Monday, October 21, 2013


cover photograph by duyum dulom

Believe it or not, I had nothing to do with it, and I swear to god I’m not lying this time. I wouldn’t do that to Mr. Varza, and you know that. Maybe the first thing that comes to your mind when you look at him is a sweaty serial killer or something even shadier, but that’s only for those of who don’t know him. He is the kindest teacher on blue earth, if you asked me. I’d go with ‘Gandhi’; I mean, the first thing that comes to my mind. Perhaps, a little fatter Gandhi… minus the hair, of course, and the walking stick. I mean there’s so much peace radiating from him! I have no idea why everybody hates him so much. They call him Shrek around here. You know what he said the first time he showed up in class? “Hi, I’m Kayzad Varza, and I’m a Parsi.” He’s so innocent; he didn’t know people could make such a big fuss about it.  And that Subodh Banerjee’s folks went all crazy about the communal babble crap at the PTA meeting! They can’t have the whole world on a leash just ‘cause their son looks like a burn victim. By the way, everybody calls him Bhutta. And that clown can’t hear out of one ear. Don’t know what he actually told them. I’m sure he was this illegitimate son that somebody gave them ‘cause they all look so damn different from each other if you looked closer. Mr. Varza didn’t like Bhutta much after that PTA row, but like a good teacher he never showed it on his face, he only started calling him ‘Do-little’ Banerjee afterwards, which only made sense since that dude never, like, never finished his homework.

Most people would disagree, but I guess Mr. Varza is the most stimulating English teacher we ever had, and so much better than that national waste Gureja chap whose soul purpose of being a teacher was to not let you go to the bathroom, like, for five and a half hours or something (he’d want you to burst your bladder and die). Good riddance is all I have to say. I was waiting to congratulate you for showing him the door, and picking Mr. Varza instead. Let me tell you, he is a Godsend. I was sick to death of Gureja’s world-is-gonna-end-soon crap and his dull juvenile homework, I swear to god, like we were some bloody first graders or something! Mr. Varza’s assignments are all killers- to fix a write-up treating ‘life’ and ‘death’ as two people, or to re-imagine the Rime of the Ancient Mariner through the eyes of the albatross till right before it gets shot, or even better, to write a private letter to a dead relative. He never likes to let us dwell in our comfort zones for long, is what he says. That book he wrote, Out of the Dark Blue, is apparently about ghosts and life after death and god knows what all other cool stuff. Kabir’s mother has read it. Did you know these Parsis fed their dead bodies to vultures and everything? It’s there in the book. I think it’s not just Mr. Varza, all Parsi people must be cool. I’ve seen that book once at Pachisiya, with his big head on the cover, noodle hair and everything. To be honest, he looks a tad bit loony in it. You know what, that hairstyle is what makes him look like a serial killer. He could go with the haircut that Rishi Puggal has, total tonsure, and look normal… Puggal is a psycho, not the biggest one, but will certainly come in the top ten at St. Michael’s, that can never be cured. (He’s officially dead to me after he pulled that frog trick in my Levi’s!) If he can score that normal a look, Mr. Varza will pass like a superstar. I’m only afraid he might start looking a bit like Dalai Lama then. But duh! Better than Jack ripper any day!

For Mr. Varza, the world is divided into two- those of who’ve read his book and those of who haven’t yet had the opportunity to. I think that’s incredibly cute and all. The poor man still drives his daddy’s 800. The sight actually makes me cry. That car’s the saddest thing I ever saw my whole lifetime, of course, only after Kooky Randhawa’s dead body. She was halved by Mohankund Express at Haisham Bagh Level crossing last year. You must’ve read it in the newspapers. She used to live in J45 at Bhairav Nagar Colony. Even she had noodle hair! How bizarre! It never occurred to me before. She lived alone and everything. Is Mr. Varza married? I don’t think so.

