Author: farooq (Page 1 of 35)

Letting your Youtube playlist play

Do you also just let your YouTube playlist do it’s own thing by queuing songs on it’s own ?

I do, too. 

But most of the time it’s either because it plays in one of the chrome tabs while I’m on an Excel sheet sorting/arranging some data. 

Tonight (I, of course, mean the night before) after dinner I thought of writing a post and while staring at the blank Ms-Word screen. Blink. Blink. 

Youtube, by default, becomes your TV when you don’t have one! And thank God! Otherwise, watching those awful news channels would make me rant everyday about things that I’m really trying not to get worked up about. Seriously! 

There used to be a time when my Grandfather used to tell us ‘Watch News’! Watching news was considered an intellectual indulgence and a value addition to your GK! I hope today’s grandfather’s don’t say that to their kids. Else, God save us! 

Beherhaal, YouTube popped up a favorite ‘Jaane would kaise log the’ which occasionally ends up on loop. But is something that I’ve not listened to, in a while. Click. Play. 

I get back to the blank screen. Still Blinking. 

Aargh! I wonder what’s with the whole, ‘What should I write?’ thought. Getting stuck is awful. Irritating. Questions loop in an echo. Answer? Ha ha ha! 

‘Ye Jo Des hai mera’ 

Listening to the song only takes me to that scene where Mohan Bhargav buys a kulhad of water from that boy in the station. That moment freezes in front, even when I’m not looking at the video. If I look at it, I’ll feel like watching the movie again. And it’s already past midnight. It’s the other day. 

‘Kyun’ from Barfi

‘Aazadiyan’ from Udaan

‘Tu bin bataye’ from Rang De Basanti

‘Kitni baaten’ from Lakshya

And they all play one after the other. The ads play in between because well, YouTube is the new TV. Right?

Coke Studio Season 9. Woah, I need to switch. ‘Tera Would Pyaar’. What’s the point of starting at a blank screen, anyway! And well, Momina Mustehsan. Do I have to give a reason? 

Nawazishen Karam. Indeed. Fits perfectly. Now, I can sleep. 

Book Review: The Catcher in the Rye

We all go through that stage of pointlessness in our lives. A goalless appraoch without a clear path and unsure of everything. ‘The catcher in the Rye’ by J.D Salinger is an extended rant of a teenager going through a similar phase where he doesn’t hold back anything. 

Imagine describing every emotion, every feeling about other people or situations being blurted out without thinking twice. The entire story is an exact depiction of that very feeling. The unsaid being said out loud or at least thought of in contradictory fashion. The Main Character’s (Holden) views shift from one extreme to another. Typical bipolarity, if you can term it. He’d hate someone for a while and then miss not being with them. He’ll call almost everyone a phony for sticking to the traditional or conventional system. 

What I like about the book is the sheer audacity to not hold back anything. It can be wrong in thought but not wrong on the front of being honest to oneself, which is an achievement. 

The story is a first person account of Holden Caulfield who is struggling to adjust with the set processes of his various schools from which he gets kicked out of. From the day of this being known, how every encounter with people: roommate, hostellers, teachers, random co-travellers and even family and how he terms them all as ‘phonies’ and ‘lousies’ and questions their motives all the time. 

I found myself laughing at a lot of simple inferences spread through the narration. Spread over 5 days, this is a brilliant way to bring to life the complexity of a teenage mind . 

It’s a very easy read over a lazy afternoon and highly recommended. It’s approach towards philosophy is directed towards asking questions and constantly re-evaluating life’s choices. 

Go grab a copy of this masterpiece. 

Mukkabaaz Review: Punches you in all the right places

In a scene typical of exasperated anger, the Mukkebaaz, holds his boss against the wall, uttering a dialogue while still crushing his own teeth, fist pointed at him as if he’s about to bury him in that same wall, shouting: ‘Jaante ho na hum kaun hain? Uttar Prades ke Mike Tyson‘. 

The plot of the movie is about Shravan, played amazingly well by Vineet Kumar Singh, trying to prove this to his parents, his coaches, the administration, his lady love, and anyone and everyone about his passion. In a scene where he confronts his father about his ‘Passion’ is reminiscent and relatable to the frustration that kids have with their own parents when trying to follow what they believe in.

Mukkabaaz is a beautifully stitched poetry of the hinterland’s caste/religious infested clenched fist from which no one can get out. The storyline captures it all in not-so-subtle hints. Be it Caste based discrimination, dowry, patriarchy and how infested all of it is, in the ‘administration’. It’s like a slap on your face, scene by scene, as you dive into the plot. 

