Confessions (of a former ‘Master of the Universe’)

A strange bird sings

Perched on a skyscraper tall tree

Is it Bird-man?

I recently watched this film

But why is this character here?

Simply singing and watching

As I fall


Quite a view

From the top of a skyscraper

Modern dollar temples

Trickling towards the faithful

Followers of my Word

As I look down

I see the streets

Where I used to stroll

Old Trinity Church still stands

(Though very short compared to my $ temples)

What? Zuccotti park is again filled with Occupy protesters

Where is the Charging Bull?

I hope it charges towards those ungrateful protesters

Whose parents gave them everything

Yet they still complain

Pampered fools

Liberals, ‘hippies’ and lazy f***ers

Can’t they get a job just like everyone else?

I can see my worshippers down there

The best of the best

My managers

Straight out of Ivy League ‘schools’

My workers and interns

From all around the world

Also there are some confused tourists

Looking up

As I fall


Funny thing

Is that they don’t know I’m falling

They think I am performing some divine ritual

That life will get better and better

And as long as my ‘God-blessed’ system continues

All is well and daily life will continue as usual

Shop, eat, sex, sleep, work…

And they consider themselves ‘happy’ (sort of)

I should feel pity for these ant-like people

Rushing here for my crumbs

If they are lucky enough, they can get their hands on a piece

Oh they become so proud and happy

Selfies, instagrams and tweets

Dinners, parties and booze

Shopping sprees, suits and cars…


Little do these people know

How this crazy craving and extravaganza

Has been slowly planted into their minds

Little do they know how I spent billions and billions in the media industry

To slowly condition them to want to be like me

Not like me per se

For I like to remain ‘invisible’

But like my puppets who perform the act

Of being beautiful, rich and famous

Therefore people want to join me

To work for me

To consume for me

Sometimes when consumption is low

I hit them with slogans

‘Keep buying, keep shopping, all on sale!

All on sale, on sale, on sale!’

People go berserk, just like animals

Stampeding each other

And keep on buying and buying

(Quite entertaining for me)

And people want to have more and more

More phones, flatscreen TVs and laptops

More houses and cars

(Which actually means more loans and more profits for me)

More sensual pleasures

(At least it distracts them from noticing the system)

They want more and more

They want everyone else to share that living craze

(For it comforts people to know that others are on the same boat)

So the system continues…


It’s really not easy to maintain this system

I have to go to war for oil and very soon for water

I have to convince people that climate change is not real

That the environment is not in a critical state of change

That my system does not destroy the environment

I have to control dissent and send them to my special place

A place where their bodies belong to me and I can do anything

To bring these people to ‘normality’ and last resort wipe them out

I have to ‘educate’ people

To not think but to follow orders from above

I have to dig through history and learn from the best

Like from the British colonial machine

I have to turn people against each other

Based on any lines like religion, race, class, etc

Using lies, fear and manipulation

So that people seldom notice me

But hate and kill each other

Divide and conquer

Pretty brilliant plan

Isn’t it?

I have to carefully pick out and feed selected leaders

Fatten them up

So they work for me

Not against me

I have maintain this magical world

Of fusing myths with the so called reality:

That all men are equal (not women)

That women belong to the house

And exist to satisfy men

That there is Universal right to education

That the rich are rich because they work hard

That it is God’s wish that the rich are rich and remain rich

That the poor are lazy, violent and envious people

That we live in a free, tolerant society

And people should not complain nor dialogue to each other

That everyone should stay in their houses and live ‘happy’ lives


Dam it! It’s getting harder and harder to maintain this system

People are talking and dialoguing to each other

Trying to find alternatives

I’m hearing things like new-economy

Bottom-up approaches


Organic farming

Common resource management


Those ungrateful bastards

After all I have given to them…

Now I’m falling

But I can always rise again

For I live and suck on human-blood

I will be there waiting for the right moment to rise again

But now I’m about to hit flat on the floor

And splash into pieces

Back to Earth I return…



ps. I would like to show appreciation for my friend and guru who introduced me to the ideas of Paulo Freire, leading Brazilian thinker, philosopher, educator and writer of the book ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ and Frantz Fanon, a psychotherapist and anti-colonial thinker who exposed the connection between mental disease and oppressive colonialism. A deep and sincere thank you my cuckoo friend.