See, it’s not easy to be a miracle kid at school, especially here at St. Michael’s. It’s a burden if they already knew you started writing your name before you turned two, if you know what I mean. Mr. Varza is the only one who treats me like normal, besides, of course you, sir. Heaven knows he cares. He’s not like that Chandrika Chandavarkar or anything. She, by god, has got this huge messiah complex, and is on a mission to save everybody’s life from this utter hopelessness or something, just because she’s sitting on that stupid student councilor’s chair whenever she’s not on leave with urinary tract infection. She thinks she is a shrink. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but her face reminds me of that sphynx cat from the new Hairlyne shampoo commercial. Unlike her, Mr. Varza is intelligent. He only gives you a heads up. He’s more like; do not get carried away by all the attention Raza, people are just trying to tap on your gifts and revel in its light. Frankly it’s difficult not to, having a sister whose IQ level is below normal. Aaliya’s learning Urdu poetry these days, and it’s intolerable at home. She makes my ears bleed. To piss everybody off is like her special super power. Anyways, Mr. Varza is the only person I could relate to from the entire teaching faculty, besides you, which goes without mentioning. Apparently he was also a gifted child. And you think I’d do something that terrible to this gem of a person? -who is anything but dearest to me? I know the whole school hated him and everything. But it happened outside the campus. So, I’d say this exercise counts more like a waste of time.

But if you still wanna know who I believe could’ve done it, I think there’re a few contenders from class alone. Bhutta doesn’t have the balls to do something like that although he’d love to. So he’s out, but it very well could be his folks, for all we know. It could be Vivek Kochukuttan. He once said, how much he wished Mr. Varza was dead. He flunked in English, like, all the time. And after the incident he was like; he deserved to die actually. I hope you know his folks are bloody loaded. He’s got a Jacuzzi at home. Don’t tell anybody I told you this, but he still flicks a thing or two from the departmental store for kicks. It could also be Jason Abraham. He hates Mr. Varza  ‘cause he sweats a lot. He was always like; sitting in Mr. Varza’s class is torture and his sweat glands make my nose burst- yeah right! - And not ‘cause his grammar sucked! I can read it on his face that he wanted Mr. Varza dead. And you know what, that jerk doesn’t consider long jump to be a proper athletic event! He says it doesn’t deserve to be an Olympic medal competition. He thinks he can say something like that just ‘cause he’s the only one in class with a girlfriend and all, not that anybody has seen her or anything. Now, that’d happen only if she existed! Precious Varrier! Back in the real world, we’d know that’s not even an actual name. So full of shit! If it were up to me I’d stuff him and hang him in the living room.

Kabir says it could be Navin Tyagi, and it probably makes more sense ‘cause he’s from the chemistry department. I’ve heard about this tiff between the two of them. Apparently he told the kids that Mr, Varza is the kind that harbors so much hatred for you, and not show it ever on his face that he’ll come and haunt you in your afterlife. Whatever does that mean? I think that was a sick joke. You know why he loathed Mr, Varza so much? Ever since Mr. Varza joined, Tyagi lost his parking spot near the entrance ‘cause he arrived only much later, which is what’s friggin hilarious. Besides, Tyagi is one bloody minefield of a lunatic. You gotta stick that red ‘DANGER’ sign on him ‘cause you can’t tell what can piss him off. If you bottled him up, you could use it for making bombs and everything. There was this time he made that whiny Avishek Sharma cry for sneezing in the lab. I mean, come on! He should go shove that head into some refrigerator before he bites somebody else’s off. Maybe he should divorce his wife and go marry that Chandrika Chandavarkar, if she’s already not taken by her urologist, that is. I’m sure they’ll have a blast, and they also deserve each other. Anyways, the fact of the matter is, he has access to the acid and it doesn’t take a genius to fill it in a bulb. So my vote actually goes for him, if you were dying to know.

Sulfuric acid, was it? It’s kinda sick, somebody from school should even think of doing it. But did you go meet him in the hospital? I hear, his face is pretty messed up, like, he’s gonna have that scar for eternity and all. But I think, looking on the brighter side, he can totally look like a badass now, like a super villain or something. I’m actually picturing him as Hush from Batman; face all bandaged and everything. People of the likes of Tyagi wouldn’t dream of going near his 800, if by then he’s already not in jail, that is.

