Omar's orgasm

I have not spoken as an "authentic" Indian Muslim voice, but my post on Omar Abdullah has got a lot of people angry.

So I watched him on NDTV's Walk the Talk show last night.

He is speaking with a forked tongue. Did he not say something about his conscience post-Gujarat? Okay, here is is talking about how he admires Vajpayee...the same man who as prime minister did precious little and kept quiet and took up for Modi in Gujarat.

All these guys are now gushing about Omar's role in national politics. He is smiling like a cat that has licked all the cream and looks doodh ka dhula hua. Let him milk the issue dry.

Have fun. As he did in his "3-minute" orgasmic speech.
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Note: For those interested, a longish extract (an encounter with the poet Ahmed Faraz) from my book is in Dawn as well as uploaded on A Journey Interrupted blog.

Of sleeping dogs and Indian Muslims

This is a response to a gentleman's kind listing of Muslim ‘contribution’ to India I read about. Had he talked about some kinds of Muslims, one would have accepted it and let it pass. Now, since this is a general tarring of IMs, listen up…

His list:

1. Demolishing 2000 Hindu temples.

2. Aurangzeb

3. Jazia

4. Partition

5. Terroism

Then, rather sweetly, he asks, “Am I missing anything?”

It doesn't matter. You are missing the wood for the woodpecker. If you want to move on, then why keep pecking on the same old tree?

1. Yes, Hindu temples were demolished. How many Jain and Buddhist temples did the Hindus destroy? Oh, but that does not count, because Hindus consider Jains and Buddhists as their own.

2. Yes, you had Aurangzeb...and Akbar, Jehangir, Shahjehan...they performed a puja at the Taj Mahal recently, just because they felt like it. I mean, how many Muslims go to temples as tourists and fall on their feet to offer the namaaz because they were there and just felt like it? Oh, but Mussalmans are like the British, everything time-to-time, as we Gujjus say.

3. Yes, Jiziya...Mughals levied tax on Hindus. What can I do about that? It was wrong but they had come as conquerors and not democrats, na? And don’t you put money in McCain's and Obama's chanda boxes so that your future is safe in America and you can get that French kiss from the statue of liberty symbol?

4. Yes, Partition was a Muslim contribution. They made it easy for us to have another country to blame. India was made up of so many principalities with nabobs and maharajahs living in those palaces which had pink chandeliers and vomit-yellow carpets. The departing Muslims left you with these to get dollahs from tourists to peep through some stupid filigree.

5. Yes, terrorism...our ‘contribution’ is that we too sat and took it. Now, as one report says, car bombs have made their “debut”...so IMs were virgins until just the other day, right?

And then the gentleman says:

"We could have let sleeping dogs lie after partition. Wasn't that the point of partition?"

The Partition wasn't about letting sleeping dogs lie, get it? It was a response to the behaviour of Gandhi-Nehru-Jinnah separately and for different political reasons.

"Yet these bastards chose to keep on occupying our land, agitating for their own laws and rules, and explode bombs."

Your land? The Bay Area, SF? IMs are 'occupying' the land we were born in and tilled. Get that in your head. Now. Yes, some are agitating for separate personal laws because the politicians like playing ball with them and they like playing ball with the politicos. But, don't the Hindus have their own civil laws? The Parsis, the Christians? I am for a Uniform Civil Code, but it has to be based on secular ideas, not the idea of the majority community. No way. Yes, some Muslim organisations explode bombs. How many IMs support them?

"What the fukk do they want?"

That you learn to spell correctly without fear. After all, you have not studied in some madrassa where they shake their heads, right?

"For the flag of Islam to fly on Red Fort?"

No, I don't think IMs want the flag of Islam on the Red Fort; they are happy enough with Delhi Darbar and Karim's.

"Every few years we need a fucking pogrom just to keep them in line. Haraami kee aulad saaley, they wan't nothing in life but to die and kill."

I can feel your pain. And really sorry about all the trouble you guys have to undergo to organise those orgiastic pogroms, get saffron bandanas, and write all those slogans (hey, you did not take SRK to task for misusing your religion with ‘Om Shanti Om’? Isn’t he too a "haraamee ki aulaad"? Oh, I forgot, he pays lotsa jiziya to the IT department...)

"In any case, this is between Indian Hindus and Muslims who live in India. Its not really a Pakistani issue is it?"