The Dancing Boy – A Script for a Children’s Dance-Drama Part I Scenes I, II, III

Dedicatory Note: 

This dance-drama script is dedicated to all children and youth who struggle to find their inner voices and their sense of place in an unjust world that cages them in slums and to lives of poverty and powerlessness.

Notes before reading the script:

This script for a children’s dance-drama was written based on life experiences travelling and working in India. It blossomed from the relationships developed with people who openly shared their lives with all its joys, sorrows and most importantly Love. It was the innate joy of children and youth, the works of Rabindranath Tagore, Hip Hop culture, the River and the places where I lived and worked that inspired me to write this script for a children’s dance-drama. Since this script was written by taking in mind the needs of young English learners, it was decided to include definitions of words that might prove to be difficult for these young learners. Definitions were simplified as much as possible so young English learners can connect to the specific meaning used in the specific context. Also, a list of definitions for context specific words is provided at the beginning or end of the post. The script will be separated into three separate posts due to the size of the script. Ideas for lesson plans, feedback and constructive criticism are welcome. I hope this script will inspire and bring joy to you.

List of context specific words (India) used throughout the script:

Betel or pan – leaves of a climbing plant commonly chewed by people in India as a mild stimulant

Bhai – brother

Chal – common expression with a meaning similar to “let’s go”

Chii – common expression to express annoyance or mental unease towards something

Dada – older brother in Bengali

Didi – older sister in Bengal

Ghat – series of steps that lead to the river

Majhi – boatman

Khichdi – a popular dish in India made of rice and lentils (dal). It is a flexible dish that can be prepared only with rice and lentils or vegetables and/or meat can be added to it

Tabla – a classical Indian musical instrument which consists of a pair of small hand drums attached together, one being slightly larger than the other and is played using pressure from the heel of the hand to vary the pitch

Toto – A three wheeled electric battery powered vehicle that can be used as an alternative to rickshaws

List of Characters:

Hero: He is a fourteen year old teenager who helps his family by working in a jute mill. Naïve and idealistic, he hasn’t yet experienced the corrupting world of modernizing India. Although he works in the mill, Hero is still a student at the local public school but he skips lots of classes due to lack of interest and due to time conflict with the  work in the jute mill. Hero is a very curious boy and loves to ask questions and learn new things. In his free time, Hero goes to his neighborhood’s non-formal educational center where he has learned many new things and developed strong skills in reading, writing and in different subjects. Hero has an innate drive to dance and wants to learn bboying or breakdancing.

Ferryman: A wise old man who appears to be a simple man doing his work joyfully. Little do people know about his mystical and divine inner nature that allows him to simply enjoy the present moment. He loves to sing folk songs while he ferries people across the river.

Muskan (Sister): Muskan is Hero’s older sister. She is eighteen years old and about to take her final class twelve examinations. She is an intelligent, free-spirited and determined young lady who enjoys learning and trying out new things. Her parents want to set up an arranged marriage for her but she wants to continue her education beyond class twelve and graduate from college.

Mother: She is a housewife, very dedicated to her family. She works very hard and runs all household related affairs from managing the money, shopping, cooking, cleaning and raising the children. She is a natural leader and has lots of inner strength therefore she has the final say in any decision related to family issues.

Father: A hardworking, down-to-earth man who has been the family breadwinner since he was very young. He is experienced with life and the everyday struggle for survival faced by the poor working classes. The factory he worked in for most of his life closed down so he lost his job. Depressed, he recently started drinking alcohol as a way to escape from reality.

Anand (Cycle rickshaw puller): Anand is fifteen years old and is one of Hero’s best friends. He is a caring and family oriented young man who works as a cycle rickshaw puller in order to help support his family. Anand used to get top marks in school but he had to give up his studies a few years ago in order to start earning money for the family. He used to have big interest Anand has experienced major physical and psychological hardships working as a cycle rickshaw puller so he became angry and disappointed at life. He is worried about what future might hold for him and his family.

