Telegraph Calcutta

Let Us Now Choose A few Good men


Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beeeeeeeep. Yeh aakaashwaani hai. This is All IndiaThatIsBharat Radio bringing you the news. Shhhhhh… zzzzzz… shhhhhhhhh… rrrrrrrzzzzz… The news, read by Mahadeb. The headlines… But the headlines are nonsense. They are  the same headlines. They are all about the same thing. They are all about the same man. They are all about bad news. News that is not good for us. Those are the headlines. Those have been the headlines these past years. Do you want
to hear the headlines again? I am done with those headlines. So, deshwaasiyon, I am giving you the news but I am not giving you the headlines. Enough.

Continue reading “Let Us Now Choose A few Good men”

Telegraph Calcutta

Architect of Fractures: My piece from 2002 on how @narendramodi might chart his political career post the Gujarat violence ( and where he has arrived today (


An Architect of Fractures

There are many who believe that this man is headed not for Gandhinagar but for New Delhi, that the tide he has unleashed will soon gobble up his mighty mentors—Atal Behari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani and company—and deliver him at the helm of the Party and the Parivar, perhaps even of the country. In a skewed but probably telling sense he has already raised the bar of competition higher than any other Indian chief minister would; he is not in a contest with locals, he has pitted himself against Pervez Musharraf, or at least that’s what the pitch of his campaign is. And when he picks adversaries at home, he picks Sonia Gandhi, hardly ever Shankarsinh Vaghela, his former shakha-mate and chief provincial challenger. The psychological template of his battle is not provincial, it’s national, that’s the stage he is fashioning. Continue reading “Architect of Fractures: My piece from 2002 on how @narendramodi might chart his political career post the Gujarat violence ( and where he has arrived today (”

Telegraph Calcutta

Highway Through Hell: My travels through the terrain which claimed the lives of 40 CRPF jawans mid-February

Through such a minefield did the security bosses think it fit to roll down a caravan of 78 troop-laden trucks.


Leithpora in Pulwama, the site of the February 14 explosion. Photograph by Sankarshan Thakur

Twenty years ago, as the war over Kargil began to pirouette, was when I first went into Badami Bagh, the vast garrison headquarters of the 15th Corps on Srinagar’s southern flank. Journalists required military permits to approach the warfront — then, a tortuous 10-hour wind through Sonmarg, Zojila, Gumri, Matayen, Drass and Kaksar — and Major Pramod Purushottam signed one for me and Sajjad Hussain, who would drive me up in his rickety Ambassador. Five months later, Major Purushottam was blown apart in the first fidayeen assault on Badami Bagh. Continue reading “Highway Through Hell: My travels through the terrain which claimed the lives of 40 CRPF jawans mid-February”

Telegraph Calcutta

All of it’s Fake All of it’s News


There’s a teetar caught in the dogfight which is not really a fight between dogs. Wonder why they call it a dogfight when there are no dogs involved at all. Perhaps another way of giving a dog a bad name? Who can tell? But a dogfight it is and dogs are not involved. That much can be reliably said. Even Sources, those most reliable of all things, have affirmed to us that no dogs are involved in dogfights. Sources have told us so many reliable things these past days, we have been told there should be no room to question them.

Continue reading “All of it’s Fake All of it’s News”

Telegraph Calcutta

All is About to Come down Upon us


So here we are, in another slipstream, it would seem. In a time and place which is not so easily grasped, in a time and place which could be real. Or unreal. Or surreal. Tough to tell what sort of time we have arrived in. Or what sort of slipstream we are slipping into if this is indeed a slipstream. It is more likely one than less likely. Because this cannot be the thing; it can only be not the thing. Like we already know there never was any achchhe din, there was only kachchhe din — Friends, Underpants, Tatters, lend me your things. Lend me your everything. I need your things. I need your everything. The nation needs your everything. Now. Well. Well. Well. Everything. The nation needs your everything, which, translated, means I need your everything.

