The Old Man

In his heart he knew what happened today was not good, not fair, and most importantly not right. “But its war and it has to be won” he justified to himself, “no matter what the cost”. They had come very close to losing after their audacious plan had backfired. After ten days of frictional fighting and two days of fierce battle in which many had lost their lives, today was a golden opportunity to annihilate the Pandava’s, “only if I knew before, only if I knew better” he said to himself. There had been one too many roll of the dice that had gone against them.

As Karna entered the council chamber and took his seat next to Duryodhan he could feel the icy cold stares of Kripacharya boring through him. Karna was no stranger to this and used to meet the cold stares of the Hastinapur royals with his own fiery gaze, but this time was different. As he looked at Kripacharya, he could also feel disgust and hatred that he had never felt before from the royals and averted his gaze. They may make fun of him as a lowly “sut putra” but he was always accorded a grudging respect that a warrior like him deserved. Even the great Bhishma who did not allow him to participate in the first ten days of the war never saw him with hatred, only contempt.

Looking around the chamber Karna saw Shalya sitting in the corner with his head bowed, Kripacharya sitting in front still staring at him angrily, even the blusterous Dushasan was unusually quiet. It was only Ashwathamma who seemed unaffected and had assumed his regular pose of staring blankly at the pillar at the back of the tent. This was the quietest war council meeting Karna had attended in the thirteen days of this war.

He had been a mute spectator for the first 10 days, when the council was presided by Bhishma. In those ten days the entire strategy was focused on not winning the war or inflicting most damage, but on how to capture Dharamraj, for Bhishma was of the firm belief that once he captures Dharamraj, the Pandavas would tamely give up their claim to the throne. Karna was vehemently opposed to the idea and even confided in his friend, Duryodhan, but was powerless to speak in front of the council when he was not participating in the war. It was only on Duryodhan’s stubborn insistence that he was allowed to be a part of the meeting. But things had changed drastically after Bhishma fell. Although Dronacharya was now the commander-in-chief of the Kaurava army, Duryodhan had given himself veto powers and it was Karna’s suggestions that were usually implemented.

“You have brought a new energy to the battle, friend!” Duryodhana told him on day eleven in the nightly council, “This is how I wanted to fight. Not to capture one pandav, but to exterminate them and their armies completely”. That was the night when Karna suggested that Dronacharya uses his famous formation, “The Chakravyuh”

As they waited for their commander-in-chief, Kripacharya, who was still angrily staring at Karna, addressed him “How do you feel now, Angraj”, Karna thought better not to answer. “How does it feel, Angraj”, Kripacharya prodded further, “to be bested by a man-boy, the seed of your arch-enemy you claim to be better than”. Karna’s body was now shivering with rage; he controlled himself as he finally gathered the courage to look into Kripacharya’s eyes, “The boy is dead, and do not forget who killed him”. “So how does it feel Angraj, to kill an unarmed man-boy, the seed of your arch enemy, after he had bested you in a fair fight” Kripacharya responded.

“Enough Acharyaji” Duryodhana held up his hand to silence Kripacharya, “you are forgetting your duty is to win this war for your king, not make fun of his friends”. “I have full faith in Angraj, and it seems he is the only one who wants to see me on the throne of Hastinapur and my enemies vanquished. I won’t hear a word further”. Kripacharya said nothing but kept staring at Karna.

The chamber fell quite now, but for the occasional sobbing from the quivering Jaydrath. That his demise is imminent was very clear to Karna. He was unlikely to survive even the first few hours of next day’s battle. The pandava’s will hunt him down first thing tomorrow. Jaydrath was the lynchpin on which their entire strategy of that day had rested, and he had played his part to the perfect. He was to hold up the Pandava’s at the first gate of The Chakravyuh, once Arjun had been diverted far away from the main battlefield. Using a boon that allowed him to defeat all Pandavas except Arjun, Jaydrath was supposed to tire the Pandavas while the Kaurav army pressed ahead in the formation and trounce the enemy. All was going well, but for that stupid boy, that arrogant fool, Abhimanyu, son of Subhadra, who came in their way.

I killed him, and they are blaming me now, Karna thought, conveniently forgetting they were all pissing in their pants when he entered the last gate, and had no problems cutting him down after I stabbed him. Fuck them, the Hastinapur hypocrites.

Karna’s thoughts were interrupted as Dronacharya now walked in the council chamber and occupied the chair in the centre that was reserved for the commander-in-chief. It was unusual for the commander-in-chief to walk in unannounced, but it wasn’t a usual day. Dronacharya had a regal military-like walk and if he was shaken by the events of the day, he did well not to show them. Without looking up at anyone, he addressed the council in a terse business like tone- “The priority tomorrow is to protect Jaydrath, he did well for us today. We can’t let him down”, Jaydrath was still shivering and he looked up to Dronacharya as a dog would look up to his master expecting a piece of meat in return. As Dronacharya continued detailing the military formations for the next day, Karna heaved a sigh of relief. At least no one was talking about Abhimanyu anymore.

As the council ended and the Kaurava maharathi’s made their way to their tents Karna hung back at the chambers while Drona was still peering over the charts of the battle formations. “Im sorry” he mumbled as he approached Drona, “I thought Chakravyuh would end the battle faster”, “Oh no Angraj”, Drona replied without looking up from the charts, “don’t be sorry about the Chakravyuh. Just hope that the gods show more mercy to us than history will”. Karna walked out without saying anything.


As he lay on his bed that night, Karna could not sleep. The images from the morning kept flashing in front of his eyes- a young bashful boy, his niece, taunting him, beating him, his arrows breaking Karna’s bow, striking his arms and chest, but it was his words that stung Karna more than his arrows. “So you are the famed Karna who claims to be better than my father”, “You don’t belong to the battle field, you sut-putra, go back to your village and graze cows, you idiot”, that obnoxious, arrogant son of Arjun. And suddenly it wasn’t Abhimanyu anymore; it was Arjun himself, taunting him, humiliating him, beating him. Karna’s blood was boiling; he had to take that foolish kid down, or was it Arjun himself, Karna can’t tell the difference. “Let’s attack him together” he shouted to Duryodhan as Abhimanyu broke down the last gate and turned back to exit.

Karna now got up from his bed, he could not take any more of these images. He dressed himself and walked out of his tent to the banks of the nearby Saraswati. His golden kawach was shining underneath the white cotton angvastra he had covered himself in. He found a secluded spot near the river bank underneath a tree and had just sat there looking for some peace when a voice disturbed him. “Are you the famous warrior Angraj?” he looked up and found the voice belonging to an old water carrier who was washing his leather water bag at the river.

“Yes, it is me, and it would be wise not to disturb me old man” Karna replied. The old man now stood up with water now filled in his leather bag, “you want some water, Angraj?” Karna was bemused, typically the sight of a maharathi would be enough to unnerve a commoner and here was this old water carrier who casually disregarded his warning.

“Did you not hear what I said, old man” Karna was firm this time, “But you look thirsty Angraj, have some water”, the old man was now approaching Karna and as he neared him he lowered his bag to offer some water. Such insolence would normally see the offender’s head being looped off, but Karna silently bent and drank some water, his eyes still fixated on the old man.

“Do you mind if I sit down here? This is where I spend my nights usually, away from the sight and stench of the battlefield”, the old water carrier said and without even waiting for an answer sat down at a distance from the tree where Karna was sitting. Karna did not appreciate the company but was too bothered to reply, and after all the water carrier was an old man. He couldn’t possibly ask him to walk away.

“They were talking about a great battle today. All of the Kaurav army was talking about your bravery and how you stopped the marauder” the water carrier now addressed Karna.

“Whom do you serve” Karna curtly stopped him. He wanted to be sure that the old man is not a spy or part of an ambush, although his instincts told him it was neither. “None, sir, I just provide water for a fee to both the armies”, the old man replied.

“So where did you hear all of this”

“The soldiers, they tell me their stories, I listen to them. They tell me about all brave deeds of the warriors, they told me how the great Bhishma was felled, about how Krishna himself joined the battle once, about how an army of elephants was routed by the mighty Bhima..”

“What did they tell you about me, old man”

“Well, they told me how you saved the day and defended your formation by defeating and killing the mighty Pandava warrior…”

“Really” Karna felt bemused at the sight of an old man trying to flatter him. “Do you know how old that mighty Pandava warrior was? He was 16. Possibly still a virgin and I stabbed him when he was unarmed, attacked by many warriors at once”.

“But why did you do this, Angraj”, the old man asked so calmly that it unnerved Karna.

“Because its war and it’s fought to win. The boy was a brave warrior, but he was too foolish and too arrogant. Did he think that we will just allow him to enter the formation, beat us, and get out of it? Once he entered he was a dead man.”

“He was squealing like a pig when we cut him down, screaming about dharma. Ridiculous! Had he not seen how Bhishma was felled? He was also unarmed and Arjun put him down on a bed of arrows. Wars are not about dharma. Dharma is for times of peace, war is about killing and winning.”

“You are not the first one to ask me today why I did this, old man”, Karna continued, “It’s easy to talk about Dharma sitting in a council, but on the battlefield, none of the Hastinapur royals dared stopped me. Dronacharya was there, Kripacharya was there, but they very well knew that the insolent boy had to be stopped. They were just too scared to do anything about it, so it fell to a sut-putra again to do the dirty job, to lead their royal ass to attack the boy, to stab him when he was unarmed and came to me asking for a sword so that he can fight to death. He should have ran away, but there is arrogance in that blood”.

