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Black Coffee

The Literary Magazine

Black Coffee 2017 Issue #5

Editor’s Note

15965525_10210543920105806_6728412755502345360_nJanuary 2017 (and a teeny tiny bit of December 2016)

There’s something about the chill of winter that makes you think.

Not the full-scale blown-up version of ‘Where is my life going?!’ followed by a chorus of ‘LALALALA – not thinking about it’ with a dash of ‘Look at all the things my Facebook friends are doing’ to spice things up. We do enough of that already and the damage that this symphony causes can be attested to by many jaded ‘young adults’.

No. It’s in the little things. We suddenly find ourselves nostalgic, sentimental; either filled with budding hope or random melancholy. Perhaps it’s the ambiguity of the season; so many messages bombarding us, telling us to do exactly this and that – be merry and celebrate the end of a year before ushering in a new one with good cheer, bedazzled and satisfied with all sorts of hopes and dreams.

[Of course, you’ll shed that extra weight, hey you’ll get the person of your dreams! Whatever it is that you’ve been hunkering after, you’ll get it for sure. You just got to work for it. Oh, we know that life isn’t simple and all that jazz, but we have resolutions.]

I think the point I’m getting to is this –

It isn’t easy to shed the baggage accumulated over the past year. There’s no magical drop-off point where you can toss the load of 2016 with cackling unrestrained glee and set it on fire. There will always be a tiny little creature that will catch hold of your hand as you’re exiting the place. It will be perfectly content to walk silently beside you, dispassionately witnessing all the highs before blindsiding you. A casual wave from this creature can either give you sleepless nights for a couple of days or ruin your life to the point where you’re seriously considering unthinkable options.

A ‘new’ year doesn’t last long. Everything’s more along the lines of ‘Same shit, different day’ with a dash of Murphy’s Law to kick things up a notch every now and then.

Putting aside this painful attempt at wisdom, we look forward to publishing all the amazing pieces of work you guys send us. Feel free to drop us a line in case you want any feedback or have some suggestions that can help us give you a better platform to express yourselves.

Cheers!



Storyteller’s Corner

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Ayushi Mona, PGP-1

A Hard Knock

Doors are beautiful. They are pathways that lead to new worlds. They sieve in what we need to see and sieve out whatever is unnecessary. An open door welcomes. A closed door resists. They admit, they repel. They forever swing between the dichotomy of opening up and staying shut. They become symbols of hope and symbols of despair. They tantalize you and then confound you.

 

A door is an opportunity. A door is a challenge.
The soul is a door. We think it’s always the same. They maintain the same reticent, opulent façade, until they are hiding something else altogether. Doors complete our existence.  They abet the sifting process. If you don’t maintain the standard of setting a door outside, how do you choose what stays in and what gets thrown out?

 

At times, we throw open our doors and invite people in. At other times, we latch them and wallow in self-pity. Doors shut, but they never close. Life says you can pause but you can’t stop. When you keep the doors of your mind open, you are kinder, stronger, and smarter. When it all gets too much, you close that door until the caged animal inside your head, asks for fresh air again.


Not all our doors have opened. Some feelings are so strong that letting them out only alienates you. Like the door that hides the skeletons in your closet.
At other times, we utter a harsh word, a scowl, a smirk, a statement tipped to hurt. This is your way of putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign outside. Don’t keep it hanging too long. Nothing is worse than loneliness. We are human. We were made to be loved and destroyed.


Our body is a mansion. A thousand doors. Your cells teeming with energy, light.  So many doors- sight, sound and touch. Doors colliding. Your eyes, ears, lips. It’s a festival of doors. When the last door opens, your body, it’s no more.

So what do you do? You shut doors of insensitivity. You dust the powder of lethargy from doors that have stayed shut too long. The doors that creak, they are your imperfections- oil them or let it be- one can’t do everything.


With our eyes open, we are lost in the world.
With your doors closed, you are lost to yourself.

Open up to 2017.


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Devpriya Chakravarty, FPM

By the flowing river

He sat on the bank, under the twilight sun. Tired of having axed wood all day, he liked the way the overgrown grass fondled against his calf. He ran a hand through his hair, now moistened with sweat. He leaned over the brook and drank from its bosom.

With his thirst quenched, he stared down at his own reflection. The young, sturdy village woodcutter with thick, greasy black hair, broad shoulders adorned with well maintained, moist, sinewy arms stared back at him. The water reflected his bare chest, inflated with dignity.

He was one of the strongest men of his village. For, who else had the might to pull down the wild giant trees? Who else would dare to come to the thick, dense woods by the flowing river everyday to axe down trees from dawn to dusk? He was indeed, one of the bravest men of his village.