Interestingly, now you are not blaming the Pakistanis. Why? One more Dunkin' Donuts trip being planned? Or that Sufi dance at the Daata Ganj Baksh in a ganja trance?

As Pooh would say, tell me how it was…

Now time for a siesta…yeah, let the sleeping bitch lie…

Just a note....

The article below was written before the bomb blasts of Bangalore and Ahmedabad. I have marked some portions in bold because this is going to be (already reports trickling in) precisely the 'defensive' and silly fallout from the Indian Muslims - yet again.

There has been an anonymous comment:

this is the price we are parying for keeping the muslims here after independence.Gandhi and Nehru are the biggest mass-murderes for letting the cancerous muslims stay on.

Has no Muslim died in any of the bomb blasts that have occurred in our country post-Independence? Has no Muslim been part of the struggle for Independence?

No one is "keeping" Muslims here. We were here, are here and shall remain here. Indian Muslims are not asking for a separate state quite unlike some other 'separatist' movements in India. So shut up.

More later. And there will be more later.


Chatterati and Chatterjee

Read this rather whatever-you-want-to-call-it piece by Pakistani writer Moni Mohsin. She was talking about how women are addressed in Pakistan (“Baby” and then “Baaji”, then “Begum sahiba” etc.) What intrigued me was her recollection of a recent trip to Jaipur and how she was feeling slightly bored as her Indian friend went through the sarees at a store. (Oh dear. Most Pakistani women love sarees, but I guess the trip here is something different.)

Now in her words:

“I continued to sip my Coke. He (the salesman) picked up a sari and thrust it in my face. Yeh pasand hai, memsaab? I looked over my shoulder. There was no white woman. He was speaking to me. Me? A memsaab? A memsaab in my mind is a white woman in a calf-length belted dress and a wide brimmed hat. She has firm opinions, a loud voice and belongs to the Raj novels of Paul Scott. I fail to qualify on all counts. Something about my demeanour or dress (a salwar kameez) may have signalled my foreignness to a particularly observant shopkeeper, but surely I didn’t look like a mem? But Indian friends informed me afterwards that the term was not meant personally. Memsaab in India is as generic as baji in Lahore. Indian ladies have also become memsaabs. Why it should be so remains a mystery, but so it is.”

Two observations from me:

* Terminology evolves over time. Men are routinely referred to as Saab, right? No problems with that? Such stereotypes really. So, how many women in Lahore are begums that they qualify as Begum sahibas? Does she turn around to look for some nawaabi thaat, a pankha, maybe a palanquin?

And why assume only white women have firm opinions and loud voices?

* Since when has the salwaar kameez come to signal foreignness for Indians? If she had looked beyond the straw of the Coke at the street, she might have watched women riding scooters wearing salwaar kameezes. Puhleeze. You want to sound exotic, try saying you were wearing a Lahori sombrero or something.

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"Aap ka kya pareshan hain?" (When he really wanted to know what the problem was.)

Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, in his broken Hindi, to a disruptive member during the trust vote.


Different angles - 4

Zardari's security officer assassinated?

Khalid Shahanshah, the chief security officer of PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, was assassinated on Tuesday afternoon outside his Clifton residence, police and witnesses said, according to Dawn newspaper.

How is the word assassination used here?

Here is what I read:

Assassination is the targeted killing of a high-profile person. An added distinction between assassination and other forms of killing is that the assassin (one who performs an assassination) usually has an ideological or political motivation, though many assassins (especially those not part of an organization) also demonstrate insanity. Other motivations may be money (contract killing), revenge, or a military operation.

The assassination euphemism targeted killing (or extrajudicial punishment / execution) is also used for the government-sanctioned killing of opponents. 'Assassination' itself, along with terms such as 'terrorist' and 'freedom fighter', may in this context be considered a loaded term, as it implies an act in which the proponents of such killings may consider them justified or even necessary.

Does the newspaper have any information that will justify its use of the term? Why has it then not been explicated?

Its own report says a case has been registered against "unknown assailants".

Why do reports use words so loosely?

Ooh la-la-land of Omar Abdullah

So everyone is mighty impressed by the mighty heart of the cub of the cub of the Sher-e-Kashmir.

