Monday, 22 October 2012


Dukh bhare din beete re bhaiya Ab Kejriwal aayo re!

Rang politics Mein Naya Laayo Re

hoy Hoy Dukh Bhare Din Beete Re Bhaiyaa, Beete Re Bhaiyaa

Dekh re paapi Kejriwal ka khulasa 440 volt ka current layo re

O dekh le paapi dekh le paapi

Chhup le Vadra DLF ki kholi mein, Khulason ki rut chhai re

O 440 volt jhatke ka yug chhayo re

Dukh bhare din beete re bhaiyaa, beete re bhaiyaa

Madhur – madhur mango-man gaaye apne bhi din aaye

O madhur geet mango-man gaye

Ho electric khulason se jeevan puran

O madhur geet mango-man gaye re

Aaj to bhaiyaa enjoy kar le ek naya khulasa har ek pal

Paagal, kal na jaane, mango man ko shayaad hosh aa jaye re

Hoy hoy dukh bhare din beete re bhaiyaa, beete re bhaiyaa!

Friday, 19 October 2012


‘THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH’ for Indians in Sydney

20 years back, in the  pre-reform days, Indians would walk into Heathrow, JFK, Sydney airport unsure of themselves, heads bent, afraid that they would hear the ubiquitous catcall ‘Paki’ from somewhere behind them. But today tides of skilled Indians are changing the social and economic landscape in many of these countries breaching borders and showcasing to the world ‘how the west can be won.’  Let me give you snapshots of some of these success stories I saw for myself in Sydney.

Let’s start the fact telling from literally the home of my dear friend Anup, working in Sydney, who hosted our entire stay in Sydney. Anup is at least ten years younger than me. He passed out from Delhi College of Engineering and then did his MBA from FMS, Delhi. He had made a name for himself as a marketing whiz kid in companies like Whirpool in India. He later joined Yum! and after a couple of years they posted him to Sydney. Anup is from a new generation - free from the baggage of the past. He and his wife Surubhi made a conscious decision to stay away from traditional Indian quarters in Sydney and opted for an all-white neighbourhood in Manly, an upmarket suburb of Sydney. When he moved in Manly, his immediate neighbour thought that he must be an ‘IT’ guy. After all aren’t all Indians supposed to be brilliant in maths and tech? Anup’s neighbour was surprised when Anup told him that he would be in charge of all marketing operations for Yum! in Australia. The point Anup was making was not lost on the Aussie. This new breed of Indians refuses to be tied down to ‘traditional roles’ that were once assigned to them. Anup is now literally teaching the Aussies how to sell pizza in their own country!

And why confine the new role of Indians just to work? Anup, every Sunday morning, goes ‘kayaking’ in the choppy waters off the Manly Beach. And one would have thought he would be following cricket in that country!

And then my wife and I met Warrier who could easily be one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Sydney. 25 years back the boy from Kerala immigrated to Australia and started work as a help in a Sydney restaurant. Today Warrier owns Majestic cruise liners that sail in and around Sydney harbour offering adult and cruising entertainment (see pictures). Warrier still retains his ties to Kochi – his hometown but he is always on the lookout for an opportunity where he can move in without fear or prejudice to set up new business.

And then there is Ron (Ranjyoti Barooah) and his wife, Seema, settled well in Sydney. Ron is my wife’s batchmate from the Tata Administrative Service (TAS). Ron was part of  senior management in Tata tea and fairly well known for his football commentaries on Star Sports.  His wife Seema was HR head for Nokia in India. And then one fine day, ten years back, they decided to put it all behind them and migrate to Australia. Ron and Seema are among the new breed on Indians who are willing to take risks with career choices because they are so confident of their abilities to strike out in new lands and unknown cultures.

I saw the same kind of spirit in Sunny. Sunny is the brother of my school batch mate Anil Kumar, a Commodore in the Indian navy. Sunny and his amiable Banker wife, Jo, are thoroughly enjoying the Aussie experience. They invited us to a pre Diwali festive gathering (celebrations there have already started!) of more than a hundred Indians in Sydney. Okay so some of the Indians there did seem to be stuck in some kind of a time warp wearing nineties-style Indian fashion clothing, but just about everyone in that laughing, drinking, belly-dancing watching, merry making gathering has made it big in Aussie land.

