then can u explain me, how the hell a person saw and talked to his old father in the field…. When his father had been dead 5 hrs ago??

She: I told u na…he might have been hallucinating…

He: But this old chap - the father - told him abt a secret pot with silver coins…he told him d exact location…embedded in the back wall of d house…nobody had any clue abt that treasure…and wen they dug up the wall a few days later….wallah!…der ws the same pot…filled with silver coins…. EXPLAIN THAT??

She: I still don’t believe u…. his father might hv told him earlier… he might be lying… whtever but there’s no scientific proof of after-life or ghosts…

He: U dun believe it until it happens to u….one day u will…. Btw, turn back!

She turned back and to her utter shock, this guy was standing right behind her. He was supposed to be in a different city – this was unreal for her. A bead of sweat trickled down her eyebrow over to the nose, she kept staring, he kept smiling. She raised her arm to touch him, to see if he was for real. No logic, no reasoning struck her at that moment. ‘WTF!!!’, was all she could utter. He sat beside her and asked, ‘So? Now u believe in Ghosts?’. She hit him hard on his arm, ‘Idiot!! Moron!! There are no ghosts. I was just taken aback by surprise! And what the hell, how did u do this?’ To which he playfully replied, ‘If you have answers, there are no ghosts. If you don’t have answers, ghosts become real! And we have a lot of instances where science is not able to answer things, that’s where it all starts!’. Still confused, she turned over to her monitor, as she moved her mouse to clear the screensaver, she saw the cursor still blinking over that last exclamation mark. And then - out of nowhere - it struck her, she was actually chatting with herself!!! Text cannot have a cursor blinking unless it has been typed by you. She wanted to scream but the table suddenly turned and monitor toppled over her hand, it was not heavy but she quickly removed her hand moving it sideways smashing it in the drawer……… and that’s when she woke up. The pain was real, and so was the red scar on the back of her palm.
                                                                                                                        

Questions?



'Questions are never silly, answers are.'

When I heard this line for the first time, it amused me. I am a person known for asking too many questions. In school, one of my teachers even punished me for asking silly-useless-pointless questions. Her argument was that I was disturbing and slowing down the whole class, specially when we were lagging behind the schedule to finish the syllabus. It was 9th standard Physics, this particular teacher, in fact liked me as I was the topper(Andhon mein kaana raaja! you see :D ) of the class. After that encounter, questions became my enemies and I vowed not to ask any more questions and still top the class(add to this reason, that my teenage hormones were at their peak!). I did top the class, scoring full in Physics. But that was the first time, I began to question my questions. I started thinking, pondering over things before asking them to anybody else.

When I went to Kota to prepare for IIT JEE at Bansal classes, I was amidst the bunch of kids who were said to be the best in JEE aspirants. I was intrigued, awed by some of them. Hence I began to hesitate while asking questions in the class. But, as they say, old habits don’t die easily, I still asked more questions than my fellow students. I think, this too much awe led to my disastrous performance at IIT JEE 2 years later. I don’t know and now I don’t care either.

As I reached college, I was taught by the kind of professors from whom it was pointless to ask doubts. Most of them were simply not competent enough to answer simple questions. Moreover, it was the college life, where learning in the class took a back seat giving way to bunking classes, reading novels during lectures and mostly accepting everything as a fact and understanding it in a way just to clear the exams. I guess the US universities that have offered me admission for Graduate studies, would die out of shock at these bitter truths. Of course, I learned in college. But the questions were answered either by experimenting myself, discussing with friends or Googling! Not in the classrooms as they were supposed to be.

From questions beginning with ‘What is a Lion, Pa?’ to 'When a person uses toilet in a flying air-plane, how come the shit doesn't fall off to the ground?' to ‘Can we dig a hole in Earth deep enough to emerge out from the other side?’ to 'How can i change an Android app to make it work on iOS?' to 'What is Life?' to 'Why is Life?', I think my tryst with questions has come a long way, is still on and will remain so, hopefully, in the times to come. And if there's one thing i've realized, it is this - Questions are never silly, silly! Answers are.

बूँद बूँद



बूँद बूँद
रात भर

अलसाए से
सताए से
दर्द समेटे
यादें लपेटे
बातें कहते
क्या कुछ सहते
चुभन सी एक
घुटन सी एक
पलती रही
बढती रही

बूँद बूँद
रात भर

कहानी गढ़ी
दिलचस्प बड़ी
आवारा हुए
नाकारा हुए
ताने सुने
आहें भरीं
लम्हों की लड़ी
और वो घडी
कतरा कतरा
थामे न थमी

बूँद बूँद
रात भर
मचलते रहे बरसते रहे
कुछ आंसू आँखों में ही जलते रहे

Score kya hua? - An experience worth sharing




The World Cup encounter between India and Pakistan was a cracker of a contest. India won it, and went on to become the world champions. This high profile semi-final match gave a run for its money to the final, as far as the hype and excitement was concerned. It was cricket fever at the highest. Economies came to a stand still, governments declared half day holiday, employees of private firms either bunked or took leave from the office, some corporations were smart enough to screen the matches, giant TV screens were installed in societies and what not!

