Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's just a dream!

When dreams and reality collide head on...

I was dreaming when the phone rang. What was I actually dreaming? Now see, that’s the problem with dreams. You forget it soon enough unless it’s a nightmare that jolts you out of your sleep. And you feel glad, ‘it’s just a dream!’ Laying rest to the few disturbing thoughts, you go back to sleep!

Sometimes, you are falling from a height into a depth that has no end. Your whole body is constricting with electric sensation; the adrenaline is rushing. You know you need to do something but you are helpless. Your body is immobile, powerless against the force of gravity. You close your eyes knowing that the landing could shatter you completely. That would be the end of you.

Just that time, miracle intervenes. You open your eyes. For a numb while, you remain in suspended realism. Gradually, in that fleeting moment between the state of sleep and wakefulness, you collect yourself together. You are not falling anymore. You are rooted to the bed as best as you could.

‘It’s just a dream,’ you heave a sigh of relief.

Other times, you are running. A wild dog is after your life. You are scared like never before. Your heartbeat is a formula one race. And then your leg fails to reach the ground. You are running on a treadmill, exhausting but taking you no where. You look back and see that ferocious, snarling beast. This could be the end of you now. You say your prayers. The divine intervenes.

You turn back to gauge the distance in between you and the animal, measuring how much the beast needs to do the catching up. And then you realize you are cut-paste to a different world. The beast has metamorphosed into a cute, little puppy.

You stop running, and try to figure out what just transpired. Your heart is still beating against your chest. I must be dreaming, you think.

You compose yourself and walk toward the little dog. You cuddle it with your fingers. You pick it up in your hands, up till your face, and look into the dog’s eyes. The dog licks your face.

Transformation. The dog growls. You see those fatal fangs and red burning eyes up close. You are holding that beast. Where’s the little cute dog? The beast pounces on you. Caught by the frenzy of fear, you wake up. Nothing has happened to you! Your heart is still racing.

‘It’s just a dream,’ you heave a sigh of relief.

And then there are those adolescent dreams. You are about to make out with the prettiest girl in school. She is mesmerizing. She has swept you off your feet. And she is giving in now. She is all nude and ready. You are nervous and excited. Sexually.

I must be dreaming, you say! But you don’t care. You take out your clothes, hustle into the bed next to her and grab her tight. She is warm. You climb over her. Just that time, the devil intervenes.

You climax before you have the fun. No, stop, it’s not even started, you say. It’s too late by then. Night fall. That greasy stuff in your underwear wakes you up. You walk out of the bed, grumbling, to the bathroom. Need to wash up!

‘It’s just a dream, how bad?’ you curse, frustrated.

I cannot quite remember the head or tail of the dream that was cut short by the phone call. The last fuzzy thing that I can recollect is of the long, empty street. I am walking alone against the cold wind. It must be early in the morning. The street lights are still on. Somebody should switch it off. Save energy!

I am wrapped in a windproof jacket, thick waterproof trekking trousers and sporting a heavy footwear. An old rifle is slung down my shoulder. A light snow fall. A few dogs lie by the roadside, cuddled to themselves to ward off the cold. There’s not a single soul around. Horror strikes my mind. I am looking for Frankenstein. I am his creator.

The phone rings. I pick it up. I say I am on a mission impossible. Do not disturb me. Frankenstein will hear me. The phone rings. I have not picked it up at all.

I get up and answer the phone. What follows through the next moment completely knocks me out of my dream. It’s an unstoppable barrage of rapid fire reprimands.

“When did you come back? Why did you not call home? You are still sleeping? What is happening to you?”


“This way you will never change? Father and mother are really angry with you. It’s time you become responsible. You have been drinking the whole night. Are you smoking?”

“Cut that crap short,” I murmur.



“You better send some money to your younger brother, maybe around 10,000. He called me last evening and he was really upset. I have sent him my share already.”

“10,000. Where will I get the money?” I think.

“Are you listening to me? Do I always have to call you? When was the last time you called me? And dad heard that you are splurging all your money drinking and partying! He is really disappointed with you!”

“From whom? What money? I don't have even money to...”

“I don’t know. It’s time you save. Look at your friends-they all have cars now. They are settled….”

“Don’t compare me with….”

“But you should realize you will need money. What if you are sick or someone in the family is sick. What if you need to go abroad? Won’t you need money?”

“I know but…”

“See, I am telling this for your own good. Get up now and call home!”

“I am this way and I am happy!”

“For how long? You need to think about your life? What, when you have a family and kids?”

“What what?”

“So did you bring those stuffs I asked you?” she softens up.

“Yes, I did.”

“How many?”

“Five pieces.”

“Just five?”

“I ran short of money.”

“What about the color box for the kids?”

“Hmmm….” Fast, I need to answer. “Yes I got them,” I lie. Now I need to buy it from here.

“Okay, brother-in-law will pick it up when he comes to Thimphu. And you better send the money. Today, if possible.”

“Alright! Stop now. I will call you later. Bye. Give my love to the kids. Bye, bye and bye!”

I cut the line, throw the mobile on the floor and try to get back to the dream.

Where was I? Yes, that long, empty street with lights on. The early morning wind. The light snow fall. The dogs. My jacket, trousers and the boot. The gun.Come Frankenstein!

I sleep off for another hour and half. The alarm wakes me up. I get up and look at the phone. Three missed calls from my sister. Did we not just talk?

I call her. And then, bet, what follows is a barrage of rapid fire reprimands…

(P.S: this is for my sweet, caring, loving sister who keeps reminding me where and when i am going haywire!)

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Holy crap, business as usual!

You know what, it’s easy to give shit than to take it. And this is the only time when we are so altruistically selfless. While giving hell load of shit to others!

For centuries, we have been told, now it has almost become a tradition. Giving is what brings happiness! So folks, give it on! As much as you can. Heave-ho! Bring it out, the shit must flow. Continuity!

Give that crap! It’s like the manna from heaven. It’s the elixir of life. It’s the Lord’s plans for us. And His will shall be done. Oh, we are the saviors!

