Genre-lised

A place for everything and everything in its place
Everywhere I go I am marginalized, Compartmentalized, Categorized
I am judged, I am surveyed, I am estimated, I am measured.
I am put into a neat little corner of your mind, with all the others who look like me, dress like me.

It does not matter that I am no one thing.
I look different each year.
Dress differently when it suits me.
Talk differently when I feel like it.
Walk differently when I am happy, or I am sad.
My place has already been allotted.
My tag fixed. My category decided.

Why must we see people like life is some giant Record Store?
Every one of us existing in our little category, our own genre, our own classification.
Each artists and album arranged alphabetically in the shelf where they belong.
So tell me, am I Hard Rock? Am I Punk? Am I World Music?

I know what you’re all thinking to yourselves… The burgeoning question that is eating away at your mind, your very soul…

Why did he say Record Store? Who listens to records anymore?

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The Face in the Mirror

She walked back from school swinging her sling bag as she skipped to the beat in her head. As she passed the old mill near the school her classmates pulled alongside to ask if she wanted to join a bunch of them down at the beach for the day. “No thanks,” she said as she continued walking, “think I’ll head home early today.” “Suit yourself!” the driver of the blue pick up yelled out as the car pulled off, its wide breadth tires kicking up a large cloud of dust.

The walk to the little cottage where she lived wasn’t very far from the local high school, especially if you took the shortcut through the forest. Which she loved to do. She was soon bouncing through the quaint white fence of the quaint white house up to the quaint white door. She went into the kitchen, kissed her mother on the cheek and told her she’d come right down to help with supper once she’d changed and put her school clothes away for the wash. “Sigh. What a nice girl she is,” her mother thought to herself, the moisture on her cheek still warm from the loving kiss it has received. Her father was in his study, reviewing some papers which she cared not ask about, but would have gladly listened and pretended to be interested in had he spotted her on her way up to her room and asked her in.

There was a spiral staircase that led to her little attic room. She used to call them the ghost stairs. Not because they were scary, or even creaky for that matter, but because they would wind upwards for a while and then disappear suddenly into the ceiling. “Vanish like ghosts”, she used to say to her mother.

She threw her bag on her impeccably made bed, turned on the hot water in the shower and picked out some comfy sweats. As she took off her hairband at her vanity she opened one of the secret drawers and pulled out a collapsible mirror. As she opened it up she smiled, gazing menacingly at the tiny reflection of herself beating against the mirror from the other side.

The Amber Moon

The amber moon on hallowed skies
Shines sweetly as a star
And lights the way for passers by
Traveling near and far

To lover and loner alike
She lights the path to the morrow
Each knowing the dawn will bring another day
Of joy and of sorrow

The brilliant glow upon her face
Like a new born mother
Uniting black and white and brown
Under her sheen as brothers

She says not hello nor goodbye
Makes no promises, tells no lies
She watches quietly as trees do
Her reflection in the dreamer’s eye

I watch her quietly till she fades
Not once saying a word
I watch the amber moon above
As she watches the world

The Plot

“See,” he said as he pulled out a cigarette from the crumpled pack of Golden Highs and lit it. “You don’t want this to be just another suspense novel” he said, pausing for a puff, “you want people to see this guy and not hate him right off, cause then you’ve lost em.” “So how do we do that?” his friend asked, typing away furiously on his tiny notebook sized laptop. “Well,” he pondered as he rubbed his goatee, “the first one has to be an accident. Some chick in some European country while he was on vacation. He got drunk in some tavern in… Scotland. Met some dumb busty blonde who thought his accent was amusing. They sneak off to some hut in the middle of the night. Fool around. She likes it kinky. Asks him to choke her. He plays along, hesitantly at first, but soon he finds he can’t stop himself. He feels her blood pumping through his fingers, squeezing the last of her life from her body.” He paused, taking another drag. “Afterwards he feels nothing,” he continued “none of the shame or guilt he’s supposed to. In fact, the more he thinks about it, the better he feels. More in control.”