Scene I By the River Ghat

(A boy named Hero sits by the ghat, a worship song is playing in the background, he is reading an old book and sometimes glancing at the river.)

(His friend Anand enters the stage driving a cycle rickshaw. He stops his rickshaw by the ghat and walks to say hi to Hero.)

(Anand) – Hi, Hero!

(Hero) – Hello, Anand.

(Anand) – How was your day?

(Hero) – Tiring. Working in the jute mill takes a lot out of me. Non-stop making jute bags and if I ever get distracted or slow down, my boss beats me up.

(Anand) – Pulling a rickshaw takes a lot out of me too. My father’s rickshaw is falling apart and I have no money to repair it. When I cycle people around, the metal chain keeps popping out so I have to stop the rickshaw and place it back into place. Customers complain a lot but I have no other choice…

(Hero) – And I thought my job was hard. Your job might be a lot harder than mine specially in a hot day like today.

(Anand) – But the worst part is not even the physical labor or the heat, the worst part is how people don’t really treat me like I am worth anything. Some people don’t even look at me like I’m a human being and others throw their payment money at me like I am a dirty beggar.

(Hero) – That’s so disrespectful!

(Anand) – Yes, sometimes I feel like throwing them out of my rickshaw. But then I think about my mother, younger brother and sister and how they need my support. You know my father passed away recently so I have to take care of my family now. I take all these insults for them.

(Hero) – I’m really sorry about your father.  You are doing the right thing by taking care of your family. God bless you.

(Anand) – Thank you. I saw you were reading a book just a few minutes ago. What book is it?

(Hero) – You mean this book? I found this old book on my way here from the jute mill. Somebody left it on the pavement. Nobody was there to claim it so I picked it up and brought it along with me so I can read it.

(Anand) – Even though I can’t read or write well, I would never drop any book on the road. You know, I used to love going to school and learn how to read. I used to be a top student in class but I had to quit school and take up a job. Sometimes I wish I was still in school so I can learn to read properly. Hero could you read a few lines from this book for me?

(Hero) – Sure Anand, let me read my favorite lines from a poem in this book.

“On the seashore of endless worlds children meet.

The infinite sky is motionless overhead and the restless water is boisterous. On the seashore of endless worlds the children meet with shouts and dances.”

(Anand) What does “boisterous” mean?

(Hero) I don’t know. Whatever words I don’t know, I just skip them.

(Anand) Wait, I see you have a touch screen cellphone. Why don’t you check in the dictionary? I have a very cheap China mobile so no internet, only calling and sms.

(Hero) Ok, let’s check it out…Here it is, boisterous – adjective, a noisy and active way filled with energy.

(Anand) A noisy and active way filled with energy. Hm, like the river right now.

(Hero) Good point, I’ll continue reading.

“On the seashore of endless worlds children meet. Tempest roams in the pathless sky, ships are wrecked in the trackless water, death is abroad and children play. On the seashore of endless worlds is the great meeting of children.”

(Anand) Can you check “trackless” for me?

(Hero) Ah I don’t need to check this one. Trackless means having no path, no track.

(Anand) This is just how I feel right now, boisterous and trackless. Inside, I’m boiling with anger and disappointment at life. I see no path for me, no tracks. There is no future in my life Hero except being stuck in this crap job as a rickshaw puller.

(Hero) I wish I could help you Anand. If you want, I can see if there are any vacant jobs with the jute mill. Maybe you can work with me for the jute mill. I know your family is suffering right now, if there need is any way help just let me know. I will see what I can do.

(Anand) Thank you bhai. (Anand sheds some tears and looks down to his kness and lifts his head up.) Who wrote these lines Hero?

(Hero) These lines are from a poem called “On the Seashore” written by Rabindranath Tagore.

(Anand) – Thank you for reading this poem to me. I don’t really understand the full meaning of it but it sounds beautiful. Look at the sky and see those dark clouds. A storm is coming.  I think it’s time for us to go home.

