No Fear of an Indo-Pak War

23 October 2016

Today is awesome, isn’t it guys? India won against New Zealand, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil will soon release in the theatres and – how come nobody realized this before – we need not be afraid of an Indo-Pak war after all.

How can I be so sure? Well, you ought to ask me how can I be so D E A D sure?

It’s been over a month since the Uri attack and the frenzy of opinions, accusations and cross-accusations has quietly died down. The media has had its say, the ruling party did its best to scare us and the opposition parties are most probably tired of pressurizing the government to release proof of the surgical strikes or, the two have struck a deal.

What the events of the past month has taught me is:

  • The ruling party has politicized an issue that should have been top secret.
  • The opposition, by baying for release of ‘proof’, has neither got the proof nor able to provide viable evidence that the strikes were a hoax.

I cannot depend on either of them. And frankly, I don’t give a damn about any of them.

  • Round One: India managed to isolate Pak through the SAARC summit.
  • Round Two: Russia and China tacitly supported Pakistan at BRICS.

Foreigners  will not solve our problems. So let us stick to trade deals and make more money. We will find our own solutions to our problems. No use spending money on lobbying for failure.

  • Indians are easily divided, and Facebook and Twitter are the new Kurukshetra for Social Media Tigers.

A waste of time and precious energy. No one has benefitted from these social media wars. Social media cannot save us from an invading army and they cannot stop the black sheep of the country from committing misdeeds.

  • Pakistani artistes were banned by Indians from performing in India.
  • Indian movies and TV were banned by Pakistan.

Now it doesn’t make any difference to me. Pakistani artistes have refused to speak up for India. They have not hidden with whom their loyalties lie. Certainly not with India. So no tears for them.

I have nothing to lose if Pakistan bans Indian entertainment. The world is our market and income from one territory is not going to make our $2 billion film industry poor (ditto for the producers. They will still  buy their Jaguars and their Lamborghinis).

  • The Kashmiris have been silenced, it remains to be seen whether it is temporary or long-lasting (give or take a few weeks).

Politicians from both India and Pakistan know that India will never give up Kashmir and also that Pakistan cannot blatantly invade Kashmir and get away with it. Read: Pakistan will continue its proxy war and the stalemate will continue, possibly forever.

So by and large the element of drama has been completely exhausted by India and Pakistan, their media and their peoples.

Only one entity has come out unscathed, and that is the Indian Army.

By quietly asserting that they have struck inside Pakistan and leaving the decision of whether or not to make the videos/photographs public on the government, the Indian Army has shown a dignified respect to democracy (where all politicians failed).

By refusing to accept donations from held-to-ransom film producers , the Indian Army has shown that it is not greedy for money and will not be tempted by ill-gotten funds, courtesy opportunistic politicians.

To come back to my statement, we need not fear an Indo-Pak war. Not because it will never happen – it might – or might not. But I do not fear it because I am confident that our army will protect us.

It does not matter who is ruling at the centre, what X parliamentarian is saying or whom Y politician is bullying.

Our army will perform its functions without fear or favour.

I do not fear anyone – neither the right-wingers or the left-wingers, not the left-of-centre nor the right-of-centre. I do not belong to any group or any party. I am a citizen of India and I want my country to prosper, to be safe and secure, to work towards upliftment of everyone in general.

I don’t believe our politicians, I believe in our army.

Jai Hind.


The love that I have got…

Dear Javed Miandad,

In 1996, Pakistan lost to India in the World Cup quarter finals at Bangalore.

When you were run out, I remember the dejected look on your face and it made me sad.

Yes, I am an Indian and I was definitely rooting for India in that match and in all matches against Pakistan. But though we Indians are cricket-crazy and Pakistan is our enemy-number-one, I was sad for you. In fact, your expression on getting out is etched in my memory. Why?

Because I knew that throughout your life your only goal was to defeat India in a world cup match. Whenever you came out to bat for Pakistan against India, I have seen a strange determination, a passion that you have to do your best against India. While you batted, fielded and sometimes bowled with your heart filled with hatred for India, I was lucky to see the best performances that a cricketer can ever achieve. I may not like you for your  anti-India feelings, but I loved your game. It was always outstanding.

That day in Bangalore, I saw that determination for the last time. When you got run out, it struck me that this isn’t just the end of a fantastic batsman, it’s the end of a dream. A dream that you had nurtured since India won the World Cup way back in 1983.

That day in Bangalore, I saw a dream shattered and in spite of being an Indian who should be overjoyed to see your back, I empathized with you. Why?

Because I am a fan of Javed Miandad. Because, along with Sunil Gavaskar, Mohammed Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar, I thought myself lucky to see so many excellent performances from you. I have seen your sun rise, and unfortunately though inevitable, your sun set in the world of cricket.