“Okay,” the typer said, rubbing his hands together and blowing on them to prevent his fingertips from numbing up, “what happens next?” “The next two are easy,” his friend replied “Two bit hookers in some back alley in the Red Light district.” “How does he do it? He has to evolve over the intermediary kills. Maybe piano wire? Or a rope?” the typer asked, reaching for the cigarette to take a drag. “No No!” the narrator protested, “I thought of that already. Too filmy. He has to use his bare hands. That way he feels every moment.” He paused suddenly, thinking about where the story went next. He pulled out a fresh cigarette, handing the stub to his mate. “The ending is gonna be important,” he said after a few minutes of puffing his fag silently. “He can’t just get caught or die in a shootout. He needs closure.” “So how do we give it to him?” his friend asked coughing from the disgusting taste of the last drag. “With a final kill. The important one.” “Who is she?” “The one that broke his heart. The one who started the entire cycle of pain and anger.”

He took a deep drag, sighing loudly as he exhaled. “She has long brown hair. Plump breasts. An ass that used to drive him crazy. He’ll take her out to dinner first. Pretend he wants to meet up and talk about old times. To catch up. This one’ll need a lot of detail, and don’t forget the eyes. The eyes are important.” “So where does she die?” his friend asked, trying to type fast enough to keep up with the narration, “What is she wearing? Do they do it?” “Don’t know yet” the narrator said as he stood up, crushing the cigarette butt under his all-stars, “I’m picking her up tonight.”

For Her

At a time of crisis
At a time like this
You feel like crying
You wish you wouldn’t
You feel like dying
You know you shouldn’t

I’m standing here
My lips are shaking
My legs are putty
Like the earth is quaking

I look to my mother
Her tears falling upon the dirt
I look to my father
Who stands strong, not saying a word

I hope you are happy now
Free of sickness and pain
An I hope one day
We will all be together as a family again

At a time of crisis
At a time like this
When death’s sweet lips
Have given you their final kiss

About 6 and a half year back I lost my elder sister. She was sick much of her life growing up and when I was in the 10th Grade she passed away, after a long time of fighting kidney failure. I regret every moment that I think of her that I never got to know her better. She was a rare and kind person, even if as a younger brother I couldn’t see that then. This poem, an amalgamation of the words I wrote then, and a reflection of what I remember now, are for her. My sister. Ayesha.

– Zafar Khurshid (C)

Wonder-bread!

They often say that sliced bread is the greatest thing that has ever happened to man. Well, usually they say it in a sarcastic manner like, “Oh he thinks he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread!” but if one were to really think about, sliced bread is one of the life’s unsung wonders. An invention, or idea or whatever you want to call it, that has revolutionized an entire food industry. I mean think about it, after the invention of sliced bread, non-sliced bread became almost entirely extinct. Can any other discovery in the gastronomic universe boast such a feat. No matter how daring or bold or incredible any new cooking method or style has been, it has never reached the hight of making it’s predecessors redundant. At best only out of fashion.

Yes sir when it comes right down to it, does any other food stuff show the potential, the adaptability, the tenacity or the innumerable value for money that bread does? I say nay! Within it’s simplicity and unassuming nature lie a million possibilities. You can put anything between two slices of bread and it automatically becomes a completely new food. I mean just imagine, all you are actually doing is taking two raw basic ingredients and turning them into an edible complete item of food, with the most minimal preparation. Often enough, you need no seasoning, no boiling, no flavoring, no frying, no cutting, no peeling. No muss, no fuss, no wait. Obviously one can do all those things. Make it a little more adventurous or complex. But all that is above and beyond. In its most basic and rudimentary form, the sandwich is just two slices of bread and something in the middle.

And let’s face it, nothing hits the spot as well or as fast in the middle of the night when you’re jonsing for some food because you have a particularly bad case of the munchies like two slices of white flour bread with soft milky cheese spread dolloped in between. Mmmmm…

– Zafar Khurshid (C)

A Waiting Game

Life’s a waiting game
Waiting for the bus
Waiting for the phone to ring
Waiting for the perfect someone

Some grow patient
Some grow tired
Some grow old
Some grow cynical

Some are lucky
Some not so much
Some get angry
Some give up

It makes you forget
Forget how to laugh
Forget how to love
Forget how to be tough

The best you can do is learn
Learn to cope
Learn to hope
Learn not to judge or hate

Life’s a waiting game
Sometimes all you can do is wait…

 

Lane Driving? Insane Driving!