But, don’t mistake this to be another ‘preachy’ indulgence of a movie, laced with typical Anurag Kashyap style humor and tight knit plot, this is an entertaining watch. 

Ravi Kishan shines for me in his limited role like you won’t believe! He’s held the character together with surprising sophistication that it deserved. Of course, Jimmey Shergill’s character is clearly the best written of the lot. An ultimate villian and man, that guy is evil in the movie. 

Vijender Singh’s first big break and he’s given his all. Not a frame goes amiss when you’ll find this guy not being at his best. One would expect him to ace it with the ‘boxing’ but where he’s better is his scenes with the leading lady, Zoya Hussain (who plays Sunaina Mishra). These two are testimony to the fact that you don’t need dialogues to make a love story work. Coz, boy, they nailed it. The girl does a good job of playing a mute who isn’t afraid and passionate like the guy she loves.  

If you’ve seen enough of Anurag Kashyap’s work, you’ll realize most of his movies work better because of the small role playing characters. The friend of the lead, the father, sister, wive(s), and what you’d refer to as the ‘supporting characters’ to the supporting cast. That’s the magic of a Kashyap film. To use these characters to bind together the fun part of his movies in such a way that the audience will remember all of them after leaving the theatre. He perfected this in Gangs of Wasseypur and here he’s used the same. 

One can also sense a lot of his personal angst coming out in the storyline through the different fribge narratives that he’s tried to unbox. Of all the things, he’s given meaning to a different ‘Bharat Maata ki jay’ chant. 

The music flows through the spectrum of pumped up rap, to folk and even poetically inclined. 

I found the cinematography quite different from the usual Kashyap offering by not being too dark and isntead full of colors. Is that a result of an Anand L Rai collaboration? Nevertheless, it still looks good. 

It’s definitely important to relate to the hindi hinterland’s nuances and lifestyle to connect more. Although I won’t make that as a prerequisite to watch this, but the length of the movie won’t affect you if you connect closely. 

I’ve loved the film and wouldn’t mind watching this again. It definitely climbs up the charts of one of the best movies of recent years. Go catch this in the theatres. 

Hum derahe Hain isko 4.5 Sitara rating. ‘Bhaarat maata ki jay’ kahiye aur theatre me dekh aiye. 


The Kid and the Grandfather

A Late afternoon walk towards the beach, with his grandfather, the kid walked alongside holding his hand. His grandfather towered over his tiny self. They were more than tens of thousands of steps away from the beach. He wanted him to put him on his shoulders like they did back at home, and from where they came traveling on a train.
But grandpa wanted the kid to walk. He should walk. His favorite lines included a lot of thoughts about having to walk after eating. The kid usually noticed him talking about digestion, quite often, with his old grey-haired friends. He would always dictate what not to eat. This included chocolates, Ice-creams, and Frooty. The kid liked just these things.
He disliked the opinion of his grandfather who mocked him for eating all this and spoiling his teeth. Yes, the kid had lost a few frontal teeth but everyone says, they’ll come back. All white and new. Unlike the fake ones that the grandpa had. The kid also mocked his grandfather with the able company of the grandmother. But now, his grandmother wasn’t there. So, he had to just listen to what the grandfather told.
A boring day this would be. The kid was sure.
As they walked towards the beach. The grandfather took a small turn and instead they headed somewhere else. It was like a beach but not like it. It was mostly still water. No waves and no running away from the water when the water came really fast. Grandfather said it was a ‘lagoon’ and he’d probably read about this when he grows older. The kid thought he was old.
There was a boat there and lots of people on it. They both went and sat in the middle of the boat. His grandfather gave money to the man and placed him next to him.
The kid was excited. Before this, he had only made paper boats and ran with them during rains. Sitting on a real boat made him happy. He was talking really loud and the other people sitting on the boat were laughing, along with the grandfather. Grandfather held him and made him dipped his hand in the water. They went around a circle and returned to the same place.
‘How was it, huh? Goood?’
‘Should we do this again?’
‘Next time’
As they headed back, the grandfather even bought two popsicles from the ice-cream guy there. Back home, these ice-creams are made from the dirty drain water and not here. That was what the grandfather told the kid while eating the other popsicle.
the gift

The Gift

“It’s the thought that counts!” She insisted for the nth time. The ‘gift’ was on the table in front of her while he stood there, with his hands in the pockets, looking embarrassed. He made an expression reminiscent of ‘Are you sure?’ by twitching his face and biting his lips.

