Indraprastha: The city that wasn’t!

Ah yes, hello there… the name took you by surprise now did it not? But do not worry it is not as important as you would think. Or, is it though?

evil laughter

Welcome to Empirical Tours and Travels. Our tour guides like to mark important words in red so if you have not been paying attention to the red words please do so right now. The writing cannot be more on the wall. Trust me, it is important and it will come back again. I know. I used to live here. Years and years ago.

Lets see what journey Fate has in store for you this time.

Welcome you all and thanks for coming along in this fascinating yet weird journey with me. I do not know why you signed up but I am sure as hell glad that you did. This is where we start the journey… right at the heart of an oriental fantasy! No… no… this is not a theme park… it exists alright but I would not tell you where and how it exists. Why should I tell you? Is it my responsibility? I am a tour guide. Let me be! I am not your tour guide okay? Come along. Come along. We are getting late…

Look around the room and take in all the marvelous beauty but please limit yourself. Do not take more than you can handle. Believe me I know. If you do that today years down the line you will never hear the end of it.

Now that you have finally made some effort to come outside the initial welcome gates; I present you… more gates… AHAHAHAHAH! Did you really think I would make things simple for you huh? Hell no. Now, choose where do you want to enter and what do you want to do with it? Remember, whatever you choose it is irreversible I cannot do anything with it later on no matter how much you cry about it okay?

The illusion of choice my friend is a dangerous thing in life. You think you have a choice but more often than not you have nothing. Don’t mind me. Choose away.

Wow! You really did take a long time to choose huh? You finally did it so congratulations… I guess. Before you proceed to experience whatever on earth this is… I would like you to meet the royal guards of this trip who are going to take care of you. These highly committed men are filled to the brim with excellent manners and great skills of protection. You will never ever feel threatened because you are here to be saved and please never ever forget that. Even if you do, we will constantly keep reminding you.

English Alcohol and Scary Cold Beer Shop

But, why are you in such a hurry? Where do you wanna go? Where do you have to be? Chill out mate. Get it? Chill out? Chilled Beer? No… okay. But please allow me to be hospitable to you guests, please. I know you are in a hurry to leave but we would like to give you our full treatment. Our hospitality is world class you see! We offer you our best in-class chilled beer. Please feast on it. Do not refuse. It is important that you stay drunk throughout this trip. Do not worry, it won’t harm your choice.

Ah well well well… looks like the decision you made back wasn’t very unique at all. You thought you were very smart but you ain’t tho! I am sorry but you have to travel like that. Suffer for you choices! What else can I say it really encapsulates the mood of this place. Well… I am just a tour guide… meh. I do not want to compartmentalize people I do not think I can resist the temptation here.

What? You already want to go back? Why would you give so much effort, pay so much money only to go back and look at… what… monuments? Are you absolutely sure? Okay.. its your money after all. If you want to stay in the past so be it!

But if we are to go back now how do we do that? Wait… let me go and ask that gentleman.

It seems, my friends, as I was told ” the empire was no longer here!”. He pointed to a place far far away and told me to go there and visit the empire if at all I wanted to. I do not think it even exists now to be honest. If that is not a tragedy, I do not know what is. Wait… I think I should search a little more. How can I give up on something I hold so dear? Fuck you trip man!

Oh my God! The cracks are really really starting to appear now. There is a very good reason perhaps why the empire is not here anymore…run for your lives! Or maybe not, that was years ago. What do we do now? Where are we supposed to go now? What are we supposed to do now?

Oh wait, you found something you want to see? You saved me. I am not a failed tour guide anymore.

But hang on… what is there… to see?

Are you sure you wanted to come all way for this? There is nothing here! Maybe that is why you wanted to come, because of the nothingness! So, was that the journey all about for you? To end with a whimper in the void?

The writing, literally, could not be more on the wall for you folks anymore. Is this the kind of history you wanna write? A’ight cool. Your history. Your call.

Love Shove!

This piece comes as a combination of two instincts: one subconscious, the other much recent. I will of course elaborate on the former, but let’s come first to the immediate one. The immediate impulse for writing this article comes from this piece by Feminism India: Why Do Our Schools Criminalise Love? | Feminism In India, and as usual I have very strong thoughts regarding this matter. So, hang in there! Tis gon’ be a bumpy ride.