Everyone looked up to him. He moved around the village, axe slung over his shoulders, with an air around him painting the spitting image of valour’s minion, proper.

He continued to gaze down at his reflection in the water, distorted by regular ripples. He saw his family in his coal black eyes. His family was made up of his ever trusting wife and his little ones. His wife was the common object of envy for almost all of the village girls who lusted after the strongest and bravest woodcutter of the village. His wife perhaps took pride of all the envious glares. He thought more about his wife and how she never complained about his absence from the first ray of day light till the very last. His children, who were so proud to be known as the ‘woodcutter’s offspring’, that it hardly mattered to them, how much of him they really saw.

His clean shaved, plaintive face stared back at him from Neptune’s Water Kingdom. If only his conscience were as clear as the water flowing by.

He looked up. There she stood on the other side of the bank.

The woman on the other side.

Who was she, he knew not. Where she came from, he knew not. He knew he loved her and that is all he knew.  

She would come to the opposite bank every dawn to fill water in the earthen pots that she beautifully balanced on her delicate curve. At midday, she would come again to wash clothes. And, at dusk again, she would come to refill them, pots.

The wood cutter sat on his side of the river, while she stood on hers. Neither said a word. Both would do their routine chores and momentarily look in each other’s direction. Strangely, neither would he ever go to any other streamlet to quench his thirst and nor would she go the local pond where the other women from her village performed the same tasks.

He couldn’t even make out her features properly. He knew she had long, flowing, thick hair. He knew she was the colour of the earth. Fresh and wet, when drenched in rain. He knew she wasn’t too young to be unwed, and he also knew she was no widow for her saris were of vivid colours. He knew she wasn’t mute for she sang to herself whenever she walked back, having filled water, her anklet adding rhythm to the music. And, he knew if she were to stop coming, he would never axe another tree.

He knew the river would always be flowing between the two banks. He knew, as clouds amassed in the sky, like every night she would go home and cry in the dark. Why? Out of guilt? Or at the beauty of their platonic love? This he didn’t know. He knew he would have to return home, too. Make love to his wife. And yet, the only thing on his mind would be the woman on the other side of the river. He knew they could never be together and yet they would never be apart.  

He slowly pulled himself up. Both stood on either bank. Neither moved. The clouds threatened at first and then drenched them. Neither flinched.

Back in the village the ever trusting wife gave the window a partial, half worried glance. She knew how now it would take him longer and he would be toiling even more. She could picture her husband, the woodcutter, wading through the muddy swamps with heaps of wood laden on his back. His axe would be held tightly in his grip as the veins on his wrist would be popping out and the rain water would be dripping from its blade. His bare chest would be glistening in the shower and how his gait would be followed by sinister and lecherous giggles. She, the ever trusting wife, would have had put the children to bed, and would run to welcome her man into her house.

In the next room, the two boys were bullying their sister. The little girl was upset with the rain. She knew the rain would delay her father even more and yet again today they would be put to bed before he arrived and the morning would come with him having already left. How will she take all the taunting stories of her friends when they would tell her the next day how they floated paper boats with their fathers? Her brother will never understand for they cared not of their peers. So they would continue to bully her till it was time for bed.

Two or three stray huts away, the new bride was to tell her husband a charming story. The fat merchant was staring at her, waiting for the same. She decided to tell him tales of the village she came from, the one across the river. She told him of the nasty girl who was believed to have befriended the spirits of the forest. This girl who refused to tie her long thick hair which everyone knew if left lose is bound to attract all sorts of foul spirits. This haughty girl would even travel far into woods to fill water and wash clothes. No one approved of this act in the village. Why, there was a perfectly clean and safe pond within the village whether the other ladies went, with their hair tied up, of course. No one would tell her much to her face, though. No one knew how she found the courage to tread into the dark and wild woods. She must be housing a hundred spirits in her thick dark mane. She was beautiful, yes. Most evil witches are!

The rain continued. The crops feasted on the shower.

The river gulped it down. Either side of the bank was still populated with the two figures. The woodcutter knew not for how long they would stand there. He knew however of their immense love for each other. He knew the pain of their platonic gestures. He knew both of them were being unfaithful to the ones they were tied in a society approved holy matrimonial. He knew how both of them now stood on either side of the river, crying.


 

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Ridhima Duggal, PGP-1

Perspective

Half empty or half full?