I was driving back from college the other day after giving the fourth in a series of exams that just feel like they’re never going to end (okay I’m exaggerating just a tad, the last one is day after) when I got stuck, for what felt like the hundredth time, behind some idiot who just couldn’t seem to pick a lane. His car was half in the right lane, through which I was attempting to proceed, and partly in the middle lane. Now, even though I have my moments of road (well I wouldn’t go as far as to call it Rage, let’s use the word Ticked-Off-ness) I decided to be patient and give the man a light honk to let him know that I would like to get by. There was, ofcourse, no response. I mean this idiot is merrily moving in between the two lanes, denying me the chance to go by on his right, it being insanely rash and dangerous to try and swerve around his left due to other cars. What the heck goes through there minds, people like these? No indicator, no real indication whatsoever that he was actually switching lanes, just a general air of oh I think I’ll drive as bloody selfishly as possible.

I thought to myself, we really should have driving schools where annoying drivers like these should be forced to go if its evident that such complete morons. But then it occurred to me, that won’t really solve anything will it? The guy knows how to drive, he just doesn’t have the basic road conscience, which is missing in most drivers in Delhi actually. I mean please! Have some respect and consideration for other people on the road. Okay I understand if you don’t want to drive in a hurry or necessarily go fast, but don’t refuse to move and hold up people behind you. I f you’re changing lanes, use the damn turn signal. And for the love of god, pick a lane!

What these people really need isn’t driving instruction, they need to made to go to mandatory driving simulations where someone drives in front of them putting them through all the bullshit they subject other drivers to. Maybe that will teach them a lesson.

– Zafar Khurshid (C)

Whiskey and Vodka and Beer, Oh My!

Now that I have FINALLY got over the fatigue that ensued and flushed the intoxicant from my system (well some of it at least) I sit down to totally marvel in what was a most amazing end to a pretty awesome week. So it began with the rising of the Id moon, signalling the end of ramzaan. I revelled in the satisfaction of knowing I had faithfully denied myself the artificial joy created by intoxicants for the entire month, flushing my body and rejuvenating my spirit. Needless to say I celebrated by at once joining my brothers in a round of Leffes. Id day was quite quaint. I ran around the house all morning welcoming guests and ushering gifts and flowers in to the back room (the flowers btw were probably enough to open a whole florist store). Come afternoon my wonderful friends dropped by to join me in Biryani and some fun conversation (thanks for coming guys). All in all, a good day, Idi levels little lower than past years, but I still made 2500. Not too shabby.

Come midnight, the celebrations began anew as the three khurshid brothers banded together with a few friends over stiff glasses of Glen Drummond Single Malt. There was toasting and boasting and a few good laughs had. A nice start to a brilliant day. Come morning I made my way to college, ever mindful of the fact that a bout of severe illness in the starting term had dragged my attendance down. Was met by friends and well-wishers, and though the day was hot and the sweat flowed freely, I didn’t mind, it was my birthday. Pattie took me for a really good lunch at United Coffee House in C.P, all the time dumbfounded by the fact that I had never heard of this place before. We had a delicious mutton dish with naan (and a questionable paneer starter). There was also a cake, but apparently I wrecked the elaborate surprise by showing up early. So me! After that we went back home and spent the most glorious day together- watching TV, talking and stuff.

For dinner that night I took some of my closest mates to Ano Tai in Vasant Continental in Vasant Lok. The place was nice, the dinner delicious, wine and beer a plenty and the company… divine. It was truly a wonderful experience toasting my 22nd with the closest and dearest next to me. After party followed when Aga, Misra and I headed back to my place for more conversation, picture-taking and some malt on the rocks.

Now finally I come to the piece de resistance (French students feel free to correct me if that is mis-spelt). The party. For those who know me really well (and one who learnt the hard way) I am quite paranoid and anal, especially about throwing parties or arranging plans. I spent much of the day fretting and pacing about the DJ not getting there, the booze not arriving in time, the kebabs being late, the speakers sounding iffy, etc. etc. And then there were the cancellations, each bringing with it the fear that a dozen more wouldn’t make it. But all in all, the company was great. Most of my friends showed, with the exception of the one or two who were dearly missed (Sik and Vash, sucks you didn’t make it guys). We had beer on tap, a new feature this time, though that didn’t last too long. Have way through the party I was told we need to throw some pints in to the ice buckets because the TWO KEGS of Hoegarden and Stella Artois were finished. Apparently I underestimated my brother’s AISEC-er buddies and their capacity to drink (just drink mind you, not hold it in necessarily) Still, this being a Khurshid party, plan B was already ready, Budweisers were chilling and more reinforcements of Hoegarden and Stella were sent the same way. Lets just end it with, there was much booze had, much dancing done and pictures taken; many new friends celebrated, and old ones rejoiced; great gifts gotten (Yogesh and Anuja – You guys Rock!) and an all around great time had.