Throughout your cricketing career, you have always been a fine player. You have faced the world’s fastest bowlers and the wiliest spinners with an irreverence very few batsmen can do. I have always enjoyed your batting.

I do not deny that I always wanted India to defeat Pakistan. But still, when you played well against India, I clapped, as did a lot of Indians. Ditto for Shahid and all other wonderful cricketers from all countries. Because though cricket is our major religion and we are more fanatic about cricket, we Indians have always kept the game and a player’s personal life separate. We love all good cricketers – Vivian Richards, Brian Lara, Steve Waugh, Dennis Lillee, Malcolm Marshal, Allan Border, Martin Crowe, Arjuna Ranatunga, Mahela Jayewardane – you name him, we love him.

It’s not as if we don’t know the black spots in your career.

In 1981 you fought with Dennis Lillee and raised your bat to hit him. If it were not for the umpire Croft and Australian Captain Greg Chappel, you would perhaps have been suspended for assault. Agreed that Lillee was equally at fault, but your gesture certainly wasn’t gentlemanly.

In the 1983 Hyderabad test match you blamed Imran Khan for declaring when you were on 280. You wanted to complete a triple century, but didn’t you consider that winning the match was more important than personal milestones?

Your son married dreaded Indian don Dawood Ibrahim’s daughter. There was anger and exasperation among all Indians. I don’t object to the marriage because that is a personal matter, but just to remind you that Indians love you as a batsman in spite of that.

Before scolding Afridi for his honest comment (why would he have said it had he not felt the love from India?), why didn’t you remember your own feelings when Indians had objected to your visit to India in January 2005? Here is your statement: “I should be seen just as a cricketer, a sportsperson. Being related to somebody does not mean anything. What is the problem in me getting a visa (to be in India)?”.


So now why can’t you see Shahid Afridi just as a cricketer, and not only as a Pakistani?

Like me, there are thousands of Indians who are your fans. What more proof do you need other than that Shiv Sena Supremo Bal Thackeray had invited you to his house for a daavat? The same Bal Thackeray who hated Pakistan till the day of his death and the same Bal Thackery who was instrumental in stopping Indo-Pak cricket by threatening to uproot the pitch of any stadium selected to play an India-Pakistan match? And you also accepted his invitation and spent a day with him.

Why would he invite you if he didn’t appreciate you as a cricketer – as a batsman?

You may not have said so openly like Shahid Afridi, but you did enjoy the way India treated you. Certainly Shahid Afridi has more fans in India than you can ever imagine. In fact, I often thought that if Shahid Afridi had played for India, his name would have been taken in the same breath as Sachin Tendulkar.

So it came as a surprise when you reacted to Shahid’s comment by saying, “These cricketers should be ashamed of themselves for saying such a thing. Shame on you.”

I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but the truth is Indians are always more well-behaved and tolerant than Pakistanis. If you don’t believe me, count the number of Pakistani singers, actors, cricketers who visit India and whose talent is lapped up by Indians. As opposed to this, let me remind you of your own confession about the shabbby treatment you received from the Pakistani cricket team after their 1996 world cup ouster:


So, dear Javed Miandad, I don’t think you should throttle the feelings of Shahid Afridi or any other player because they appreciate their fans. In fact, its high time that you, as a cricketer, realise that fans cut across personal rivalries and love the players for their talent and skill, and are not narrow-minded to love only their own team players.

As an Indian, I am happy that Shahid Afridi appreciated and acknowledged his Indian fans. And doubly happy that while scores of our own people criticise cricket for creating a divide amongst ourselves, it took a Shahid Afridi to prove that cricket has transcended national boundaries and fosters mutual respect among players and fans.

Khuda hafiz.

Why I wrote “The Beautiful Ratio”

I never knew Mathematics and Literature can go hand in hand and paint such a beautiful picture.

Shweta Rao


“What happens when a really smart person, say, a genius, comes to the conclusion that life is not worth living?” asked my friend one day in a sleepy little café surrounded by corn fields. “Shall he kill himself? Or continue with his meaningless existence?” the soliloquy continued as if in stupor.
Many bulbs went on in my mind, I scavenged on this possibility, hungry as I was for an idea to write a story. I had a fast approaching deadline for story submission in a Creative Writing Seminar I had signed up for. I wrote for the next two days and could barely make it on time owing to many clarifications I had to seek from Math students in the university.
“The Beautiful Ratio” is about Shazia, a Math genius and social misfit. Her childhood friend Noor is a major part of her support system. How shall she reconcile with…

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Monday Musings #8

Ah – never knew there was so much of history behind #.

The Caffeinated Writer


On #Hashtags:

Let’s talk about hashtags today.

A necessary evil for writers trying to market their work, or for bloggers trying to direct traffic to their site.

I’m old enough that I remember the days when this -> # was a number sign, or a pound sign — nothing else.