Photo by Allan Mas on

I remember it was class 3 and we had just gotten familiar with the holy duality: that of the boyfriend and the girlfriend. Even though the ruminations of the third standard from people on the verge of marriage seems pre-historic, but believe me, it is not that old. The more things change, the more do they remain the same. So, where was I? Ah yes, Love in school. I remember the first wave of scandal that brushed all over us was the unchartered territories of pre-pubescent chaos. But, well, like all nasty children we managed to dodge and tackle through the whole game with the best of abilities at hand. A particularly hilarious incident took place when a friend of mine was told to stand up and describe what a ‘boyfriend’ is. I still remember the horrified reaction. As Mother Nature would have had it, he would go on to have a long and stable (?) relationship. Sweet Sweet Irony!

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For the sake of ease and domestic peace, I will limit the discussion here to the realm of the school and will not drag the domestic sphere into the equation. You, on the other hand, are free to draw your conclusions to the end of time and space. Oh yes, I hope the colossal amount of idiocy that pervades in the public sphere (such Habermas much wow I know right!) ala social media does not read this as a matter of teacher bashing and school shaming. This is an all-pervasive issue and demands training to handle the same. If you have had the misfortune of knowing me, you know how much I am indebted to my teachers. So, yes, keep off the bullshit.

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Before trampling on the issue of the revered V day, let me dwell on some other issues first. Why should the onus of discussing humane issues like love and relationships always fall on the English/Arts teacher? What perverted Bollywoodization is this? The Arts/English teacher is supposed to be this parental figure/friend while the others, especially the honorary Science folk, wallow in thein vainglorious bareness? The attitude percolates to the realm of the students as well who think that tackling a particular problem is equivalent to saving humanity. Is this the manifestation of a grudge of the ex-Science student who could not trod the paths of some random-alphabet-acronym-ed Engineering college while draining the hard-earned money of the family like the USA was supposed to drain the swamps? You bet it is.

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The point here is not to draw generalisations but to point out at a much greater problem. It is not uniform or homogenous in nature. In fact, one of the most liberal and fun teachers we had was an old guy who taught us Maths. One fine morning, when he was going on about his usual, and often solitary ramblings about some weird equation, another teacher from the so-called liberal sect waddles into the classroom and complains how a person was seen sitting on the lap of another. Our guy lets out a smirk and replies: “where would one sit then?”. He won it that day.

The other point of paradox emerges out of the curriculum itself. I would like to point out these two texts in particular: As You Like It by William Shakespeare and Srikanta by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay. Being in the classical comedic vein of Shakespeare, the play deals with love in its variegated shades. What is even more important is the later. Srikanta had one of the most delicate yet beautiful depictions of a relationship I have ever seen. It was the relationship between Srikanta and Piyari Baiji. Piyari Baiji was a single woman with a child. To put cherry on the cake, she was a performer. I do not need to elaborate on the connotations of what that meant in the early twentieth century. At the end of the first part, if I remember correctly, both, despite being in love with each other decided to part ways as their lives were so vastly different. It subconsciously taught a great virtue of love then, which I now understand: the art of letting go. We were supposed to understand, memorise, and regurgitate these ideas in the broad questions and what not! But, of what use are they if one parades with the same colonial jackassery? The severe irony emerges from here. You are meant to understand love in these texts, write answers when are only 13 years old, but you are not allowed to do what you understand. Oh, the horror!

Photo by Charles Parker on

Then comes the pretext of me writing on this day! The V day! I remember the staff turning into MI6 agents to scour the bags of the students and confiscate the tokens of love they had curiously smuggled to gift their beloved. When we look back, we might be quick to dismiss those days. I would say please do not disrespect the young but very very real emotions. Respect it for what it was. Then what is love anyway? I am sure we will look back at the relations we are in now after 40 years and say well that was nothing! So, in the illusive idea of understanding Love, do we forget to Love in the first place? I say we never understand Love. We should never try to understand Love. For it is different every time. We never understand Love but Love anyway! That is Love.