(Hero) – Yes, it is. I’m also late for dinner.

(Anand) – Get into the rickshaw. I can give you a ride.

(The two friends ride in the rickshaw together back to their houses.)

Scene I Glossary:

Worship: the act of showing respect and love for God or a deity

Glancing: from verb to glance, to look at someone or something very quickly

Takes a lot out of: idiom, to drain a lot of energy out of

Specially: adverb, being different than normal, particularly

Labor: noun, physical or mental work

Worth: adj., having value

Passed away: verb, someone who died

Insults: noun, bad talk that can hurt other people’s feelings  

Properly: adj., in a correct way

Boisterous: adj., a noisy and active way filled with energy 


Scene II – In the House

(Hero) – I’m back!

(Mother) – Go wash your hands and come eat. We are waiting for you!

(Father) – Quickly, I’m starving!

(Hero) – Ok, ok. What do we have for dinner?

(Mother) – Khichdi.

(Hero) – Again, mother? We have been having khichdi for three days in a row.

(Mother) – If you gave me some money, I would buy some meat and vegetables and cook more things.

(Hero) – But I just gave money to father a few days ago.

(Father) (Gives an angry stare at the boy. Makes signal for the boy to shut up.)

(Mother) – What did you do with the money?

(Father) – I used it to pay some bills due.

(Mother) – What bills? I just paid rent and the electricity bill last week.

(Father) – Personal bills. None of your business.

(Mother) – Did you go to the alcohol store?

(Father) – I said none of your business! I’m hungry, let’s eat!

(Mother) -Hero, next time you give the money to me, do you understand?

(Hero) – Yes, mother.

(Mother) – Let’s eat. (The mother starts serving the food.) We have some good news. Tomorrow your father and I are going to meet a potential husband for your sister.

(Hero) – Who is this?

(Father) – It’s one of my old friends’ brother’s son. He is a hardworking boy from a good family.

(Muskan) – Can we just eat instead of talking about my marriage?

(Mother) – You are a grown up lady now. Times are dangerous for unmarried young ladies living in our neighborhood. It is best for you to get married and start a family.

(Muskan) – What about my studies?

(Father) – You are almost finishing class twelve. It’s a big achievement. Not many girls in our neighborhood are able to accomplish this.

(Muskan) – What if I want to go to college?

(Father) – Do you want to continue studying?

(Muskan) – Yes.

(Father) – Then we will wait and see how you do in your final examinations. If your results are good, you may continue your studies. If they are not, it will be time for you to get married.

(Muskan) – Trust me. I will work very hard and I will be a class topper.

(Father) – We believe you. If you work hard, you can achieve whatever you set yourself to.

(Hero) – Wow look at the TV. That’s so cool. What kind of dance is this?

(Muskan) – It’s called breakdance or bboying or bgirling depending if it’s a boy or girl dancing. I saw some kids doing it on the other side of the river. I practice…(she stops what she was going to say.)

(Hero) – Wow! I can do this too! (The boy tries to imitate what he sees.)

(Mother) – Finish your food!

(Hero) – I want to go to the other side and practice with those breakdancer kids!

(Mother) – Are you mad? You are not a child anymore. You have to help support the family. Your father just lost his job recently! His factory just closed down.

(Hero) – Don’t worry mother! I can do both. Tomorrow I have no work so I will travel to the other side of the river and go practice with them! Where is that group’s practice spot, sister?

(Muskan) – They practice near the ghat on the other side of the river.

(Hero) – Awesome! I will go there tomorrow. I need to practice some of my moves first.

(Muskan) – I also know of an all girls crew on the other side of the river if you want to practice with them instead.

(Hero) – A girl’s crew? No, it’s ok. I’ll go find this group first.

(Muskan) – As you wish.

(Lights slowly fade with the boy trying to do some breakdance.)

Scene II Glossary:

Achievement: noun, a successful result usually due to effort and hard-work

Accomplish: verb, to succeed or to complete something

Fade: verb, to slowly disappear

Scene III – The Ferryman By the Ghat

(Ferryman) – All aboard. Let’s travel to the other shore.