View original post 670 more words

“In any art you’re allowed to steal anything if you can make it better.”

“How do you conceive your stories?”

That’s the question every writer faces at every juncture. The only answer I can think of is, a writer not only sees, but also feels, and his mind keeps toying with incidents, people, places and emotions. It is difficult to pinpoint how exactly a particular story crept into a writer’s mind.

I distinctly remember how ‘Music of Death’ came about, though. As a member of the WRIMO India group, I participated in an year-long prompt-based story writing exercise in the Wrimo group.

One of the prompts (it was given by Wrimo Sheetal Surve) was a photograph of a girl lying on the floor of a room. A gramophone lay in one corner and she held a cigarette in her hand. The ambience was definitely American but, being a desi at heart, I wanted to write something that belonged to the Indian milieu.

Just a couple of weeks before this prompt, I had seen an old classic, Pakeezah on the net. I was born in the late 60s and my childhood was a series of gully cricket, Bachchan movies, radio music and Doordarshan. Hindi movies ruled the masses and films ran for months and years, unlike the weekend-long innings of today’s movies.

The music of Pakeezah was mesmerizing and I was immediately drawn into the world of tawaifs, mujras, nawabs. Pakeezah was a tragedy and I suddenly began to see a tawaif (dancing-girl) who fell in love with a young nawab (an Indian prince). It was during the writing of this story that I realised I was a complete pantser. I didn’t plan a thing. I just created a world, let my characters step in, and let them be led by their hearts. A large part of the inspiration was the music of the film. I know this story has a niche audience because not many of the young generation have seen Pakeezah and I doubt how many will appreciate the events of that era. But if you’ve seen the movie, then I’m sure it’ll strike a chord somewhere deep inside.

Believe me, I didn’t preconceive the climax at all. It just struck me at the last moment that this is what Rukhsar apa will do to keep her tawaifs in tow.

The story exceeded the word limit and ultimately I didn’t submit it in the group. It stayed under wraps for around 6 months. I even sent it to fellow- Wrimos for their comments and they were gracious enough to give me some tips for improvement.

When ‘Vengeance’ was voted as the theme of the the WRIMO anthology, it suddenly occurred to me that my love story had an element of revenge. Luckily the selection committee liked the story and here it is now, part of the anthology.

Is it an original story? No. I took the ambience of the kothas of Lucknow, used the lyrical magic of the Pakeezah songs and the one thing that binds two souls together – love, and created this story. Some may accuse me of lifting the characters, but in any art, you are allowed to steal anything if you can make it better, so said my writing guru Ernest Hemingway.

PS – if you really want to enjoy the story, you would do well to at least listen to the songs of the movie.


Designed by Neil D’Silva

Vengeance –

A Sting in Every Tale 

A WRIMO INDIA anthology
Edited by
Sonia Rao 
Disclaimer : Every cent from this novel goes to Wrimo India to encourage all future aspiring writers. 
Designed by Sujata Patnaik
A reply to a perceived injustice can take many forms, one of which is vengeance. ‘An eye for an eye can only end up making the whole world blind,’ is what Mahatma Gandhi once said. And it seems to be coming quite true, if latest events world-wide are an indication.
Is there any hope or are we hurtling towards extinction?
The stories in this anthology explore some of these questions. But that is on the macro level. It might be easy to look at things objectively, in black and white, when it is other nations involved. Or even other people. We are able to be more forgiving of transgressions when they don’t involve us personally.
But how would one react if they found themselves in the maelstrom of situations that do fall somewhere in the grey area of life? With no definite black and white answers?
How would a jilted lover react in face of infidelity? Or how would a friend avenge the murder of her best friend? Or, is it fair to be punished for a crime that you were not brave enough to prevent?
These and many more questions connected to vengeance have been grappled with in this anthology.

Excerpt from ‘The Music of Death’
Shehnaz was brought to Rukhsar Apa‘s chamber. She stood with her eyes lowered as
Rukhsar Apa prepared a betel leaf in her own inimitable style.
“Shehnaz, you are enamoured of Aftab.”
There was a long pause.
“I don‘t blame you. He is young and handsome. If I were you I too would love him.”
Shehnaz‘s lips quivered. She hadn‘t dared to meet Rukhsar Apa‘s eyes.
“‘Love is ephemeral’, our religion says. Only love with Allah (Peace Be Upon Him) is real.
We are tawaifs, and are born to serve, not love. Your love for Aftab commands a price.”
Shehnaz listened, not knowing what exactly Rukhsar Apa was hinting at.
“Aftab may love you till he can compensate for your services. If he fails to do that, you
must let him go. Teach your heart to be heartless. In our profession, it serves no other purpose.”
Buy @
The editor of the Anthology, Sonia Rao (writer-editor-awardwinningblogger) is the NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison for All-India region. The stories which are part of the anthology are written by Wrimos homed in to Asia::India region. Most of them are also published writers of short fiction and novels.She blogs @ 
Find out more about Wrimo India @
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We Promote So That You Can Write 


What is a story?