“You are a wiser man than me, Angraj. I don’t know about anything about Dharma and War. The only purpose of my life is to fetch water, but you have a higher calling in life than me.” The old man stood up as he said this, “I wish you all the best for the war. Now if you could please go back to your tent, so I could get some sleep here”. The old man was curt and to the point.

Karna almost chortled when he heard this, not many would have the audacity to speak to Karna like this. Still not wishing to offend the old man, he got up.

“But if you have another story to tell me tomorrow, I will be here”. The man waved off the king of Anga.


It was almost early dawn when the battle ended on the fourteenth day. Karna was being cheered loudly by his army as the giant Ghatothkatch’s body lay sprawled on the battlefield. Bhim’s half-giant son had teared into the Kaurava army and the fight had continued late into the night.

The cheering Kaurava army lifted Karna on their shoulders and a beaming Durodhana proclaimed “He is going to win me this war, my friend Karna, the greatest warrior in this universe. Hail Angraj!” and the entire Kaurava army cheered again after him. But Karna was absolutely devastated, “it was for Arjun only, only for him, and now it’s gone”. He had to use a divyaastra to take the giant down, a divyaastra he had carefully cultivated to be used at the right time at the right enemy, Arjun! And now it’s gone.

Karna’s kawach was entirely covered in ash, soot and blood and once he got down from the shoulders of his soldiers, he quickly excused himself to go to his tent to clean himself up. He paused as he reached the entrance of his tent, kept his bow and arrow on the ground and instructed his servant to carry them inside. He was going to the banks of Saraswati again.

He dipped into the river to cleanse his body of the blood and soot. As he came out and lay down under the same tree, the old man appeared again, “Here to meet me, Angraj”.

Karna chortled, “Ofcourse, old man! What else is there in my day to look forward to except meeting an old water carrier and telling him stories”.

“So you are going to tell me another story?” the old man sat in front of him like a child expecting candies from his grandfather. “There was a Pandava demon today, right? His roar could be heard till right here. Who killed him?” The old man shot a volley of questions.

“I did” Karna said in a dejected tone. “How did you slay him?” the old man asked excitedly, “did you pump your arrows in his heart or hacked away at him with your sword”.

“No. The half-giant was impervious to arrows and swords; we lost a large number of soldiers trying to kill him. Finally, I had to use my divyaastra to put him away”.

“So you had to go and find the divyaastra, Angraj?” the old man asked curiously.

“No, of course not, that would be stupid”, Karna was embarrassed. “So why didn’t you use it earlier?” pat came the question.

Karna was not prepared for this; he had assumed the old man would go ga-ga over him like the Kaurava army did. “You see” he began to explain “the divyaastra could be used only once, so I had to be careful to use it only on the strongest foe”.

“But wasn’t that giant monster marauding your army for almost all day, you could have saved so many lives, Angraj”.

Karna was now ashamed of himself. He had been so immersed in self-loathing about losing that divyaastra and not getting a chance to use it on Arjuna that he hadn’t given a thought to the lives he could have saved.

“But then you are a wiser man than me, Angraj. You have a higher calling than me.” The old man told Karna wistfully, “now it’s time for me to sleep, I could not sleep all night because of your demon. Chop-chop now.”

As Karna was going back to his tent to catch up on some sleep before the battle begins again, he started thinking about what the old man said, “higher calling”, what is his higher calling.

Was his higher calling winning the war for his friend, so Duryodhan can be Hastinapur Naresh, if so, then Karna wasn’t doing a good enough job of it. Earlier in the day he had failed to protect Jaydrath as Arjuna loped his head off, he had been selfish and let his army die and hesitated in killing that monster, and a day earlier he had lead a group assault on a young boy and killed him when he was unarmed.

What happens even if I win the war for Duryodhan? Karna knew that although he had vowed not to kill any Pandava other than Arjun, a victory for Duryodhan would mean that they will all have to die. How will Kunti react to him being the only living son she has left, the son that she had abandoned when he was not even a day old, the son born with impervious Kawach and Kundal, the son who despite all his handicap grew up to be a fierce and famed warrior. Winning the war was not his higher calling.

Surely his higher calling couldn’t be to settle down with the person he loved the most and have a family. Draupadi had publically turned him down and chosen Arjun instead. Arjun, the arrogant Arjun, Arjun born of a royal family, Arjun taught by the best teacher, Arjun known as the best archer. There isn’t much difference between us, Karna thought, I’m born of a royal family, I was taught by the best teacher, Parushuram, I’m also known as the best archer. So then, why is Arjun the victor, and Karan the sut-putra, why doesn’t he inspire pride and love as Arjun does. Arjun!

“I can’t let the ramblings of an old man distract me” Karna brushed off his thoughts as he entered his tent and started preparing for the battle.


Things fell apart very quickly for the Kauravas on the fifteenth day. Pandava’s, the paragon of virtue and dharma had once again tricked another veteran. Having killed an elephant named Ashwathhama, they led Dronacharya to believe that his son Ashwathhama has been killed, as Drona collapsed on hearing this news, the commander-in-chief of the Pandava army, Dhrushtdhyumn beheaded him.

In the war council meeting that day, Karna was appointed the new commander-in-chief of the Kaurava army. Duryodhan was inconsolable, everyday some of his brothers were killed by the mighty Bhim. It was a testament to his family’s loyalty and bravery that none of them had forsaken him yet.

“Karna, I don’t want to win the war now, I only wish that the Pandava’s suffer the same pain of losing their family that I’m suffering” Duryodhan broke down in Karna’s tent, “They used deceit to kill three of my best warriors, Bhishma taat is worse than dead, Acharya Drona died with a broken heart, Jaydrath was conned out in exposing himself. Yet there are people who claim that Pandavas are fighting for their dharma. What about my dharma? I’m the son of the rightful king of Hastinapur, I have the first right on the throne, and after me my brothers have the right to rule Hastinapur. What am I supposed to do when Dharamraj asks for his share- divide my country or give up my rightful claim? What am I supposed to do when he bids his own wife in a game – am I not supposed to enjoy my rightful win? And yet, when history is written I will be held as epitome of Adharma, you know why, friend, because I will lose, and a loser has no dharma, a loser has no country. Now I don’t wish to win this war, Karna, I don’t, I just wish for the head of a single Pandava. I don’t care what history writes about me, I will die trying to kill at least one Pandava brother or I will win Hastinapur for my brothers. There is no higher calling than this for me. None.”

The conversation with Duryodhan had left Karna feeling very queasy, he was suddenly not sure of himself. What was his primary duty as commander-in-chief of the Kaurav army? He knew that the war was lost, so what was he fighting for? Duryodhan was fighting for his dead brothers; he was fighting for an off-chance of an upset, but what was there for Karna in all of this. A victory will make him the only alive son of a mother who will hate him for the death of her other sons, a loss will mean losing his only friend, the only person who stood by him. The Pandavas will get Hastinapur, Duryodhan will get martyrdom fighting for something he believed in. What will a poor sut-putra get? What does he even want?

And that’s when he knew. He put on a white angvastra over his shoulders and started walking to the banks of Saraswati. He didn’t knew why, but it seemed important to find the old man. I need to tell him. As he walked through the trees and the bushes, his heart felt lighter, even joyous, possibly for the first time he knew very clearly what he wanted and how he was going to get it.

As he approached the usual spot below the tree, he saw the old man leaning on the tree trunk and playing his flute. Karna had never noticed the flute in his hands, but he stayed out of the sight and allowed the old man to finish his piece. Maybe it was his clear headedness that allowed him to appreciate music for the first time in his life, or maybe the old man was a master musician. He stood out of sight for a long time, till the old man put his flute down and called out to him, “here to meet me, Angraj”.

“How did you know I was here?” Karna was a little startled.

“It’s a full moon night, and your golden kawach is reflecting in the water. So anyways, you have another story for me?” the old man asked.

“No. No story today”

The old man seemed disappointed. “I heard how Dronacharya was killed today, I was angry just like I was when poor Abhimanyu was killed. But then I recalled what you said, this is war and war requires blood to be shed. I thought you would tell me more about it”

“No. I won’t tell you about the war. I want to tell you the reason for which I exist, the reason that got muddled with politics, gambling, dharma and adharma. The only higher calling that I have, the only desire that has kept the fire in me alive.”

“and what is that Angraj?” The old man now sat down with his legs crossed, and put his hands below his chin. Clearly this was a story for him.

“Im the best archer in the world, I was born to be the best archer in the world” Karna was now smiling, his face was glowing with confidence and certainty. “and I will prove it, by killing Arjun. This is what I wanted at the games decades back when Vidur stopped me for competing against Arjun by calling me a sut-putra, this is what I wanted when I went to Draupadi’s swayamwar hoping to pierce the eye of the fish, but nobody gave me a chance. I was pushed back, declared a loser without even allowed to fight, and Arjun walked away with all the laurels, he won the games, and he won Draupadi, whereas, they both belonged to me. But war is a leveler, old man. Tomorrow we shall fight, I shall seek him out and engage him. There will be no one to stop me now, and once I kill him in an open fair fight there shall be no more debate. This is my only calling, to kill Arjun. Because there can’t be two best archers in the world, one of us has to die.”

“You will win Angraj, you know that” the old man spoke contemplatively. “But your victory wouldn’t make you the best archer”.

“And why do you think so, old man”.

“Because of your golden kawach. No matter what Arjun tries, your kawach will stop his arrows. You will have to succeed only once, whereas even if he finds your heart with every arrow, he will not be able to pierce it.”