(Hero) – Is this ferry going to the other side of the river?

(Ferryman) – Yes, it is. Why do you want to cross the river my friend?

(Hero) – I’m going to learn breakdance sir.

(Ferryman) – Breakdance? Is it popular again now? I first heard of this dance forty years ago. It is also called bboying or bgirling right?

(Hero) – Yes. Do you know how to breakdance sir?

(Ferryman) – Haha, no. I have seen people doing this but I haven’t tried it myself. You seem like a simple and friendly young man. Let me tell you something about the other side of the river. You know, the other side is not a welcoming place for kids like yourself.

(Hero) – What do you mean sir?

(Ferryman) – It is a city for the so called ‘modern people’. Life is fast and monotonous. People walk around in fancy shirts with no smiles in their faces and bump into each other. People cheat, people argue and people walk around like they are better than everyone else. Do you still want to go to the other side of the river?

(Hero) – I had no idea about this. Thank you for your advice. What you are saying might be true but I still want to figure it out by myself. Yesterday, I learned from my sister that there is a group of breakdancers on the other side of the river. My goal is to travel to the other side, find these dancers and practice with them. No matter what happens, I will cross this river and see the city with my own eyes!

(Ferryman) – I see you are determined to go! Wonderful it is when people set out for quests! I wish you the best of luck my friend. Go on and chase your dream! Let me teach you a song that us ferrymen always sing to enjoy ourselves.

Song 1: “Mere Sajan He Uspar” by S. D. Burman from movie Bandini (1963)

Lyrics by Shailendra and English Translation by Dr. V. S. Gopalakrishnan (Edited Version)

O re majhi, o re majhi, o mere majhi / (O boatman, o boatman, o my boatman)
Mere saajan hain us paar / (My lover is on the other side of the river)
Main man maar /(I am unwillingly)
Hoon is paar o mere maajhi / (On this side, o my boatman)
Ab ki baar / (This time)
Le chal paar /(Take me to the other side)
Le chal paar / (Take me to the other side)
Mere saajan hain us paar (My lover is on the other side of the river)
Main man maar /(I am unwillingly)
Hoon is paar o mere maajhi /(On this side, o my boatman)
Ab ki baar / (This time)
Le chal paar / (Take me to the other side)
Le chal paar / (Take me to the other side)
Mere saajan hain us paar / (My lover is on the other side of the river)

Oh man ki kitaab se tum / (Strike out my name from your mind)
Mera naam hi mita dena / (Erase my name)
Gun to na tha koi bhi / (I had no good qualities)
Avgun mere bhula dena (Forget my bad qualities)

Man ki kitaab se tum / (Strike out my name from your mind)
Mera naam hi mita dena / (Erase my name)
Gun to na tha koi bhi / (I had no good qualities)
Avgun mere bhula dena / (Forget my bad qualities)

Mujhe aaj ki vidhata / (I am the Creator of today)
Mujhe aaj ki vidhata / (I am the Creator of today)
Mar ke bhi rehta intazaar / (If I die I will also wait for you)
Mere saajan hain us paar / (My lover is on the other side)
Main man maar / (I am unwillingly)
Hoon is paar / (On this side)

O mere maajhi / (O my boatman)
Ab ki baar / (This time)
Le chal paar / (Take me to the other side)
Le chal paar / (Take me to the other side)
Mere saajan hain us paar (My lover is on the other side)

Mat khel jal jaayegi / (Don’t play you will get burned)
Kehti hai aag mere man ki / (Says the fire of my mind)
Mat khel mat khel / (Do not play, do not play)
Mat khel jal jaayegi / (Don’t play you will get burned)
Kehti hai aag mere man ki /(Says the fire of my heart)

Main bandini piya ki / (I am a prisoner of love)
Main sangini hoon saajan ki / (I am the partner of my lover)
Mera kheenchti hai aanchal / (Someone pulls my dupata (Indian scarf))
Mera kheenchti hai aanchal / (Someone pulls my dupata (Indian scarf))
Man meet teri har pukaar / (My heart is calling for you)
Mere saajan hain us paar / (My lover is on the other side)

Main man maar /(I am unwillingly)
Hoon is paar o mere maajhi /(On this side, o my boatman)
Ab ki baar / (This time)
Le chal paar / (Take me to the other side)
Le chal paar / (Take me to the other side)
Mere saajan hain us paar / (My lover is on the other side of the river)
O re maajhi, o re maajhi, o mere maajhi / (O boatman, o boatman, o my boatman)

(The ferryman finishes singing.)

