A sliver of blue smoke is rising like a DNA coil.

Rising from the tip of a smouldering cigarette.

The smoke DNA is rising warmly, some of it is being inhaled, like tubed anaesthesia, by some dumb birds idling on the window sill.

Suddenly the idle birds are flying with the eagles. Flying like eagles. But not really flying.

I am sitting with Me and Myself. I am split into three and located inside three individual heads. Three of us are sitting around smoking weed.

We're thinking aloud loudly. I, the smoker, smoke with undisguised relish, inhaling the untold story of a plant. Growing green. And conscious. Buzzing with molecules of thought. Growing somewhere dark, dusty and nondescript.

Me is smoker-buddy, sounding board non-pareil. Indefensible in his defence of my failings and addictions. Our talk is a back-and-forth reflection of what one is saying, perhaps not very well, to the other. We are like two mirrors facing each other and in the process forming a corridor of thresholds. Mirror looking into mirror.

Myself is a non-smoking judgementalist, not quite friend in the supportive sense of the word but a grumbling piece of furniture. Unwanted and usually undisturbed. But he too is caught between the two smokers bent on joining the dots around them. Myself, not-quite-friend, piece-of-furniture is being pushed around. Mentally. Between mirrors. Being made to sensify a nonsensical world. Mental brilliance here assumes the form of matchstick sparks. Junked in two seconds.

I like a Hindi film revivee keep saying 'So where was I?' again and again: a refrain indicating a losing battle with short-term memory. Or the damp, wispy remains of it that float unstuck inside my head.

'So where was I?' I say for what seems like the first time but Myself, the furniture, catches up with me with his own mind-travelling. Surprise, surprise!

'In Hitler's bunker,' he says nodding sagely, unsmilingly.

'Aah yes,' I say nodding to Me who taking advantage of the situation has greedily puffed some extra moments of the magic DNA. Noticing me looking at him, he quickly adds, 'And what were we doing there?'

'We were growing there,' I jump to explain. 'Yes we were growing there… As grass... And the Nazis fucked themselves up smoking us.'

Suddenly, all three of us are laughing and rolling on the floor like schoolboys with a righted hunch.

The wheels of civilisation now wear steel radials.

They are now faster. Tougher. And last longer.

But the game of power and dominion is soft. It works on subtleties. Suggestion mostly.

Suggestion disguised as information. Help. Love. Peace. And Freedom.

These are welcomely accepted, by all… doubly so when they are free and desperately-anticipated.

WITH the toughness of steel and soft strength of rubber, the new civilisation moves.

Freely, providing information. And Help. Love. Peace. And Freedom. To people. Turning them into obsessive finger-fuckers, of the remote and keyboard, in ways not imagined 20 years ago.

The wheels of civilisation now run on electronic gears. A new, improved and speeded-up civilisation, that requires neither arms nor ammunition.

The wheels of civilisation face no resistance. In a world that is shrinking. Getting smaller. And flatter. And more tightly wired.

An average person, on an average day can know things nextdoors, at places 5000 kilometres east and west of his own and on the moon without stepping out of his house even once.

The wheels move on 'seeing cables' or optic fibres.

They are not heard at the door but they drive into the mind directly. Subtly. Like a fever.

Then they get people talking. Wildly. And thinking. Wildly. Nonstop. Like a fever.

The steel radials brake better.

The old game of power and dominion is now played differently. It's now softer and subtler. Full of cunning.

Full of Division.

The division is bloodless. And the rule, without a sceptre.

Through technology-enabled fear. And rumour.

In such a reality the enemy cannot die.


A rumourified city has to have its bad guys.

The enemy cannot die. Even if it has to be on life support for life. Even if it is NOT the enemy.

‘So what if they didn’t have weapons of mass destruction, they might get them in the future… from us!’

Prevention tops cure. It’s more fun too.

‘So, let’s go and smoke ’em out of their foxholes wherever they may be.’

‘And let’s do it fast.’

‘Before they 9/11 us again.’

Although, five years later we still don’t know if Osama is a real person? Or if Saddam, was a real threat. Or if the Axis of Evil is really evil?