I’m a member of a number of writing groups and there’s one question I’ve noticed newbie writers ask – what do I write about, or what makes a good story?

Well, I won’t get into the definitions of what is a story, but I’ll try and explain it as best as I can with an example.

Amit, Sumit and Rohini were college mates. Rohini married Amit and they shifted to Bangalore. 10 years later Sumit came to Bangalore and met Amit and Rohini. They had a 6-year old daughter. They reminisced their college days over drinks and dinner and then Sumit left.

Is that a story? Seems rather like an innocuous incident. Now if you were to expand these 5 sentences, you can describe that interesting incident. But something is missing, isn’t it?

Now look at this:

Amit, Sumit and Rohini were college mates. Rohini married Amit and they shifted to Bangalore. 10 years after their graduation, Sumit landed in bangalore and met Amit and Rohini and their 10-year old daughter, Gia. While reminiscing their college days over drinks and dinner, Amit and Sumit were laughing and giving hi-5s but Rohini was subdued. She replied to Sumit’s comments with short ‘yeps’ and ‘nos’. Sumit left quite late. The next day, after Amit left for work, the door bell rang. Rohini opened the door and saw Sumit grinning at her. “Amit is not at home,” she said. Sumit answered, “I know. I came to meet you. Rohini, have you no feelings for me?”

Now that is interesting. We have a secret here, don’t we? Sumit comes to meet Rohini in Amit’s absence. This part, if expanded well, could make an interesting short story.

But what if you want to lengthen the story? Simple, add a little intrigue. Could be like:

The next day, after Amit left for work, the door bell rang. Rohini opened the door and saw Sumit grinning at her. “Amit is not at home,” she said. Sumit answered, “I know. I came to meet my daughter.”

Now that one’s a shocker. We know that Amit and Rohini have a 10-year old daughter and here we have Sumit claiming that daughter as his? What’s the problem, mate? You sure would like to know, wouldn’t you?

This would still be a small story.

But let’s look beyond. What kind of a character do you want to give Sumit? Don’t look at me, it’s in your hands.

Chances are he’ll probably hug and kiss his (Amit & Rohini’s) daughter . Then he might walk away into the sunset, leaving all three to lead their peaceful lives.

But he can be different – he can claim that Gia is his daughter and can take her away. This gives you, the writer, wider scope to play with the characters. How would Amit react? Would Rohini allow Sumit to take away his daughter? Won’t she assert her right over Gia? Major question – If Sumit is the father, did Amit know it or didn’t he? If he knew it, why was he quiet all these years? And after taking care of this girl for 10 years, would Amit agree easily to Sumit taking her away? Would there be a fistfight or a court battle? You decide.

Or You can try a different angle altogether (continuing from where we left off):

“She’s not your daughter,” Rohini said, “She’s my best friend Shilpa’s daughter. You made her pregnant and then abandoned her. Go back and don’t come back.”

Sumit made a sorry face. “I know, Rohini, I’ve acted like a bastard. But now I’ve realised my mistake, and I’ve come to accept my responsibility. I’m willing to be Gia’s father, and give her a home and take care of her.”

Sumit took a crying Gia and left. Amit and Rohini were left alone in the house. Since their life was centered around Gia, they suddenly found their life empty without her. Just around a month had passed and they were coming to terms with what had happened when the doorbell rang again. Rohini opened the door and involuntarily her hand covered her nose to stop the obnoxious odor of alcohol. She saw an unkempt, unshaven guy who was badly in need of a walking-stick to make him stand straight.

“Wheresh that girl? Shilpa’sssshhh baby?”

“Who are you?” Rohini asked.

“I’m Girishhhh…. Shhhilpazz brotherrrr,”

“She’s gone. Sumit took her away.”

Rohini closed her eyes as the guy screamed. “Susumiiit!”

“Suuummmiiiiiiiit! Thhhat – thhat bastard! Sonof a bbiitch.’

Rohini was about to close the door when Girish kicked it. The force pushed Rohini backwards, she lost her footing and fell.

“Why didd y you llet her go?” His red eyes were now angry.

“Didn’t you knowww – my my fatherr – he he left his entirrre essstate to Shilpazz daughter? Now that rrrrasccalll Susumeet will get it all.”

Rohini couldn’t believe her ears. So that’s why Sumit had returned after all these years!

Well, you can see for yourself how a simple incident can be converted into an interesting story that people would want to read.

Now, how about going back and having a look at that story you abandoned writing a few moons ago? Perhaps you can twist it around, add a character, delete another and re-write it?