WHY SALMAN RUSHDIE SHOULD NOT BE ASKED TO SHUT UP… (Please read only if your IQ is in 3 digits)

So, there’s this uproarious debate once again with controversy’s favorite child – Salman Rushdie. He says he was stopped from coming to the Jaipur Lit. Fest. by the government on the pretext of ‘danger to his life’ even though there was no concrete evidence of any threat against him. Government on the other hand is running around like a 4 year old caught pushing another child in kindergarten – ‘I didn’t do it! I didn’t do it! He pushed me first! He pushed me first!’ It’s fuckin’ hilarious!


We can’t catch a Dawood Ibrahim who has sold the country and run away. We can’t hang Kasab. But bring out an artist who dares to ‘express’ himself and we sure can ostracize him. Same for Hussain saab, same for Salman Rushdie. (Ek to artist, oopar se Musssalmaan? Get out of India! We’ll cry when you die, but don’t even think of getting a decent life here!)


If the government response is funny, even funnier are the desperate attempts of people like Chetan Bhagat, who are trying to lick the government’s ass and getting their own sweet 15 minutes of borrowed fame by saying that Rushdie is no big deal as a writer. OH PUHLEEESEE! GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK!!


Salman Rushdie is the biggest deal that happened to Indian Writing in English. EVER.

Let’s rewind a few decades and find out who is this Salman Rushdie?


Ok, so he’s that guy who wrote that book ‘SATANIC VERSES’.

Wasn’t that banned in India?



Because India is run by moronic leaders, who don’t read books but enjoy banning them.  No one in India has read Satanic Verses but everyone hates it. Muslims, obviously hate it because it’s supposedly against their faith and Hindus hate it because they are fucking scared of rubbing Muslims the wrong way. (They got all the bombs and the Bhais… Boo… Hooo!!)  The other minorities are just irritated with anything that disturbs peace and they don’t matter anyway. So the book is banned in India. EVEN TODAY!!!  We can read the KAMASUTRA… Our tourism departments will promote temples with orgies sculpted on their walls in children’s magazines… but a book that mocks a religion… NOOOOOOOOO! Because our kids can understand Khajuraho is artistic but our grown ups can’t understand that SATANIC VERSES IS JUST A FUCKING BOOK!! (Sorry, it’s not just a ‘fucking book’. That would be Kamasutra again.)


Anyway, for the blasphemous task of having an opinion and creatively expressing it, Salman Rushdie was slapped by a ‘FATWA’ against him by some Islamic leadership.

What is ‘Fatwa’? No, it’s not a fat Chinese guy, however it sounds.

No one knows what is the true meaning of FATWA these days. Originally, it must have meant something crucial and necessary in the Islamic world but today it only means – ‘You got a bigger cock than me and I can’t stand it! So I’ll tell my people to kill you and then I’ll make a dildo of your penis to pleasure my 4 wives with’. Of course, I’m kidding! ‘FATWA’ loosely means – I hate your guts. And I’m keeping the dildo for myself.


Jokes apart, Rushdie has flirted with disaster for a major part of his life. Personally, I’m not a fan of all his books but I love how tenaciously he has shown a middle finger to the middle-east mentality all his life. Yes, he had the balls to live under a ‘FATWA’ when the very word itself made people pee in their pants across the world. He also had the charisma and the flair to date supermodels. (I guess that is what irks other writers more. ‘Uski godi mein Padma aur meri godi mein Sadma?’)


Yesterday a politician type intellectual was saying on TV that Rushdie is not a great writer at all. ‘I couldn’t get through the first 100 pages of Midnight’s Children’ – he waved his hands, dismissing a book that won a Booker of Bookers – the biggest fucking honor a writer can have after the Nobel prize. (Rushdie may never get a Nobel… he’s too controversial for that).  Yes, my dear idiot, you couldn’t get through the 100 pages because you need an IQ in 3 digits to… Hey, why are you reading this post? Didn’t I warn you in the title already?


Now, I’ve some friends who have the IQ in 3 digits but still are going to be upset with me for writing this note and defending Rushdie. These are the people who have ‘rediscovered’ their Islamic roots recently. They weren’t so religious earlier but now, since ‘Islam Khatarey mein Hai’ they have become ‘Maan na maan, main tera mussalmaan.’ I can only tell them one thing: Buddy, Islaam is too big as an idea and a way of life… It cannot be in danger because of a book or two. You should rather focus on spreading literacy in the Islamic world first. Then worry about what people write.