I do not have contempt for the teachers because they are from a different age. I feel sad for them. Maybe they will realise. Yes, sure teach all the meaningless equations and the obscure Elizabethan dramas you want to! But also teach Love, Basic Empathy and Consent. My contempt is towards the idiots of this day and age who continue to engage in the same ordeal despite knowing better. Please Love and Let Love. There is too much Hate anyway.

Last but not the least, if you think I am suggesting to let everything go and let them engage in limitless orgies (which can wait till College ofcourse), please consume bleach in regular intervals and patiently wait to come to your senses.


ren de vous

But why do we read or write anything? Is it to experience by not experiencing at all? Yes, I know that is a paradox. Or is it something totally different? But why do we read or write anything? Is it to experience by not experiencing at all? Yes, I know that is a paradox. Or is it something totally different?
person with difficulty and questions in studies
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Do these words make any sense? Why are you asking me! You wrote them after all. I distract myself. Where was I? That is the question. I was nowhere. I have nowhere to be. I just am. And that… is the tragedy.
faceless woman walking with umbrella and suitcase
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I was walking down the street this evening badly in the need for an answer. I moved from pillar to post in the search of it, but no one was willing to provide me with anything. They just said ask that person and vanished without a trace. Yes, I am not joking they just vanished. I was shocked by that as well. I went past the haunted lanes and by lanes in the search of answer but failed.

No one knew who sold the fried chicken. I wanted the chicken god damn it. Did I see the wrong advertisement? Or I am always at the wrong place. Maybe the latter. Stories are curious. So curious. I look at these masks through the faces. Or the faces through the masks? I do not know. I cannot tell the difference. All I see are stories. Stories waiting to be told but no one to listen to it. I see the face of a bewildered old man waiting for someone with a stick. Who is he waiting for? A friend? Death? I do not know. I do not even ask. I like seeing people wait. His eyes had the anxiety I am very familiar to. The anxiety of a failed artist. So, will failure always plague me then? Oh no! The old man looks at me and angrily walks away. Perhaps he heard me.

I keep having my chicken. Delicious stuff! While chomping hard I hear a kid crying in the distance. The faint rebukes of the mother simultaneously swim into my ears. It seems she cannot write. She cannot distinguish between the letters. She is mixing them up. I rise to give her a high five and realize she is a little too far away. Aren’t they always? But yes, same problem here kid don’t you worry those letters have a mind of their own. They are funny.

It seems my bowl of corn is almost over. I am still hungry.

bread food healthy love
Photo by RODNAE Productions on
I get up and try to search for something else. I could see myself from the rooftop running across the length and breadth of the of town to find something. Finally, I stumbled on an ice cream parlor. They sell fried ice cream. Huh! Curious. I see no oil. Well, what do I know about cooking? I hear a voice so close to me that it almost feels as if I was the one speaking. Or maybe I was who knows. Who wants to know? The words told me everything and nothing at the same time. I felt full. I paid the bill at the library and left for the sea.
sailboat on pure green sea against mountain
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I saw some words there which made no sense. I was frustrated. I said “But why do we read or write anything? Is it to experience by not experiencing at all?” I do not remember what happened after.

Introduction to Jallikattu

Now that most people are seem to be aware of this gem, it seems a right time for me to re-hash my film formal exercise into a post. bCoZ cOnTeNT! So, here we go! Because why not? I promise to return to storytelling very soon!

Directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery and Produced by O. Thomas Panicker, Jallikattu is an experience it itself. I will only be talking about a miniscule of the whole experience. The sequence ranges from 1:46 to 5:51 which has a stellar 67 shots in total (yes I counted!)

Photo by mohamed Abdelgaffar on

The chosen sequence is the opening sequence of the film and it proceeds with a metrical montage, coupled with a rhythmic score of people in a village waking up to go about their daily lives. This symmetry of human existence has been juxtaposed with the movement of insects in the nethers of the forest.

As I have pointed out, this is the opening sequence of the film and as Plot has everything to do with causality, what this scene primarily does is to set the mood for the chaos that is
about to follow during the buffalo chase. From the point of view of story, nothing noteworthy happens as it is only a bunch of people waking up. But, the way the montage is presented with the score and parallels to the lives of the insects, it gives an indication to
the viewer that there are larger powers at play which is not limited to the human. And that is exactly what happens in due course of the narrative as it totally blurs the line between
the human and the bestial by questioning the notion of ethics.