I am not biting this ‘dignified’ speech. Only because Omar Abdullah was not flashing a wad of notes does not mean one has to go along with his highly apologetic tone about how Muslims are not this and not that and then say, with some bloody audacity, that being Muslim and being Indian are not mutually exclusive. Why does he even need to say it? Why?

Here are some of his bon-bon mots, and let me respond:

“I am a Muslim and I am an Indian. And I see no distinction between the two. I don’t know why should I fear the nuclear deal. It is a deal between two countries which, I hope, will become two equals in the future. The enemies of Indian Muslims are not America or deals like these. The enemies are the same as the enemies of all those who are poor — poverty, hunger, lack of development and the absence of a voice.”

It isn't about you, Omar. It is about Indians. Not two abstractions called ‘countries’, please. If you personally do not fear the nuclear deal you can go and figure out some way to cook up something in your outhouse. Don’t mess with an issue that is larger and has greater ramifications. And stop this thing about India and America being equals in the future; this conveys that we are unequal at present and in view of the current deal sends out the message that India is therefore playing an inferior role. It is in fact doing so, which is what the ruckus has been all about. But Omar wants to be like America. And he is quoting the same thing about the real enemies being poverty and other stuff, which everyone knows. It does not mean there cannot be other enemies and America will ensure that India does not get too far. Look how it has got to Pakistan…

“Today, the Left is telling me that all secular parties should stand with the BJP to bring down this government. The same Left treated me like a political untouchable when I was with the NDA.”

You were a political untouchable because you were with the NDA. The Left is asking you to support the anti-nuclear stand, which happens to be the BJP’s purported stand. Understood?

“I am not a member of the UPA and don’t aspire to be one. I made a mistake to be with the NDA, especially after Gujarat riots happened. My conscience had asked me to quit NDA but I didn’t. My conscience has still not forgiven me.”

Go give a jadoo ki jhappi to your conscience and next time listen to it. Unless you don’t want to so that when the opportunity arises you can bring it out as a viable ‘dignified’ stand.

(On the Amarnath issue that Leader of Opposition L K Advani had highlighted in his speech yesterday, Abdullah said he had fought for the cause since it involved the land of his people. He dared the BJP to name a single leader from Jammu and Kashmir who had opposed the Amarnath yatra.)

“Until the day there is even a single Muslim in Kashmir, from Srinagar to Amarnath, the Amarnath yatra will not be allowed to stop.”


Now takhliyaan...that is, over and out…

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For the other tamasha of ‘live’ bribery, you may want to watch this.


Different angles - 3

Tearing into the trust vote

Tomorrow a bunch of parliamentarians who we the people have elected because they believed in a certain ideology or belonged to political parties with a certain ideology will decide which side their bread is buttered.

The Left parties had the best intentions when they removed their support to the UPA alliance, but what are we left with now? If the issue was morality, then morality is what is being dumped. By staying with the alliance they would have managed to work within the system and create nice little impediments.

Now, we have the worst of the lot – for heaven’s sake Amar Singh? Shibu Soren? – joining forces. The Samajwadi Party had fought the Congress with such vitriol and now there is a coming together on the issue of “secularism”. Wasn’t Mulayam called the ‘Maulana’ much before this time? I shall not even comment on how the nuclear deal is either supported or opposed by Muslims. This is most ridiculous to even get into.

There are a few interesting points I wish to respond to. The points raised are courtesy of NDTV.

What if the UPA sails through the confidence motion?

# It will be a go-ahead for the Indo-US nuclear deal the issue that led to the exhibition of strength by the government.

Yes, a go-ahead for stabbing its allies and the Indian public in the back.

# The UPA will push through its unfinished economic reforms agenda, which has experienced from the estranged allies of the government, the Left.

Really? It is unfinished because some babus are busy pushing files. Economic reforms in fact took a new turn in the Left bastion West Bengal, at the cost of villagers. Forgotten?

# The Atomic Energy Act may be amended to bring a domestic equivalent to the Hyde Act of the US. The Bharatiya Janata Party leader Lal Krishna Advani has often raised the demand for such an act.

So, is it time to clone the BJP? Traces have been visible for a while now.

What if UPA loses the trust vote?

The government would be expected to resign. If it refuses, the President has the power to remove the Prime Minister - called dismissing the government. But in practice, no government would refuse to resign.

However, according to the precedence, there may be three situations, which are possible in this case.