Now isn’t this sounding a little too ‘Christian’? Sorry brethrens, but you know right, sensitivities especially regarding to religious sentiments mustn’t be overlooked. Not when the majority is non-believers. What’s that word, heathens!

But we got to feed shit! Every day, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday! We have great responsibilities, the golden yoke they say, which just gets heavier each day!

We are the independent voice, the people’s paper that shall inform the nation, and dealing you with business of your lives! And your week begins here, with a lot of shit!

Mass media is doing magic, isn’t it? Though it arrived a little late like anything and everything else in the country. And as magic is, it is just tricks! You just need to know how to play it up!

They have been doing it well. They think they know a lot, sometimes everything. They know others think and value what they know, say and write! Media, it’s done some good to these people!

Power. The watch dog (or is it a poodle?). The fourth estate. Holy shit, that’s too much to handle!

The so-called writers, they are. Writers with huge, inflated egos like hydrogen balloons with the indefatigable ‘I am the best’ attitude. What I write is so true, so powerful, so damn good, and matchless! And what you write, well, it is pretty okay but need some editing! Don’t worry-I am there for you!

Well, the sad thing is, so far these writers have been reviewing books written by other less known and less proud writers. They take amusement in reading a book they feel is badly written but nonetheless write a positive review.

Their rationale: We can’t slur the author’s first attempt. Anyway it’s just a promotional piece. I won’t lose or gain by doing this fellow a little good.

I know when I write a book it will be an international best seller that would bag a Pulitzer, a Booker or who knows an Oscar (Oops, this is for my screenplay!)

You heard that shit right!

But no denying, they are a force to reckon with. Forces of change! The change we all believe in but not even Barack can make it happen! That black president did have the audacity of hope to say such a thing! Now see aren’t we taking him a tad too seriously?

The change came. In BT. Not because we had any option but we were forced to. It was somewhere near to Marxist’s ideals of revolution. The proletariat's rising against the super class. But there are two sides to a coin. One told, the other distorted.

And again, as expected and bound to happen, the distorted became the 'business as usual.'

We talk about democracy, Gross National Happiness whether we know, believe in it or not. And it seems like some people have never come to terms with the ‘solidarity walk’. They dig shit. The stink returns. If there is any political reason to it, it is because we are too caught up in the things of the past. That past!

But now we are talking about a walk-out with an ‘ulterior motive’ to ‘kill’ the paper, without thinking of other 47 employees with families. Suddenly it’s a matter of fact!

Did any one ask how shitty things had become? Did they try putting themselves in the shoes of those who walked-out? Perhaps not!

Why are they suddenly not talking about ethics, principles and journalism? Did it get out the window, as doors of opportunity opened up itself for them without much ado? Is it about saving the paper or recovering the lost ground? Please do not give us all this shit!

And why not we talk about who sold their souls to the devil? Who’s done that?

I know radicals don’t have a place here. But I thought they were brothers-in-arms. They too wanted to change the world. But how could they, with their pseudo revolutionary ideas? They just talk big and pass cynical criticisms. And drink to much booze. And they think, what they think, say and write are the best that could ever happen in this country. Or maybe in the world, who knows with their level of self confidence and pride.

No one can beat them. Not even the best writers in the world. For in their cocoon, they are the best. Give one up for them, for their insensible sense of superiority.

But everyone knows who’s worth the shit and who’s not! And who’s done the shit, and who’s high!

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A troubled soul, Facebook and three agony aunts

If this world is really a stage, my role is very much of the troubled character.

This time, an indescribable trapping of my own mind, had me caught unaware. I had braced up for the final moment of truth. Reminding that the nature of certain relationships is to find joy in the momentary togetherness. And not looking beyond the end.

Remember just the good old times, I had bolstered up. But in vain.

Memories can be soothing as well as torturous. It can make or break your day. Sadly, the latter ruled my circumstances.

As it might appear, easier said than done, the heart triumphed over rationale. And I slumped into depression. Loneliness. The pain of missing her. The vacuum created by her absence. The objects that kept reminding me of her. The feeling that you do not belong anywhere but to her. My heart was troubled. Very much.

For the sake of distraction, I logged into Facebook, the social networking site that has given a new leash of life to people who are bored. My status: down with a heartburn!

And as usual, good Samaritan friends, ever helpful, with loads of free-of-cost advices thronged my way. I was touched. So many of them came and dropped feel-good words.

At least three of them left behind a piece of their philosophy pie for me to chew.

Buddhism can be a huge relief but not in this context. She, my dear friend, is an avid student of Buddhist philosophies. Although she is doing her masters in some techno-engineering stuff, lately she has realized that Buddhism is the calling of her life. Her next stop-enlightenment!

“You are sad because of insecurity. That insecurity arises from the reason that you cannot live without that person. You are dependent on her, emotionally and physically. You are absolutely attached to the idea that she is almost everything to you,” she said, in a matter-of-fact air.

“You have to give up this myth, and believe that everything is impermanent. You will find happiness when you come to terms with reality-that dying, partying, sickness, and aging-is just the order of the nature,” she added, before swiftly leaving Facebook saying she had some guests coming for dinner.

Romanticism still lives in the books. And of course in the mind of one of my friends. A self declared romantic, who is pursuing her masters in journalism, was quicker enough to term my condition ‘the beautiful pain’ of loving and missing some one.

That way, it was just to feel what I was going through. I was lovelorn. I better start writing poetry. How, thou changed my life?

But my friend was herself quite unsure. She wished if she could also feel the same beautiful pain like me. It seemed love had left a bad taste on her. However, Nicholas Sparks’ novel was helping her find the lost chords.

The next friend, who listened carefully, was equally if not more, hurt by my pain. Sympathetic words streamed out one after another
“…….but you know right…this is life…” she said and left.

I changed my face book status from ‘down with a heartburn’ to "Silabi! (Spell check)."

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

No bragging, M damn self righteous!