So how do the Indians do it? What is their magic mantra that works for them in foreign lands? The average Aussie, or for that matter the Westerner, would rather not work beyond 5.00 pm in the evening and weekends are sacred for them. But the Indian is industrious and willing to put in long hours, not afraid to take risks, and does not rest till he has brought in his entire family from India.

Someone rightly said that even in India we tend to move in certain parts of the city and have friends, relatives in say not more than ten to twelve families. Well the Indians in Sydney have transplanted such little India’s’ for themselves in Sydney without any apologies!

Tailpiece: An example of the Aussie way of working:  At 4.00 pm on a Friday Evening the RJ on the radio was reminding her listeners, every ten minutes, that “Folks, Weekend is an hour away ! “  Wow …… can we imagine that in India?

Thursday, 18 October 2012



No, I did not meet that creature during my recent Sydney vacation but the above mentioned title is the name of a hit reality show recently aired in Australia which caused quite a stir. So why should it concern you and me? Let me tell you why.

Some time back many Indians had been subjected to racial taunts and attacks in Australia, especially in the city of Melbourne. The Indian media had gone to war over these attacks as if Australia had become the new South Africa of the early sixties and seventies. A chance came my way to find out the truth in these allegations. Close friends of ours Anup and Surubhi had invited us to spend a couple of weeks with them in Sydney. I must confess that there was some bit of anxiety in my mind as my wife and I boarded the massive AB 380 Dreamliner Boeing jet bound from Singapore to Sydney. The last thing one would want would be to face racial abuse in an alien land and that also on holiday. I sank deep in the business class comfort of the new jet but my anxiety surfaced again as the plane landed and docked to its berth and my wife and I walked into Sydney airport. A friendly Indian face greeted us as we walked through the tube in the airport. And then from the airport itself and during our entire stay every third or fourth face I saw in the city was an Indian or a Chinese.

The racial mix hit me almost like a cultural shock because one had heard that till the late seventies, Australia had whites - only policy and immigration into Australia was frowned upon. Our host drove us through the city and I braced myself for the racial sledging behind the ‘How are you mate’ friendly greeting. Arnab Goswami and a host of other television channels had prepared us for that possibility. We reached our hosts upscale home in a largely white neighbourhood at Manly without an incident. The next few days rolled past as we hit the beaches, enjoyed the ozone depleted sun with skin creams, the sheer beauty of the Pacific rim, the malls and the cosmopolitan buzz of Darling harbour in Sydney. But the racial incident that was supposed to be waiting just round the corner never happened. And then it hit me. The Aussies are perhaps one of the easiest going people, a completely friendly lot and perhaps also a people who are misunderstood in many parts of the world, especially ours. That is not to say that there has been no racial tension in Australia. The racial riots that took place in Cronulla some years back dented Australia’s image. And there is some truth in the incidents of harassment that many Indians faced in Melbourne.

But then back home are we a society of seamless, communally happy people vested with moral authority to speak against societies and countries and condemn them at the slightest pretext? The truth is that countries like Australia like many in the developed world are fast becoming multi racial societies with incredible sensitivity to individual and community rights. The entire world is in the throes of incredible sociological change but we continue to lionise people who have been complicit in communal riots that killed thousands from a particular community.

The makers of the hit reality show ‘Dumb, Drunk and racist’ went into every aspect and detail of the racist incidents in Melbourne. They employed the unusual device of asking a group of three Indians to go back to the scene of the ‘crime’, to confront those who had tormented them in the past. What does this kind of a show achieve? It tells us that as a society they have nothing to fear but fear itself and that the wounds of the past are best cleansed by confronting the past and moving ahead course corrected in the present. Now can you imagine anyone in India doing a show where the victims of the Gujarat riots confront their oppressors?

Tailpiece: At a theatre show in a community college my wife and I and our hosts were the only Indians in an all white audience. During half time the lady behind the counter serving tea and coffee asked us whether we were visitors.
“Yes,” I said. “Our hosts live in Manly but we are from Bombay,” I replied.
“Oh you mean Mumbai!” smiled the old lady.