A few months back, when I was on my usual evening walks near my house, I spotted a new walker in our society, someone different from the usual set of evening walkers. This was a huge boy in size , and somewhat close to 18-20 years of age. He was walking with his mother. But what was unusual about this?  As I passed by him,I heard him speaking,making noises. He was half walking,half staggering. As he passed by the shrubs,he touched the green leaves near the sidewalk. He was someone who did not seems mentally fit as the rest of us. He had no sense of direction, no sense of people around him.He would make loud noises,sometimes small whisperings as he walked hand in hand with his mother. I would not say he was handicapped I would say such people are special. But as I passed him every evening, I slowly started taking note of the boy’s mother. She was a middle aged woman, walking with her son’s hand in hers. I could feel the helplessness in her eyes. The pain of her child was reflecting in her eyes and each time I passed them I had tears welled up in my eyes. There are people in this world who face real hardships, yet they smile and sail through. Every time I feel I am not in a so called “happy space” I close my eyes and recall that mothers face. She is helpless yet she has not lost hope. There is agony as she is not able to cure her son,but she is not letting go yet. So before you crib about how you have relationship issues with your boyfriend, or  before you complain about your rude boss at work, stop and think for a minute. Realize that happiness chooses you only if you choose it yourself first. Some situations may be hard,but every dark tunnel has light at the end. It is up to us if we choose to see the glass half empty or half full.



 Teacher’s Lounge

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Prof. Rasananda Panda

Three Sonnet – For You,  My Love

My lips:

Do not pretend to throw

Coins of kisses

Out of sympathy or mercy to me.

My lips are not begging

It Can also

Give the same to you.

Your name:

A sea of innumerable names

Lashes at my heart

But only one – yours alone – …..

Happily sails across!

Our friendship:

You are the letter in separation

You are the escastacy

You are the rendezvous

You are here and you are there

And you are everywhere

You are friendship.


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Sethu Iyer

25 Things That Organizing A Conference Taught Me!

  1. If there are 100 things to be done and you take care of 99, it’s for sure that everyone will ask about that 1 thing you missed.
  2. The most enthusiastic people who will do all the work will be the bachelors – just take care of their food and drink needs and they will do everything willingly.
  3. A government official is not always a safe bet as a Chief Guest since there is always the danger of last-minute drop-outs  due to official commitments  ; a retired, elderly statesman is anytime a safer bet.
  4. All Chief Guests begin by saying that they will just take a few minutes and admit they do not know the reason why they have been invited ; Yet the moment they are given the mike, it’s hard to get them to stop.
  5. When someone is speaking extempore, without a script in hand, it’s that much more difficult for him or her to know when to end.
  6. Regardless of how many people are running around doing multiple things, when the Head of the Institute  needs something everyone disappears into thin air.
  7. A couple of white-skinned foreigners are enough to turn a national Conference into an International Conference.
  8. At an International Conference, it is very essential that you keep your foreign participants seated in the first row where everyone gets to see them .
  9. The most critical care you must exercise when hosting a foreign speaker is to be able to pronounce his or her name.
  10. If you serve good food, arrange good accommodation and give your participants good souvenirs, be rest assured that the Conference was a big success with them.
  11. A Conference name badge hanging from your neck is a funny thing; the moment a pretty participant comes searching for you, its turns its back.
  12. The most unfortunate thing that can befall a speaker is to have his/her session slotted right after the luncheon break.
  13. Conference organising staff never get the chance to attend its sessions.
  14. An audio-visual equipment works on its own moods.
  15. The AV guy will be hard to locate when the presentation stalls.
  16. Everyone knows when to dim the lights in a Hall except the person manning the switches.
  17. Even if you have exercised adequate care and taken everyone’s name while giving a vote-of-thanks, the moment you step down from the podium, the name of that one person you missed out will flash in your mind.
  18. Sometimes the less articulate, less educated, less verbose speaker can convey more important, more interesting, more meaningful insights.
  19. Speakers who display a sense of humor get the loudest claps.
  20. A Conference ensures that every speaker gets applause – sometimes for what he/she has spoken, sometimes for the fact that he/she has stopped speaking.
  21. A  Conference which has more women participants than men has a good look; women generally are well turned-out in smart, colorful attires while the men turn up in staid, unattractive clothes.
  22. One of the perks that come with being a senior faculty is that all the women participants rush to have a picture taken with you.
  23. Every faculty who attends a Conference needs to be accompanied by a student or a research assistant; they come very handy for clicking pictures.
  24. The attendance at the first day, first session of a Conference is in sharp inverse to that at the last day, last session.   
  25. Finally, a Conference is like a Big, Fat Indian Wedding – at the end everything falls into place and all ends well.


 Poetic Musings

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Aditya Dubash, PGP-1

Ankahi Khamoshiyan

Bheed bhaad mein bhi ek ajeeb sa sannaata chaaya hai,

Maine is raah par Kai sadiyon ki daastaan Jo dekhi hai;

In Choti Choti galiyon mein chupi hai kayi yaadein,

Aur kayi khamoshiyan jo sirf mann mein likhi hain.