(Ferryman) – We have arrived. Go on my friend. Go find the group of dancers. Once you complete your journey, I will be here to ferry you back home. I can ferry you to the other shore.

(Hero) – What a beautiful song! Thank you sir. See you soon.  (End of scene III)

Scene III Glossary:

Aboard – preposition, get onto a vehicle like a boat or ship

Popular –adjective, liked or followed by many people

Modern – adjective, related to present or recent time

Monotonous – adjective, boring or as having no variety

 To Be Continued…

The River Cuts Through All The (Bull)Shit

The river cuts through All

The shit floating in its water surface.

Human shit,

Pig shit,

Uncategorized shit,

But mostly bullshit

All discharged without treatment,


By untamed minds.


Silently and with a gentle smile,

The river takes it All.

Not complaining,

Not holding grudges,

Not breaking down.

It continues its dance of Infinite Joy.


One might ask,

“How can one take so much shit without returning some shit?”

Confused folks start hypothesizing:

A) The river is stupid (so they try to take advantage of the river).

B) The river is weak (so they try to manipulate and dam the river).

C) The river has hidden intentions (so they stay cautious and avoid the river).

Nonetheless even after much brainstorming,

They still can’t arrive at a satisfactory answer.

“What a weird river!” folks say.

Perhaps it’s because the river has realized its divine duty in life.

Its purpose being to serve All.

Hence even though the river is surrounded by all types of shit,

It will not become like it.

Only the surrounding shit disintegrates and becomes part of the deep river.


Oh! The deep river flows with such a mystical divine Beauty.

Even after being dumped with so much shit and pollution…

What a Beauty!

Artists have tried to paint

The contrasting harmony of the orange sun setting in the dark blue Ganga waters,

The heavy colored ghats1 filled with people performing pujas2.

Poets have tried to recount

The galloping water charging in like Alexander’s mighty cavalry,

The sunlight reflected on the water like an eternal waltz between Mr. Sun and Lady Ganga.

Composers have tried to capture

The undulating sound of waves caressing the ghat,

That crispy tune of fisherman boats gliding through the water.

Dancers have to tried to express

The inner flow of the river in their body movements,

The melting of their solid bodies into rhythmic flowing water.

Singers have tried to convey in their songs

The mood of a meditative boat journey down the river,

The explosive energy of pushing a fishing boat up the river,

And the overflowing Love that pilgrims and worshippers have for this River.


Devoted pilgrims have travelled to the shrines up in the Himalayas to worship the Mother Ganga,

Who descended upon the Earth through Shiva’s hair.

Dividing itself into seven streams,

Three to the east,

Three to the west,

And one following sage Bhagiratha,

Who dedicated his life to worship and austerities,

The one who was destined to liberate the souls of his ancestors,

The sixty thousand sons of King Sagara.

All of them torched to ashes by sage Kapila’s yogic fire

After wrongly accusing him of stealing King Sagara’s horse and attacking him.

After a long journey following sage Bhagiratha,

The Ganga finally flowed through their leap of ashes,

Cleansing and freeing their lost souls.


After listening to the story of Ganga’s descent to Earth,

An upper caste man claims with pride,

“Ganga-jal (water) is never dirty.”

Yet right in front of his face

A big piece of shit floats by the water.

“It’s Ok,” he says.

But then he walks to the farther and ‘cleaner’ side of the ghat and takes a ‘holy’ dip into the water.

‘Purifying himself.’


One might ask,

From what?