Monday, 15 October 2012


Hey Fruit! (Scientific name Prickly-Kejriwal)

Get a life, climb a tree or get lost from where you came from. Four weeks back when I left the country you were plastered on my TV screen waving arms, screeching revolution. Back from my travels you are still stuck on my screen like a squashed bug.

Get a life man… chase a girl, settle in a job or better still….. dab some after shave because you smell rank corruption and decay. We are also fruits of a garden growing the way we want, some turning to weed…. but not to worry…. because the gardener comes in every day and he is quite capable of uprooting those who have gone to weed, if not seed. But you are a mutated fruit born of frustration and ambition that had devolved further into a pesticide or pest that has taken on the self-appointed task of uprooting the weed.

We are fruits that have ripened and perished in this garden for centuries and we know, from experience, that you will remove the top soil, inject your deadly poison deep in the ground so that the earth will turn barren and, forget a fruit, not even a blade of grass would grow in the ground anymore.

We know your ambition to turn our garden into an alien Tahrir square, to import a deadly seed that will destroy the fertility of our home grown garden. We see the danger and we cry for help but, alas, the gardener has gone to sleep and left the garden unattended.

But an unknown force girdles and protects our garden and the fresh earth from decay. This same force earlier swept away the deadly ill winds of ‘total revolution’ and ‘garibi hatao’ because it sensed that behind the socialist spray, lay quiet and still the deadly serpent, looking for a new home, a new garden for his stay.

Mutated fruit born of artifice…. you will have your day, ripen beyond belief like an ill wind holding sway. But the fruit will burst, the wind die down and it would end abruptly, one day very soon, the same way it had sprung up and begun to blow in without warning or even a moment’s delay.


What did Shobhaa De, Mani Shankar, Suneet Aiyar, Prem Shankar Jha, Navtej Sarna, Rahul Bose, Deepti Naval, Bhaichand Patel, Salima Hashmi ( daughter of the celebrated poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz) and, yes, even yours truly had in common three nights in a row….. deep in the Kasauli hills? We took a bow to the master of irreverence - Khuswant Singh -  and spoke on and explored the themes of fractures and healing between communities, the emergence of a new kind of Sikh identity, the efforts to keep the hills alive, the shadow of terrorism plaguing relations between India and Pakistan and last but not the least….. all these heavy lidded themes laced with the joi-de-vivre remembrances of sex, scotch and the KS malice columns that kicked in a new kind of journalism and writing.
So was it all talk and no malice, maybe some stray gossip or the whiff of a scandal lurking around the presentation halls and rooms of the Kasauli club where most of the talking, drinking and if I may say the bitching took place? Of course not!  Shobhaa De fired the first shot when she gave us a tantalizing peek of her novel, ‘Sethji’ that would be released next month. I already had an idea what Shobhaa would speak about because at a lunch meet earlier she and I had compared notes over the publisher we both have in common, Penguin, and its editor in chief Chiki Sarkar who has taken the publishing world by storm.
“Juggi,” Shobhaa told me ‘both Chiki and I are alpha females and she is as kicked about Sethji as I am.” ‘Sethji’ is a take-off on an actual, real life fringe politician who is a sleaze ball and a sex maniac rolled in one. She gave dark hints but no confirmation about the identity of that politician, but then one has to read between the lines and if memory serves me right the name Sitaram Kesari had cropped up in her discourse!
So next month be prepared to sip a ‘Sethji’ drink at Barista  - that’s right that’s the new marketing gimmick Shobha would be using to promote her book!
Mani Shankar Aiyar was at his provocative best when he raided his favourite, right wing opposition party – you know the one I mean. But the real surprise was his absolutely elegant and charming wife who has written a scholarly work on Guru Gobind Singh. I never knew till the festival commenced that Suneet Aiyar was a Sikh lady! Absolutely bowled over by her gracious presence!
Mani was not the only one to stir a controversy when he raised the issue how Pakistan is completely misunderstood here in India. Senior diplomat Navtej Sarna seemed at odds with Suneet Aiyar over the vexatious issue of the Sikh identity. Suneet argued that the Sikh identity was changing, amorphous and certainly dynamic but Sarna appeared a hardliner when he responded that the external emblems and identity of the Sikh faith should not be tampered with.
Who says that arthouse stars don’t have the same nakhras as the regular stars? Rahul Bose looked pretty vexed that more people were not making a beeline for him for his autograph. Deepti Naval was caught looking over her shoulder that someone would recognize her from her early glory days.
As for me and my wife Sonu it was a great time because – just to pat myself on the back, my presentation was extremely well received and stirred some passion. We caught up with our dear friends Kim Lalli and Shveta – both high-flying corporate Lawyers from London, and often in the afternoons we would be having our own private parties!
But the festival would not have been the success it was if it wasn’t for the enormous effort put by Niloufer and her team and the absolute graciousness of Rahul Singh – Khuswant Singh’s son. Truly both Sonu and I are blessed to have Rahul and Niloufer as our friends! Let’s hope that the intimacy of the KS literary festival stays intact and it does not become a mela like the Jaipur festival plagued by socialites, wannabes and all those who pose for their mugshots for the camera!