Rangeen khidkiyon se aane waali kirnon ke samaan,

Bazaar mein lagey hue bandhani saadiyon jaise;

In deewaaron par saje chitron mein bhi,

Kisi ki ankahi baatein chupi hain.

Jab Suraj ki aakhri kirnein aasmaan ko rang deti hain,

Tab jheel kinaare ek anokhi si shaanti cha jaati hai;

Din dhalne ki aadh mein usne Na jaane aisa kya kaha;

Jo sunke aasmaan bhi sharma gaya.

Jheel mein ek sunehra raasta mujhe hai chidhata,

Ki aisa kya hai mann mein darr jo hum uspe Na chal sake?

Jawaab main sochta reh jaata hun,

Mudhke dekha to aasmaan mein bas taare hi dikhe.

Aaj fir naya din hai aaya.

Aur humne raat ke taaron ko yaadon mein qaid rakha.

Hum fir nikle apni raah par mahalon ko peeche chodke;

Lekin mann ye sochta reh gaya ki agle yatri ko Na jaane wahaan kya dikha?


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Ayushi Mona, PGP-1

Running Through My Mind

I thank my heart

That it doesn’t have hands

For if it had

It would reach out

To touch you with the intensity of feelings

That craving too long creates. 

I hate my eyes

For when they blink 

They take away that fluttering second 

When I could stare at you

While pretending not to look.

I bite my tongue

Because it is led by my mind

It thinks ten thoughts before it can say 

A word in greeting

And by the time it greets you

It’s time to bid good bye.

I wish my ears 

Could contain themselves

From hearing your distinct voice

Expressing with passion 

The thousand questions

That flood your mind. 

The tenor of your voice

When I pass you by

Only darkens my desire 

To hear the sound of you breathing

Next to me

Cuddled on a cold winter night.

My knees go week

When they see you run

Pressing down the ground

The way imprints of your half – smiles

Are lodged in my mind. 

My cheeks are traitors 

Singed by a desire

That colors them red.

My teeth bite too often my lower lip 

But together both these monsters

Are behind my fingers

That pull the same strand of hair

Away from my burning face

A thousand times.

My phone gets invisible notifications every time you walk past.

The swing in my step 

Is only thwarted by the invisible rod that straightens my back.

The fervor of my hope

Is only dulled when I see you go

Afraid that one day you will not return

And I will wait with bated breath

In front of a closed gate.

There is an unspeakable longing I feel

That I am afraid to show

For fear of reproach

 

You know what

I would confess

To the warmth of my feelings for you

But I am afraid 

That I might lose all this imagination

If you ever said no.


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Vatsal Sethi, PGP-1

Celestial Beings

Celestial beings reluctantly drifting away from each other.

Soon the memories will be lost in time

Floating away like stardust,

Aimless and boundless.

Forever floating till one day everything will fade to black.

They’ve burned away in the raging fires of each other’s desires.

Survived annihilation at the cold hands of nebulous love.

Still they carried on,

Broken and bruised.

Crippling together through every sunrise and sunset,

Till one day love finally tore them apart.

Now, sorrowfully apart,

Endless opportunities lay in the horizon.

Still, they find themselves in each other’s orbits,

by the faint pull of invisible gravity.

They didn’t come together,

They collided like two black holes,

unable to escape the compelling force of gravity.

A violent purge of emotions

Merged them into singularity.

Powerful ripples flew through the fabric of space

As they became one,

While dispersing chaos and destruction all around.

They journeyed through frozen time warps

And lived in time loops.

Drowning in smothering love,

They cuddled in comfortable silences.

Yet here they are today,

trying to escape the same force of gravity.

As they seek new dreams and adventures,

Past memories boomerang out of nothingness as

Haunting nightmares.

But, one of them keeps moving,

With an aching heart and a bleeding soul.

While the other drowns into an empty blackness,

In gentle misery.

When time would have taken them far and wide,

one of them would stop abruptly,

wanting to look back.

Instead, they’ll continue on their altered orbit,

hoping the other to have done the same.


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Manu Pratap Singh, PGP-1

This is a tribute to actor and poet Piyush Mishra, and his creation “Ghar” for one of the episodes of Coke Studio. In that song, he talks about how two lovers are dreaming about their own future nest, and about how they’d go about living together. I have written something that tries to maintain the tonality of the original poem, and is in a way a fast-forward setting where the lovers have parted, and the man is reminiscing about what he feels he has lost.