She wasn’t sure of it herself. But she had to appear certain. He needed her to be. “This’ll be really useful; unlike so many other things they’re going to receive.” She reasoned with her smile while wrapping up the gift in a red wrapping paper diligently. He looked towards her, neatly folding the paper, and thought, ‘She’s right. As always’, as he headed towards the mirror to knot his tie.

As they headed into the glittering Convention Hall, the dressed up crowd, the lightings around was all they could see. He saw the table where all gifts were kept and they both headed to place the package. It was like getting rid of it was in both their minds. And just when they were to place it there, someone tapped on his shoulder, and a ‘Hey!’ filled the air around them. She knew it was them, but she didn’t turn around immediately. She had to make sure the hosts did not see the package in her hand.

She turned around in surprise, clenching her fist, to greet the hosts who were out there welcoming the guests. Thankfully they had just careened close by when someone pulled them up for a selfie. ‘Thank God!’ she thought at a minor reprieve to place the gift among a pile of others.

He looked at her with a smile. Yes, she wanted just that. He looked agreeable to her being right about ‘No Gift is small’ with the way their hosts welcomed them.

As they finished the gala dinner and headed outside to catch a taxi. She asked him to ‘take a walk’.

‘Isn’t it far?’

‘I ate too much!’

As they walked away, holding hands, she took out two crumpled name-tags of ‘best wishes’ out of her pocket and aimed at the dust-bin. Bulls Eye!

Book Review: George Orwell’s 1984

This book is the stuff of which nightmares are made of. An Orwellian Nightmare to be precise. 

The dystopian nature of this puts you in a headspace you don’t want to keep yourself in.

I’m not sure how I would’ve reacted to this, had I read it few years back. Now, it’s a reality check. Like, we’re either in the midst of one or being taken towards one. 
The book throws up a question, ‘What if your government monitored everything you did?’

And of course, control everything. From your thoughts, to media to altering history  (rather manufacturing a parallel one) and make you believe in the existence of an enemy that doesn’t exist. By not only shifting agendas at will but making you believe that it was never changed. 
Taking the economy to a bad state and yet making you believe that ‘we’re doing better than before’. 
Bizarre execution of ideas that are normal for the citizen of the fictitious super-nation of Oceania here. This includes, conducting ‘hate-week’ where you shout profanities at the enemy of the state. Children trained to be spies to ‘rat-out’ their own parents for any ‘anti-state’ activity and making them all believe that it is all for the overall good of their nation. 
It’s a book that must be read to know what absolute power can turn nations into. 
George Orwell, you’ve again succeeded in  giving me a few nightmares for which I won’t even have to sleep. 

ठंड के वो दिन

आज बैठा था धूप तापते हुए बालकनी में। हवा साथ मे चल रही थी तो धूप की तपिश का वो मज़ा नही मिल पा रहा था। मैंने अपनी नीलकमल थोड़ी खिसकाई और आगे की तरफ बढ़ा। पर हाल फिरभी वही था। 

यूँ तो मैं सर्दियों का फैन नही हूँ। वैसे देखा जाए तो गर्मी या बारिश के extreme नेचर का भी फैन नही। हर चीज़ में मॉडरेशन पसंद कुछ ज़्यादा है हमें। लोग आजकल लिबरल भी कह डालते हैं। कुछ विषयो पे एक्सट्रेमिस्ट भी कह चुके हैं। अब लोग तो लोग ही हैं, काम हैं उनका कहना। 

खैर, अभी बस ठंड की बात करते हैं। आज घर वाली सर्दी को miss कर रहा था। धूप में भी स्वेटर पेहेनके बैठना , घंटों तक, कॉमिक बुक हाथ मे लिए। फिर जब वक़्त हुआ तो , खेलते रहना बिना थके। उस दौरान हुम बड़े चाव से टेस्ट क्रिकेट भी खेला करते थे। हालांकि में कुछ खास नही खेलता था पर उत्साह हमेशा ज़ोरो पर रहता था। आलम तो कुछ ऐसा हुआ करता था कि हम रमज़ान के महीने में भी घंटों खेल लिया करते थे। क्रेजी कह लीजिए। फज्र की नमाज़ के लिए न निकले पर बैट धरके सबको जागाते हुए गांधी मैदान में दिख ज़रूर जाते थे।

गरम पानी के इलावा कुछ चूना कहर हो मानो। लकड़ी के चूल्हे पे बारी बारो पानी गर्म हो चलता और नहाने की बारी लागतो। थोड़ा टालते पर कुछ डांट सुनते गुसलखाने की जानिब चल ही देते। नहाके सीधे दौड़ते हुए धूप में। ठिठुरते हुए। 