Nothing is too early. Except dying. And if death comes early, we got to know that perhaps life wasn't good. Not too good enough!

But when you are living, have you got any choice? I guess not. And that’s why we go on doing what we go on doing. For a long time to come.

We get sick and tired. Exhausted, we run out of steam. What’s the point? This absurd drama plays and replays on this stage of life over and again. You are a spectator one day. The other day, you are a prop. Next time, you are a funny actor.

You have to amuse the crowd. Make them feel good. Keep the show running. That’s your job.

I don’t think I deserve to be this way or that way. Let me put my record straight, I too want a good life. Or how did one famous personality just put it-I have a dream, too. Who’s not got one?

At the end, dreams are all we have got. Our only prized worldly possessions. I am my own fortune teller. I don’t need a crazy psychic to predict my future. I built castles in the air. I am not bothered. Reality may suck but who cares! What counts is my ability to dream!

There’s a huge chasm that separates real from unreal, dreams from truth, fact from fiction. And in every possible utopian situation, I am there thrust right between. Don’t mistake me for balance. I am just too confused. Lost in the wilderness of life. And finding myself has been a hard task.

It vexes me. It’s making me go mad. I want to blame, point my fingers at all people possible.

God first! The holy mighty one. He’s a prick, big time, if he’s around. But for sure I know, He wasn’t there, at all. Never once. Funny God isn’t he? It’s a reflection of human ingenuity to create a greater force to depend on. With or without rationale….so they say do what you can do, what you can’t do, pray for! God bless their souls if you are there!

Oh, not my parents. They have been good. All this time.

But what about the system? It’s a crappy system, through and through. From the education to the heavily colonized western mental system. The West is cool. Their lifestyle awesome. Their money better. It’s now about NYC (Wazzat!) that mumbo-jumbo, borrowed ascent! OH ma gad! How well an American she’s turned into!

That’s alright. We accept, people pick up ascents, genuinely or just to show-off! But you can’t beat this. One RJ in our many budding radio FMs just got a new found ascent without setting one foot out of the country. Where do people pick-up all these…these jazz, wanabe, outlandish attitudes!

And your unique culture, your GNH will go to the dogs. Things are falling apart. And the consequence: I am the anarchy.

But this tribe is indifferent. Solidarity walk! Remember guys. It was just too funny. The few people who volunteered, took troubles to organize, question the government, and assert their constitutional rights…were attacked with a barrage of criticisms from left, right, central.

They called it bad precedence. They said it was a demonstration in disguise. They called it strike, protest, name it! They were too reminiscent of events in the past with their pseudo patriotism and misplaced sense of nationalism.

Gutless chickens, bloody ones, I call them! But the precedence is set…chickens can go die! This is our time. A democracy. Feudal left overs can also go die!

Change must come... the adventure of ideas, the revolution of thoughts too…Slowly. Gradually. Not marauding haywire without a plan. I am talking about growth here. About development. About progress. Not instant mutation. May be we should leave those to stem-cell scientists. God knows how they do what they do. But should I care? Hell, no.

For in my cloister, I live each day, like I did the other day. Nothing else matters but a smoke, a drink, and a book…

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Thursday, August 13, 2009


The train journey wasn't that bad. The waiter in the Rajdhani kept feeding me continuously from the time i boarded the train in NJP till i got off in New Delhi. And in between hallucinating and a game of cards with total strangers, i bumped into an old school mate.

When you meet people from school no matter how long the gap, especially if it's a boarding school you've spent eight or so years in, there is an immediate sense of bonding. It doesn't matter that the guy you are bonding with was a total asshole back then.

We chatted while the waiter, a guy from some remote place in Nepal, kept bringing us food and soup and ice-creams to eat and non-alcoholic drinks to drink. We spoke of this one and of that one and of this incident and of that. And while the day turned into night as we chatted, we took occassional breaks to light a smoke in the loo. In the loo, because, a lady had announced that anyone caught smoking would have to pay a hefty sum or de-board the train. Neither did i have the money for the penalty nor the inclination to walk. My friend too, perhaps, was on the same boat as me. The loo seemed the safest bet for a risk worth taking.

It was only when i bid my friend, who's transformed from an asshole to a nice guy, goodbye and stepped onto the platform in Delhi, did i realize the wonder of the air-conditioning inside the Rajdhani. Delhi was like a tandoor and i was being roasted alive. No one else seemed to mind the heat. They were more concerned, i think, of contracting the swine flu virus. The streets somehow looked abandoned. The very few people around had their noses and mouths covered with everything and anything they could lay their hands on.

Chaotic Delhi felt quiet and strange. It wasn't bustling with people and cars and activities like it normally does. Everthing seemed weird suddenly. And as weird as it was, i did the unthinkable too. I pulled out my scarf and tying a knot around the back of my head, covered my mouth and nose. Just in case...

A couple of hours and a cold shower later, sitting in this internet cafe sipping whisky and coke, i can't help but wonder... First, sleeping around can give you some deadly diseases...i guess, all of us have come to terms with . But breathing...breathing can kill you! Oh Fuck!

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I am sweating profusely. Why won’t I? It’s mid afternoon in Phuentsholing. The heat has not only taken a toll on my being but has also subdued my hunger.

And as I wipe the sweat on my brow with the palm of my hand, there is something else that is tormenting me inside. I can’t put a finger on it. I don’t want to put a finger on it. The truth, I know, I cannot handle. I am a softie on the inside, think what you may.

Instead, I walk into a small joint, smoking a big joint, trying to appear calm and composed on the surface. The sound of the ceiling fan I can overlook as long as the woman in bright red lipstick dabbed on her lips behind the counter serves me cold beer. Well-rounded and short, she greets me with a red smile.

Smile intact, she knows I am an outsider. I think my vest drenched in sweat, gave me away. “Sit down under the fan,” she says. I oblige.

“A beer please,” I say, emphasizing on it being chilled.

A chilled beer is what I get and a few glances and giggles from the girls, probably all her age, who’ve gathered around her, and I don’t know from where. Not used to such undying attention, I smile, looking at them, but to no one in particular. Six faces smile back at me in choreographic precision.