Karna stood there aghast for a moment. He was born with his kawach, it was a part of him, part of his identity. The old man continued “you will kill Arjun, not because you are the best archer, but because you have the best kawach. But you are much wiser than I’m, Angraj, you will know better”.

In that very moment Karna removed his angavastra and in a smooth movement of hands took out his kawach and put it on the ground. Next he removed the golden kundals and placed them next to the kawach. “I will not let anything get in the way of my being proclaimed the best archer, not even my father’s boon. Make sure you find a soldier tomorrow night who can tell you the story of my battle with Arjun, old man”

“You maybe a sut-putra, but your ego is that of a kshatriya” the old man remarked. Karna just smiled and walked away. He stopped and paused after taking a few steps. “I never asked your name. What is your name, old man?”

The old man paused for a bit, smiled and said “Keshav”.

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द टेरेस

“नहीं हुआ? ऐसे कैसे नहीं हुआ? तैय्यरी ठीक से नहीं करी थी?”

“करी तो थी, पापा”,

“तो फिर?, 3 महीने हुए नौकरी से निक़ाले हुए, कब तक उस शहर में अकेला रहेगा”,

“अभी हैं काफ़ी सेविंग्स, और 1-2 जगह और बात चल रही है, कुछ ना कुछ हो जाएगा”, सूरज अभी थोड़ा झुंझला सा गया था, “यह अपनी फालतू किताबों पे खर्चा बंद करो, अपना पैसा बचा के चलो”, सूरज का मन तो था की उसी वक़्त फोन पटक दे, लेकिन उसके मुँह से सिर्फ़ “जी” निकल पाया. “मेरी मानकर सीय कर लेता, तो नौकरी जाने वाली नहीं मिलती. सेफ रहता, ये एम्बीअ की नौकरी कहाँ सेफ रहती है आजकल, आज है कल नहीं”, सूरज इस बात पर चुप ही रहा.

“अच्छा सुन”, पापा ने आवाज़ थोड़ी धीरे कर के कहा, “पैसे भेज पाएगा इस महीने, छोटे की बाइक का ईमआइ भरनी है, और वो फ्रिड्ज भी नया लिया था”, “जी, भेज दूँगा, अच्छा अभी जाना है, बाद में बात करता हूँ”. “कहाँ जाना है?”, “खाना खाने जाना है, लेट हो रहा है बहुत” सूरज के सब्र का बाँध अभी बस टूटने ही वाला था, “हान्ं, तो जा, रोका किसने है”, “ओके बाइ” बोलते ही सूरज ने फोन काट कर सीधा अपने बिस्तर पे ज़ोर से फेंका. उसका नया ब्लॅकबेरी बिस्तर पर 2 टप्पे खा कर सीधा फर्ष पर गिरा. भक साला, अब तू ना टूट जइयो कह कर उसने फोन उठा कर देखा तो साँस में साँस आई, फोन सलामत था.

साला यह 13 हज़ार का फोन भी नौकरी जाने से 1 महीने पहले लेना था, सूरज का मन तो किया की एक बार और इस फोन को कस के फ़र्श पे फेंके लेकिन फिर शायद प्राइस टॅग याद करके रुक गया. तीन महीने पहले ग्लोबल रिसेशन के चलते उसकी कंपनी ने काफ़ी एंप्लायीस को निकाला था, सिर्फ़ उसकी नहीं, दुनिया भर की कंपनीज़ का यही हाल था. लेकिन यह बात मेरे बाप को कौन समझाए, उन्हें तो बस यही लगता है की सीय कर लेता तो पता नहीं क्या उखाड़ लेता, सूरज ये सोचते सोचते अपने कमरे से निकल कर बिल्डिंग की टेरेस पे जा पहुचा.

टेरेस पे एक बरसाती खाली रहती थी, और उसके उपर जाने के लीयें लोहे की सीडीयाँ बनी हुई थी, बस वही एक जगह थी जहाँ सूरज को सबसे ज़्यादा सुकून मिलता था.

“साले, इतनी बात में अपनी बंदी से नहीं करता जितनी तू अपने घरवालों से कर लेता है”, रोहन छत पर पहले से ही पूरे तामझाम के साथ तैनात था. नयी नयी गर्लफ्रेंड बनाई थी, और यह बात किसी ना किसी तरीके से वो बातचीत में उठा ही देता था.

“हाँ भाई, मालूम है तू बंदी वाला है, बार बार क्यूँ बता के जलाता है”, सूरज उसके सामने जाकर छत पर ज़मीन पर ही बैठ गया.

“यह क्या फॉस्टर्ज़ उठा कर लाया है, बडवाइज़र नहीं थी क्या?”, सूरज ने फॉस्टर्ज़ की एक कॅन खोलते हुए कहा.

“तेरा कोगनिज़ांट का क्या हुआ”, रोहन ने चियर्स करते हुए पूछा. “नहीं हुआ बेहेन्चो, पता नहीं 6 लाख में उन्हें कौनसा मॉडेलर चाहिए था”. “फक साला, 2 टके की कंपनी और नखरे इतने, तेरा तो प्रोफाइल एक्दुम मॅच का था”, रोहन ने कुरकुरे का पॅकेट खोलते हुए कहा.

अछा लगता है जब सामने वाला भी गाली देने में तुम्हारा साथ दे तो. हिम्मत बनी रहती है, और लगता है की तुममे कोई खराबी नहीं है, बस साली दुनिया ही कमिनि है.

“अभी केपजेमिनी का आना बाकी है, और डेलाय्ट का इंटरव्यू मंडे को, देखो क्या होता है”. “मेरी बात हुई थी राकेश से, तेरा फीडबॅक अच्छा गया है केपजेमिनी में, सोल्लिड चान्स है”, रोहन ने ही अपने दोस्त से कहकर सूरज का रेज़्यूमे वहाँ डलवाया था. “इंटर्नल रेफरेन्स से चान्स बड़ जाता है भाई, वहाँ का तू डन समझ”, रोहन ने दूसरी कॅन सूरज को थमाते हुए कहा. “हो गया ना, तू तुझे टीचर्स पिलायुंगा” सूरज ने दूसरी कॅन गटकते हुए कहा, “भक सला, ब्लॅक लेबल खुलेगी उस दिन”.

“वैसे क्या बात है, तेरा फोन नहीं बजा अब तक?” सूरज अब थोड़ा शांत महसूस कर रहा था. शायद बियर इसकी वजह थी, या दोस्त से बकर्चोदि या शायद दोनों.

“हाहाहा, वो बस प्रिया अपनी बुआ के यहाँ पार्टी में गयी है, लेट हो जाइएगी आते आते”, “वैसे कैसा चल रहा है तुम्हारा?” सूरज ने पूछ तो लिया लेकिन मन ही मन सोच रहा था की ग़लती कर दी, अब तो यह पूरा डीटेल में सुना कर वापस जलाएगा.

लेकिन यह सवाल पूछते ही रोहन के चेहरे से रंग उतर गया, “पता नहीं यार, चल रहा है, देखो कब तक ऐसे चलेगा”. सूरज एकद्ूम आश्चर्यचकित था, 8 महीने से पीछा करने के बाद, प्रिया ने बस 2 महीने पहले हाँ बोला था, और पूरे पूरे दिन तो रोहन उसीके साथ फोन और स्क्यपे पे लगा रहता था, खुश भी लगता था, अचानक से ये क्या हुआ.

“लोंग डिस्टेन्स की वजह से कुछ प्राब्लम है क्या”, सूरज ने पूछा. रोहन बंगलोरे में था और प्रिया देल्ही में, तो कुछ इश्यू होना तो लाज़िमी था. “नहीं यार….शायद वो भी, पता नहीं कुछ समझ नहीं आ रहा” रोहन अभी अपनी बियर कॅन भूल कर सिर्फ़ उपर आसमान में देख रहा था.

“तुझे याद है उसका एक्स बाय्फ्रेंड”, रोहन ने काफ़ी देर तक आसमान में ताकने के बाद कहा. “हाँ, बताया था तूने, क्यूँ वापस आ गया क्या”?, “साला उससे भी बदत्तर,” रोहन ने थोड़ा चिल्लआते हुए बोला, “उसकी याद वापस आ रही है मेडम को”, “क्या? कुछ भी बोल रहा है”, “नहीं बे, लास्ट वीक मैने उससे जानू बुलाया, तो मेडम रोने लगीं, जब पूछा तो बोला कोई और भी मुझे यह बुलाता था”, रोहन अब काफ़ी गुस्से में था, “अब साला, उसका एक्स उससे जानू बोलता था, तो अब मैं अपनी करेंट गर्लफ्रेंड को कभी जानू नहीं बोल सकता क्या? क्या चूतियापा मचा रखा है. उपर से जब मैं देल्ही में था, तब हम 3 डेट पे गये, और मुझे एक किस तक नहीं करने दिया”, रोहन अब रुकने वाला नहीं था, “कहती है, लेट्स टेक इट स्लो बेबी, चलो ले लिया बेबी ने स्लो, और फिर कल, मम्मी को तुमसे मिलना है, नेक्स्ट टाइम आओ तो ढंग क कपड़े साथ लेकर आना. 1 महीने पहले स्लो था, अब मम्मी को मिलना है, और मेरे कपड़ों में इतनी प्राब्लम थी तो रहना था अपने एक्स क साथ”. सूरज ने कभी भी रोहन को इतने गुस्से में नहीं देखा था लेकिन वो भी एक चुटकी लेने से बाज़ नहीं आया. “मतलब तूने उसे आजतक किस तक नहीं करा, ब्वाहाहहाहाहहा”, सूरज हंसते हंसते छत पर लेट ही गया, “हंस ले बेहेन्चोद, तुझसे तो कभी बंदी पटनि भी नहीं है” रोहन चाहे गुस्से में था लेकिन सूरज को हंसता देख उसके चेहरे पे भी एक हल्की सी हँसी आ ही गई थी. या शायद वो बियर का असर था.