Advice for future me… this one’s gonna be hard to top…

– Zafar Khurshid (C)

Glad To Be Part of the Crowd

Three years ago my friend dragged me to a concert at the India Habitat Center to volunteer for this “youth organisation” called the YP. Well, I thought the organisation was actually Silhouette, a branch of the YP, and the difference has since been pointed out to me more times than I can count. He told me there was a band called Thermal and A Quarter playing at the Amphitheatre, so called because they comprised four guys, three of whom were “mallu” and the fourth a quarter mal. Now I know you’re expecting me to rave about how it was a life changing experience, how I fell in love with Original Indian bands and the YP and decided to give my life to working for the branch I currently head. Well you would be sorely mistaken. In came final year exams and pressure from my parents, and out went anything that kept me away from the books. But where there is a will there is a way. I kept myself involved with the YP as best as I could, being called in once in a while to help with projects or lend my acting skills (humble though they may be) to a short film or two.

After I graduated from college I suddenly realized that I had a lot of time on my hands and no way to use it productively. I had joined the Law Faculty of Delhi University, where extra-curricular activities are pretty much non-existent. I had all this passion and energy and nothing to funnel it into. Around the same time The YP Foundation (or, if you would rather, TYPF), no longer the Youth Parliament I remembered, had its 6th Anniversary Celebration. I tagged along with some friends to the India Habitat Center, a place I have come to see as a third home now (the second being the old Defence Colony Office). As my friends went through the elaborate exhibition, looking for their grinning faces amongst the sea of photographs, I found myself most envious. I wanted that. I wanted to work with other young people who thought like I did, liked the same music, and had a passion for the arts. I wanted to see my mug in an exhibition, take pride in a poster I helped design or the performance of a band I helped pick. So as soon as Raghu Dixit and Them Clones finished a brilliant set each, I set out to inquire when the next YP Induction was. I wanted to sign up!

It has been almost a year now since that day. I have experiences that have been enriching and draining; wonderful and also completely ball-busting. I have had the privilege to meet many passionate and exciting people, all driven by the common goal of working for what drives them, though the actual medium may differ. This past year has also been quite an eye-opener. Up till the TAAQ concert, I had heard of bands like Zero, Half Step Down and PDV but had never gone to any of their gigs. The closest I had come was downloading Bandeh off the net. Not because I couldn’t, mind you. Being in college, getting into bars or pubs wasn’t that hard (the fact that at this point I could grow a decent goatee definitely helped). I didn’t go because I didn’t think they were worth it. Like many of the people whose minds I am now working to change, I couldn’t be bothered to give artists like them a chance. I fantasized about bands like Metallica and Red Hot Chilli Peppers coming to India, and paying 1500-3000 Rupees for a chance to see them, rather than take a 15 minute drive to a pub and see these guys perform. In my mind, the bigger the venue, the bigger the band. Surely a band that performed in a small dark smoky bar couldn’t be all that great, right?

I have since been mesmerized as acts like Indian Ocean, Swarathma, Raghu Dixit, East India Company and Five8 have taken the stage. The last of these in fact is a band featuring two of my colleagues and friends from YP. It is an amazing realization that talent like this has existed right in our backyards and yet so many of us have not given it a second thought, for whatever reason. Things are changing, slowly maybe, but they are. Every week I hear a new song by an Original Indian artist on the radio; I catch videos by Them Clones or Indian Ocean on VH1; I see an album by a Swarathma or Raghu Dixit in Music Planet. I wouldn’t think to presume that I have any great role to play in this evolution, but I am happy that I am trying to do my part. As a young “Music Enthusiast” I am proud that the people from my city, and from my country, are taking a chance to pursue their passion. And I am proud to support them in whatever way I can. Even if it’s just by standing in the crowd with a lighter shouting my lungs out.

– Zafar Khurshid (C)