Is it from the so called ‘unclean’ things?

How ‘clean’ are you?

Is it from those ‘unclean’, low caste things?

Those ‘unclean’, low caste, poor, jealous, darker-skinned, violent, uneducated things?

Drop it!

These things that you ignore and try to clean out from your conscience

Are your fellow brothers and sisters

Who work as your maidservants, rickshaw drivers and garbage collectors.

Who you have talked down on and thrown money at,

Who you have denied their right to exist as respected human beings.

Using manipulative schemes and distorted economic rationality,

A hidden system of oppression has been cast upon the common people,

That confines the poor into slums,

Denies their right to education,

Limits access to clean water and sanitation,

While pumping in messages that people from these slums are

Worthless, stupid and lazy.

Sadly, young people start to believe in these messages.

Slowly they embody these negative expectations.

Soon a cycle of mutual destruction starts,

Rape, murder, robbery, drug dealing.

Everything happens,

By the riverside.


The flowing river sees it All,

And cuts through all the (bull)shit.

Just like Goddess Durga equipped with the divine Sword,

Chopping through the armies of the King Buffalo Demon Mahisha.

For nine nights this bloody battle lasted,

Until she finally meets the charging Buffalo Demon,`

And she chops off his head.

While Mahisha was in mid transformation back to his human form,

Durga slays him with Shiva’s trident,

Earning her the title of Mahishasura Mardini,

Also known as The Slayer of Buffalo Demon Mahisha.

On the tenth day,

Durga stood victorious,

Restoring the cosmic order of the Universe.

This victorious battle is now celebrated during Durga puja,

Also called Navratri – The Festival of Nine Nights.

This is one of Hindus biggest and most important festivals.

This is a time for setting up pandals3 to be immersed into the Ganga

Accompanied by music, mantras, dance and social gatherings.

Perhaps a time for releasing the wild side within.


Hopefully one day,

Following Goddess Durga’s example,

People will delve within and slay their own inner bull demons,

Tame their minds,

And open their Lotus Hearts.

Only then can they realize the bit of Truth in the saying that

The Ganga is never dirty,

Not in the physical sense,

But Spiritually.

Remember this teaching my friend,

No shit can make you dirty if your Heart is pure.


1  Series of steps that lead into the river.

2  An act of worship.

3  Large temporary structures erected during Hindu acts of worship, in this case the worship of Durga’s victory over Mahisha.



Short Story: The Old Lady In The Market

This is a fictional short story. All characters and situations are imaginary. Only the locations are inspired by real places visited when travelling around the world.

“If you marry well, you will be happy,” said an old lady to a young unmarried lady savoring a homemade glutinous rice ball filled with pork, also called “zong zi” in Chinese. The old lady made this dish with love in her small room near the ‘Old’ Chinatown in Kolkata, a historical place near Tiretta Bazaar, famous for its early morning Chinese breakfast served in food stands.

The old lady owned of these small food stands. Every day, the old lady would come to the remnants of this ‘Old’ Chinatown in Kolkata and set up her own little food stand. She would place a chair and a bamboo basket on the floor and voila! She was now an independent business owner and this was her small food shop in the small busy street where the famous Chinese breakfast was served every morning. Other local Chinese Indians would also set up food stalls serving traditional Chinese breakfast foods. There were food shops selling fish and meatball soups, dumplings, steamed buns, spring rolls, sesame balls filled with red bean paste, pickled cabbage and many other traditional Chinese foods. This old lady made her special delicacies in her house, brought them to the market, and sold them to all the people visiting her stand: local Chinese Indians living in the area, Bengalis with a taste for Chinese food, migrants and tourists from other states in India or the ‘foreigner’ tourists who had heard about this exquisite place in a travel magazine or travel show. The old lady was happy to sell her delicacies to any passerby curious and brave enough to try the ‘goodies’ inside the bamboo basket. This bamboo basket showcased plastic bags filled with bamboo leaf wrapped “zong zi”, salted duck eggs, and tofu.*

*For those who haven’t heard of these foods before: “zong zi”(glutinous rice balls filled with pork and wrapped in bamboo leaves), salted duck eggs (a very salty type of preserved eggs), tofu (curd made from soybeans).