इस मौसम में बैर काफी मिलते थे। कभी कदर हम पास के एक कंपाउंड को फांदके बैर भी चुराया करते थे। और ये भी न किया कभी तो कमसेकम घर मे बुयाम में हल्दी लगाके रखे बैरों का चुपके सेवन तो ज़रूर किया है। 

रातों को बड़े की निहारी सुर सुर करके खाना तो याद है ही और साथ मे मोहल्ले के चौराहे पर अंडे के कूट से हाथ सेकना भी। फिर अम्मी के चिल्लाने पर घर आते ही रज़ाई में दुबक के दादी के साथ सोना, ताकि अब्बू डांटे नही। 

वो थे ठंड के दिन। और आज यहां पंखे की स्पीड को ताकते नींद को बुलाने की कोशिश जारी है। 

नींद से याद आया, कल मंडे है। 

कोई कह रहा है, ‘आज कहिये जनाब’।

A few beparwah Thoughts

Looking up, while a song plays, the zig-zags of the birds make tiny shadows on the blue afternoon sky. I had never seen those shadows, before. Probably did, but never thought of it, unlike today. Maybe it’s this song. 

Paper planes we drifted off in an era gone by. Only this time they continued the spiral for a wee bit longer, as these birds fly themselves. The open door gave me a big window to view their flight.


“Beparwah.. rang ka jaaya..

Chitt laage ne.. main uktaaya..

Haal bayaan ho na haal bayaan..

Hona fakat hai fanaa..”

 While the song continued to play on. I put on a big smile. Involuntary. The song and the birds. The directionless joy complementing the lyrics. Describing the essence of exactly that very moment.

“Ranj ke sadqe ho gayi jaan

Dhadkan jaise dhuaan…

Naa.. labeya kuch

Na hal paaya..

Naaaa hai pata.. manzar na disha… “

Few things cannot be put in words. Not only emotions but viewpoints like these. While I reminisce the afternoons where I had nothing to do. The winter afternoons. Soaking in the sun. Waiting for the clock to strike a certain time to run past the gates to play. The anticipation of doing something. Waiting for the green light.

Today, there isn’t any. Just stares. Stares out of this door, into the abyss formed in my imaginary viewing pod.

“Pyaar hai dheh sa gaya..

Hai kadar kahan..

Mann hai yaadon a ek majmaa”

Retrieving the good memories and keeping the rest closed somewhere. The assembly of thoughts are being selective for their own selfish reasons. Apt. Nothing wrong in that.

“Na hai aata

Manzar na dishaa

Khaak hua hai kadar kahan”


The birds drift out of the view. Still in the sky, just out of my view. Out in someone else’s reveries. I continue to watch out for them, while the Blue sky remains the blank canvas of thoughts. Waiting!

pakadwa vivah

The Pakadwa Vivah Phenomenon

Did you watch the now-viral video of an Engineer forcefully being married at Gunpoint in Bihar?
No? Well, you can check it up. And no, it isn’t a unique instance of it happening. The term for a marriage like this is, ‘ Pakadua Vivah’. I do feel sad for the guy who becomes victims of this.
Not to take anything from their victimhood nor make myself indulge in an exercise of whataboutery, I’m just left with one thought. The thought that this ‘forced marriage’ is so common for the opposite sex. The Woman.
How normalized we’ve made the forced marriage of the woman folk that it doesn’t surprise us like what the rest of India feels for the guy who is getting forcefully married at a gunpoint. There are multiple imaginary emotional guns and izzat at stake for the girl to get married according to her parents wish.
Among the many reasons:
1. Isse acha rishta kahan milega?
2. Umar nikal gayi to?
3. Khaandaan ka naam ka kya hoga?
4. Zamaana bada kharaab hai aajkal ka
And of course, there’d be many similar instances of that ‘emotional gun’ pointed at the women to ‘get married’, because that’s the only reason they’re born on this earth. Get married and have babies.
Not to divert from the topic of ‘Pakadua Vivah’, one of the prime reasons for this is the inability of the bride’s family to pay Dowry for a proper marriage that pushes them to take this step. There are ‘abduction gangs’ who even do this professionally.
When you dive deep into this, the finger again comes back to pointing at another problem: Dowry! Yes, because just marrying the woman is not enough, the groom and his family also need money, bike, house and what not!
And in many of these cases, the marriages don’t get annulled. They Adjust. Because, of course, India. Marriages are also jugaad based.
Rationally, you’d wonder, how can one stay in a marriage like that? But rational (ha ha!).
The vicious cycle has just one possible solution, to make the women independent enough that they don’t need a marriage for validation of their achievement. The parents, of all the people, have to realize this. Next is, do not place the entire existence of women (even men) onto the successful completion of the act of marriage. And, not make the system of separation so rigid that people continue to live in unhappy marriages not to try and make it work but because of ‘log kya kahenge?’