“अच्छा सॉरी सॉरी, सीरियस्ली, पक्का सीरियस्ली, वैसे मम्मी से क्यूँ मिलना है” सूरज अब उठ कर मुंडेर के सहारे बैठ गया था. “शादी की बात और क्या”, रोहन अभी उदास सा हो गया था, “मतलब प्यार से बात करो तो पुराने बाय्फ्रेंड की याद, और शादी करने के लीयें मैं, क्या बकवास है यह”. “और तुमने तो अभी किस तक नहीं किया”, सूरज को रोहन की चुटकी लेने में मज़ा आ रहा था. “साले, तू तो बोल मत, रोज़ बाप से गाली ख़ाता है इस उम्र में, मैं कम से कम फोन सेक्स तो कर ही लेता हूँ कभी कभी”

“अबे यार, किसका नाम ले रहा है, सारा मूड खराब कर दिया”, अब आसमान में ताकने की सूरज की बारी थी. “साला, ज़िंदगी में सिर्फ़ 2 साल गाली नहीं खाया, जिन 2 सालों में 8 लाख की नौकरी थी, अब नौकरी गयी तो गाली फिर वापस आ गयी. मतलब मेरे बाप के सामने मेरी औकात सिर्फ़ मेरी नौकरी से है, नौकरी है तो मैं बहुत समझदार, नौकरी नहीं तो नालयक, फक यार, क्या झंड ज़िंदगी है”.

“सही कह रहा है यार”, रोहन ने तीसरी कॅन खोलते हुए बोला, “बस लेकिन अभी बहुत हो गया, कब तक तू अपने बाप से गाली खाएगी और में प्रिया के पीछे दुम हिला क भागुंगा. आज ख़तम करते हैं ये सब. आज तो याल्गार हो!” रोहन ने अपने हाथ खड़े करके रेयलिटी शो के उस जड्ज की तरह कहा तो सूरज भी हंस पड़ा, “मुझे अपने दोस्त के होठों पर क़िस्स्स चाहिए म्यलॉर्ड, फोन सेक्स का पप्लू नहीं” सूरज ने भी उसी जड्ज की तरह एक और डाइलॉग मारा.

“देख अब टाइम है डाइरेक्ट एक्षन का, कल तू अपने बाप को फोन कर और बोल की वो ग़लत है और तू सही, और मैं कल प्रिया को फोन करके बोलूँगा की बस अभी और नहीं, वी आर ब्रेकिंग उप, नो इफ़ नो बट ओन्ली ब्रेक-उप”, शायद रोहन को 3 कॅन बियर ही चढ़ गयी थी.

“जाने दे यार, एक किस तो कर ले कम से कम, और मैं अपने बाप के मुँह नहीं लग रहा”, सूरज ने तीसरी बियर ख़तम करते हुए कहा.

इतनी देर में रोहन का फोन बजने लगा, डिसप्ले में दिखा रहा था “प्रिया कॉलिंग”, सूरज कहने ही वाला था की अभी फोन मत उठा जितनी देर में रोहन ने फोन पिक करा.

“आई मिस यू टु, लेकिन तुम तो पार्टी में थी ना”, “ओह, कुछ नहीं मैं बस सुरज के साथ..”, “क्या….क्या…ओह..ओके, बाइ”.

“तू तो ब्रेक उप कर रहा था, अभी क्या हुआ”, सूरज ने रोहन के फोन रखते ही पूछा. “पता है क्या…10 महीने में ये पहली बार है की उसका फोन खुद मुझे रात में आया, वरना हमेशा मैं ही करता हूँ” रोहन ने अपना कॅन नीचे रखते हुए कहा, “इतनी बुरी नहीं है वो बल्कि अच्छी ही है, बहुत अच्छी “. शायद वो बियर बोल रही थी.

अगले दिन सूरज लेट उठा, जैसे ही अपना ब्लॅकबेरी देखा तो उसमें 3 मिस्ड कॉल और 1 एसएमएस था. एसएमएसस खोला तो उसमें लिखा था “शुक्ला जी क बेटे को बोल के, तुम्हारा रेज़्यूमे केपीएमजी में डलवाया है. परेशान मत होना, जल्दी कुछ हो जाएगा- पापा”. बियर तब तक उतर चुकी थी.

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Of Godwomen and Short Pink Dresses.

Last night I ended up catching 15-20 mins of India Today where the hot topic was the leaked pics of Radhey Maa wearing a short pink dress and boots. If you have ever travelled on a the Mumbai Western Express Highway you would be familiar with Radhey Maa, her large hoardings splattered across the highway showcase a young girl, with a beaming smile, too much make-up, and a red chunni wrapped around her. She looks very unlike the regular godmen we are so used to seeing and I hesitate to say, brings a certain glamor to the ‘godmen business’.

Now the debate itself was pretty bad with one sadhu and a women screaming at a poor Rahul Kanwal, who failed to make any point apart from “what to say of these baba’s” repeatedly, but the debate got me thinking about perceived images of public figures.

Now a disclaimer before I proceed, I’m just a step away from being an atheist and have no dog in this fight between a self-styled ‘godwomen’ and her critics.

My first reaction to the story being played out was – So what if she is wearing a short dress? She is perfectly entitled to do it, wear anything she wants, go out wherever she wants as long as she’s not doing anything illegal (it turns out she might have been involved in a case of dowry harassment but that wasn’t a point made on the show, and hence not the point of the post). My second reaction was that this is extremely sexist, and she’s being singled out because she is a young good looking woman in a business straddled mostly by old men. I mean, would there have been such a debate if say, an Asaram (who is currently imprisoned on charges of rape) would be pictured wearing a three-piece suit or a jeans and a tee? Probably not. Criticize these self-styled godmen for all the wealth they loot, all the superstition they propagate, and in general promoting all-round dumb assery in the society, but you can’t be picking on them for wearing what they are wearing. That’s just a cheap shot.

This is exactly the same argument we apply to movie stars and cricketers – what they do in their personal life has no relation with their professional commitments. A movie star may twerk on stage on the demands of the director, but in real life she could be a publicity-shy simple person. A cricketer can be race car driving, foul-mouthed adrenalin junkie, but as long as he’s doing his job, scoring runs and taking wickets, no one should care. But here is where the catch lies- there is a clear demarcation of an actor’s and a cricketer’s personal and professional lives, which is a luxury that not all professions offer, namely, the godman/woman business and the business of politics.

If you spend your entire day preaching to your followers on the best way to live and they look up to you for inspiration, you cannot then turn around and start living differently from what you preach. If your manifesto talks about women safety, then you cannot have dowry and domestic abuse cases registered against you. Occupational hazard, baby! Even if you do not actively preach against short dresses, the fact that you appear in front of your ‘devotees’ fully covered up (however glamorous), and privately appear in a short number is a double standard some professions will not allow.

Now allow me to contradict myself- I think the profession allows that double standard, as long as it’s not hidden. Now if the Godwomen were to appear publically wearing dresses all the time, embracing that part of her personality while still doing what she does, i.e. preach in the name of god, would there have been a backlash? If a politician were to accept domestic problems with his wife publically, then the cases would have seen that much outrage?

Possibly, but then the fingers would have turned to the outrager- can’t you accept that a normal person who like to wear good clothes and jewelry and make-up be spiritually inclined? Can’t you accept that a well-meaning person can have problems in his household? Now doing that may not get them more followers but at least they would have a defensible position.

So here’s my lesson from all of this – if you are in a profession where your public persona is indistinguishable from your private persona then either embrace it openly or make sure no one leaks your pictures!

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The Present

“Time of death, 10:39 pm, Thursday, 25th June 2015”, Dr. Sagar looked on passively, “cause of death: Multiple organ failure”, Sister Nalini continued, “Sir, sign”..”here”, Sagar signed the papers and turned his back towards the dead body of Cariappa and walked out of the ICU. This was the third death in his department today, “This is terrible, I can’t continue like this anymore” Sagar thought as he paced through the corridor with his head bowed down, making sure he avoided eye contact with everyone. “Sir”, Shit, not him again, “Sir, I just heard about Mr. Cariappa”, Rudra was Sagar’s deputy and second in command at his department and someone whose over enthusiasm Sagar hated the most.

“Yes, he passed away a few minutes ago, very unfortunate”, “That’s the third case today sir, seventh this week already”, “I know my numbers Rudra, do you have anything material to say, I have some urgent work in my office”. “Sorry sir, but I really need to talk to you”, “I got five minutes, be quick”, Sagar was getting impatient and irritated, “Sir, do you think we should order an autopsy? He was doing fine till afternoon, when I last saw him, I need to know what caused sepsis again…”Rudra”, Sagar firmly interrupted him, “he came to us with a kidney the size of a football, we tried our best to recover him, but once sepsis sets, you can’t do anything”, “Sir, this is the third sepsis related death and we..”, “so let me get this right” Sagar said firmly, “you want our already overburdened and understaffed autopsy department to conduct autopsy on a clear cut kidney failure case, and you want the family of Cariappa to receive his body mutiliated and violated, and you want to answer the board when they ask you about the reasons for autopsy”, “Sir, that’s not what I meant, I just…”, “Listen, you are very young, you will get many such days where you just sit by seeing a seemingly healthy person walk in the jaws of death and you wouldn’t be able to do a thing” She must be waiting for me, “Calm down, and ask Nalini to clean-up the ward thoroughly, have the support staff checked for any contagious diseases. Even common cold can develop into pneumonia in their already fragile bodies and cause sepsis”. “I already did that sir” Of course, you did you overzealous sonofabitch, “alright then, I will be in my office till late, goodnight” It’s already late, hope she hasn’t left, Sagar thought as he walked away from Rudra and entered the lift that will take him to his floor.