Situation 1: Third Front stakes claim and BJP gives outside support.

This would be fun. Mayawati, the light of the backward classes, getting the support of the snotty Hindutvawadis. Wherefore ethics?

Situation 2: BJP stakes claim and UNPA supports from outside.

This would be funnier.

Situation 3: Nobody claims majority and the President might ask Manmohan Singh to continue as caretaker PM (according to Constitutional provisions and rules of the procedure of Parliament). Theoretically, it has the same powers. Again, as a convention, it would not take any major policy decisions, for Parliament would stand dissolved to pave the way for general elections. It would be expected to refrain from committing to any important legislation or agreements -- although in case of emergent need it does have the power to promulgate ordinances.

This is not likely to happen because our greedy MPs have been selling themselves in the market at high rates and the buyers have done their calculations.

However, this is the situation I would like. I would like to see a government that has its hands tied down and yet is supposed to rule. It will have enough time to find new allies and the public will know who is with whom. Right now, with the SP and its money power, the Congress and its ‘legacy’ and the fringe parties with goon power can muck things up badly.

Unfortunately the common Indian does not know much about the nuclear deal and it will benefit India and what we are giving away to the United States of America. But then the ordinary Indian does not know about many things. Like what the hell is a trust vote?

PS: I am having a good chuckle over the NDA supporting the nuclear deal. Leave everything else aside. Narendra Modi will always get an American visa.


Different angles - 1

I have got a whole bunch of these photographs taken from a certain angle. Amazing, isn't it, how things seen from one side give a different image, thought, idea?

That is why it is said, "Aankhein bhi dhoka kha saktee hai".

The eyes too can be deceived. And here I thought it was only the heart.
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PS: These have come in the mail; no photographer mentioned.


On and off – 4

Not on…

Angelina Jolie gives birth to twins. A boy and a girl. She and Brad Pitt are willing to – in fact will – sell pictures of the babies for millions. It could be between $10 million to $20 million.

It isn’t the first time. They aren’t the first ones. What I find reprehensible is the pre-publicity about how the money will go to charity. It gives everyone a nice halo. It is as bad as glossy brochures by international agencies covering hunger and devastation portraying snotty little kids with bloated stomachs and overly large eyes in hollowed sockets.


Nicole Kidman and hubby Keith Urban have turned down several offers worth millions of dollars to publish the first pictures of their newborn daughter.

They are not making it into a moral issue. They said they understand public interest and may release the photographs, but it will be for free.

At least their daughter won’t grow up to live with the story of having a ‘sold’ tag at an auction…for the larger good of humankind, of course.


The pigeonhole, please

Perception is a bitch; it is also a mirror.

As a mirror it can have tremendous value. But is it often intended to? What do you do with cracked mirrors, blurred mirrors – is it necessary for one to have to see oneself in them only to prove that one is open to another point of view?

As regards the bitch, how many barks translate into a bite?

I was chortling when I read somewhere that the reviewer had done a decent job but this book ought not to have been written! It is hilarious. The review is positive. So, if someone likes what I have written and is being commended for it, then isn’t it natural that he thinks I did a good job and therefore if you like what he has to say and he likes what I have to say then you must therefore like what I have to say? You can’t say, “Hey that T-shirt looks good on you, but it should not have been a T-shirt”. Weird world.

However, let me get to the real strange stuff. Apparently, writing about the identity question is a bad thing. It is passé. Oooh, I am so outdated…everyone else has completed their journeys and I am still unable to negotiate it.

Heck, if they had then they wouldn’t be spreading themselves thin over a ‘non-issue’, would they?

But, of course, an Indian Muslim Woman seems to be causing a whole lot of anguish. An Indian Muslim Woman writing about there has got to belong there.

Apparently, the term Indian is just an add-on. Sure. Ah, yes, I hear it said that the only reason I am not there is because I don’t want to let go of my jeans and expensive coffee.

This should be enough reason to laugh in these people’s faces (faeces?). Pakistani women don’t wear jeans? You don’t get pricey coffee in that country?

These are supposed to be our global citizens. The ones who don’t even know if they have an identity. Unless being incognito counts. Straw warriors.

Make hay, honey, while my sun shines.



I have promised to put up some things about the book, the launch etc, and it hasn't happened. Mainly because post-launch other things have come up.