Friday, 31 August 2012

AS I HEAD TO THE 51st……..

The fury of desire and ambition now a disused lighthouse signaling to no one
A derelict canopy of the mind erected in honour of times gone past
When like Alexander I had once swept past cutting, savaging, burning to the ground
Tradition, convention, the pious and all that shit
Carrying wounds of a lifetime but still going forward with bloodlust
Te seek a place for myself in the sun and be damned everyone
That was a time and there was lust and desire
Till one day I woke up in middle age having transited into careful times.
Now the memory and the ink keeps me going
There are no more wars to be won for desire unrequited
The clatter of keys on my laptop is my call to arms
I can still shear and shed blood
With the raging battles of the mind.

Thursday, 16 August 2012


The syphilisation of Joyce’s civilization
The twitterization of the present generation
The political correction of the bedroom revolution
The sterilization of free speech innovation
The terrorization of a green tree chipping incident
The morbidization of daily political soap operas on television
The ostracization of meat eating denizens
The list is long, like Schindler’s condemned for termination
With each passing generation
The gap widening between intent and execution.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Sunny Leone and Anna Hazare: both are Honest Do-Good-ers with a track record of exemplary community service !

Sunny Leone and Anna Hazare:  both are Honest Do-Good-ers with a track record of exemplary community service !
 sunny leone.jpgAnna-Hazare-fasts.jpg

 The world is a stage and JantarMantar in Delhi, the centre of the universe. At least it was for woh 10 din. A disbelieving audience watched with amazement as a die-hard anti corruption crusader morphed into a politician in less than twenty four hours. At the same time a porn star rode her way into the hearts and you-know-whereof an equally amazed audience all across the country. There is no escaping from the truth that a Porn Queen and a Veteran Agitationist are the new sundae flavours in town, one delicious while the other which has finally come out of the freezer and is in a state of meltdown.

Both are honest, Do-Gooders with a track record of exemplary community service. They cleanse the corrupted of their corruption. Both are totally uninhibited in reaching out to newer audiences, especially the young. Both blow hot and cold with their flock and both have perfected various kind of asanas – Anna Hazare upright at times but usually lying down because he is always fasting and Sunny is forever using thekaamka sutras because she is so good with them.

Both talk of the body and the mind. Anna ji is forever ready to lay down his life, and therefore his body, for the country. Similarly Sunny is  never reluctant to lay down and give up her body for the larger good of the people, a community, a town, the country and perhaps the world.Annaji of course has a greatly evolved mind which constantly keeps expanding with a world of new ideas. Annaji’s biggest idea,  ‘an idea whose time has come’,  is that we should hang each and every Minister  and then later constitute the Lokpal to find out whether they were really corrupt. Sunny of course is very familiar with the ‘come, come idea’ because she has lived with all the coming all her adult life ! As great minds think alike consider the fact that both Annaji and Sunny Leone have embraced the radical idea that if you don’t agree with them then you are liable to be whipped black and blue! Surprised! Don’t be! In Annaji’s village all those who dare to drink are tied to a tree and whipped by Annaji, black and blue! Sunny also perhaps inspired by Annaji, does very much the same routine. She ties her perpetrators at the bed stand and then beats them black, blue or even pink, in her creatively produced bondage films!