Photo by Maria Orlova on

The opening sequence sets the mood for the chaos that is about to unfold. Traditionally, opening scenes or sequences are meant to work as exposition to the central issue or the
characters. In this film, it is absolutely not the case. What this sequence does is to expose the prevailing mood of daily life, which in spite of appearing to very symmetric, is actually lingering on the borders of pure mayhem. The sequence works on a tripartite division: human, macro and micro. In the section of human it features a metric montage of people waking up to the score of a ticking clock. Every alternating second shows the close-up someone opening their eyes accompanied by the sound of the release of breath. This part transitions, after focusing into the l movement of the neck muscles of an old person on taking the first deep breath after waking up, into the l domain of the micro or the lives of
the insects. A similar technique of l montage is used, but it is not as metrical in nature, to show ants, worms etc. going about their own daily business at the crack of dawn. The
opening sequence thus ends with a metaphorical zoom out in the domain of the micro where we get to see a lengthy shot of the sunrise. This l juxtaposition of the micro, macro
and the human in the opening scene is crucial so as to understand the larger theme of the film which is trying to show, through the actions of humans, insects or Nature in general, that if need arises there is absolutely no difference among a human, a buffalo or an earthworm.The central notion of the film is to question the artificial notions of ethics, morality and rationality of the human being, who think they are higher than everyone else, but can be equally ‘bestial’ if need arises.

Photo by Vijay Sadasivuni on

Most of the shots are still shots and it only zooms out and pans a little while showcasing the sunrise. While showing people waking up, most of the screen space is filled with their faces so there is not much space. While showing the insects, the back, fore and mid grounds are all in focus mostly so there is nothing off screen per se. Same goes for the shot of sunrise. As far as the colour is concerned, the scenes of the outside world are seen with a tinge of blue to signify low light at the crack of dawn. The faces however are seen high contrast, probably with the use of a top light, to focus on their facial features.

The metric montage coupled with the score of a ticking clock and its tripartite division shows how the worlds of humans and other beings are almost same and foreshadows how similar their nature can be. The sound design and the background score in this film are excellent throughout. In this particular sequence there is only score and no dialogue with the sound of the ticking clock which gathers pace later on. The colour contrast while showing the faces is crucial as it highlights, in a zombie-ish way, how mechanical the lives of these people are. Compared to that, the movements of the insects are seen to be a little less mechanical. It shows how humans are a slave of time.

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The Birth of Writing

This is not the name of a course or a reading in a course offered by the School of Literary or Cultural Studies. This is more of a testimony of my Writing. I would not be talking about the birth of Writing in a socio-historical or a so-called ‘anthropological’ sense of the term. I’ll be talking about it in my own personal capacity and how Writing was born to me or how the Birth of Writing happened to me. As many of you might already know, I have been writing in this space for the last five years now! I have grown a lot, learned a lot and most importantly, unlearned a lot. It has been a life-altering experience and I will never ever do anything thing differently if given the chance. Here, therefore, I would like to talk about my transactions with Writing and how it came to define me. 

When I read about the origin of creativity, all I read about, mostly, are words of divine inspiration or some out worldly experience being the genesis. But for me, I’d say, the beginnings were not so rosy at all. 

I met Writing as result of an act of Violence! Yes, an act of Violence.

I’m very conscious as to the connotations of that word. I remember being a school student, extremely excited to get my words out in the public domain after realizing that I could write a word or two. I had already seen my friends write regularly in the hallowed pages of the school magazine. I remember my mother requesting me to put out something but I did not really care. I believe that there is a point of time in life when maybe we’re all supposed to meet each other; even the qualities meet you at one point of time. I met Writing, one could say, when it was probably too late! I was lost in the talent hunt fiascos of high school. The gyrating opera of ‘Exposure’ as an illusory cover for unpaid labour was starting to unfurl in its naked glory in front of my eyes. I thought I would never be able to create a niche of my own in this dark comedy. 

Then it happened!

A glorious opportunity seemed to tumble down and stop right in front of my feet like a no contact delivery from Amazon. It felt like a godsend. It felt like a miracle. My fault? I was not really aware of the politics that Writing entailed. I remember sharing my first write up with some close people even before submitting. That was my mistake!