खाली पड़े उस मकां में चलो

देखें अब कैसा है मंज़र…

रहते थे जिसमें ख्यालों में,

जिसे हम-तुम कहते थे घर ।

मेहकती थी चंदन सुबहो की दस्तक पे,

हमने खुशबू समेटी थी अंगड़ाइयों में।

काजल जो फैला तेरा तो लगता,

हथेलिओं में मेरे रेखाएं मिट सी गयी हों।

चाय बनाऊं मैं, तुम मुझको निहारती…

छेड़ देती मुझे, उफनने की परवाह कहां थी।

वहां अाज भी इक पतीला रखा है,

काजल का छोटा सा डब्बा वहां है,

ये ताकें हैं हमको कि तुम हो कहां रे?

क्या मर गये सारे वादे तुम्हारे?

अकेली पड़ी तुम दोनों की नन्हीं

यादों को लगता है डर…

अाके संभालो इक बार उनको,

है ये अब भी तुम्हारा ही घर।

बाल्कनी में कुछ रोज़ अक्सर…

सीने पे मेरे सर को रखकर…

गुनगुनाया था राग कोई।

वो घुलता मेरे कानों में…

धीमे… धीमे…

बतियाते थे रातों को लालटेन की लौ में,

सुबह देते टांग धुंधलाते तारे पे,

खोया वो तारा, लौटा अंधेरा…

ढूंढा बड़ा उसको आंगन में, छत पे…

हम-तुम थे सहमे, निकले मकां से,

हाथ थे थामे, छूटे कहां से?

या तुम रस्ता भटके, न मैं घर को लौटा…

न सुनता था तुमसे, सुकूं कैसे होता?

मिटते देखूं यहां अपने हाथों की रेखा,

मैं जानूं वहां दूर है साथी रोता…

मैं देता दिलासा खुद ही को यहां पे-

मेरा साया है तेरे ही सर…

मेरा साया है तेरे ही सर…

शायद वोही राग गुनगुनाऊं तो,

मिल जाओ तुम इस क़दर…

हर लालटेन की लौ का पीछा करूं,

कि मिल जाए अपना वो घर।

रहते थे जिसमें ख्यालों में,

जिसे हम-तुम कहते थे घर ।


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Poem: Aakarsh Sood, PGP 1 Art: Nirmit Shah, PGP 1

The Star Dust Road

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I walk through a mirage of Star Dust sprinkled road…

Where magic meets the stark, where every path taken had an arc

Where love and hate tangled, like a phoenix soaring in a sky star spangled

And I…

I think of you…

I walk through a mirage of Star Dust sprinkled road…

Where our every moment is sketched, in my memory etched

Where you said we’ll last, like a paper boat in serene waters cast

Where I made the water churn, and our love was spurned

And I…

I think of you…

I walk through a mirage of Star Dust sprinkled road…

Where I took a fall, neither that of an angel nor that of a warrior tall

Where I realized that the devil I read about but never saw, had hands fair as mine and not mangled claws

Where I was beaten and battered, and saw my life through a peep hole left in tatters

And I…

I think of you…

I walk through a mirage of Star Dust sprinkled road…

Where I rose from the ashes of my demise, with you and only you as my resurrection my premise

Where I took my mangled claws and scratched, but you were long gone… Detached

And I…

I think of you…

I think of what was what is what could have been…

Down the corridors of Star Dust…

That is all I have…

Star Dust…

As I walk through a mirage of Star Dust sprinkled road…



Articles

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Animesh Gupta, PGP-1

Musings that Matter

There are certain individuals, personalities that drive your soul. They ignite your passion and keep your spirits up even in toughest of times. Life has a habit of shaking things up, throws up situations that tests one resolve and extracts a lot out of the individual. It is in these situations that a person looks for inspiration be it internally or from the outside world, looks for personalities that inspire us to beat the odds and triumph in face of adversities. Their life, their travails and conduct teaches us a lot and there are many sporting legends who embody that spirit and have lifted us through their endeavors.

2016 was a sad year for tennis lovers. Roger Federer, the most charismatic personality the game has ever witnessed was forced to miss the majority of the season due to knee and persistent back issues. He is an icon, a champion that has inspired greatness and has a fan following that transcends continents. His ability to churn out breath taking performances year after year despite his age (at 35, his legs are not the same any more) has given boundless joy to his fans. But that was cut short due to a freak accident in February this year that derailed his campaign and it was ultimately brought to halt post Wimbledon. The champion he is, he made every attempt to play knowing very well that his knee had not recovered fully and needed more healing. This speaks volumes of his love, his passion for the game and his commitment to the sport, a sport he has mastered and has achieved possibly everything it has got to offer. His hunger to succeed even after 18 years on tour is inspiring to say the least. His five set victory over Cilic in Wimbledon Quarters after being two sets down is remarkable to say the least and speaks volumes of his hunger to succeed at any cost.