Fuck, if she’s not there now, Im gonna kill Rudra, Sagar thought as he broke into a run towards his office. It was a good thing the corridor was deserted at this time otherwise it would have been a very unusual sight for the consultant doctors to see an otherwise cool and calm Sagar to break into a mad run. As he reached his office at the end of the corridor, he pulled the curtains over the door that he had placed only a few days back and switched off the lights, “are you there?” he said looking at his empty office which was now engulfed in darkness, “Please, don’t go, I’m sorry, it was that stupid Rudra that held me up” he was now shivering, “Please, oh please be here” there was just silence in reply.

Sagar slumped in his chair in front of his desk with his head hanging behind, what have I done, what am I doing, this is crazy, I shouldn’t….but where is she…she promised me everytime I…but I shouldn’t..must not..must never..”So you were missing me, eh” he felt the touch of her hands around his neck as she whispered in his ear, her lips brushing on his earlobes and her breath falling on his cheeks. Sagar felt a sudden relief as his breathing calmed down, “I thought you left…”, “You have been a good and faithful servant. You make me happy” she cut him and came in front of him. Sagar could see her pale white face quite clearly even in the darkness. She lifted her hands and stroked his face with her long fingers, her deep blue eyes looking at him directly and her thin black lips curved in what seemed to be a smile. Sagar could not hold her gaze and looked down, she took his face in his palms raised his head so that he is looking into her eyes again. “You knew the price, and now that you have paid it, time to enjoy your reward” and as she said this the black robe covering her slipped off her body smoothly. Her pale white lean body was glistening in the darkness of the room without any source of light. She’s so beautiful and she’s mine, she’s my reward, Sagar thought as she pressed her tongue inside his mouth and slipped her hands in his trousers. Never knew death would be so beautiful, so intoxicating, so stimulating. Death. Death, Oh Death! Sagar thought as he felt his head filled with warm spirit and passed away.

Ohhh that was good, so good, Sagar was lying naked on the floor of his office breathing heavily and covered entirely in sweat. His first instinct was to look at the door, still closed, still covered, good, he got up and looked around his empty office, never see her go away. He picked up his phone which was buzzing, “Hello..”, “Sagar, what is this, at least mesaage to kar dia karo if its getting late” Chitra was angry and annoyed, “I will take another hour” he looked at his watch which was now showing 00:30, shit, ofcourse she is angry, “Kam se kam 30 missed calls kare hongey”, “yeah, I was busy in the ICU, bad day today” Sagar said putting on his trousers, “will be home in an hour”, “Ok, Im waiting” Chitra slammed the phone shut. What a bitch, shouldn’t have listened to my parents and married, Sagar thought as he slumped back on his chair. But even a call from Chitra was not enough to keep his mind away from her, death…what a wonderful mistress.

He had first seen her a month back, hovering around the ICU, disappearing behind the bed curtains, and then again appearing on some other side. Initially he thought it was just his long working hours playing tricks with his brain, till he saw her that same day in his office. “I know you can see me” she said even before he could react to her presence, “very few can, you are very lucky”, “What are you”, Sagar demanded, “I’m death…. actually, Im not..I’m just one of death’s servants, taking souls for him as a present, just like you”. “What do you mean” Sagar was taken aback by the accusations, “did you not give morphine to Sukhi”, “How do you….”, “answer”, Sagar had slumped on the sofa completely befuddled by the events and mesmerized by the pale white women standing in front of him. She moved effortlessly behind his chair to besides him and stroked his shoulder with her long white fingers and said “you did a good thing, painless death is a blessing”, “well…she was dying, she was suffering, and she was only 8”, “yes, I know” she said as she got closer to him, “you have offered me a present today, death was very happy to receive her soul”. Her hands were now cupping his face, her deep blue eyes, “how come I never saw you before”, he asked, “because you never looked for death” she replied still looking deep in his eyes, “are you here to take me”, “hahaha, take you? To the master? No. Your time is not yet come” , “what do you want then”, Sagar was still a little scared but was also aroused by her closeness to him, “I want to give you a present for what you gave me today” and she pressed her lips against his and Sagar felt his head fuzzy and warm.

He had woken up that day in the same way as he did today, naked, covered in sweat and breathing heavily. He hadn’t felt this good since ages, the pressures of working long hours in a hospital, seeing people die around him, a hypercompetitive junior and a cold heartless wife at home had taken whatever joy was left in his life.

I want to see her again, be with her every day, all the time. He saw her again in the ICU the next day, sitting near the head of a 50 year old patient, “he will not survive” she said as he was giving instructions to Rudra, “Rudra, why don’t you go and check on Cariappa, I will fill the daily chart here”, as Rudra walked away, he went near her and asked her “when can we meet again”, “we are meeting again, are we not”? She replied, once again her deep blue eyes boring into him. “Like yesterday, I mean, that was, that was…”, “really good, I know” she continued, “but death demands presents from his servants”, she got up and whispered in her ears, “so when is my next present”.

Two weeks later was Sagar’s first real kill – a patient he knew he had a realistic chance of saving, morphine overdose, no one suspects anything, easy and painless, he thought as he plunged the syringe directly to the patient’s heart. As he lay naked in his office that night after yet another encounter he had broken down for the first time in years. This is not me, Im not a killer, what am I doing this for? For yourself, he himself answered, all these patients- failed kidneys, swollen livers, they are not going to live for long even if I save them now. They are all presents to death, Im making it painless and easier for them…and for her…yes…making it easier for her….won’t let her go now whatever it takes.

Knock Knock, the sound on the door startled him, “who’s there”, “Rudra, sir” That sonofabitch. He opened the door and let him in “I didn’t knew you were staying late, saw your lights open”, “Naah, I just wanted to be alone, pretty rough day, eh”, “Yes, I myself was thinking about all these cases”, “What is there to think?” Sagar suddenly got defensive, “these people drink and smoke and come to us when their livers and kidneys are a waste”. Rudra now leaned forward on the desk and said in a hushed tone “you know Dr. Sagar, the common symptom across all these deaths in the last week have been irregular breathing, pinpoint pupils, seizures..”, “what do you mean” Sagar interrupted him, “..intestinal spasms, bluish fingernails, bleeding from the throat”, “what are you coming at, Rudra”, Sagar was now shaking. “Morphine poisoning, Dr. Sagar”, “What sort of nonsense is this? Do you think you can upstage me and impress the board with all your bullshit, Im going to have you..” Before Sagar could complete, he felt a sharp needle hit his heart, he looked up as Rudra pushed the syringe in, “that will be the end of it, Dr. Sagar”.

Sagar felt his entire body on fire as he woke up, where am I? what is this? What is happening? He struggled to get up. He felt as if his body was on fire from the inside stop. Stop. Please stop this. There was pitch darkness and he could not see anything in front of him and all of a sudden light started streaming in front of him what is this? Am I behind a veil? Sagar looked outside and saw a familiar sight, this is Rudra’s office? What? And then he saw her, leaning onto Rudra, her robe slipping out of her body as she cupped his face in her hands and said ““you have offered me a present today, death was very happy to receive his soul”.

“Im sorry, Chitra”, Dr. Goyal sat her down on the sofa and continued, “but we need to know, did you had any idea your husband was consuming any sort of narcotics? Morphine, cocaine, anything”, “No, not at all” Chitra was still sobbing. “We found stashes of morphine hidden in his office”, Dr. Goyal continued, “his consumption was very high, his heart was of a person who has been taking heavy dosages of narcotics. Last night he took an injection straight to the heart, died in under 15 minutes”. “Rudra was able to break the door open and get him out, we tried our best, but it was too late”, he added.

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The Job.

“Kaunsa flight hai sir”, the driver’s query jolted Vinay out of his sleep, “Air India, boss”, he replied. It had already been a very tiring day, and it wasn’t ending soon. He had to take a two hour flight to Delhi, report to South Block, handover the documents, give a briefing….ahhh…the briefings, Vinay hated those timeless meeting where your seniors ask the most irrelevant details while ignoring the larger issue over milky tea and soggy samosas….. ahhh those bloody oil-soaked, tasteless monstrosities…..“Sir, your bag”, his samosa revelry was interrupted by the security at the gate as they rushed to his car, “No, its fine, I will take care of it. Thank you”. Vinay was still getting used to the attention and falling over that comes with a “lal-batti” and an IAS tag.

“Sir, laayie aapka bag”, another guard rushed, “arrey yaar, no need, I only have one bag, I can carry it”, Now Vinay was getting irritated, he hated the ‘throwing around’ that his bosses indulged in, “bloody fatasses, can’t even carry their lunch boxes to their cars, stupid entitled babu-log’ , he hated that term and there was no way he was going to follow the same path. Buzzzzzzz..Buzzzzz….. “Yes, sir….the flight seems to be on time, I will reach Delhi at 10 and should reach office for a briefing by around mid-night”….”yes, I have those with me”..”Thank you, sir, bye”, as he kept the phone down and joined the queue at the Air India counter he noticed a familiar face in the queue to the right of him, “is that HER…,No, can’t be her…don’t keep staring Moron!…looks like her….maybe….let me steal another glance…ok, keep it cool..take your phone in one hand and pretend to look..shit, she looked at me looking…..fuck….look below….look on the left..LEFT idiot…” “Hey, Vinay” she recognized him,”THAT ‘S HER, I told you, yousonofabitch!”.