I thought Writing was meant to be shared. Now I know it is meant to be owned.

The fruits of my labor got rejected (As I naively mentioned that I had made others read. Plagiarism, however, is a monster I met much later.) Much later did I understand the deep waters I was engaging myself in. It didn’t feel as if my writing was rejected; it felt as if someone rejected me. Seldom have I cried as hard as I did that day. It kick-started a brew. A fire rising from the deep fissures in the nethers of my heart. And one day the brew got too hot to handle.  The day was 26th August, 2015. Five years ago. 

Since then, I have always tried to write my heart out and think aloud as much as I can. And No! writing in a journal does not have the same lure to me as writing in a public space does. For some people, writing is a very personal act. For me, it is public. I write because I want to make myself heard/read. Just like an artist who paints for others to see. I think of the online space as a kind of an e-c(h)osystem which enables more people to read and also a place where a text can easily morph and meander its way to find and cling onto myriad arbitrary symbols. And then, when it will walk back to you, though they are your words, you might never be able to recognise it.

Thus, thepenarchist was born. Not out of love, but out of anger and a desire to make a ‘mark’. To cause anarchy with the ‘pen’, when the ‘pen’ was not even there. The pen is the hand. It is very interesting you know, using the word ‘mark’ in the context of a virtual space. It would have been understandable had I used it for writing in a peace of paper as it would have literally left a mark on the pages following it. Metaphorically however I feel, the internet to be an infinitely e-lastic (and not plastic) place which will keep increasing no matter how much someone drags it by the ends. This e-lastic place also leaves a mark, a digital mark for that matter, not only on the next page of your notebook, but on the whole tabula rasa called the internet, where it is universally ephemeral and ephemerally universal at the same time. A beautiful paradox. It all began as ‘roywritesblog’, but I believe ‘thepenarchist’ was there all along. It was me who found thepenarchist a little bit later, or perhaps it waited for me. The existence of thepenarchist was forged in fire and it must keep burning in order to sustain itself. If that is what is needed for Writing to live. So be it.

Hey stranger! How are you?

Hey stranger! How are you doing? I haven’t seen you for a long time and was just wondering how are you. That is why I thought of checking on you. So, tell me how are you doing? Do you remember the last time we went out together? Do you remember that it was almost about to rain but it didn’t? Do you remember the breeze that was sweeping across our face like an artist’s brush trying to paint the emotions into a new colour? Do you remember the last time we were about to have a cup of tea but didn’t? You don’t? Okay.

Isn’t it curious that in the huge scrolls of our memory, the things that we didn’t do makes a mark ever more prominent than the things we did? It’s funny how life works in mysterious ways! One would wonder that walking by the lanes and by-lanes while taking photographs all the way and documenting or archiving the experience as if it was an archaeological site per say goes unnoticed and unremembered by the times to come, but, it is only those moments that we forget to photograph or document that haunts or replays forever in the thoroughfares of our mind! Do you remember the last time we went for a walk together at three in the night when everyone else was fast asleep? Do you remember the last time we had a plate of fries even when we were full? You don’t? Okay.

Now, when I sit looking aimlessly out of the window, it is these mundane activities that seem so extraordinary with an amount of mystic charm in them. Who ever knew that something like taking a walk with a friend would be something so coveted! We have always learned that perhaps the most valuable memories or experiences of our life will be that super expensive trip, that road trip, that flight or that foreign trip which will blow our heads off in excitement! Because that was the fantasy that we forever dreamt of living, right? Who knew that life would come back to bite us all in the ass to remind that it is perhaps not the economic grandeur or the luxury that determines the value of a memory, it is perhaps living in the moment, hand-in-hand, laughing and smiling with the ones you love beside you. That is why I believe everything has a particular memory to it! Be it the touch, the smell, the concrete, everything which can be felt has a feeling to it; has a memory in it. Yes, even concrete! when I walked with you under the bridge waiting to discover the best sandwich or, along the most decorated street to find a solace of our own; we created a memory, a memory which stays there. forever! And whenever you go back, in whichever circumstances you might be, all the moments that we have spent together starts playing in the video player of mind. But, the memory changes as we move on. We imagine new things which perhaps did not even happen. So, what happens here? Do the files get corrupted? or do we? Now you tell me, dear stranger, do you remember when we did all this? You don’t? Okay.