And sadly, tennis was robbed of its ultimate superstar this year. And when one talks of grit and determination, you cannot forget the Master of Dirt. Rafael Nadal, the fiery Mallorcan continued his battle with injuries and dipping form and left no stone unturned in making his 2016 campaign, a successful one.  His gruesome playing style over the years has finally taken its toll, torn knees are impeding his fluid movement and even his wrists were not in the best of condition this year. But he continued to play, to exert, to give his best knowing very well that it might not be enough to get him over the line. It is in these situations when you dig deep, empty your reserve, harp on even the slightest of motivation to give your best shot is when one dishes out the unthinkable and that inspires a lot more.

These two champions were missed. Their personalities on court have inspired a lot off the court and will continue to do as long as they as exist. As a tennis fan, the game has not been the same without them. Grand slams are not the same without their intensity and artistry. But I have learnt a lot more from them this year than I had during their hey days. Going away from your passion is not easy, but if you are forced to take a step back, focus on doing things that keep you joyous. Focus on striving to be better, work on your fitness, work on your shortcomings, every day is not the same, and keep the flame inside you ignited. At times, outcomes are not in our control but we can surely control the inputs and strive harder.

2017 is about to arrive and I cannot wait to see them back on the court. After all, they are joy to watch and inspire greatness beyond our realms of understanding.


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Mitrajit Biswas, FPM

Future of Democracy in India

Democracy as the word itself has a lot of different understanding for different people. Some view it with the idea of cynicism while for others it has always been the best form of governance. Now let us not start building around this for my article. Getting to the core of the topic where we are speaking about the future of democracy in India it would require us to historicize the path of democracy in our nation state system. India was not viewed as a single nation state for 1000 of years. It was always in existence as a singular geographic entity bounded by common cultural values. However the while idea of ruling it as a Westphalia democracy came in after we have had our tryst with destiny as commented by Pandit Nehru on the eve of our independence. It may be clichéd to say that the whole idea of democracy in India is still maturing. India itself has gone through a transformation from being a figment of collective identities to actually being the world’s largest democracy in a span of 200 years. Now we are slowly evolving into the identity of India as a country. The idea of direct democracy however surprising it may be had existed in the form of village communities which we call “Panchayats”. The idea of community based democracy basically was the first step towards self rule in the principle of democracy embodied in the understanding of “of the people, by the people, for the people”

The whole idea of India being a colorful democracy as represented in the Oscar entry known as “Rang Biranga Prajatantra” a kaleidoscope of various dimensions. Prof. Thussu mentions this in his latest book “Buddha to Bollywood” how this exercise of democracy in itself is a celebration. Democracy in India has started to evolve at two levels. The one is on the national front and the other one is on the regional front. At the regional front the democracy of India has been always based on local and hyper local sentiments which never have connected much on to the broader issues. Regional parties that have made it big have actually made the regional issue to the national canvas. Many political scholars and historians like Bipin Chandra and Mukulika Mukherjee mentions this as the maturing or the nurturing of the vivid democracy in India. It is a documented that in India there are at least 99 legally registered parties. Out of this a man of average knowledge even knows that at the national level there has been INC (Indian National Congress) and BJP the modern variation of the parent organization created by S.P. Mukherjee. These two have led to the formation of the alliances centered around them known as UPA and NDA respectively.  It is the scene till the 70 years of Indian independence. Now before the political pundits try to come up with their argument on the audacity that I have not mentioned the third front, let me say it is nebulous.

The whole idea of the third front which is based on the loose collaboration of the non major parties has never been much of a factor. However coming back to the topic of the essay that what is the future of democracy in India, it can be only predicted for a decade from now. The idea of congress and its moderate socialism in the socio-economic framework of India seems to have gone for a toss as of the moment. Legacy issues of the party that is synonymous with the civilian struggle for freedom in modern days under the present leadership seems to be oblivious and lax of the needs for modern and termed “Emerging India”. The democracy of India seems to have taken a twist from 2014 elections since the days of Mrs. Indira Gandhi. Not only is it because of the absolute numbers garnered by BJP under their mission of 272+. However the results that came out from UP & Punjab in the national polls show that finally India is waking up to politics beyond the immediate. Rising above caste politics as well as region based affinity it showed the path to future democracy. Even this level of democratic maturity has been said to be portrayed in the regional elections. Bihar elections were an eye opener that people decided based on the efficacy and not just mere rhetoric. So overall the signs of the electorate in India looking for a shift in their way of outlook is worth looking