“Hi, ummm, Jhanavi, right”, “ahh..pretending you couldn’t recall her name to sound cool and busy, well done, stud”, “Yes, so good to see you Vinay, how are you”, “Im good, how about you? What are you doing here”, “Idiot, airport pe kya sabun bechegi”, “ahh” she paused and smiled that beautiful smile that Vinay hadn’t seen for nearly 10 years, but was permanently etched in his brain, “Im going to Delhi, where are you headed?”, “Delhi as well, which flight?” he replied within a heartbeat.

“AI-543”, “Oh, great, I’m on the same one”, even before he could finish the sentence, the queue on his right moved and Jhanavi proceeded to the counter….so 15 minutes here before we board, maybe 10 minutes from the tarmac to the airport gate, that’s 25, not enough to get her number, but enough to know if she’s single and add on Facebook… she looks single, definitely not married…is that a necklace or mangalsutra….stop craning your neck like a creep..OK. “Vinay, hey Vinay, lost?”, “what, No no, I’m here”, she turned to the lady at the counter and said “can we get seats together please?, WOAHMYGAWDGANESHA ………play it cool, don’t get excited…. “fine with you right, right Vinay? lost again?” she asked, “O yeah, sure” he replied with what he was pretty sure a very dumb face.

As Vinay gave the attendant his print out and his ID he turned to Jhanavi again, she had taken her phone and was messaging someone. This was the first time he was looking at her directly since he first spotted her in the queue – it’s ridiculous the things you notice when you are strongly attracted to someone see them after a long time – every tiny detail about them gets magnified – how her eyes were reflecting the lights of a thousand airport lamps, how her delicate fingers moved across her phone in a fast, practiced but never in a hurried manner , the silly butterfly clip on her hair, the pout she made while typing something on her phone. Ok, I need to say something before this becomes really awkward.

“Any check-in luggage, sir?”, before he could say anything the attendant broke the silence, “No, just a one hand-bag”. “Ohh, so you were in Mumbai only for a day-trip”, Jhanavi looked up from her phone and asked him. “Well no, actually I’m going to Delhi for a day-trip. I stay in Mumbai now. Have some office work, will be back in Mumbai tomorrow morning”, “Nice yaar, I to am still in Delhi, atak gai hun wahin par”, “Still staying at Shalimar Bagh?”, “Yeah, was in Mumbai for a friend’s wedding, nice city, Dalhi se to batter hi hai” she still says better with a Punjabi twang..sigh..”and what about you, kab se ho Mumbai mein?” she asked, “Hardly one year, this is my first posting..”, “posting..?”, “yeah, I got through IAS last year…”, “Nyyceee”, ohhh she still stretches the sound of nice, “so in touch with anyone from coaching”, she continued. “Naah, not really, you?”

“Ok, I will see you on the other side”, before she could respond they had already reached the security check. Vinay saw her join the ladies queue as he slowly ambled to join the much longer men’s queue, Its ridiculous, all the times I waited for her at the bus stop, stayed back at the coaching class, stood outside her college, I never saw her, and now after almost ten years, when she was barely a memory, I bump into her, ha. Vinay had known her from his IIT coaching class’s days and had what he later used to describe to his friends as his first “puppy love”. They were far from being even good friends, and Vinay never considered himself cool enough to be a part of her friends group- all flashy, lound, blingy dilliwalas, girls with flared trousers, chunky accessories, curated anglo-punjabi accent, boys with rippling muscles, t-shirts two sizes tighter and pulsar bikes. Those goddamned pulsars, even if I was to wear tighter t-shirts, my old chetak would have never stood a chance! Vinay smiled at the thought. Well, boss, you have more than 2 hours with her now, abhi agar number nai liya na…ha!

By the time he emerged on the other side of the security check Jhanavi was on phone, standing at a distance from him, she wasn’t speaking anything but clearly what she was hearing from the other side did not seem good, Either a fight with boyfriend or a scolding from home…please scolding from home please scolding from home. She saw him and gave him a weak smile, hurriedly spoke something on the phone and came towards him, “hmphh..Chalein…”, “yeah, but are you fine?” Vinay asked, “yes absolutely fine, Im..Im okay” Jhanavi stuttered, “You seem very stressed, everything fine?”, “Yeah, Vinay, Im fine, lets go”, “You sure you allright, want some water”, “I said, IM FINE, now let it go” she snapped at him.

Vinay was taken aback by the sudden coldness and her rude response. “Hey, I’m sorry Vinay, just very tensed up, right now”, “No its ok, but what happened”, “I will tell you, let’s just sit somewhere for now”, “well, our flight will be boarding soon, let’s go upto the gate”, “No, not gate, let’s sit here only”, “But..”, “NO, we will sit here, please”. Vinay was now getting irritated, “what’s wrong, Jhanavi?”. “Ohh god, Im so sorry again, but Im such a mess right now. Let’s just sit at the lounge please”. Vinay looked at his watch, there was still some time to board, this is not a flight I want to be late for, the sooner I get rid of these documents the better. He looked at Jhanavi again who by now had gone completely pale, documents and flight are going nowhere, let’s just get her to sit somewhere and calm down.

“Here..” she motioned to a series of chairs in the lounge. Vinay quietly followed her and settled next to her, “sorry, so sorry, I shouldn’t have snapped at you”, Jhanavi said looking at him, “just that things are not very good with me right now. I hope you understand”. How would I understand, I just met you 10 minutes back after a decade, “I understand”, Vinay replied. “Hey, can you get me something to drink”, “sure, what do you want, coffee, coke?”, “Just a bottle of water please”, when I asked you nicely you snapped at me!, “sure, will get it”, Vinay got up with his bag still slung over the shoulder. “Give me your bag, kabse tanga hua hai”, “No, its fine” Vinay said gingerly, “arrey baba, I won’t steal anything” she smiled, “Of course you better not steal from a government officer, I will have you arrested ma’am”, “hahaha, nahi kar paoge, defence mein ho, IPS mein nahin..”, she smiled and lugged at his shoulder taking the bag off, “Ok, you need anything else?”, “No, just water”, she held his bag close to her chest and looked at him with her big twinkling eyes. Vinay stood there looking at her for a second longer, “what? Go na, Im thirsty”, she said with some irritation now.

What a women – from smiley to frowny, to snappy, to smiley to snappy again in 10 minutes, ha, will be a fun flight, Vinay thought rubbing his right shoulder where he was holding his bag as he stood in the line to get water, ahh the damn shoulder, must be from holding the bag for so long. He turned around to look at Jhanavi again, but his view to her seat was hidden by the pillar in front of the counter. “Next”, the guy manning the counter said, “Boss, 1 bisleri..” as he gave his order the pain in his shoulder suddenly shot through, it was as if some hot liquid was moving through his veins, moving up from his shoulder to his neck, from his neck to his jaw, jaw to his chest. He stumbled forward and went down on his knees…. Did I tell her I work with the ministry of defense? No, I did not, I DID NOT….FUCK! Vinay wanted to shout but no words came from his mouth, now the pain had spread through his chest and a group of people had collected around him – NOO NOOO get out of the way you idiots… Vinay’s body was thrashing on the ground, he was trying with all his might to get a view of where Jhanavi was sitting but his legs had given way, his eyes were dilating and he could feel his heart going leaden. With one last push he dragged his body on the ground. The last thing he saw was the empty chair where Jhanavi was sitting.

“The job is done, I have the documents, see you in Delhi” Jhanavi spoke in the phone as the airhostess came close to her seat “Maam, you need to switch off your phone, we will take off in some time”, “sure, no problems”, “thank you ma’am”, “also, can you get me some water, Im thirsty” Jhanavi said to the airhostess with the bag still clutched to her chest.

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Top 10 cringe-worthy songs from the 90s

For my generation born in the mid-80, 90’s were the true 80’s of Hindi music- loud kitsch music (with Jhankaar beats!!),  made-up lyrics (tururu, tururu, tururu turu kahan se karun main pyar shuru!!), some mad dance moves, of which some still survive in the southern movies, and really bad fashion sense.  And now that I’m thinking about it, not much seems to have changed in the last 2 decades- we still have kitschy music (thankfully without Jhankaar beats), made up lyrics (Haila Haila, Hua Hua!!), and mad dance moves (without shirts).

But the 90s were a totally different league altogether, the music induced cringe as it has never been induced before. I know that many of the 80’ers would argue that nothing beats Mithun shaking his biscuit on Bappi-Da in the cringe fight, and probably yes. But what the 80’ers didn’t to deal with was satellite television and Superhit Muqabla (peace be upon him), which would transmit these blaring cringe inducing sounds every day, every week to our home, and we would sit wide (glazed?) eyed, hum them, sing them, and even shake our biscuits (let’s admit it- who hasn’t danced or wanted to dance to “meri pant bhi sexy”…okay, me neither).

So here goes my list for the 10 most cringe inducing songs from the 90’s, that are still stored up in our head, creep up every now and then, and halfway through the song in your head you go “WTF!! Where did that come from!!”.

With so many to choose from I applied a few rules : a) apart from the cringe quotient, the song must have the great ability to get stuck in your head playing itself in a loop no matter how hard you try to get rid of it, b) one song per movie, otherwise the list has a danger of being overrun by tracks from epics like Mohra, and Gopi Kishan. Now Enjoy!!