I look at myself – feet to chest. Nothing seems unusual. Why on earth then could I be generating so much interest? Their glances and giggles begin to unnerve me.

I continue drinking. And my thoughts rove back to the events that had transpired in the last few days. It is the past now and, those events have turned into memories, but unpleasant memories nonetheless. I feel cheated and let down is all I can say.

I want to drink some more beer than step out to be molested by the heat again, but the girls and their whispers are making me feel uneasy.

“How much,” I ask, looking at the woman wearing the red lipstick.

“Fifty,” she says.

So 50 bucks I pay and head for the door. And as I am about to step out into the hot, mean sun again, I hear one of the girl’s shout ‘excuse me’.

Women, and their ways…and their promises…and their unfathomable appetite… I continue walking…

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A sleepwalker's dream sequence!

That sensuous, cold autumn wind is in the air, drifting like a fleeting melody sung by a damsel faraway. It must be a solitary reaper, red-cheeked highland lass, singing with music notes flying out from her lips. I forgot the poetry, a long time back. But that imagery still lives on, even now in a dreamy translucent state of the mind.

A waft of air brings across the nocturnal fragrance of jasmine, that purple and violet smell like a deep shade of fog meandering into my nostrils. A quick flashback takes me to a street lit by lamp posts, strange shadows brushing past. Where is she? I try to figure out those vague faces. Memory it seems is fading away, into a white, blinding shaft of light.

I find myself standing at the edge of a hundredth-storey-building, with one leg dangling in the air and trying to balance my posture with the other, heedlessly gazing into the space below. Down there, minuscule looking people and cars parade like tiny ants through the travesty of man-made lanes and by-lanes. All of them, moving in a helter-skelter direction. The groves of trees look like patches of green here and shades of yellow there.

With my arms swung wide open I stand tall on top of the world, a burning cigarette sandwiched between my fingers and my other hand firmly clutching a whisky bottle. The cold wind incessantly lashes on my brittle, frost bitten face. Standing there, I stare into the endless expanse of the horizon, painted with hues of red and yellow. Luminous clouds stretch across the end of the sky.

A queer flight of imagination invades my nonchalant mind. The desire to fly coupled with an instinctive temptation to be free, plays weird hide-and-seek games with my thoughts. The moment is perfectly thrilling until a suicidal feeling makes me tremble. I shudder at the thought and an icy chill runs down my spine. Goose bumps sprinkle on my cold skin.

At a distant in the air, a flock of birds sing their way home. I wish for a gun to shut them up. Their squeaking exasperates me as though a man in deep contemplation of god has been stirred out of his reverie. If I had a gun, I think, I would hide like a sniper and bring down each flying bird.

Smell of rose.

The images of the flower vase with decaying roses, the photograph lying by my bedside, her undergarments that she had left in the drawer, the ear rings and the necklace that lie on the dressing mirror, rushes past my eyes in a split second. Her lonely pink bra still hangs on the balcony flapping in the breeze. Why does the color pink never stop fascinating women, I wonder?

I am sitting by the window side of a fast moving train. I catch a glimpse of a tall woman dressed in a black skirt with a knee length overcoat. Her head is covered with a black scarf and her eyes with a dark pair of shades. I try to capture that transient face. But before I can photograph the image into my memory, darkness engulfs, as if the train has moved into a tunnel.

I am alone.

I swing to and fro, but this time I let go off myself. I close my eyes and fall free, headlong down. I swirl round and round. Gravity is at its best. I can see the blurring lights, and feel the air desperately trying to keep me buoyant. I hit the ground hard. My head splatters, my brain oozes out of the skull, and a pool of blood flows down the road.

I hear people screaming, a child crying, and the ambulance siren at a distant. The sights and sounds fade out, gradually. This scene is a reminder, a replay of a movie I had watched. Lights go off. I lie there in peace. Forever.

The next morning, I get up from my bed with a terrible hangover. I follow the daily ritual. I sip the little remnant of whiskey left in the bottle and light up a cigarette. It’s a new day, here I come. I joy walk to my office. My editor, grinning halfway through his teeth, hands me my story. Three men had committed suicide the last night. All of them jumped off a building to their death. Déjà vu!

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Thursday, July 23, 2009


I am not different. There are hardly any visible traits or innate talents which separates me from innumerable other human beings scouring the earth aimlessly this moment.

In fact I am almost exactly like or very similar to any other person in a given room in a given period of time taking random samples into consideration of course.

So I pretend. I pretend to be different and it is a nasty business if you must know.

I pretend to be someone I am not. I pretend to be on a different pedestal altogether. I pretend to know people I don’t and not know people I do. I pretend to have felt and seen everything this side of the solar system and the other side too, but I have not.

I pretend not to remember something even if I do, so that it portrays a general idea that I cannot be bothered with trifles. I pretend to have more friends than I actually do and they are people who pack a lot of clout.

The insignificant ones I hardly care about. I don’t even know how and where they are and what they are doing. I am busy pretending to be too busy and unnecessarily important.

I pretend to know everything. The creaking and groaning of every second human brain is what I pretend to analyze every other second. I pretend I am a breath of fresh air which every civilization craves for which thrusts it to eternal glory.

I pretend to be the symbol of my generation. I pretend to be the torchbearer, a lighthouse, the shining light which will guide all my fellow mates of my generation who have gone astray to harbor.

But then again, I don’t pretend all the time though and I don’t pretend in front of all the people. You have to cut me some slack there. But I do have my mask handy and do make the most of it most of the time.

Take a conceited guy for instance; you know what to get from a conceited guy, a whole lot of conceitedness, all of the time.

But me, I am like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.

No doubt there are a bunch of honest people around, blatant at that, and I respect them. But I wonder sometimes how they manage to survive at all, with all the pretension flying in the air.

Let me introduce myself at least. I am everyone’s mirror and if you look closely and hard enough you will see me.