I don’t want to term from my personal perspective as a paradigmatic shift just as of now which I am not also capable of as well. However the whole idea of forming a strong government at the centre after 5 years of decay and stagnation from 2009-2013 should not stop at being a spark. Shedding aside the aspirations of the western elitist democracy, India is one of those unique examples of a democracy full of fallacy yet of compassion, flexibility in the third world. The future of democracy will shift most likely to the issues of employment, education and better living conditions from the old times narrative of “Garibi Hathao (Remove Poverty) mixed subtly with the overtones of caste, religion and other fragmentation”. It does not necessarily mean that the lure of fragmentation in Indian democracy and politics is gone. Probably it may be never gone in the next 50 years; however the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be there. People especially cutting down to the rural, urban and more aspiration class have started to look at the bigger picture. The whole idea of connecting the jigsaw puzzle of India seems to have happened at the right moment. I don’t want to seem over enthusiastic but in the days of populist rhetoric and nationalism on the rise, the idea of Indian democracy adapting its values to the times seems to be in. Still it can never be forgotten that India always surprises including itself over time.


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Black Coffee 2016 Issue #4

Editor’s Note

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“The night is dark and full of terrors.”

A simple line uttered by those prescribing to a certain faith in a fantasy book written by a man who looks like Santa Claus, complete with grin and beard. This same man promised us that winter will come. He’s been promising it for decades.Well, here it is. Quite unannounced. (For those who think that I’ve lost it, I’m not referring to the seasonal change.)

Despite the last couple of days, the world is still spinning. While the Americans debate packing their bags and moving off to Canada, PGP1 has no choice.

Soon Palaash and Parijat will begin their tiny migration, making way for MICANVAS 2016! Fear not, the effort is quite worth it.

Dear PGP2, our winter has started off with quite a bang. A true disruption indeed. We did it once, we can do it again.

We hope you enjoy this issue of Black Coffee. Apologies for the delay. We’ve been victims to the Sickness Monster lurking on campus.

Happy Reading!



Storyteller’s Corner

swarnim
Swarnim Singh, PGP-2

Amidst the Stars

I had dreamt of the night when the world only knew of the day. I yearned to touch the stars, dance in their sparkling aura and feel them glitter over me. As the sun shone down brightly on me, the world ridiculed me for dreaming the impossible. While their mockery only seemed to fuel my desire, it also planted a seed of doubt in my mind. Oh, I could fight the world alright, I didn’t doubt that for a second but the constant battle within me ripped my soul apart. I knew the sun had no reason to go down but I needed only one. Suddenly as the dark clouds spread across the sky, the world was at the brink of questioning their beliefs. Fearing the worst, they blamed me for the unknown, they drove me out of their solace they fondly called the society. With the lighters in their hands, they set out to kill me, but it was my dream, my passion that had set me ablaze. When I couldn’t run from them any longer I knew it was a do or die but I wasn’t the girl to give up without a fight. So as they watched me stand on the edge of the mountain, I take the burning wood and set myself on fire. They see me burn and leave me to die but I reborn from my ashes as a phoenix and soar high into sky, across the shimmering stars, shining like the sun. A little boy looks up at me; he tugs at his mother and smiles. Oh, look at that beauty, he says, let’s call it a shooting star.


 

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Hindol Mukherjee, PGP-1

An Unusual Meeting

Deb and I were finishing our fourth cigarette of the day as I drove into the parking lot at a mall near my place. It was a Sunday evening, bustling with people, mostly on the run because of the light drizzle.

I switched off the ignition and tossed the cigarette butt out of the window, unmindful, into the dimly lit misty surrounding.

“Idiot!” shrieked a woman, seconds later.

I poked my head out of the car and saw an inconspicuous silhouette of a woman approaching it. Realizing that the cigarette butt had probably hit her, I stepped out of the car to apologize.

Tall, beautiful, sporting knee length boots, skinny jeans, and a summer jacket, she looked as if she had walked right off of some ramp at Milan. To top it all, she held a yellow umbrella, similar to the ones you see in hill stations. She stormed right towards me and started yelling the kind of English words that are usually beeped on television.

I was about to make a sad face and squeeze in a feeble sorry when Deb whispered into my ear, “Dude, How I Met Your Mother, yellow umbrella!” At as bad a timing as always, I broke into a wide grin.

I expected some more curse words when the lady, suddenly changed her tone and called out my name.

Surprised I asked, “How did you…”

She started giggling instead and hugged me. Deb looked utterly disappointed, I guess he wanted a hug too.  “I’m Preity, don’t you remember? We were in kindergarten together. How can I forget that mischievous grin. You smiled similarly after you beat up the poor kids who wanted to play with your toys!”