10. A aa ee, U uu OO (Raja Babu)

No, I’m not constipated. This is just the phamous alphabet song from Raja Babu. I know it has another cringer called “sarkailo khatiya”, but it failed on rule one. No matter how much Karisma Kapoor or Govinda (yes, him too) lifted their kurtas, the song never got stuck in my head like this alphabet song did. With awesome lyrics written by Sameer (who else), sung by Abhijeet, a cringer-singer in his own right, it also features

–          the backdrop dancers doing a pelvic thrust wearing a saree

–          Govinda’s style, which still inspires doodhwallas, and politicians alike. Now that’s something for national integration

–          Shakti Kapoor- enough said

9. Hai Hukku Hai Hukku (Gopi Kishan)

“Hai hukku Hai hukku Hai Hai!! Hai hukku Hai hukku Hai Hai”..FTW, enough said.

P.S: If Kumar Sanu is sent to hell, it will be because of this song.

8.  Bol Bolle Bol Tujhko Kya Chahiye (Trimurti)

I’m absolutely sure that if the Joker was to be given an item number in the Dark Knight this would be it, with him singing “Bol tujhko kya chahiye” to Harvey Dent.  Mohan Agashe seems to be channeling the spirit of the Joker in his dancing (yes, he is shaking his biscuit too!!).

The song starts with Ila Arun blaring “aiiiyayayaaa aiiyaayaaaa” like a banshee. It gets better though with Mohan Agashe entering the fray and making a complete ass of himself, along with backup dancers, dressed as African tribals, who also are his henchman in the movie. I guess his recruitment ad must have gone like “the ability to shake your booty in sync with the boss is considered an important asset”.  Although even without the Mohan Agashe show, the song would have made it to the cringe list just because of its lyrics (Anand Bakshi), which apart from the irritating “Bol Bole Bol”, include “hero hai to joker hu main” (see the Joker effect here again), and SRKs tie. Also did I mention that they are doing it for an assembled crowd that includes Tinu Anand?

Confession. I loved this song when it came out. Confession over.

Mmmmm….I still love this song. Ok now confession over.

7. Aaye ho meri zindagi (Raja Hindustani)

This is the ultimate, sweet, mishti doi of a song, and for precisely this reason it is cringy (and yes, I love it too). Composed by the 90s cringe factory Nadeem Shravan, and written by the baap of all cringe factories, Sameer, this Raja Hindustani number is one song that I’m really apologetic about (what if my really cool friends find out?). I peep over my shoulder, make sure no one is in earshot, and then turn down the volume real low. Guilty Pleasure, “udta badal behta paani, bole rut mastani”..ssshhhh koi sun na le…

6. Sawarne Lage (Raaz)

I know Im cheating a bit, the movie came out in 2002. But the music had all the 90’s ingredient, by which I mean music by Nadeem Sharavan, lyrics by Sameer, and singer line up- Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Abhijeet, hell even, Jolly Mujherjee, and Bali Brahmbhatt. Now if that aint 90’s, nothing is.

It’s a good, melodious song, and very well sung. So what’s cringy about this? You might be the biggest Nadeem fan, and you might even be born with iron balls, but would you like your girlfriend/boyfriend to see this on your playlist? #iWin

5. In the night no control (Khiladiyon ka Khiladi)

Okay, enough of the sweet stuff, time to get the big boys out, or in this case the old aunties out. So Rekha and Akshay Kumar making out in the slime, in the washroom, in the car, okay making out everywhere. With poor Akshay looking stoned (he probably was), and having no clue what to do, and Rekha climbing all over him, ready to split the poor guys guts open. Add to this the amazing lyrics that go “In the night no control, kya karun kuch to bol”, and the epic “even naughty girls need love”, and we have a cringer on our hands!!

P.S: This is Anu Malik’s first entry on the list. Yay!!!? Ok no Yay,

4. Subah se le kar Shaam tak (Mohra)

If our nos. 5 and nos. 6 ever mated they would have produced an offspring like our nos. 4, who faces an identity crisis- whether to be a sweet song which is turning dirty, or to be a nymphomaniac in love. Well, it straddles both extremes, and ends up being cringy and on our list.

Make no mistakes guys; this song has really earned its place. It had to fight a really tough battle with “Tu cheez….”, and “tip tip barsa paani” from the same movie. I must admit that I cringe (and love) both these songs equally, AKs black bandana, and sunglasses in “Tu cheez..” (in a nightclub mind you!!) are matched at each step by Raveena’s wet yellow saree (in close up from all possible angles), and AKs crooning of “DDDDDDDdooba dariya mein….”. What finally tilted the cringe-balance in favor of “Subah se….” were the epic lines – “aise kaise ho sakta hai poora, poora pyaar, kuch shadi se pehle, aur kuch shaadi ek baad”. Well, in a single stroke, Mr. Sameer (yet again) has echoed the sentiments of a zillion boyfriends in India. We have a winner ladies and gentlemen.

3. Tu Mile- Criminal

This is one song that features on the list *ONLY* because of its video. The *ONLY* song that made me cringe even in the 90’s (I was happily indulgent of the others). Now it’s a good song, very good lyrics, and beautifully sung, but try watching Nagarjuna and Manisha trying to eat each other in front of your parents when you are barely 10. Especially, when it appears every week at nos. 2 (why the heck wasn’t it nos 1 beats me) on Superhit Muqabla (peace be upon him), and they insist on showing the entire video, where for other songs they were cut after 2 minutes. WHY!WHY!WHY!

So I used to look on the right, on the left, scratch my head, my toe, my hands (it’s not funny how much you itch when you are in an embarrassing situation), Im sure my parents did the same, poor souls they couldn’t even change channels (there was no option!! DD days)

2. Jumma Chumma- Hum

This was the song that defined manliness in the 90’s. The Big B, wearing an open chested shirt, black jacket, in a bucket, calling out his girlfriend Kimi Katkar (cringe 1) called Juma (cringe 2), for a Chumma (cringe 3), on a Jumma (cringe 4), and then just stopped short of molesting her (cringe 5,6,7,8…) but it seemed epic. Well, to be honest, even if AB was brushing his teeth in slow motion on that background score (remember that one!!!) that would have been epic too. In short, Epic Cringiness.

P.S: I always wanted to smash jugs containing soap foam (inna saara) like in the song.

1. Akhha India Jaanta Hai (Jaan Tere Naam)

All you mid-80ers, haven’t you ever wished you could grow balls enough to walk into your girlfriend’s wedding (against her wishes of course), dressed in the cool white bandwala’s dress, and sing in front of her parents “First time dekha tumhein hum kho gaya, Second time mein love ho gaya, Yeh Akhaa India jaanta hai hum tumpe marta hai”.

If Jumma was the manliness of the 90s, this song was probably the cool of the 90’s, and the cringe of today. Ronit Roy will not be featured in most of the lists, but for this 1991 (or was it 92) flick he would make it to the cringe inducing songs every time.

True story: One of my colleagues actually danced to this song on his sister’s sangeet ceremony. It was his childhood dream to do some kickassery like this. Hats off buddy!!

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ICC World Cup 2011- Team preview

Back to the blog after a long time, and with my pending marriage (22nd Feb, eat your heart out Girls!!!), occupying most of my mindspace, there really isn’t much time to watch some good ol’ movies.  But like a good patriotic India, there’s always time, mind and heart for cricket.  So unless you went on  a 10 year trip to Pluto  and have returned yesterday, or were struck in Guantanamo Bay, where I’m told are no Indians, and no TV, or are just dead, you would know that India is hosting the biggest marquee sporting event in the World!!!!  What do I hear now? FIFA? Olympics? Wimbledon?  Ohh come on….as an Indian you are not supposed to know or recognize that any other sport apart from Cricket exists, and Commonwealth game were simply a dress rehearsal for the greatest ever sporting event, so period.

Now, since THE IPL will be beginning only in April, and we have a long way to go there, so let’s just pretend that this is the pre-Lalit Modi era, and the shorter version of the game refers to the 50-over format.  This makes our lives much, much easier, because before the marquee event begins we will have 45 days of warm ups called the ICC Cricket World Cup starting in February.  So to make our dull lives, and more importantly office talks, much more exciting let’s just pretend that this is the 90’s when the World Cup actually mattered, which was the time when Australia had to do much more than just turn up to win.  Now, that’s another reason to pretend that it’s the 90’s- the Aussies are down, and this is probably the first World Cup after 1996 that any other team actually stands a chance.

Seven of the eight test playing nations can actually think about lifting the trophy (in case of Bangladesh and West Indies, only think).  I’m excluding New Zealand, who are playing so bad that they would rather fancy their chances reaching South Pole without a compass than lifting the cup.  So here are my thoughts on the 7 teams and their chances:

India: In spite of the fact that the best they have done in the home WCs is the semi-final spot (’87 & ’96), recent injuries to the top 3 batsman, injury to their first choice bowler Praveen Kumar, and a fragile spearhead Zaheer Khan, India starts as firm favorites, not only mine, but almost everyone’s.  The reason of course has been their performances over the last two years.  With seniors like Ganguly, Kumble, and Dravid retiring and Sachin picking and choosing his ODIs, the young guns have stood up in the shorter format.  Virat Kohli has matured into a stable middle order batsman,  Raina might be a joke on bouncy tracks, but will be dangerous on flat Indian pitches, Yusuf Pathan and Yuvraj are playing the crucial 5th bowler role to perfection, and Zaheer Khan, fitness permitting is one of the more dangerous bowlers in world cricket at present.  With the trinity of Sachin, Sehwag, and Gambhir ensuring a decent start almost always, Kohli at number four to stem any collapse, and Yuvraj, Dhoni, Pathan and increasingly Harbhajan providing the power at the end, India will be difficult to beat.  But difficult selection choices, possible injuries, poor record in ICC tournies off late, and enormous home pressure might just bust their party.