Continue reading “All is About to Come down Upon us”

Telegraph Calcutta

Memory Of my Melancholy Lasches 

What would we do without our lasches? Ever wondered? Perhaps not, because you had no opportunity or occasion to. A world without lasches? Unthinkable. Why even wonder what we would do without lasches when there is such a cascading abundance of them all around among us? Lasches to the left of us. Lasches to the right of us. Lasches behind. Lasches in front (Or, the lasches that have not yet turned to lasches but most certainly will in the days to come, the way we are going).
And through such a blizzard of lasches we barrel on, volleying and thundering. A lasche gets flung in the air, four lasches are flung back in retort. You claimed a lasche? Here, take four lasches. Tum ek maaroge, hum chaar maarenge. Tum chaar maaroge, hum solah maarenge. And so on and on and on in cataclysmically doubling multiples until everything all around has become a mangled heap of lasches, such that my lasches are indistinguishable from your lasches.

Continue reading “Memory Of my Melancholy Lasches “

Telegraph Calcutta

My Oh My, Look How They Fly. Or Flu


You know what’s flying about? The flu. I mean it’s flying about like some fantasy. Like pigs were flying. They are even calling it the swine flu. Probably because those that should know also know that it is really pigs flying. Unbelievable. But true.

It’s swine flu.

Or swine flying. Everywhere. Swine are flying. Birds are flying. Both could be flying with flu. Like that boisterous game of laughter and destruction, like them being shot out of a catapult at shaky and unshakeable things. And then all of them or at least some of them bursting into flames and flashes on impact. And we are getting plastered under the flying swine. They are pissing down all manner of pestilence as they crisscross overhead: aches and fevers, sores and welts, wheezing and coughing, nausea and its unpalatable consequences, belly rushes and its even more unpalatable consequences. It’s all bombing down the skies from their flying swine. You get hit by one of them flying swines and WHAM! You are flu.

Not a safe time to be outside under the open skies. Not a nice feeling to be impacted by one of those pig projectiles, it can quite assuredly be said. Somebody had recounted a memory somewhere — somebody who had evidently survived the widespread and absolute reduction to cinders — that when LittleBoy came to drop on Hiroshima, beings evaporated so instantaneously, their shadows took time to catch up; they lingered a trice before they vanished too.

The impact of pigs flying about may be no less surreal. Imagine only just what a defiance of gravity that must mean — bolts of leaky, malodorous lard jetting about. Doesn’t make a pretty picture getting stuck — you, your shadow, your past and future alike — in what they leak and slam down. It is one of those times you would think it a fortunate thing that Mahadeb is not out there astride his throne of timber and tin handing out cups of tea in earthen bhaanrs. Or even, when on occasion sought, coffee.

For where Mahadeb sits, or used to, there’s no protection from the skies and what may lie above and beyond. He plies his trade, or used to, under sun and rain and wind and whatever else it is they churn. But now there is none of those wondrous things about in the skies — no sun or rain or wind or whatever else it is they churn; there’s only swines flying licentiously dripping lard.

And those that are stuck in it are stuck in it, in marshy loops of lard, and those that aren’t are all panicked and stricken. Just to see the macabre sight of pigs in flight, idiom turning to epidemic and beginning to rain down in drifts of possible and painful death. It’s flying. It’s swine. It’s flu.

But believe me you, it’s not new. Pigs have been flying overhead and dropping scourges and outbreaks upon us a while now, quite a while, a fair number of years, maybe four, or a little more. It has been a time of pus and virus deliberately infused into the air, like that lard spewing down; a time of fraudulent fable and fancy falsification, of slander and vilification and revilement, of plain and brutal lies employed as instrument of animosity, of subterfuge invoked to stereotype and subjugate, of plain and laughable lies invented to brew non-existent glories — prehistoric, or ahistoric, myth as patent truth.

So we have had ancient impotence remedied with artificial insemination remotely triggered from the heavens. We have had the good god reduced as mere proof of plastic surgery. We have had eminences course across the skies in objects during times yet undated. Imagination is a many-splendoured and wondrous thing, it’s one of the things our species is blessed with; but imagination isn’t always the truth, or even what is or could be, or could have been.

Pigs have been flying a while folks,
The pigs have been flying;
Run for cover and don’t become the flu,
A lot of what’s flying is only just lying.