I don’t know, this might sound awfully corny but in the last few days Mr. Varza has come in my dreams a few times as that albatross in The Ancient Mariner. I know! But it’s true. Like, he was showing us our way out of darkness and some jerk shoots him down before the ride is over. If you tell this to anyone, I swear I will kill myself. By the way, Mr, Varza’s coming back, is he not? I just hope you don’t get that Gureja guy back again. Oh, guess what, it could be Gureja! I mean to get his job back and everything. What d’ya think?

Also from the ‘Raza’ series;



For the complete RAZA series Click here

Monday, October 14, 2013


cover photograph by duyum dulom
If you wanna know, Zubana Ishtiyaq is not the prettiest dame in Bhairav Nagar Colony, even though her lousy mother calls her ‘princess’ and everything. There are people like Nea Mittal and Honey Burza- the short one- for instance, but they are much older, like they graduated from high school when they were still teaching Pluto was a planet. But Zubana is smarter than these dames, being girls and all, if you know what I mean. She’s not the student council kinda smart, but is the I-know-I’m-not-a-princess-even-though-my-mom-calls-me-that kinda smart. She doesn’t do anything particular to make her look smart or anything, nor does she give a rat’s ass as to what you think about her. She’s about the same age as Aaliya, who- and I say this with great love- is one raging bitch of my sister.  They go to the same class at St. Theresa’s, not that I have seen them talk to each other or anything, like, ever.
Aaliya could be very competitive when she wants to be, and Zubana is too smart to talk to somebody that aggressive, and Aaliya couldn’t care any less, and I think, that explains that. It’s so funny, these dames, they can pretend like they were seeing each other for the first time even though they went to the same class regularly for eight bloody years. That is exactly what happened when Zubana showed up at our house a few days before the Christmas holidays started. It was tragic. They break that damn iceberg between them and make it look like they were meant to be the best of friends had they noticed each other in class before. I almost fainted. But if you are wondering, that’s not yet the shocking part. After they are done attacking on that ice, she asks the Aaliya fiend if she could meet her brother Raza, which is me! She damn well knows my nickname and everything! Aliya must have felt like being abandoned at birth, if you know how big an attention-seeking monster she is. The fact that Zubana came to meet with me must have made her ego take a dive to the underground that I'm pretty damn sure that she'll go back to school and refuse to recognize her all over again. Anyways, as Mother Nature would have it, she asks for me, and you believe it or not, I immediately wuss out and go hide in the storeroom! I know! But before you start acting all offended, I think you should know that I have a slight history with her, and it’s all because of Kabir, the class captain, and the junior football quarterback, and my best friend, although he hasn’t the slightest clue about that last part. That’s ‘cause he is not the kinda guy you tell everything to, if you know what I mean. And he doesn’t spell out what he feels, like, ever. Very indoorsy with his moods and everything. Anyways, all you have to know is that it’s only because of him.

Being a smart dame, it might shock you if I say Zubana has a very inert personality, and is always walking alone and hanging by herself even after school. Now you know why I almost never get around to talking to that dame. She is naturally frigid. I guess it’s because she’s the only child of a father who’s never around, and a mother who’s an ogre so fat that she could stand at the gate and stop the damn wind from entering the whole of Bhairav Nagar Colony. I’m sure you don’t believe me, but you should come meet her sometime, you don’t have a lot others like her around, I swear.

So one of those days, well behaved as hell, I walk up to Zubana, taking her stroll all by herself in her yellow Scooby-Do T-shirt, and ask her to show me her cave. See, this Zubana Ishtiyaq is a prize winning drama queen, and I’m not kidding  ‘cause she was the main fairy’s assistant or something in this play they did during the residential association’s annual massacre, which is the world’s stinkiest circus ever where all the world class morons of Bhairav Nagar Colony gather to bitch, eat, drink, burp and fart in the company of each other. So when I tell her to flash me her stuff, she turns around and looks at me like there is this scud missile headed towards her, and says, why don’t I go ask my mom to show me her cave! Then I say, I don’t want to see old ladies’ caves ‘cause they all look like George Bernard Shaw and everything. She kicks on my shin and runs away, annoyed as hell. I have a slight limp from that chop even now, if you give a damn. Kabir is the one who said his neighbor Tanushree’s stuff was the craziest thing he saw his whole lifetime, and that she showed it for a mango Popsicle. I had a whole box of barfi on me, which I, obviously, didn’t get the time to reveal given the speed she went all Bruce Lee on me. I’m sure Tanushree would have showed two hundred times if she saw that glittery box of barfi from Nathulal’s. Maybe she is not half as smart as Zubana, for all I know. So this is what happens, she runs away after trying to kill me, and it’s about a week later that she turns up to break damn Aaliya’s iceberg and everything. I hid inside the storeroom for as long as she hung around with the Aaliya fiend, who was wounded and crestfallen like a freak (I swear to god I’m worried for her). Okay bitch, most people hate you, deal with it.