What’s right- Good team combination.

What’s wrong- Home pressure would be enormous

X-factor- Sachin’s last World Cup.  He wants to win it badly, and the team wants to gift him a farewell worth remembering.

Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka for me is India without the hype.  They have a terrific combination at the top of the order- Tharanga, and Dilshan in the sub-continental conditions are as good as Sachin and Sehwag, a beefy middle order with Jayawardene,  and the dangerous Sangakkara,  followed by an extremely useful  Angelo Matthews.  Sling’a   Mailinga provides fire at the top, and the wily Murli will look to repeat the exploits of ’96. The problem with Sri Lanka though is their back up bowlers; Kulasekera, and Fernando, are not match winners, and their key role is to support Malinga; batsmen all over the world have decoded both Mendis, and Herath, and they should pose little problem.  Even then Sri Lanka has the kind of slow spinners in their side that can choke the opposition in friendly conditions, and my bet is that they will play a crucial role in Lanka’s journey.

What’s right: Same as India, but will lesser hype and pressure.

What’s wrong: If Murli and Malinga do not start well, they will be chasing big totals.

X-factor:  Angelo Mathews- he is one of the more highly under-rated cricketers.  A dangerous batsman, and adds variety to Lanka bowling.

Australia: For the last 12 years, the key World cup question was never who was going to win it, but rather who would play Australia in the finals.  But this is the Aussie bashing season folks, the last time they had it this bad was when their leading fast bowler, and leading spinner had a combined age of 5. But then they had Allan Border, today they have Ricky Ponting, who in spite of all his bravado is struggling to manage a team that has lost all its key players in the last 4 years.  Add to this, the team selection has been puzzling- they have gone for Tait and Lee as premier fast bowlers, and there is a big question mark over both their fitness, and economy rates.  The selection of Jason Kreza as spinner was equally puzzling,  he is averaging more than 70 runs/wicket in India. However, I won’t write off Australia completely- their top order is set, with Shane Watson in blazing form, and I have a feeling that he will finally learn to convert his 50’s into 100’s in this tournament, Ricky Ponting, and Clark are proven performers, although their recent form is a major cause of concern.  With Hussey out, their failure will put massive pressure on players like White and Voge, who will be expected to do both damage control, and provide fire power at the end.  My bet- even with the key players down, Australia has enough fire power to reach the semi’s, but they will find it difficult to make it 4 in a row.

What’s right: As the recent England ODIs prove, even with limited resources, they can fight and win.

What’s wrong:  Indifferent form of key middle order, and a fragile bowling attack.  Especially with no decent spinners in their attacks they might become cannon fodder for the batsmen.

X-factor: Ricky Ponting- The man has seen it all over his 17 years in international cricket, and though is leading this Aussie side in their darkest times but he still has enough fight in him to turn things over, and most importantly has the respect of the team.  This would be his last world cup as well as his last assignment as Aussie captain and player; he would like to make a fist of it.

England: One month back I would have said that they are the strongest contender for the cup, but the recent 6-1 spanking that Australia gave them showed who’s still the Daddy.  Don’t get me wrong, England is an excellent Test side, and I have been cheering for them in the Ashes, but they have been absolutely mediocre when it comes to the ODIs.  Add to this the subcontinent factor, and the English jelly bellies, and the trophy seems further away.  However, this present team is the best that England have fielded since 1992; their batting lineup is heavy with traditional ‘see the ball’ players like Collingwood, Trott, and even Strauss, and the success will depend heavily on how KP shapes up, especially with Eoin Morgan out with injury.  The bowling enjoyed plenty of success in the Aussie conditions, but has been smacked in the ODIs; Graeme Swann has done a great job with lesser expectations on his back, but will be interesting to see how he takes the responsibility of a strike bowler in helpful conditions.  The fast bowling arsenal, although looks great on paper, but will be found wanting in conditions that favor batsman, this will be a long tour for Broad, Anderson, and Bresnan, especially if they don’t master the slower deliveries.

What’s right: This is the strongest English team to go for a World Cup since 1992, and apart from the Aussie ODI series, have tasted some big success in the last 2 years.

What’s wrong: Their bowlers have a terrible record in India.

X-Factor: Andrew Strauss.  Strauss, along with Dhoni has the ability to get his troops do something extraordinary for him.

South Africa: Keep the pretzels away, the chokers are here!!!  The Protean’s had spent the last 4 years, trying to keep away this tag, and just when it looked like the world has forgotten the nightmares of rain in’92, Lara in ’96, Donald in ’99, Sehwag’s bowling  in ’02, Boucher, Duckworth, and poor mathematics in ’03, Mcgrath, and ‘my mum could have done better’ batting in ’07, (gosh!! It’s a long list) they lost 2 straight matches to India, which should have been a cakewalk.  South Africa is probably the only team that has been favorites to win every world cup since 1992, and the closest they have come is choking in the semis, twice.  The present team is not very different than any other South African team to play in the World Cup, in fact all the South African teams across decades have looked the same with different names at the back of the jersey- they have attacking batsman at the top of the order, flanked by 2 (not more, not less) traditionalists to hold the batting in unlikely collapse (until they are playing a big game, when they all collapse), 2 fiery front line fast bowlers (140k+), 2 fiery back up fast bowler (140+), a solid wicket keeping batsman,  astounding fielders,  and one spinner just to make them 11. So nothing different about the Proteans this time, except they are bringing in a debutant spinner as a mystery weapon, and since he is not of South African descent, they are hoping that he could at least turn the ball.  My bet- they will win all the way to Quarter finals, to be beaten by a less fancy team.  Pakistan, anyone?

What’s right- A well oiled machine of a team.  Typical Protea.

What’s wrong- In absence of a good spinner, their bowling attack is predictable.

X-Factor- Dale Steyn.  The best bowler in the world by a long way, he can turn a match in one spell.  At present, perhaps the only fast bowler, who can make the state of the pitch irrelevant. If he’s on fire, South Africa can defend any total.

Pakistan: Pakistan is really a poster child of Murphy’s Law, everything that can go wrong from drug scandals, to infightings, to match fixing, to terrorist attacks on touring teams, to spot fixing has gone wrong with Pakistan.  Now does that make any difference to their world cup chances, I bet it doesn’t.  Consistency has never been Pakistan’s forte, this is a team that thrives on mercurial performances of outstandingly talented cricketers, and they have plenty such cricketers in their bags.  So much so that last week when ICC banned 3 of their best players, a former captain said, ‘this won’t affect Pakistan cricket in any way’, and sure it won’t because soon we will see some 19 year old bowlers bowling toe crushing in-swingers at 150+, and a 20 years old bashing the living daylight of the SG’s and the kookaburra’s.  Another thing that this team thrives on is revenge, and there’s plenty to play for them in 2011- IPL 2010 humiliation, World cup matches taken away, spot fixing, senior players rebelling, a Kookaburra that looked like an apple (which according to them was a RAW conspiracy to make their skipper look like an idiot!!!).  They also seem to have assembled a team that looks very dangerous, if it plays together- Misbah, Younis Khan, Umar Akmal, will form the batting core, and if Shahid Afridi doesn’t self destruct, his shots are sure to kill a few spectators, and kiss a few airhostesses.  Bowling is where Pakistan has been traditionally very strong- Umar Gul, and the wrong-footed Sohail Tanveer (hours after i wrote this, he was out with injury) know the sub continent conditions and could be more dangerous than someone more fancy like Morne Morkel, or James Anderson. Abdul Razaak is back with a bang, and will be the key player in close matches, both with bat and ball.

What’s right- WTF!!! This is Pakistan we are talking about.

What’s wrong-  Everything that can go wrong has already gone wrong.  Just, if they don’t kill their coach again….

X-Factor- The Pakistani’s love a  fight, they will come back hard. I wouldn’t want to be their opposition in a QF or a SF game.

West Indies and Bangladesh: They will be the giant killers, and are going to spoil the party for at least one of the above 5 teams.  Both these teams are good enough to reach QFs, but since both are in the tough group B, only 1 would go through the QFs (although it would be much fun if they both pass through, means one of India, SA, and England is out).  Whichever of these minnows make it to the knock outs, I’m pretty sure that they will be itching to play Pakistan, which gives them the best chance to reach the semis. Both these teams have pretty similar combinations, with Bangladesh a little ahead both in terms of home advantage, and recent form.

What’s right- Both the teams have game breakers in their side.

What’s wrong- Inconsistency

X-Factor- If the opposition takes them lightly, they will pounce and tear them limb by limb.


QFS Group A:  Pakistan, Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand

QFS Group B: India, South Africa, England, Bangladesh

QF 1: Australia vs Bangladesh

QF 2: Sri Lanka vs England

QF 3: India vs Pakistan

QF 4: New Zealand vs South Africa

SF 1: Australia vs India

SF 2: Sri Lanka vs South Africa

Finals: India vs Sri Lanka

P.S 1:  My prediction of QF 3 victory for India is solely based on my patriotism. Given that Pakistanis will be baying for Indian blood, and this match will be played in Bangladesh,  I fear the worst.

P.S 2: I hope India beats S Africa, and avoids a QF clash with Pakistan.

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