On the D-day, when the Pakistan innings started I was travelling back to India after my 2 week sojourn in US. It was an indirect flight via Dubai, as there are no direct flights from Houston to Delhi. Before boarding, I had last checked the score in the airport lounge. Although the match was very well in India’s grip by then, still I was keen on knowing the score, curiosity you see. So I called up my uncle(maama) in India and asked - what the ad-omnipresent SRK is asking these days in Airtel ads, Score Kya Hua? – the score. Maama’s ecstatic tone gave me the hint that we had won. Kitte runon se? To which Maama replied, 29 runs se jeet gaye, Sachin Man of the Match hai.

There were still some minutes left before the take-off, so I rushed towards my sister’s seat(who btw was sitting a few rows behind). I told her gaily, ‘JEET GAYE!!!’. She smiled happily, and we cheered. Natural enough. So then, there was an old couple sitting in the next seat, they turned back, smiling, they asked(just to confirm I think, obviously they must have heard us) ‘Jeet Gaye??’. We were glad to hear hindi in a land where we had grown accustomed to English in the last couple of weeks. I replied cheerfully, ‘Haan, Jeet Gaye!!’. The old lady said, ‘Thank God, I was so tensed!’ I was very touched by this, to find our own people in a strange land, to share a common joy, it gives you a really nice feeling. This is the greatness of this country, no matter what culture you come from, no matter what local language you speak, when it comes to cricket – every distinction barrier loses its meaning. Except this, the whole journey was boring. I had switched seats with my sister, and luckily no one was sitting beside me so I laid down comfortably for the rest of the journey.

Just when we were about to reach Dubai, I heard the old couple talking to one of the air hostesses, “We have to change the plane for Islamabad from Dubai!!”. It took me a split second to realize what had happened. While I was giving the news to my sister, I had never mentioned that INDIA had won. It was obvious. Implicit. And this had created an epic misunderstanding, perhaps at its ironical best. I couldn’t stop myself from smiling. Kamaal hai, I thought.  


डर

कौन अपना है कौन पराया है
किस्सा ये फिर एक बार दोहराया है
कशिश मीठी होती तो क्या बात थी 
यहाँ तो बस घुटन का साया है

ज़िन्दगी बीत गयी खुद को आजमाने में
सारे रिश्ते छूट गए आने जाने में
किससे कहें किससे छुपायें
अब तो डर लगता है दिल की बात बताने में.



Yeh Dosti ?


Dynamics of friendship are strange, almost paradoxical at times. Your best friend wants you to listen to him, and wants you to respond with a certain statement or a question or a comment. But when you do that, you are blown away for not being the perfect friend, for not saying the perfect thing to console the troubled soul. Actually, we never appreciate what we have and we take it for granted that we have friends. The words, which you utter to soothe your friend, the very same words hurt him. In the process, we often fail to realize that life is not a book or a movie. Ideal things and relationships don’t exist here. It is hence our biggest fault that we keep on expecting things and people to be perfect.

Sometimes i want to be that kid again when the world was an ideal place; comic book heroes were real, excelling in and finishing up the stages of Mario and Contra used to be the ultimate goals, all the families were as happy as the ones in Rajshree movies, my bunch of best friends used to play with me in the evening; when the word ‘problem’ centred around losing the water bottle in school, when the class teacher was the only person we feared, and when the ‘happily ever after’ actually used to  exist, at least in our fantasies. The list of such nostalgic musings goes on.

As we grow up things begin to complicate. Whenever my 3 year old cousin, Aanchal (who is in my hometown) wants to talk to me over phone, she points to the coffee cup having my picture on it and says, “Bhaiya..! Chaai mein..! Aanchal..! Baat..!”. And then her mother corrects her that it is a mug, not “chaai”. She is learning quicker than she ever will in her entire life. And while doing all this, she has helped me understand the meaning of one word, cuteness!

She doesn’t even know the proper words but we understand what she wants to say. This signifies one thing that even the body language, apart from words, cannot be construed to be the most important constituent of communication. It is something else, it is the willingness of your audience to listen and comprehend. And with this, we come back to where we started from – the dynamics of paradoxical relationships. We have friends who are willing to listen to us, we know the proper words, we have the perfect body language to convey our feelings, we have everything; yet some inexplicable thing always comes in the way and we find an excuse to say, “Koi mujhe nahin samajhta!” 

Only if life was simple again and we could point out to a coffee mug and say, “Baat..!” And who knows may be if we could open up a little bit more and accept Life as it is. May be, just may be. 


उन्हें शक है, मुझे यकीं !




चाँद को देख मुस्काना
तेरी सूरत देख बतियाना
बादल जो खेलते हैं आँख मिचोली
घंटों उसमें गुम हो जाना
शाम को कॉलोनी में टहलते हुए
आसमान तो तकना
गिने चुने बचे हुए तारों को
उँगलियों पे गिनना
कहीं मैं पागल तो नहीं
ऐसा लोगों को शक है, और मुझे यकीं !