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Friday, July 17, 2009


I need to get a life. Or, life might just get to me.

And that’s not a bloody joke given the state I’m in now. I am not particularly proud of all the things I’ve done. But neither do I regret them.

I’ve been blessed. I’ve met some lovely people along the way - people who’ve showered me with love and people who’ve never judged me.

But somehow, I’ve always managed to screw up. And in the process of screwing up, I’ve lost them. I think of them every now and then, and I smile. I smile at how stupid I was to have lost them.

Yet again, I haven’t lost them.

Some, I had begun to talk like – I still do. Others, I learnt a lot from – I still haven’t forgotten.

On second thoughts, perhaps, I have lost them. Perhaps they have forgotten me. Perhaps they don’t even feel necessary to spend two seconds thinking about me.

But there is one girl I know. At least for the moment, she won’t forget me. For a few more moments that have yet to come, she won’t forget me.

On days like these, she brings a smile to my face. Sometimes, as I blow my top, I don’t even realize I am smiling. She does that to me and so much more.

Her every word, her every action, has an effect on my mood. And I guess my words and actions affect her just as much. The going is good. It couldn’t have been better. She doesn’t judge me, I don’t judge her. She doesn’t expect miracles, I don’t either. She lets me be me, and, I let her be her.

And it’s on days like these when I cannot squeeze time to be with her – I feel messed up.

i wish i could tell her…

If I could see her just one time…Oh how it’d ease my troubled mind!

You still reading? Go get a life!

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I have mastered the art of living. And I’ll tell you why?

There is an old saying. Chinese, i think. It goes something like this… “If you can spend a completely useless afternoon in a completely useless manner, you’ve learnt how to live.”

All my afternoons are useless, and, all my afternoons, I spend in a useless manner. So, you see, I have mastered the art of living.

This afternoon was like any other – useless. And since going on a drive with two of my work-buddies wasn’t useless enough, we decided to visit an old friend. Don’t get me wrong now, my old friend isn’t useless. He’s a writer.

But writers, trying to conjure something inside their heads, sometimes, while away their time.

We took our chance.

As usual, he was writing.

He was writing and he was trippin’. He was trippin’ and he was joking. He was joking and he was thinking. He was thinking and he was joking and he was trippin’ and he was writing.

Then he stopped abruptly, looked at what he wrote, joked, thought, tripped, mumbled a few words {I cannot write down here} and posted his blog. Voila! He was free.

So, there we were, drinking beer, mocking each other, talking politics and what have you... But suffice it to say, I’m still wondering if it was a completely useless afternoon, spend in a completely useless manner. Therefore, I won’t write about it. Instead, I’ll talk about my friend – the guy who’s not useless – the guy who’s a writer.

For starters, he’s thoroughly misunderstood.

Unkempt locks, knee-length boots, body covered in tattoos – he comes across as your local hoodlum. And the attitude he carries – if he carries any – ARE YOU LOOKIN AT ME??? – would in my opinion, make him instantly unapproachable.

But he’s a piece of art. And a piece of art is hard to come by these days.

Taliman, as we know him, is the kind of guy who can liven up your afternoon. In days, today, our afternoon was worthwhile and not useless at all.

I don’t think I need to say anything more… do I? Except that he made me realize that I haven’t mastered the art of living! Not just yet.

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Here I begin. Yet another journey, of some sorts.

A journey whose end I am not sure of. But the least thing I worry about is what waits for me at the end of it. I am overcome by the excitement that a new journey has begun. That is all matters right now. Rest simply does not seem to count much.

I look forward, with hope and a little expectation, that what must come I will take it on my stead. There may be tough times ahead, times I need to look behind, look for inspiration. But right now, I am like a hungry lion wandering in the wild. Let me wander. A little longer.

Restless, I am indomitably. I have tried in my best ways to stay grounded. But there is only so much I can do. I need my freedom. I need to travel. I need to see the world. I need to do everything but stay here.

Can it get any better? Travelling like a hippie, with nothing but a small pack, and shit load of beliefs stacked. And with a defiant air that says: What counts is what you believe in. I place myself in my reality, and I live a life that i think is right.

One time, I wanted to lock myself up inside a room full of books. Reading, swallowing, digesting, sniffing the dust and the scent of old, dog-eared books. I wanted to be a writer. Now that dream is gradually fading. All I care is, no matter what I become, I must live a life that i want. And that life is not here. It's away, there, somewhere!

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What is it?

Heaven may cry, hell may let itself lose, the earth may shatter, but, these are the times, when nothing would matter!

I spend endless time, glued to my flickering computer screen, talking to a faceless person half-way across the globe! There would not be any stranger ways than this to spend a lonely evening. But trust me, over time, I have become fond of it. It's just, me, my computer, and my girl!

Juat then, my best buddy turns up. He’s got a plan. He’s got stuff. Let’s get to the point, he sings, Let's roll another joint! And then it's the two of us, lighting up in the balcony that overlooks our own narrow, dirty, crowded Hongkong market thoroughfare.

Now i'm hallucinating. What is it that i was saying?

What was i saying again?

Seriosuly, this is not a reminder. I don't have a Pandora’s Box to open up, and charm you with all my priceless flow of words. I can't write of things I don't know. Bear with me. otherwise, polietly fuck off!

Whose kid is that? Hey, he's tiny and cute!

Coming back...where was i?

I am just a child, learning to crawl my way up. And the way up is definitely not easy. I have been bruised, so often. I have been hurt, time and again. I have experienced joy and sadness, seen tears and laughter. I have made and lost friends. I am an ordinary fellow and my story is just like me - ordinary.

As a little boy, I had dreams - numerous. Now I realize, they were but a child’s flight of fancy. I never had thought I would grow up to be a man without dreams, without wild fancies, without that child in him. Reality hardens up people. It whacks them with a stick right across the face, and reminds them life is real.

Maybe, there is still time to turn around, and, make up for all those lost moments.

Bugga off! All you people... i'm not dozing off!