Do you remember that day when I was down and you decided to take us on a trip? I hesitantly agreed but and I am so glad that I did! Do you remember how we discovered our favourite restaurant that day? Now that we are locked, we feel the pain in our hearts, a desperate longing to go back and re-live those moments again! Who knew those chaotic days would be something so coveted? The mind plays stupid little tricks on you you know! When you are away thousands of miles away, you long for your roots! You long for the place which made you; but, when you return to the roots, it is the distance, it is the journey, the new experience that seems more appealing to you now. What mystery is this? What charm? What crookedness? What concoction is being prepared in our hearts that makes us want only those things which we don’t have? Why can’t we ever be content with what we have? Why should life be like this? Is this the mystery of life which the philosophers have long sought and failed to find? Is a life worth living only if there is something unattained? A last untasted dish or, a non-experienced experience? Where even during the last breath shall we be hopeful, hoping that one day we will have that! Knowing very well that one day will never ever arrive. Hey stranger, how are you doing? Do you remember us talking about all of this the last time we met? You don’t? Okay.

Conflict Politics

It isn’t necessary to put words in bold or neon to make someone understand that conflict is perhaps one of the defining features of the human condition. The fact that we, as human beings can enter into conflict with other people, resolve them and move on without biting each other proves that we are as capable of aggression as we are of compassion. I know that this idea of tolerance as in the acceptance of difference or diversity is being challenged by the day. Events around the world make us rethink if we qualify to be seen as people after all? How can the same person, who claims to be sane be the source of such vitriolic hatred in times of conflict? It is in these junctures, that in my personal life, I try to be as self-reflective as possible. Not all conflicts can be resolved over a cup of coffee. Conflicts in real life tend to be fatal, literally. Therefore, whenever I see people at arms or trying to one-up each other, I try to reason by appealing to both their intelligence and their sense of empathy. I make sincere attempts to reason with myself to see both the sides of a dispute. Though this does not work out mostly, I strongly believe that in the end honesty is appreciated by both the dissenting individuals and groups. In a patriarchal society like ours, most of the conflicts stem from the ever fragile male ego. The inherent toxicity leads certain men to prove that they are no less, which leads to all sorts of mishaps. It has its roots in the upbringing where boys are told not to cry or asked to play with guns and not dolls. It is this inherent relation of identity with power from such an early age that makes them blind to the feelings of the ‘other’. That is why when they come into conflict with others they cannot let go of what they want which gives birth to violence. Be it acid attacks or petty gang wars, they stem from an attitude of not tolerating conflict or difference. I feel that this is the most important lesson that I have ever learnt, which is to respect opposing beliefs (to a certain arbitrary degree). Outside institutionalised education, it is Life which teaches us the most via interactions.

During the later part of my school life, I joined the classes of a rather popular teacher whom I expected to be no less than the usual run of the mill. To my great interest, my teacher did not fit that model. As I started opening up, we would often end up talking about anything and everything other than the venerable ‘subject’. We have had fiery debates and one such long-standing debate or a conflict of interest has had a long-standing impact on my life. He pointed out that our ‘English Medium’ generation is losing out on the immense beauty that regional literature has to offer. The problem lies in our orientation to our mother tongue. Since forever, we have been subtly taught to treat something ironically named as the ‘mother-tongue’ as something secondary. This treatment can only be justified if the other language was called ‘father-tongue’. The syllabus also, it seemed was very politically designed, as it contained mostly obscure texts whereas the English counterpart was much easier. The generation growing up with the illusory blanket of ‘Globalization’ must be encouraged to love their roots. This was my argument in response to my teacher that the syllabi were very politically designed to veer the students away from their mother tongue. He did agree to my proposition, but also replied that if we, do not take responsibility to start a culture which would lead to the re-popularization of the regional culture, then, who will? These words rang deep inside the chambers of my heart and made me re-think on whether I been too complacent! I saw a new window of perspectives open in front of me. Then I understood, all we needed was a little push. We did not have that. The fact that I have to resort to English as a medium of communication for this subject is very apt and deliciously ironical drives the point home even further.