I do not wish to reduce anyone's attempts at wanting to write about me; having been in the profession I know all about the stuff, or at least most of it.

Now, I read an interesting piece about book launches and while mine was given the thumbs up and the book was called a "tremendous and gutsy effort", I cannot imagine myself responding to a query like:

"But why did she choose Pakistan as her subject? For that reason, why are all so-called secular Muslims in India still obsessed with our cousins across the border?"

with a reply like this:

"Only because Pakistan is our neighbour and Pakistanis are our brothers and sisters."

The neighbour bit had a context, as to why we cannot explore that area, but brothers and sisters? Do I sound like I would use such a phrase that seems straight out of our old textbooks?

Anyway, it had me chuckling.

And if you want more chuckles at my expense, go to the Journey Interrupted blog for a slide show!

News meeows - 16

One month to the day that she was widowed in Lahore, Asha Patil landed in Mumbai. “I’m very happy to be back. I’ll meet my parents. The Pakistani government has helped me a lot, so have the Indian authorities,” she said.

Patil will soon return to Pakistan to embark on the ‘umrah’, a pilgrimage to Mecca, which is being sponsored by the PML(N) government of the Punjab province. She has also secured a share in her husband’s property and the promise of a Pakistani citizenship.

This is news. The Pakistani government has on earlier occasions reacted with much suspicion about such cross border alliances and now when her husband and first child are dead, they are offering her all possible help. It couldn’t merely be her acceptance of Islam or the promise to make her son (she is expecting a baby and it is assumed it will be a boy) into a ‘Hafiz-e-Koran’, one who memorises the Holy Book in its entirety.

I do understand that she may have attachment to the place where her spouse and child are buried, but I do not understand a political party getting into the act to ensure her personal beliefs and desires are fulfilled.

How many Pakistani women can claim rights over property? How many single women are assisted in their attempts to undertake a pilgrimage? How many women are given the assurance that the government will step in if they are harassed by their in-laws?

I find the case getting curiouser and curiouser.

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Criticising the UP police once again for their alleged irresponsible handling of the Aarushi murder case, Union minister for women and child development Renuka Choudhary said that the family should sue the police. “The family should sue the state police and those responsible for bungling the case must be suspended,’’ she said.

This isn’t mere concern about how the case was handled and the character assassination of Aarushi’s father Dr. Rajesh Talwar. It is about party politics.

This is a way to make the Mayawati government accountable.

It is true the police was most shabby in how they went about getting evidence, but why did the Talwars not mention their compounder Krishna’s name right then? Now he is the prime suspect. The question also remains as to where the parents were when the murder took place and how soon did they inform the police.

And just for the information of the minister, it wasn’t merely the cops who tarnished Aarushi’s name; the media went haywire. There was no need to report all that and no need to show all those teachers and students certifying the girl’s reputation. All this only draws attention to something that may be untrue but gives enough scope for rumours.

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A Las Vegas man who devised a “Men on a Mission” calendar that features shirtless Mormon missionaries is facing a disciplinary hearing and possible excommunication because of his “conduct unbecoming a member of the church.”

“I wondered what would happen if we took that perfect Disneyland image that the church spends millions of dollars cultivating each year and shook it up a little bit,” Hardy said.

Interestingly, the ‘models’ have not faced any action. I have no clue as to why they did it, but is it possible more people will go to church now?

Our sadhus go nude often, of course they are doing some sort of bhakti. Mullahs will not do this sort of thing publicly, though Osama (no mullah but at least a wannabe) baring his torso would make a greater impact in all those videos he sends to Al Jazeera.


Sir Salman wins the Booker again

So Sir Salman has won the 'Best of the Booker' prize for Midnight’s Children to mark the 40th anniversary of one of the world's most prestigious literary awards. Good for him.

In 1981, when he was first awarded the Booker, it was by his peers. Now it is through an online poll.

Victoria Glendinning, chair of the panel who drew up a shortlist, said: “The readers have spoken in their thousands. And we do believe that they have made the right choice.”

Now the “thousands” really numbered 8000; Rushdie got 36 per cent of the votes among the six shortlisted writers, which amounts to 2880.

Two thousand eight hundred and eighty people around the world cast their votes for his book.

The report says: “At least half the voters were under 35, and the largest age group was 25-34, 'a reflection of the ongoing interest in quality fiction amongst readers of all ages’.”