I get up every morning, promising to live a different life. I promise to live a better day. Better than the one i had lived the previous day. But it doesn't take long and I am dragged into that terrible karmic cycle - of repetition and drudgery. Day after day, I am the same, and, so is the day.

The only one moment of respite that I look forward to is that lonely evening. I am standing on the balcony of my office, my good friend has left me. In that serenity of his absence, my thoughts wander around, along the dark corridors of bygone memories. I stare at people, moving around, some involved in carefree ramblings, some hurrying up and others just wandering, lost amid a crowd of strangers. Should I care? Hell no! Not for a pound nor for a penny.

Yah! I need to eat something. But, first things first...

Now listen up. And listen up good!

That solitary moment of contemplation either makes you depressed or euphoric. It all depends on how you interpret your feelings, take your stream of consciousness and rationalize them.

Goodnight fellas!

If you have a good friend like mine, trust me, you never get to understand the state of affairs you are in.
For, in that particular moment, he walks into your room, calling out your name - loud. And then drags you out to the balcony, out of the room, into the bizarre realm of suspended realism.

I got work stacked on my desk. But I don't want to miss the high!

Yup! that's exactly what i wanted
to say...

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I am very trusting of people. But of late, I have begun to doubt their every fucking action or word.

Their every move, I now realize, is full of deceit and thoughtfully spun lies. And it makes me sick. So damn sick that I can’t function straight.

I feel claustrophobic. I am cranky and losing my fucking marbles. Fuck! I am going crazy. Let me rephrase that. Fuck! I am turning into a fanatic – out to give the world my crooked middle finger.

June and July are just not my fucking months. Every year around this time, something happens. Something that makes me frighteningly depressed.

I cannot put my finger on what makes me sick like this to the bone. I try to look happy and move on. But I’m dragged to the fucking loop again. Falling deeper, falling down, down, down.

It’s mid-July today. Hopefully in another 15 days I’ll get back to my normal, sexy, undoubting, lazy, and indecisive self. I’ll wait.

I hate rejection of any sorts.

At work I am the guy, who does the work of the guy that’s gone missing or of the guy who’s fucking quit. “I have immense talent.” I’ve been fucking told, time and again. But rewards are yet to come by for the talent I possess. I DON'T GIVE A FLYING FUCK ANYMORE!

I have been taken for granted all my life. I’ll put a fucking stop to that now. I’ll put a stop to being the non-judgmental guy who’s always OK with things.

If you want me around – don’t piss me off too much. In another two weeks - when I get back to oozing my dangerously exotic sexuality, my smashing charm and, my brand new confidence – you won’t exist for me no more.

The entire goddamn city is a circus. And the sign on my door 'FOR YOU' will be loud and clear: “No fucking Clowns allowed!”

“I used to live in a room full of mirrors, All I could see was me.” – Jimi Hendrix.

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In defense of big cars and familiarization lunches

Just the other week, I was asked to follow the People’s Democratic Party president to the south. You see, I am always broke and the trip meant earning some extra bucks in the form of TA/DA. I jumped at the offer.

It started off rather well. My bosses and colleagues gave me a briefing on how the familiarization story should be covered, and a discussion on all the other potential stories I could possibly pick up on the way - followed. Although I pretended to seem interested, I wasn’t.

The briefing wasn’t needed at all, I felt. Even without the office having to remind me, I would pick up as many stories as I could lay my hands on. That was my job, and they were paying me well for it. Honestly, I would feel extremely guilty claiming the money, if I had nothing to show for it. I have some work ethics too, even if no one believes me.

So, with a little advance, I was on the road again in a conked out Maruti car. And as skeptical as I was, I had taken the driver’s word for it.

“You can drive it all around the world and it will still not let you down,” he had said in a patronizing tone.

I look back now and realize how stupid I was to have believed him.

Anyway, Phuentsholing was to be my first stopover. And, I had never ever imagined that the weather of all things would make me realize how idiotic I was. All the clothes I had shoved into my bag were meant for the winter. And Phuentsholing, even now, was like stepping into an oven. I have probably lived in Thimphu a bit too long.

I was compelled to pick up a few T-shirts, I must admit – very reluctantly. I am not miserly, not at all, but I was traveling on a limited budget and every penny saved was important. I needed to have some money in hand, just incase the car broke down. Mind you - just incase!

The following day, I met with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) members I knew and was introduced to the ones I had never seen before. Trust me, they make you feel important and intimidated at the precise same time. Especially, when there are a lot of them together. Nevertheless, I had gathered all the information I needed to write my story.

But, there was another catch; the people in the head office always believe that Phuentsholing is a hub for stories. So, I had to look for another that had nothing to do with politics, even if it meant missing out on drinks with my buddies. If I may say so, I grew up in this oven and some of my best pals live here.

Stories filed in, drinks absorbed, experiences exchanged, I called it a night. I was to join the convoy of cars that would be escorted to Gomtu and Samtse for another meeting the next day. I was beginning to feel important. Little was I to know then that the feeling wouldn’t last very long.

As I started the engine of the car, I put on my shades feeling like a part of the team that was traveling on a mission. I was to join the PDP near the gas station.

First, a van from another media arrived with ‘Kuensel’ written boldly on both sides. Pleasantries exchanged, I surveyed my office car for some sign of the paper’s name. All I could find was a torn paper stuck on the windshield at the back that read ‘Bhutan Times’. Discomforting as it was, the fleet of cars arrived - all shining, all expensive and all big.

Shades out, I joined in behind the Kuensel van, right at the end. I am amazed at how fast these cars can run even on lousy roads. I drove as fast as I could without bothering about potholes even when the car was about to fall apart - bit by bit. The seat moved furiously, my head kept touching the roof but I made it alright. Fighting a furious battle all along, I was hungry.

“You should never eat anything offered by political parties because then it makes you feel obliged to them,” was what one German had said, during the workshop conducted for journalists on political stories coverage.

I couldn’t care less. The food that was on offer was excellent and moreover, I needed all the energy to drive to Samtse.