It was later that I got to know Zubana came to ask some favor of me. That made me giddy with an urge to cry because all this time, I thought she came home to tell on me. Should have known better, she being smart and all.

Alright, I don’t want to be bragging or anything, but at this point, since I’m the only one around to say, you should know I’m a gifted child. In fact, exceptionally talented. I mean if they make a movie on my life and all, they better cast Aamir Khan to play me, and not some corny ass dude like Shahrukh. Even Kabir would agree with that. Slurpy from the physics department has called me a genius time and again and both Father Dogzilla- our Principal- and Shrek from the English department address me as a child prodigy. If you are wondering what my gifts are, I’m a record top scorer of my school, I crack any double salt in less than fifteen minutes, I can memorize the entire Rime of the Ancient Mariner (God, I loved that poor albatross), I’m the school long jump champion, I can occasionally read people’s minds, I make the best chicken sandwich in Bhairav Nagar Colony and I paint better than Da Vinci, that’s what! One more thing, I go by four different cyber identities, AchilisRAZA, smartass_2002, Blowtorch-traitor and S4Cinderella_gun. So that’s me for you in a nutshell.

Only dudes went to St. Michael’s, ‘cause for dames they had St. Theresa’s. So there was no way Zubana had any idea about my gifts and reputation at St. Michael’s. Thus when she went around asking to see me, it did catch me off guard.  But it turns out she did not wanna tap on any one of my diverse gifts. I was a tad bit offended than surprised when all she asked me was to offer a little help to meet with her dad. Apparently her mom and dad were separated and she was dying to meet him without the Hulk woman knowing, so as not to annoy her, as she grew more and more gassy when she got upset, and it was killing to stay in the same house with all the fragrance. I was not shocked when Zubana already had a plan how to, being such a smart kid, I guess. So, about three in the morning there was this bus that went to Batergaon from Old Jahangir Gate and she wanted me to cycle her to the bus station as she was scared of the dark being a dame and everything. I was game because I really was in the mood to kick some serious ass, and I almost died of happiness. I was sure I could later trade something in return from her, if you know what I mean. I was just being a pakka Bania about it! Sorry if I offended you. I’m a Bania myself, so I can say that.

Okay, so except a few snags that almost woke Bhopu at the gate, the plan was perfect. You should ask her to plan some covert operations for you guys some time. And man, the Old Jahangir Gate Bus station was some two hundred kilometers away on bike. When we reach the station, her cousin Shashi is waiting, he’s the one to take her to her dad. This Shashi dork was quite a piece of work, if you ask me. You look at him and the first thing that comes to your mind is a crane- not the machine- the white bird. Up until then I hadn’t felt so sad about the fact that one can’t really help the way one looks, and this one was beyond help. It was partly since I felt that sympathy and partly because he was Zubana’s family and everything that I tried to be overfriendly with him. But the loser hardly spoke. All that he said was ‘thank you very much’ right before the bus moved. Like, yeah, you could say that again! Zubana only smiled, and I swear to god she was a player. And sir, had it not been for you, I would still be expecting for her to return. I wouldn’t have guessed she could run away with some pig like that, Shashi Chinnappa or whatever. Just imagine, if they end up together, she'll be Zubana Chinnappa! Eww! Now who'd want that!