राह चलते अचानक किसी से टकराना
सॉरी बोलते हुए फिर आगे बढ़ जाना
तू ही तू है हर चेहरे में
हर चेहरे में बस तुझे देखे जाना
बचकाना सा गुज़रता है दिन
बचकानी सी हरकतें हैं अब
नशा कुछ अलग सा छाया है
मज़ाक उड़ाते हुए कहते हैं सब
कि कहीं साला ये पागल तो नहीं
उन्हें शक है, मुझे यकीं !

अब और रहा नहीं जाता
ये दर्द-ए-इश्क सहा नहीं जाता
ढूँढ़ते हुए भटक रहा हूँ कबसे
अकेला रहता हूँ मिलता भी हूँ गर सबसे
मौला मेरे तेरा दस्तूर निराला है
दुनिया का ठुकराया तुझे प्यारा है
अब तो रहम कर बुला ले अपने पास
तेरा ज़र्रा हूँ, तेरी है ये सांस
नादां हैं जो सोचते हैं मैं पागल तो नहीं
उन्हें शक है, लेकिन मुझे है यकीं !

OPEN - an Autobiography by Andre Agassi



Few days ago i came across an article in TOI, it was about the favourite books of some cricketers. There i noticed a book which was liked by Virat Kohli and Shane Watson. I had seen this book in bookstores earlier but went against buying it. This time i thought, i’ll buy it, and i bought : OPEN – an autobiography by Andre Agassi.

For people of my generation tennis means Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. As much as their rivalry is famous in this era, the nineties saw the rivalry among Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. Sampras, greater of the 2 players retired earlier. Agassi retired in 2006 winning 3 of his 8 grand slams after the year 2000. He has the 2nd most number of career ATP Masters Series Titles at 17.  I have seen Agassi playing and the fact that he is married to the greatest women’s singles tennis player of all time Steffi Graph, drew me further into reading this one.

The first thing which caught my attention was the cover of the book. It has just the face of Agassi staring at you, but something was there in that expression and the eyes, some sort of misery, honesty and pain – which made me look at the picture again and again. Moving on from this narcissistic theory, i read the first chapter titled THE END. Those 20 pages left me spellbound and i knew that a fantastic read is in store for me. Not surprisingly, the last chapter is titled THE BEGINNING. And in between you have Agassi’s life revolving around training, tournaments, Grand Slams, rivalries, relationships, marriages and soul-searching.

Why i loved this book when i’m not a big tennis fan? Because throughout the book he describes his thoughts and feelings going through his mind so unbelievably well, that you will feel as if you are there in his place. And it is very interesting to read what is happening inside someone’s mind at a particular moment. I’m awed by the details of the things going in his mind specially during the matches. I wish and fear at the same time, if i could ever do that myself i.e. writing my thoughts out such vividly and honestly.

This is not a review because reviews are supposed to be neutral. When i like something, i get very biased so i am only sharing what i think of the book. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it for its brutal honesty and the amazing style with which it is written.

Here are some quotes from the book:

“I play tennis for a living, even though I hate tennis, hate it with a dark and secret passion, and always have.

“A win doesn't feel as good as a loss feels bad, and the good feeling doesn't last as long as the bad. Not even close.

“It’s no accident, I think, that tennis uses the language of life. Advantage, service, fault, break, love, the basic elements of tennis are those of everyday existence, because every match is a life in miniature. Even the structure of tennis, the way the pieces fit inside one another like Russian nesting dolls, mimics the structure of our days. Points become games become sets become tournaments, and it’s all so tightly connected that any point can become the turning point. It reminds me of the way seconds become minutes become hours, and any hour can be our finest. Or our darkest. It’s our choice.

“One thing I’ve learned in twenty-nine years of playing tennis: Life will throw everything but the kitchen sink in your path, and then it will throw the kitchen sink. It’s your job to avoid the obstacles. If you let them stop you or distract you, you’re not doing your job, and failing to do your job will cause regrets that paralyze you more than a bad back.

“Of all the games men and women play, tennis is the closest to solitary confinement, which inevitably leads to self-talk, and for me the self-talk starts here in the afternoon shower. This is when I begin to say things to myself, crazy things, over and over, until I believe them. I’ve won 869 matches in my career, 5th on the all-time list, and many of them were won during the afternoon shower.

“What you feel doesn’t matter in the end; it’s what you do that makes you brave.”

“This is why we’re here. To fight through the pain and, when possible, to relieve the pain of others. So simple. So hard to see.”

“The scoreboard said I lost today, but what the scoreboard doesn't say is what it is I have found. And over the last 21 years, I have found loyalty. You have pulled for me on the court and also in life. I've found inspiration. You have willed me to succeed sometimes even in my lowest moments. And I've found generosity. You have given me your shoulders to stand on to reach for my dreams, dreams I could have never reached without you. Over the last 21 years, I have found you. And I will take you and the memory of you with me for the rest of my life. Thank you.” (farewell speech he gave at the 2006 US Open)