A couple of things can be concluded from this. Young people are hugely interested in the Partition, so for those who say who cares about it, here is your answer. Two, Salman Rushdie has the baggage of the martyred Satanic Verses. It isn’t merely interest in quality fiction – did those who vote confirm that they had read the book and were they asked specific queries pertaining to the work? – but Rushdie’s reputation.

Even a simple account of the award could not do without mentioning how there were riots in the Muslim world (did not know we had a special world, now we need our own planet too, I guess) and “culminating in a death edict against Mr Rushdie by Iran's supreme religious leader, forcing the author into hiding for nine years”. The Ayatollah is dead and nine years are over.

"How will the Islamists react?" Oh dear, if you so desperately want them to, why don't you stand outside some mosque with your own loudspeakers and try it out?

Stop feeding this to those who voted; they were on an average still in kindergarten when Midnight’s Children was released.

MC, like much of Rushdie’s writings, is luscious and iconoclastic.

I still prefer Shame, but I have said this before.


Ask the vexpert - 8

Question: I am 45 years old. Is spirituality connected with sexuality? I accept sex as something that's spiritual but then why does society seem to hate sex?

Sexpert: Every male has a sex pleasure centre in the brain which is meant to stimulate the body to have sex so that fertilisation takes place and the human race flourishes. Few if any, do not like sex. Traditions and customs often disturb their pleasures.

Me: Spirituality is most definitely connected with sexuality which is the reason all the sex symbols are heavily into religion, whether it is the Jewish Kabbalah, or Christianity or visiting temples and mosques. Those who are a little iffy about their sexuality choose Scientology because that is iffy about religion.

Places of worship are the best grounds for preparing yourself, what with the movement of several muscles during prayers. This makes the limbs supple. It also takes away the guilt that is associated with sex. It is like getting an A-Okay from god.

Society does not hate sex; it resents it that people are enjoying themselves. You are one smart cookie that you have already seen it as spiritual; this will make you a fellow with a halo.

What after halo? Ensure that it isn’t a case of the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Then just do your thing, levitate if you can manage to rise that high, and keep it between the sheets.

- - -

Question: I am a 22-year-old man and have a wheatish complexion. I lead a healthy life but have a problem. My penis is black. What could be the reason? Will it affect me in any way? Any suggestions to cure this?

Sexpert: As long as it carries out its functions efficiently and satisfies your partner it doesn’t matter whether your penis is purple, green or any other colour. Why worry about trivial issues? FYI, it is darker in colour because that area has more pigments as compared to other parts of the body.

Me: This is a psychological trauma. Perhaps, while watching some heart-wrenching news item on race discrimination your organ was accidentally exposed to the sight. It seems like an overly sensitive guy and it is entirely possible that empathy has made it take on the colour; since it is said that the penis has a mind of its own, it is likely that it is testing your attitude towards racism that is prevalent in India but never talked about. I am concerned as you have specifically demarcated an important part of your body from the rest of you and are in fact looking for a cure. The issue is not only about performance. Did the thought of using fairness creams occur to you? Are you aware that this could lead to a backlash from environmentalists, sociologists and liberals? What if your partner is a feminist? She will be deeply reviled by this discrimination on your part.

On the other hand, if she is a racist, then you will have to handle the situation tactfully. Make sure that she notices the rest of your complexion at all times while being aware of the ‘black’ one. It would indeed be a good idea if you did not permit her to see that at all. Or keep the lights switched off.

Also keep gifting her dark chocolate.


In search of an identity

If any of you want, here is an interview and review that has appeared in today's The News, Pakistan. Also uploaded on my other blog.

Talking of interviews, a small one appeared on July 4 in The Asian Age pull-out section. Damn, I have been misquoted so badly...when I said some Pakistanis wonder how I (as in an Indian Muslim) can live among idol worshippers and those who kill Muslims - and these were real quotes from people - the quote has been attributed to me. As in according to FV, "How can I..." blah, blah...

Such a long journey...

So, it happened. The formal book launch. And we forgot to launch the book!

There were some people already there and I reached by 6.30 PM for the 7 PM function.

Someone had told me before, “Oh, what is this discussion nonsense? I have been to 120 book readings. Authors get someone famous to read or read it themselves. Discussion!”