I don’t know what Aaliya told you guys, but she’s a friggin psycho. She’s even capable of saying I killed Zubana for her watch if you promised to give her something. She wants a trophy for everything, ‘cause she genuinely thinks she deserves it. These dames, you can't trust, especially the smart ones. See, the one I trusted pulled this stunt on me and hung me out to dry. They always sell you out in the end. They sell you out even if you were the Brunei Sultan. So all I have to tell you is, stop this search. It’s not worth it, sir, I swear.  And if you don’t wanna hurt that fat lady any further, I’d say you tell her that her princess is long gone. With the kind of farts I hear she breaks, I’d already have left the Milky Way.

It wouldn’t be difficult to spot Shashi, he’s the ugliest bastard I saw my whole lifetime. But Zubana Ishtiyaq, you wouldn't know, she's quite ordinary. Like I told you before, she’s not the prettiest dame in Bhairav Nagar Colony.
Also from the 'Raza' series;



For the complete RAZA series Click here

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Usually the war comes only in the end. In fact, it always starts after the rivalry, the game, the humiliation and the exile. That is the pattern, we have heard, we have read and we have seen up until now. Every… other… time! So, when you are past all the hardcore drama, and reach the part where the battle begins, your excitement to find out as to how exactly justice would be served to the wronged, wanes just a bit into the 18-days-war. This is because the war lasts for more than three fourth the length of the second half, with all the different types of battle formations, and meticulous details of the weaponry and armors, and gory minutes of who killed who, and how, precisely. Yawn… Not even war could keep you up that long! This unyielding ab ovo (where the story advances in a strictly chronological manner without using flashbacks or the characters’ memories) is the only factor, if any, which works against the enjoyableness of the narrative in the titanic Indian epic MAHABHARATA. Known as the book that contains all the possible stories in the world and their varying permutations (they say, there isn’t a single story you could invent that is not already inscribed in Mahabharata), and that which is ten times the size of both Iliad and Odyssey put together, Mahabharata has numerously been adapted in theatre and on screen, in the past, with the same unkind linearity in narrative, be it B.R. Chopra’s magnum opus that was the biggest event in the history of Indian television, or Peter Brook’s celebrated nine hour long play, featuring an international cast, that was later shrunk to 6 hours for the TV. Same is the case with the recently premiered Star Plus production (although here, that was only one of the numerous reasons for frustration. Let’s not even go there!), that boasts of shit loads of dough.

It is as if understanding the setbacks of this dreary linear narration, that the new venture by celebrated comic book writer Grant Morrison and Graphic India called 18 DAYS decided to deftly break the epic down in medias res. Morrison, who is known for his non-linear narrations in his famed Superman and Batman series sets the beginning of his ambitious 18 Days just days before the Climactic Battle of Kurukshetra.

18 Days is an animated web series launched as a part of YouTube’s global Geek Week event, and is a breath of fresh air to the clique of numerous retellings of the epic already available. From the very beginning of the series, one feels the grasp of a buoyant new voice that’s going to mesmerize you, even if you knew every detail of the story already. Although Mahabharata might come across as a tad too familiar to the Indian audience, the only substantial exposure that the world outside had of it is through Peter Brook’s 1989 philosophical version.
The plot in 18 Days unravels between blows, stabs and cries emerging from the bloodied battlefield of Kurukshetra, thus making the layers of the events suspenseful to the new viewers and interesting to the old ones. Moreover, a non-Indian perception of the story is expected to flash new lights to the interpretation of the characters’ complexities. But that remains to be seen from what is to ensue.

Morrison’s retelling, while taking liberties of expanding the sci-fi element of the epic, has occasionally shrunk tongue-twisting names like Dhritarashtra and Yudhisthira. So if you are amongst those touchy Indians who got offended when black and Chinese actors played key characters in Peter Brook’s TV production, restrain! Watch it only if you can with an open mind.
The only discouraging part about this project is that each episode accounts for only four minutes, at times even less. There is one installment that runs for barely a minute and half as well, which is an alarming duration for even a webisode. If they could swell each weekly installment to at least ten minutes, one wouldn’t have had to wait for a few releases in order to watch it back to back.

This promising new web series was launched in the first week of August and is way down to its eleventh episode already. Although it would be too soon to judge, it’s definitely worth a try.  So check out !
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