Skull and Bones: The Corinthian and Doric pillared façade of Sikandar Bagh is the backdrop of the remains of soldiers who rose in rebellion against the East India Company in 1857. This albumen-silver print is by Felice Beato, an Italian photographer, who visited India during that period. Beato made over 60 photographs of Lucknow.


A black nimbus hung over Lucknow in the days that followed the Mutiny. It was the autumn of 1857 and the British were merciless. Native soldiers and civilians, about 2,000 in number, were shot down or hung from trees or both. Their corpses were left to rot on these trees like overripe mangoes.

Lucknow was to become a lesson across the Empire.

A lesson about the consequences of rebellion.

A platoon of British troops was camping at Sikandar Bagh, a pleasure garden completed by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah to quaintly mimic late Roman architecture. The soldiers were waiting for further orders... on putting down the mutiny.

It must have been a day of relative peace as the soldiers were just sitting around, doing the equivalent of watching TV in the army mess. Suddenly, there was a loud gun shot. One soldier fell to the ground. Dead. Then fell another, then another and another. Like this a sniper's sitting somewhere in the foliage of the trees killed about a dozen Company soldiers. All without a single miss.

Then the sniper was spotted. A Company soldier shot the sniper down. On hitting the ground long hair spilled out of the sniper’s turban. That's when Company soldiers realised that their nemesis was actually a native woman dressed as a mutineer.

Who was she? And who had taught her to shoot like that?

It must have been puzzling, thought not altogether surprising for the soldiers. Because by then Company troops had been made aware of the warrior queen, Rani Laxmibai, how she was as able a warrior as any of her troops.

The soldiers took off their helmets and saluted her, gave her a proper burial.

Years later, after Independence the UP state government installed a marble bust under the sniper tree. The bust was of a Hindu woman in a tight turban standing to attention, eyes facing the road.

Till a few years ago the sniper was simply known as the 'unknown martyr'… till Mayawati gave her a name, a caste and a clumsy but prominent place at the roadcross between the Botanical Garden and the Doordarshan studios. Today the bust has transformed into an equestrian statue. Further down the road is a newspaper office.

The lesson of the Empire is all but forgotten in the cacophony of the new media. The 'Company', meanwhile, survives. It is now busy making martyrs elsewhere in the world. In countries it has no business being. The Company tells its people that it is fighting liberation wars in these countries.

Like it did in so many countries and kingdoms a century earlier. But in truth these are only 'business wars'. Fought for oil and other stuff.
Half-eaten books are our heritage. The 'half' here is metaphorical rather than real. The metaphor is used to build a case for books. Their use. Their utility.

The phenomenon of their stored knowledge trickling into the brain like water through a filtration plant. The half-eaten books have in them holes. Holes with gulped-up words and punctuation that leave behind crazy, hilarious voids. Some times you laugh at them. Sometimes you weep.

Their pages look like Swiss cheese. Relished and feasted upon. And still swarming with hungry fish. These land fish spend their entire lives in books. Devouring them. Eating them page by page. As if their life depended on it.

Do they like the paper? Or the black ink on it?

Or the treasures the pages are rumoured to have?

But no one writes for silver fish.

Books, purchased and bookshelved for their exclusive consumption.

To be consumed by silver fish.
And them alone.

Writers would much rather that their words were read. Not eaten. And digested.

So the fish eat just what's available.

In eating they play with words.

Add irony here. Comedy there. Tragedy somewhere else.


Give the story a twist.
The grey cement floor was turning black as the herd of blue-black elephants above fell prey to nature. They landed on the cement floor in tiny drops of blood.

Slowly, at first, then in rapid showers.

Soon the mammoths' dark blood was all over the floor..

The drops landed on the parched floor with the quickness of an anaphylactic shock.

Soon the grey floor was all black. The blue-black creatures were being slaughtered by swords of slithering light and great noise.

There was elephant blood all over the floor. On every house, tree, car and animal.

Soon our whole world was bathed in blue-black elephant blood.

We had all been eagerly waiting for this yearly massacre.



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As an art practitioner I work in a variety of mediums, what you see here are glimpses of my many creative projects. If you like or feel strongly something here please don't forget to comment



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