So now how to get these two great souls, together? This is important in light of the fact that the crowds at JantarMantar were quite depleted this time around as compared to last year. I have a humble suggestion. I saw ArvindKejriwal weakened from fasting lying on the main dias, next to Annaji. Next time around when the agitation starts ArvindKejriwal should be taken backstage kicking and screaming and in his place Sunny Leone should be asked to lie down next to Annaji. I promise you the India against corruption organizers would not have to worry about crowds ever again!

Saturday, 21 July 2012


What makes the Indian police in general behave very much like the much despised cartoon strip character - the joker? The infamous joker lurks in the shadows ready to spring on and terrorize innocents. And by and large does not the average cop behave in the same way? He hides next to the turn under a tree to fine you for jumping a light and then demands a bribe; he takes a hockey stick and smashes property and puts innocent women behind bars on trafficking charges; and only yesterday he dragged a young women from her car in Andheri and slapped her and locked her on a charge of indecent behavior in public!
What really is outrageous in this rash of incidents occurring with alarming frequency all over the country is not the way the cops are behaving but rather our acquiescence and silence for their criminality. And in places like Mumbai these cops are egged on by an entire constituency of people which support this outrageous behavior and criminality. Many of these people have divested in these cops there warped ideas that these ‘jokers’ are our morality keepers and they have every right to go around slapping youngsters, abusing them, subjecting them to illegal blood tests and basically terrorizing them in so many different ways. Be that as it may I promise you that when the next terrorist attack occurs in Mumbai (God forbid!) these morality gatekeepers would have disappeared or would be in hiding from public view and accountability.
There are two important issues involved in this developing rash of criminal episodes. Many of these cops come from lumpen backgrounds and harbor deep resentment towards people who have risen in life due to hard work and entrepreneurial abilities. Then there is a sizeable middle class constituency which is terrified by the changing social order and divests in these cops their faith to keep their very own children in check. When cop resentment merges with skewed middle class aspiration an aberration develops where the trustees and guardians of law become the biggest predators who scrounge around for perverted sociological gratification. Many parents do not realize that a brush with a perverted cop could scar their children for life.
The second issue involved here is the real role of the police in our society. Honestly does any sane person feel safe or comfortable interacting with any policeman? Why have things come to such a pass? Perhaps the answer lies in a famous line from the film Ardh Satya, released many years back, in which Smita Patil tells the cop Om Puri that he is a victim of his own cop environment. If you stay in the muck then you will be covered with muck one day. Cops are authorized to uphold the law and not to create their own and impose on the people.
It is a useless and pointless debate, taken up by the bleeding hearts that cop aberrant behavior results due to politician diktat and interference. My point here is that no one forces a cop to join the police force in the first place. You join the force out of free will. And you are duty bound to uphold the law and if you step out of it then liberal arguments should not come in the way for taking these cops out of the system and making them pay with prison terms for their criminality.   

Thursday, 5 July 2012


One of the most hierarchical places on planet earth surely has to be the Television Soap opera industry. I will share with you some vignettes which I personally experienced during the days, a few years back, when I was trying out my luck as an actor in the big bad world of Bollywood and Television. I had a small role in that Mother-of-all-Serials, ‘Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki’ and here is an account of what all happened to me during the shooting of that serial.

I walked in freshly scrubbed, all keyed up for my role at Film city and near the Kahani set I saw Parvati Bhabi alias Sakshi Tanwar dab some powder on her nose and look at a hand held mirror held by what you call in Bambia lingo a ‘chappu’. So there I was with my manners and missionary school education and in the fitness of things I walked up to her and held my hand and said, “Hi Sakshi. My name is Juggi Bhasin. I think I have a small scene with you in today’s shoot. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

 Sakshi Tanwar looked at me as if I had touched her in the wrong place, then she rolled her eyes and stormed in her makeup van. A production assistant lounging nearby came running to me and adroitly guided me to another make up van which I had to share with three other people.