As I said earlier, not all conflicts can be resolved with such ease. Certain conflicts are manufactured and installed in the social psyche to keep the hate factory alive. Such a conflict is that of India and Pakistan that has to some extent shaped our identities. With the wave of nationalism currently prevalent, some people would go so far as to say they are Indians just because they are not Pakistanis. Same was the case with me who started with ‘demonising the other’. I remembered distinctly that it started with cricket. It always starts with cricket. Any random Indian mobile cricket game would instantly pit India against Pakistan. This is how violence and conflict are kept alive through the micro spaces of culture. Whenever there is any national issue or religious tension, people indulge in the common rhetoric of hate. The idea of conflict is built into the human condition but that cannot be a basis to say that humans do not lean towards resolution. Resolution is also a part of human nature. The need for normalcy in a liberal democracy, no matter how much of a free fall it is in, is as important as the existence conflict. Unfortunately, more often than not, the hunger for the violence of conflict supersedes the need for resolution. Let’s try our best to douse the fires of hatred in whatever small way we can while weeping and bleeding somewhere inside for the sake of humanity.


Human beings, while being individuals, are also social animals since it is but crucial to maintain relationships with other people in order to survive in an order or a system. One can be as fashionably introverted, be it influenced by the likes of Sheldon Cooper or Sherlock or otherwise, as they intend to, but at times even they have to wander outside of their fancy little cocoons in order to interact with the surrounding ‘environment’. Interaction with other people at multiple levels is crucial for one to be human in a very broad sense of the term. These interactions however, are not limited to a ‘type’ or formula which could be applied to all and sundry. No! They vary from person to person and the so-called typical interaction and its personal overtones change depending on the person one is conversing with.

This is where, I believe, the question of identity crops up. Identity can be seen as the kind of a person one is when he or she is with another individual, shaped by the perceptions each one has of the other in any given situation. For example, I being a student and interacting with a teacher would be different as compared to the same ‘I’ interacting with a friend. The interaction alters if and when the surroundings are different. I talk with my teacher differently in the presence of other students, than how I do when I am by myself. Little roles and the codes, be it of conversation, attitude or behaviour in general alter in relation to the people around an individual. People close to us such as father, mother or partner share a linguistic code with an individual which is strictly personal and could appear indecipherable to an outsider. In all these cases of interaction, the identity of the individual actually morphs its way from one to the other in a seamless manner. What actually remains, if there is a ‘type’ at all, is that of the fluid identity of the individual who has in themselves, imbibed bits and pieces of all the attributes from all the little ‘roles’ that they play on a regular basis.

Does identity only comprise who a person is when he or she is with someone else? In other words, is my identity derived through the process of mutual interaction with my fellow beings or does it have an intrinsic character to it? I would vouch for the view that the core of one’s identity lies mostly in how we relate to ourselves! The relationship that an individual has with him or herself largely determines the dynamics they share with other people. If the intrapersonal relationship with one’s own self is in constant sync then there should be no difficulty in sustaining the fluidity of one’s identity in relationship to other people irrespective of who they are. Therefore I would consider, the central and strongest aspect of my identity to be the relationship of me with my own body and mind. If we are true to who we are and can live with it then there is nothing to replace that sense of accomplishment and well-being. This is easier said than done as the mind is a foxy little thing and can very well play tricks on you. One needs to work these things out with oneself and with others in the most careful manner possible where one’s individuality and social togetherness are in tandem with each other. It is in times of fragmentation when we are unsure of the course of action we need to take that we have to ironically fall back on our own selves to transport us of the dark dungeons of pure self-indulgence. It is only if we are able to work things out with our own selves that we are able to navigate the little roles that society has bestowed us with. Thus, me and myself are always in a constant dialogue with one another which often induces reflections on the world around oneself.

If I see my writing as but an expression of the self, then I would say that what I write interrogates my identity to the same extent that my identity interrogates how I use words. Feel free to disagree but as someone who uses writing as a tool of self-expression, I strongly believe that it is out of this inner dialogue that the ‘creative’ in my writing is born.


Sharing a short little verse that I had written few days back in the train for Ink Elan

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Pulwama Massacre

Dr Partha Banerjee wrote a fiery article in Bengali on the Pulwama attack, here’s the link to that:

I translated the same in English:

Do read, react, comment and share the thoughts.

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