Yes, we had this interesting discussion. At first I read out Parveen Shakir’s poem. Then the Prologue. Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and academician and Indo-Pak peace activist Ritu Dewan, flanking me, co-read a few portions with me.

Detailed report will follow in the Journey Interrupted blog with more pictures.

Here, let me mention a few sidelights:

I did not know my co-panellists until the day I called to ask them two days prior to participate. May I add that several people did want to be a part of this debate; some are well-known names. I did not call them for that. If that were the case, it would have happened long ago. These are people who are known for being committed to the issues they stand up for. I shall therefore not flaunt those names here. It is more important to highlight that my city has the right attitude. None of them knew me personally. Just as I cold called Mahesh and Ritu. Both agreed and read most of the book before they got there. This shows just how seriously they took it; they could have chosen to take the easy way out and talk ‘generally’.

At the event, when I responded to something about people’s animosity and added that “There are nasty people everywhere…(pause) I too can be nasty”, this former MLA immediately shot back, “Farzana, that is such an understatement!”

Interestingly, on the crucial issue of peace measures and Kashmir, we – Mahesh, Ritu and I – disagreed; I was alone…and do believe that most in the audience was with them on this.

It was touching to see a very old man come up to me with a wrinkled piece of paper that had his name and address. “I have great respect for writers and I know your work,” he said as he handed me the chit. Or the other elderly gentleman who remembered Lahore.

The SMS I got later that said, “I was the young man with the persistent questions. I freelance and want to do a Q & A with you.” I called back the next day; he was surprised; he did not expect a call so soon. I always call back strangers (this is lest some of my friends jump in to say ‘Boo’). The reason was that he had not written his name. Later I got another SMS apologising for the oversight: “Had it been any other author it would have been the end of my fledgling career.” How could I tell him I had made many such goof-ups in my early days?

And I continue to make them. People must have wondered why I would not let go of my handbag and kept it near my feet. The reason is that I was carrying medicines and was in fact not feeling too well at all. Or the time I dropped the papers...

I could not talk to most of the people I have known; some left their visiting cards. It was touching, since I had not even personally invited them.

When the discussion was over, someone pointed out that I had not formally launched the book. So the copy wrapped in red with a satin ribbon had to be opened. The ribbon part was easy; I was gingerly trying to prise the tape when Mahesh said, “Just tear it”.

I tried and mumbled, “Must make this copy feel like Draupadi.”

It had been about two hours of reading, talking, answering…and I wanted to slump down. A Doordarshan camera appeared in front of my eyes and I had to say something; then some other channel walla wanted to know if I could speak Hindi, I said “Bilkul”, and then kept using words like “Nazariya”, “Daayra” and I thought it was quite impressive. He quickly finished his queries and said, “Bas, theek hai”. Earnest kid. Wanted me to sign a copy. I wrote his first name. “Khan bhi…” he reminded.

Woh khud likh dena.” My pen was not quite in great shape.

I don’t know if anyone who reads this blog was there, but my thanks to every single person who attended. And to Ritu and Mahesh. I knew we are all different people and that was the idea.


I want you there!

There is a reading of my book A Journey Interrupted followed by a debate moderated by film-maker Mahesh Bhatt and academician/Indo-Pak activist Ritu Dewan.

Day: Friday July 4

Time: 7 PM

Venue: Oxford Bookstore,

Apeejay House, 3 Dinsha Vachha Road,

Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020


I would like a healthy discussion about unhealthy issues surrounding the Indian Muslim question vis a vis Pakistan, so all are invited...and those who spend some time here and are in Mumbai, please treat this as a special personal invitation.

Those who wish to come with brickbats, carry your swords with care. My shield can be quite disarming…

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And yes, I am quite thrilled to get a letter from the well-known artist Satish Gujral, who called up my publishers to get my email address. Here is a part of the note, with his permission:

Dear Farzana Versey,

I have read your book “A Journey interrupted”.

I am an artist, born in what later became Pakistan.

My father was one of the only two Hindu members of First Pakistan Parliament when ti was constituted on August 14th 1947. In this capacity he was much involved in evacuating people and recovering abducted women, for more then six months after partition, and I was with him all along. I had personally witnessed the type of episodes you mentioned while reviewing film “Gadar”.

Needless to say that I was much impressed by your writing style and the way you handled the topic which is part of my life as well.