“Juggi Sir (the Sir bit added to all gents above 40 years of age) “it is best you stay in your make up van and uh…avoid…uh interacting with the big stars…you understand what I mean…your shot will be ready in five minutes, till then rehearse your lines…”

Fine. I had just learned my first lesson in the pecking order that I was at the bottom of the food chain. No problems. I could not become a Boman Irani or an Anupam Kher in just one day. But more revelations were to follow. Three other sidey actors like me walked into the makeup van and they looked at me as if I was sitting in the van smug just after having burgled their house. The senior most in that group of three called the harassed production assistant and let loose.

“My space is getting cramped…why don’t you put up newcomers in a separate place? Shift me to another van immediately.” The production assistant looked at me helplessly and I tried to make myself invisible in the van, but that not being successful, I went out of the van, pretending that I had gone out for a smoke.  I loitered out for some time and the five minutes turned in a five hour wait.

Scenes were shot not in continuity or according to a linear narrative but according to the convenience of the big stars on the set. But the pecking order did not end there. It extended to the makeup room and finally the lunch that was laid out for the crew. The air conditioned make up room was obviously reserved for Parvati Bhabi and her ilk while the lesser mortals like me had to do with a quick dab on the face in the blazing sun outside. For lunch Parvati Bhabi disappeared in her van and outside two tables were laid out and  it was amply clear to everyone that one table was reserved for the director and his cronies on the set and the other table was reserved for the likes of you know who… 

Finally late at night my scene, in which I had a bit of interaction with Parvati Bhabi, came up for the shoot. I keyed myself up; maybe it wasn’t so bad after all. Parvati Bhabi walked in like a queen and rattled of her lines in our so called interaction without me being present in front of her!

That’s right folks! The director substituted another person, Parvati Bhabi said her piece and walked away and the director at twelve in the night called me and took my cutaways and I spoke my lines to a wall!  “Don’t worry,” said the Director. “We will join them together later.”

I walked out early morning from the set and resolved to stick to the business of writing rather hope to become the next Boman Irani!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


There is something ghoulish the way we think about and treat women in India. Rumi Nath an MLA from Assam was beaten and nearly raped by a mob of over 100 people because she dared to leave her husband and marry a Muslim. Tennis macho stars Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati have fought over Sania Mirza in full public view as if she was some piece of real estate both had to acquire at any cost. And a television channel keeps reminding us 24x7 to save the tiger, forgetting that one half of the humanity in India is increasingly becoming endangered.
What makes the Indian male so vicious and so insecure that he will go out of his way to make and implement laws that choke the desire and aspirations of self respecting women? Take for instance the law of bigamy which is now being used against Rumi Nath to harass and intimidate her. We are not sure of the details in this case but my argument is that assuming that even if Rumi left her husband and has started living with another man, out of wedlock, why should it be held against her? Is marriage all about a legal contract where usually the scales are tilted against women from the very start? What goes on behind the four walls of a house is the business between a woman and a man. Does society like a tribal panchayat have any right to sit in judgment to tell a woman who she should be sleeping with or with whom she should be emotionally attached?
I can understand the need for legislation to protect individuals from financial wrong doing. But surely a woman or for that matter a man should have the free will to live with the person he or she chooses to live with. For heaven’s sake settle the financial issues but don’t sit on judgment on the morality of a woman? There is urgent need to amend this archaic law on bigamy.
What makes this entire issue so depressing is that both the major political parties in the country are all for enforcing the status quo. The BJP has always had its share of the loony right but Rumi’s party is the Congress and not one person from her party has stood up for her. Rather, according to reports elements from within her party carried out the attack on her.
In a deeply sociological sense the average Indian male even today is Mama’s boy who is utterly incapable of handling strong women with a mind of their own. Modernity and an embrace of western, modern values by itself does not guarantee the evolution of a modern mind. It takes enormous courage and inner strength to let go and not bind half of humanity in India by laws that should have been consigned long ago in the dustbin of history.