Coming back to Rushdie. I don’t know him personally and I have not even read all his books. I’ve never met him, nor am I dying to. But I am a fairly educated person and I’m not gonna close down my eyes to the fact that it was him who opened the gates of publishing for Indian writing. He is the most researched writer in contemporary Indian writing. He brought in the fame, the money, the glamor and the glitz to Indian writers (or the writers of Indian origin). The entire genre of ‘INDIAN WRITING’ got a huge impetus because of him. Because of his extremely interesting writing and life. Novel as a form of literature was almost dead when Rushdie came in and fuelled it with his ‘magic realism’ – a gift of narration that is now a part of our lives in such a huge way. Just think of it. Films are written with unreliable narrators now but who did it first?  If there would be no Salim Sinai, of Midnight’s Children, there would possibly no role for Kevin Sapcey in ‘The Usual Suspects’ – Hell, there would be no Ususal Suspects! And if there was no ‘Usual Suspects’, there would be no hindi film ‘loosely inspired’ by it called ‘Chocolate’.  Oh shit, I just remembered, ‘Chocolate’ was my first film as a lyricist!!


I knew there was a connection!!




faces faces

millions of them.

eyes running into foreheads:

cheeks into chin:

ears into lips:

a messy mass,

nothing’s personal.





shadows of darkness:


the sun rusted:

the moon arrested:

and the vulnerable stars keep on falling

like dry peepal leaves.

but then

leaves do find a ground.

at least.


My grandma has tears in her eye.

The wind that blows now is full of dust.

She opens her eye in contempt and disgust.

She cannot look up to the dry barren horizon.

She closes her eyes in pity and remorse. 


A tear, tired and impotent like her dreams


Aimlessly down her cheek –

Finding its lonesome way

Through the wrinkled highway.

I hold her palm.


But her fingers don’t speak to me like they used to.

They don’t even stir.

However the wrinkles steadily are making

An impression of passive hopelessness. 


Those are the fingers that had sown

So many seeds in the backyard

Of the old house.

All that is gone now.

The tenements now have paved –

Cemented – covered – constructed places

In the backyard, for inevitable chores

Like washing and storing things.

No room for her plants now.

Grandma, I believe died with her plants.


I want to wipe out her tears

And tell her that the world is

Never the same next second.

What with all these thermonuclear tests,

Ozone holes, Acid rains, Scams, Bans,

Global Warming etc. etc….

And this one-eyed monster of a TV…

The world is changing too fast for me too.

I want to tell her that I’m perhaps

As outdated and old as she is. 


But still,

I want to go on living and am

Grateful to her.

‘Coz she first bore the womb

That brought me to this world.


I don’t think she’ll apprehend.

She’ll go on living with that

Lost, forlorn and deceived look

In her sad teary eyes

And see the posterity dance to the tunes

That don’t even sound like music to her.

But I believe she died with her plants.

Whose Citizenship Is It Anyway?

There are two kinds of people. Those who are a burden on the community they live in: i.e who suck out of it more than they give. The leeches, the parasites, the scamsters, the million dollar package corporate heads, bankers who siphon poor farmers’ funds, the politicians.

Chara Yadav, Gold Modi’s, Flying Mallaya’s, Share Mehta’s and Parekh’s, Petroleum Ambani’s, Electric Adani’s… Every generation, every corner of the world, they exist. Even Gates (before his charity work) belongs to this cult of greed built on monopoly and unethical practices.

On the other hand, you have poor, homeless immigrants who work hard and build nations. Like the outcast Europeans built US and Australia. Every major city in the world, Mumbai to New York, is built over the hard work of poor immigrants.

They do small, shitty, inhuman jobs, which locals don’t want to do so that locals can work better, more comfortable jobs. They enrich the locals and live in dark, uncertain future for at least one entire generation. Immigrants, anthropologically speaking, are enablers.

No country, no community should have a problem with honest, hardworking immigrants. To put immigrants and terrorists in the same bracket is an apathetic, misleading ploy. And of course, it’s unethical from Human Rights perspective.

Yes, we need a social security system, better law and order to curb miscreants and potential ‘terrorists’. But to assume, that every next door neighbor is out to get us, is not only stupid but also historically wrong.

Accumulation of power only happens by feeding on people’s fear. The face cream industry gains by feeding on the fear of dark skin. Similarly, the fear of ‘others’, thieves, robbers, is deliberately peddled so that you forget about rats of your own home nibbling at your toes.

So, ask a few questions to yourself everyday. Not about the country but about your own life. Where’s the grain for the pizza you eat coming from? Who dyes your designer clothes?

We know little about how the world really functions. So ask: who is benefiting from my actions?

Who am I enabling with this purchase? What ideal am I promoting by casting this vote.
Ask. Ask. Ask.
Ask others.
Ask yourself.
Our society, our city, our nation is a car that needs complete ‘overhaul’ not just a ‘air-water’ check.
Thank you for coming to my #TedTalk.

Life offline and lessons learnt on better online behavior!

Few months back last year, I went in for what a lot of people call ‘digital detox’ these days. This meant going off social media.  No Facebook. No Twitter.  No virtual relationships.My detox was not ‘total’ though. I kept my Instagram feed alive for a few close friends who could follow me and appeared passively on Quora – but in essence it was cutting off my ties with people not known to me in real life. Before I dwell upon what happened during that phase, let me try and give a few reasons for why I did so.