Shifting Focus

The pendulum-like shift in (and out) focus is quite a necessity. A bare minimum to find the stale happiness lying around in smaller packets. Lost among the bigger ones, we’re always after. 

I used to despise, still occasionally do, the non-focussed approach of doing things. So, what changed? 
For starters, a little disconnect helps pull you back from over to exerting yourself towards a well-defined end. Out of your sight but a clear picture of an after-achievement glow already painted in your damn head. The conversations already toing-froing like a tennis match making the heads move with the ball. 

But then a disappointment follows. The set breaks. The conversations vanquished out in the real world, like their existence was nothing but a conspiracy theory. The agony Aunt refuses to leave the guest room. 

Lack of focus helps shift your balance with your multi-tasking abilities (if any). It’s akin to not putting your eggs in one big basket. 

It’d suck to see even one break. But would be better to see them all go splashing down creating a modern art. 

The purists and the passionate ones would say, it’s worth it. But nothing’s worth your calm state. Finding ways to be content is (and should be) a priority. 

Sometimes, more than a Sprint, a jog would help. And sometime just a walk. Or maybe just stopping to see how far you’ve already come, appreciate that, and just chill. 

Let the goals be out of focus for a while. Just a while, and then maybe you can zoom ahead. 


Reading List 2018

This year is going to be about targets instead of resolutions. Resolutions that get recycled every year instead of getting accomplished. Targets that I’m going to put out there to help achieve them for the sake of ‘my word’ if nothing else.

One of my many targets is to read more. The target is 24! Yes. Pretty Humongous. But I figured, if I stick to the good books, it should be pretty easy. What say?

Reading List 2018

Hence, I sat down to jot down a list of 18 books that I plan to read in 2018. I’ve selected 18 different books by 18 different authors from across the globe. There’s a scope for adding 6 new titles to the list, including non-fiction, but maybe I’ll just pick something up as the year unfolds. Maybe, Khaled Hussaini will finally come out with his 4th book? Although, there’s hardly any Internet chatter on that!

I’ve included 2 Hindi Novels to the list as well. A few excerpts of Godan were part of our Hindi Books and I do remember watching a tv-series on Doordarshan back in the day, so, that’ll be interesting. Apart from Comics, I’ve not read a good Hindi book. I’m actually looking forward to these.

Apart from George Orwell and Mark Twain, I’ve not read any of the other authors yet. But, hey, that’s a start.
I’ve already watched, The Great Gatsby, but I’m still interested in reading the book. It’s always fun to compare the book and the movie.

The biggest hindrance to reading more is the habit of indulgence to Visual Medium and I’ve been guilty of spending time in that. Most of my reading last year happened when I was traveling or away from my laptop. With more trips planned, the laptop can be replaced with the extra book, and resisting myself from starting any new television series might do the trick.

The Goal is pretty big and unrealistic to some extent. But, what’s a goal if it isn’t out of your reach. Or, was it something else? 


The Joy Of Cycling

From being my #Cycle2Work partner to roaming around the Bangalore road; from as near as the local kirana store to as far as Mysore, this has remained by my side. It sounds very snobbishly boring to award the stature of this importance to a materialistic possession, but WTH! This one’s earned it.

From the sun shining brightly to rains lashing over, from potholes to footpaths, from muddy roads to the sweet asphalt, you’ve been there.

Few minor repairs and servicing aside, this one’s been perfect. I’ve never felt the need to upgrade and even with this being a 7-gear one, is an adequate ride on the roads over here. Although, I do wish the roads were better.

On days when I don’t cycle to work and left at the mercy of Uber/Ola, the distance of 9 kilometers to office ends up taking close to an hour and sometimes when their pooling Algorithm screws up, more than that as well. On Cycle, I can easily cover it in 30 minutes, irrespective of the Traffic. If the roads were any better the time can come down as well.

Back in the day, when I was on a Strava spree (Strava is a cycling/running measurement app), I’ve recorded a high of 22-minutes. Of course, I stopped using Strava because it was eating away the joy of cycling and making me trying to best-my-time.

People who don’t cycle assume it is for exercise or to stay fit. Frankly, these are just by-products (if any) of cycling. Sure, you can turn this hobby into an exercise, but I haven’t. And don’t plan it to be. This is more to do with convenience, leisure, and what I’ve come to realize is, to derive joy out of it.

Striving for a better Cycling year than the one that went by. And to those who plan to start cycling, there’s no better time to start than this new year.

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