As the young lady was eating and chatting with the old lady, a middle aged man stepped in and whispered an intruding remark to the young lady, “One time I bought some eggs and tofu from this lady. The salted eggs were rotten and the tofu was sour! Be careful with what you buy from this lady.” The young lady quickly replied, “Thanks for the information but I can figure it out by myself. If you don’t mind, we were having a nice talk before you stepped in.” The man, stung by the power of the young lady’s response, backed off and went on his way. He wasn’t going to get lucky with this girl.

The old lady had very bad hearing and sight yet she fully understood what just had happened. Slowly and with a gentle smile, she leaned her wrinkled face towards the young lady’s delicate face and said with a soft voice, “These men are the worst. Never marry these kind of men.” She paused for a second. “If you marry well, you will be happy.”

The young lady nodded in agreement. In an attempt to change the topic, the young lady asked, “Do you have any sons or daughters?” The old lady replied, “Yes, I had a son and a daughter.” She glanced down and said, “My son died very young. He was only ten years old when he died of typhoid. It happened during the onset of the Sino-Indian War in 1962. Life was terrible for the Chinese living in India…” Then she looked up, and added, “My daughter moved to Hong Kong and got married there. My daughter married well, she is happy now.”

From the darkened sky above, it started raining. The old lady reached for a dark blue umbrella near the bamboo basket. She opened it and sheltered herself from the rain. Seeing the young lady without an umbrella, the old lady kindly made a gesture for the young lady to step into her blue shelter. While the old lady sat in her chair holding the umbrella, the young lady stood next to her, semi-curled, trying to dodge the incoming rain. There was a moment of silence. For a few minutes, both the old and the young lady contemplated the gently falling monsoon rain. Looking around, everything made sense, people seeking shelter from the rain, food vendors hurrying to close their shops, people eating, chatting, laughing, all under the falling rain, all in one moment, the present moment.

Once the rain slowed down, the old lady reached for her bag and from there she took out her wallet and showed an old black and white passport sized photo of a young woman. “She is my daughter”, she said. “My daughter married well, she is happy now.”

The rain stopped. The old lady started packing up her food shop. The Chinese breakfast was over. There was no fixed time for the start and ending of Chinese breakfast but generally it started very early around 5.30am and ended around 8.30am. It flowed accordingly to the temporary transactions between the food vendors, customers, weather and other unseen factors. Or a better way to explain this would be, it just flowed. Some food vendors had already packed and left while others were staying a little longer in order to sell all their perishable foods before going home or to other jobs. Especially the middle aged men and women had to rush to other places where they held other jobs. Life was tough; only selling Chinese breakfast in the morning can’t really feed their children and parents who lived with them, all under the same roof. On the other hand, many elderly Chinese Indian food sellers could return to their lonely homes and rest because most of them didn’t do it for the money; they did for the pure joy of it, to socialize with people and to keep alive their Chinese culture and presence in Kolkata. Of course, nobody could complain about the extra income from it. The old lady was satisfied with her sales. She had managed to sell all the “zong zi” though she still had leftover salted eggs and tofu. In a slow and careful motion, she packed them up. “Will these go bad?” asked the young lady innocently. The old lady slowly turned her head up, looked into the young lady’s eyes and replied as follows:

Everything goes bad, my dear.

Eggs will root,

Tofu will turn sour.

Children die,

Hearts will turn sour.

Only Hope remains

That I will meet them again in Heaven.

My sight is blurring,

My hearing is deafening,

My Death is approaching.

Life is like the monsoon rain,

It comes quickly and disappears swiftly.

Flooding our senses

And receding into emptiness.

My advice to you my dear,

Is just Being in Love.

Not to men

But to God.

You can find Him everywhere.

Remember if you marry well, you will be happy my dear.


Saying this, the old lady bid farewell and disappeared into the busy streets of Kolkata. The young lady looked around and slowly started to realize the beauty of God in everything.