Driving again, I realized that the car had begun to make a weird sound. The wheel, I felt would come off any minute. Just then, there was a halt. I peeked out only to realize that a river needed to be crossed.

Flooring the accelerator, in what seemed forever; the car hit against rocks, skid and screeched. Soon, there was water flowing in from a hole in the driver’s seat, and the brakes wouldn’t work. I pulled over and decided to take it easy. I had to travel for a lot more days in it and I couldn’t afford to let it break down. The convoy could do without me.

Sipsu and Tendu covered and with the next day off, I decided to visit the workshop early the next morning dreading for the worst. Just then, my office called saying the DPT party president is arriving there.

They offered dinner, and this was my opportunity not to feel obliged to just one party, so I relished the food. Now, as I had eaten both their grub, I was free of guilt. The whole thing seemed balanced.

“Sir, this can’t be fixed in an hour,” said the mechanicin the workshop in Chamurchi, across the border.

“You have to. I am with the ministers,” I said. “I am with the press.”

“You are with the press, and, this is a press car?” he burst into laughter.

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The heat was extreme. The mercury that day had shot to 44.2 degree Celsius, six notches above normal. And the weather forecast had more bad news in store. For couple more days, the heat was there to stay. It would be a long while before rain came, pounding to cool the melting pot. Looking out of the small balcony, stream of sweat running down my face, I stared at the sky through the narrow spaces between the branches and leaves of the tree, standing tall next to the balcony. Not even a speck of cloud. No sign of rain. The air was as still as dead. So was the tree. I reminisced how the tree would swing in the tempest during monsoon, flapping its green leaves, spraying rain water on the balcony. The wind would bring along stray polythene bags, twigs, leaves and debris like the sea waves washing ashore flotsam and jetsam of waste. Those days I would keep the door shut, to keep away the noise of the whistling wind and the rain. Now, how I craved for it. Stubbing out the cigarette that had been adding to the heat, I returned to my room. The fan hardly made any difference. All it did was stir the warm air over and again. A clatter of unwashed, murky dishes lay in the sink, fungus germinating on it. Newspapers and magazines were strewn all over the floor. On the study table, there was a letter, addressed to my name, next to the novel Kafka on the shore by Murakami. A worn out calendar ticked and crossed, probably for countless times, hung on the wall. My old laptop connected to a pair of hoofers played Pink Floyd’s Goodbye blue sky. I poured a cup of water from the 20-liter plastic can. It was warm, and as it went down my throat, I could feel the warm sensation reach my stomach, before it got absorbed by my body. I poured another one, cursing this time. Pink Floyd stopped, and the fan too gradually came to a halt. Power cut. I wished I had taken back my word. It was normal though. Three or four times a day, electricity would go off. And every one would come out in their balconies for some sort of respite from the smoldering heat within. Staring at each other and exchanging blank glances. A common experience bound all of us together-the power cut and the sweltering heat. This time it took a little less than an hour for the light to come. Contradictory to the experience when the lights would go off, this was always a pleasant moment. I heard little shrieks and exclamations of delight, as everybody rushed inside, some into the comforts of their AC rooms and others into a room with a small, dirty fan. I gave up the idea of taking a shower as I had already done it thrice since morning. And the water would be warm in the afternoon and the bathroom, a sauna almost. So I leaned on the chair, pulled the letter, and read it again. It was the umpteenth time that I had read the letter. At times in disbelief that I had received the letter, handwritten, stamped, and addressed to my name. Other times, I read the letter in sheer amusement that somebody I had known for just a few weeks would ever remember me and care to write a good three page letter. And of course, I read the letter for what was written on it. It was Seven months ago. I met her in a small gathering at a friend’s place. She was quite tall with huge eyes, and thick, sumptuous lips. She was well dressed and decked up for the night. My first impression-she was little on the flamboyant side. But no arguing, she was attractive. And attract she did, every male’s attention in the party. Nothing had happened apart from courteous, shy introduction, until alcohol took complete control over me. She was drunk too. As the music rolled, and lights dimmed, we danced to the rhythm of the music, our bodies aroused to the sensation of its proximity. While jealous eyes gorged at us, I triumphantly managed to pull her toward me, away from the rest of the ogling crowd. Later that night, we made love. We saw each other for a couple of weeks. We went out for dinners, drank together at my place or hers and made love. When I came here, we had promised we will stay in touch but after a few weeks, it was all gone for a toss. I was in my own world and she, in her own. I had plenty to keep myself busy about and perhaps, she had enough reason not to think about me. I put the letter back, reminding myself that I would certainly write back the next day. A good three page reply. I took Kafka on the shore, and continued reading from where I had left. Nakata talking to the cats…But no sooner I realized than I was drifting between sleep and wakefulness. The warm air was soporific enough. The book slipped from my hand and fell on the floor. And I dozed off. In a dreamy state, yet not completely, I was reading the letter and mulling over the facts and fictions in it. How can it be possible? She must be trying to play a joke on me or if it is serious, there is no way, it could be ever true. Either she does not know who the father is or she just wants to make me a scapegoat. It is a conspiracy. (I tried to figure out the first time we had sex, and the second time and the third. I tried back-calculating it. But my memory was too vague.) But she does not know one truth about me. I smiled, malignantly. The truth I have kept only to myself, a well guarded secret. I had tested positive, to my chagrin and despair. That was also a reason why my last girl friend, who had always wanted a big family, left me. I would never be able to father a child.

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There may be an ongoing struggle between singletons and the smug-marrieds to the fore but there are several other thorny singleton issues that have yet to be ironed out.

Ask any woman out on her own and she has a story to tell. For most, the amorous landscape is littered with memories of suitors who spring out of the woodwork to cure the maidens of their sexual deprivation.

It is like a ‘welcome aboard’ sign stuck on their foreheads, or so it seems for the man. A woman in the rank of an official confided, “What I thought of them didn’t seem to matter. Even if I am going out for a harmless cup of coffee with a guy, I am on my guard. I am constantly worried about sending the wrong signals. It’s really annoying that even an innocent conversation can be misconstructed.”