I was one of the first few hundred people in India to have a Facebook profile and a Twitter handle. I caught social media on its upswing. By last year I had four pages on Facebook and my twitter posts were upwards of 5000. Since I didn’t post trivial details of what I ate and how I looked, I was never a compulsive poster. Yet, my interaction with my followers was getting out of hands. Being a minor celebrity, I sometimes had a barrage of questions to answer and posts to react to.  The number one reason I quit was to spend more time with family, my ‘real’ friends and myself. But even selective sharing has its limits. It seemed to me that my life was becoming too‘open’ and my privacy was getting compromised. The other reasons included disillusionment with social media, fear of personal attacks and unnecessary debates. I also was going through a dark and depressing phase (being a writer I should be allowed to, at times) and I didn’t want to share the ugly side of my mind with anyone. Familiarity breeds contempt. Excess breeds boredom. I was‘bored’ of social media. I felt that a few weeks of keeping away from excess information will improve the signal to noise ratio in my head. Of course, I was petrified of losing friends and ‘falling back’ in the race of popularity. But the fear of losing myself was much bigger. When I first announced that I’m going offline, a few friends ‘mourned’ my digital death and urged me to come back as soon as possible.  I also thought at that time that this will only last for a week or two at most, ‘cause how can one live without social media in today’s times? We can conclude safely now that I surprised a few friends and myself.


A lot. What happened in last few months is too much to cover in a single article. But, suffice it to say that I squeezed more juice out of every single day on both personal and professional front. I am in the best shape of my life now – a personal milestone I was pining to achieve ever since I left college.  I feel the youthful energy of my 20’s coming back as I build epic blanket forts with my two sons at home, or as I go on arduous treks and travels.  In a span of just 6 months, I have written and recorded more than 10 songs and two full film scripts, while regularly tending to my prior commitments and taking out time for pursuing poetry that I wasn’t able to in the last 14 years.   Professionally, I couldn’t have asked for more and personally I couldn’t be happier for myself. But also, what happened is not just a dogged pursuit of goals and achievements. What happened was an overhauling of my life towards healthier habits, healthier thinking and a healthier lifestyle. In effect it was a complete re-alignment of mind, body and soul towards a drastic change in my life, focusing on my needs and helping me realize my potential to live a happier life than I was living all these years.What happened really my friends, is nothing short of a rebirth.


As I look back at myself earlier and myself now, countless images of ‘before’ and ‘after’ flashing through my brain, I am more than overwhelmed with a feeling of joy. I want to run out and tell everyone what I have learned, felt and experienced. This is what brings me back to social media. But now I have a purpose. I now have something worth sharing.  So here I go… starting off with a few lessons I learned while I was away… Read them, share them, be blessed, be happy.


1. It is important to have a voice but it is more important to have a vision.

2. Everything personal should not be shared. But everything shared should have something personal.

3. Some people will miss you if you go away but real friends will seek you out. Best friends will seek you out and still let you be.

4. Having an opinion is not a sign of intelligence. It’s just a sign of being opinionated. There’s perfectly good reason why you may not have an opinion about an issue, however pertinent or popular it might be. There’s no reason why you should be forced to form an opinion.

5. Consider the option of saying: ‘I’m not informed well enough to make this choice’ before taking sides in any discussion.

6. Be loyal to ideas when it comes to the well being of humanity and society as a whole, but be loyal to friends if you have to make petty choices.

7. Silence is golden in person. Online, a reaction, however mild and non-committal is expected. Even if you don’t want to say something, take out the time and make the effort to type: ‘I’d rather not say.’ Add a smiley. It always helps. 🙂

8. Social media is addictive because it fulfills all six needs (Google: Six Human Needs -Tony Robbins) at some level or the other. It can be a healthy addiction (like exercise) if you DO NOT depend on it exclusively for all six of these needs.   You must choose which needs you want to satisfy and ignore the others. My choices are Variety, Connection and Contribution. For the other three needs, (Certainty, Significance and Growth) I keep pursuits in real world rather than the virtual one.

9. Trolls degrading you or friends excessively praising you – both – are best left ignored beyond one initial response. It’s like holding a knife from the blade side. It will sever your personality. But if you hold it from the handle it will serve your personality. The handle side is your side. Your opinions, and experiences – that’s what this is for. Not for reacting to others opinions and feelings.

10. Someone has posted something good / impressive and you read it. Fine. It was meant to be that way. The best you can do about it is share with others. Don’t jump in the bandwagon to make it known to the poster that ‘you’ especially were touched by his/her post. Once you react in a personal way to a generic post, the poster comes under the obligation to react to your personal post. You may be meaning well, but this actually dissuades people from posting more content. Let the river flow. Admire it from a distance. It is rude to comment on a generic post just like it is to not reply to a personal message.

Feel free to comment. I check my Facebook feed now, though not frequently.

One Hand And The Other

Many people write:

‘On the one hand… and on the other…’

This is wrong. You should not use ‘the’ in the first phrase. The correct way would be to write:

‘On one hand… and on the other…’
Read more