It’s true. More and more unattached women are perceived as straight out of a ‘Sex in the City’ existence. Single men will latch on in the hope of adventure, a romp to remember, married men will clamber on with a desire to taste the forbidden fruit-maybe an extension of the fantasy which their marriage has supposedly failed to provide. The raunchy and the paunchy, the lean and the mean, they all converge each with their own endless and absurd set of expectations. What none of them bring to the table with them is commitment or sincerity, qualities that are high on a singleton’s priority list.

Ask any woman in Bhutan, they will all have the same answer - that men from all age groups make a beeline for them like iron filings to a magnet the moment they are not in the company of a man.

I mean which woman in her right mind would enjoy the company of some perverse, sex-spewing, pot- bellied, balding lothario? In fact, more often than not, even a pleasant young man who perceives single women as easy lay seems unpalatable. None of this, of course, bothers the male of the species. Despite an abysmal strike rate their yearning libidos press them to continue with the chase, hoping the next answer would be a ‘yes.’

So why do people single out women going solo as prime picks for sexual escapades? Search me?

My only assumption would be, looking at the men in my country- the only reason women exist is to pander to their fornicating needs.

And what of the women? Do they go ballistic the moment a willing male is spotted on their radar? Not really. Stimulating company, a little respect and some genuine interest in them as people is more likely to earn brownie points rather than a smart alecky attempt at ‘hooking up.’

Now only if the men could figure it out, there might even be some great sex in store. Till then men are from Mars and women down to earth.

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Some people are born storytellers. My friend’s grandma is one of them. Petite in stature but mighty with words, she connects the imaginary world to her listeners, weaving the two together.

To watch her almost draw stories from the air around her while her eyes gleam with delight is always a treat. It isn’t only the tales she spins that lingers on after she leaves; it is also her expressions and gestures. They are finely produced in passion, anger, bewilderment, enthusiasm, joy or fear – just the exact emotion called for by the character or the story.

As a child, I loved crowding around her with the other kids just so as to be amused. These days, I visit her every now then, when I go through an occasional low, just to be transported to a land of make-believe where dragons and trolls still exist. Her magnetism and skill as a storyteller, I can’t remember what it’d do to me as a child, but now makes my troubles disappear.

Mary wed big time game hunter Joseph five years back and moved to Africa to be with him, she began one of her stories when I recently paid her a visit during an all time low.

Surprisingly this time, she didn’t concoct one with knights and dragons and the lot. The master storyteller was taking me on a journey to Africa.

Mary remained there farming and rearing horses and employed Hutu and Tutsi workers. “While the Hutus are farmers by profession, the Tutsi managed livestock,” she explained as she watched me closely.

Congo was soon gripped with civil war after its independence from Belgium in the 1960s and violence trickled over the border into Rwanda, her face wore a sad look while her hands were clasped together.

Rwanda’s Tutsi minority and the Hutu majority were clubbing, shooting, slaughtering, burning, skinning and lynching each other to their deaths, but harmony still prevailed in Mary’s farm, her lips quivered and her eyes were misty as she continued.

The bloodshed over the years had simmered down and normalcy was returning. People were… she was abruptly interrupted by the cries of her great granddaughter.

Lost in thoughts, my mind wandered - to Africa and to the movies I had watched about the Dark Continent. My head was free of worries as I imagined chaos, wild animals, malnourished children in the midday heat and bodies scattered around as flies hovered around them.

She couldn’t possibly have visited Africa or anywhere else abroad for that matter. Yet, she narrated the story as if she was present there when it all happened. Every single story she told, she told it like it took place around her. Perhaps, that is why she is a master of her craft.

“I put her off to sleep,” she whispered as I helped her sit on her chair in the garden. “She sleeps like an angel.”

“In 1994, a plane carrying Rwandan president, a Hutu, was shot down by rebels,” she got back to the story without any delay. “And suddenly the violence that had simmered erupted into genocide.”

Her eyes blinked furiously and she looked disturbed and lost. Taking a few deep breaths, she shook her head in disbelief. As if to say – how can humans be so barbaric?

Mary’s farm too wasn’t spared. The Hutu regime was hunting down Tutsi rebels. And in her farm, where she had allowed them to attempt to hide, about 100 people – all innocent, were clubbed to death as they tried to flee.

“Within three months, over 800,000 Rwandans died violent deaths,” she lifted her hand to her mouth as if visualizing the scene.

Mary, who was branded a sympathizer of the rebels, fled her farm and was later evacuated to Canada, leaving behind her husband and a few brave workers who had avoided detection by the regime; looking at the leaves of a tree trembling in the evening breeze, she continued.

Restless in Ontario, Mary could neither sleep nor eat. She couldn’t bear to be away from her farm that she called home in Rwanda. War or no war, she had to return. And return she did, my master storyteller was finally forcing a smile.

I knew the climax was nearing. I also knew it would be a happy ending like all her stories had been all these years. The fire breathing dragon would be slaughtered by the brave knight in shining armor and the princess would be rescued from the castle in the air.

Then for a fleeting moment, when I’d retire to bed, I’d reflect on her story, her expressions and let her voice play in my head. It had always happened that way. As a kid, I’d try and narrate the stories to my mother at dinner and watch her feign interest. Now, only that would change.

“It wasn’t easy for Mary to try and sneak back into Rwanda,” she sounded a little excited while she looked at me and saw my mind roving.

Kenya was where Mary would board a plane secretly to get back. Apart from her brother, no one else knew about the plan, she whispered so as not to let another soul around know what she was talking about.

Her great granddaughter, once more, started crying.

Getting up to tend to her, she whispered again while holding my hand.

“As Mary was rushing to the car that would take her to where the plane was, she was hit by a speeding truck,” her face was suddenly blank.

I looked at her, my face too probably as blank.

“Do you know what the morale of the story is?” she asked.

I shook my head in reply.

“Look left and right every time you cross the street,” she left to tend to the baby.

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