“Huh, did l? Anyway, Preity with greasy hair and large thick glasses? That Preity? Wow, what a transformation!” I said, still in awe.

“Yeah, my dad moved to the US shortly after I completed Kindergarten. We live in DC now, I’m here visiting a few relatives; we are going back next week,” she said, only this time with a prominent American accent.

“Of all the people on the planet I never thought I’d bump into you and that you’d remember me from my smile,” I said, still a bit surprised.

“Yeah, funny isn’t it? Anyway I gotta run, Dad’s here. It was really nice meeting you,” said Preity, as she started to move away.

“Yeah it was a pleasure and I’m really sorry for the cigarette butt,” I apologized.

“It’s okay, I’m sorry about the swear words too. Next time just look where you throw. Moreover cigarettes can kill you, just a friendly advice,” she said.

I smiled and started walking in the opposite direction towards my car, Deb in tow.

“Hey!” she called back.

“Yeah?”

“It’s beautiful isn’t it, how memories stick to us? Untarnished, untouched by time. I never knew I had a memory of you until now! Food for thought!” she said as she stepped into her car.

“Yeah it surely is,” I said as I pondered over what she said repeatedly in my head, amazed by the thought.



 

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Created By: Kajol Gupta, PGP-1

MICA wali Diwali: A Memoir in the Making

In the short four and half months that I have been here, MICA has not failed to snuggle its way in one of my few comfort zones. And the funny thing is, so goes the story of every MICAn. Many of my friends stayed back during holidays this year, missing home acutely yet somewhat content at the same time. Diwali, as always, was a kaleidoscope of different stories, some travel diaries, some nostalgic, and some just plain refreshing. Trying to capture the memories, we scoured the campus and selected some, just for you, to relive!

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“Some holidays make more economic sense than others. More than 1500 miles of Bharat separates me from home, and most holidays, including this Diwali, I, as do many others, decide to stay back. The hustle reduces drastically and the air puts on a melancholic dress. Surprisingly, there are things to do, diyas to be lit, rangolis to be painstakingly drawn, and chicken to be marinated. Soon enough, you are sitting in the premiere of Return of Your Friends: Sweet Tooth. They shower you with sweets and mom-made delicatessens, and your three meals of the day turn to seven. Suddenly, MICA is home.”

-Sharanan Gogoi, PGP-2


 

ashwin

“The thing about Diwali is that you know a large chunk of your batch-mates are back home with their families for something,and for some reason or the other we find ourselves on campus. We try to make the best of it. The green grounds and fields shine in all glory when there’s a quiet about it, when there are very few people around. We chose the water tower to get a birds eye view and to enjoy the sunset in Shela village!”

– Ashwin Venugopal, PGP-2


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“When the holidays started, people were leaving not wanting to miss celebrating Diwali at home.. Others left hoping to have a wonderful vacation with friends, and there were some of us, with the entire campus to take care of on our 1st Diwali at MICA. Lamps, crackers, sweets, Rangolis and what not! Here, we celebrated Diwali the same as how we would have at home, perhaps a little more, I feel.

I, for one, did miss my family but the MICAn family did not let me down and was there for me to make the festival even more fun. The mess staff, the chhota staff, and everyone else who stayed on campus, worked together in making decorating the whole place, making Rangolis, lighting lamps and so on. Needless to say, The best part was to see people at home having FOMO!”

-Aparna Nandakumar, PGP-1


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“This Diwali, a lot of us were back here at Kachnar. Amidst catching up on movies, doing committee work and lazing around, we decided to do Diwali the traditional way with our own eccentric touch.

All of us came together to create a Rangoli and even pitched a tent in the courtyard. We ate like kings at the Diwali cookout and jumped like kids at the prospect of firecrackers. As we played tame impala on loop, gorged on food and lit lamps all over the hostel this Diwali , we realized that Kachnar never felt more like home.”

-Felix Joy, PGP-2


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“An impromptu escape..
A city of stories,
nights by the shore
And laughter galore!
This Diwali, MICAns headed to Illah De Calma- the island of calm (Diu), and gorged on seafood and drank from the chalice of new friendships!!”

-Harshit Sharma, PGP-1


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“MICA, during the festival of lights, in my opinion, is a time for introspection. You get used to life without friends, hostel mates and acquaintances. But the ones who stay back, they make memories like none other. One of the many events that happen during that 4 day window is the Diwali Cookout! A night every MICAn on campus looks forward to, a night to satisfy their home food urges, a night to just beat the cold winter, sitting around the cookout bonfire! A night that exemplifies the adage – A family that cooks together stays together!”

-Vijayngston Philip, PGP-2


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“One of the many firsts, it takes a lot to spend something as big as big as Diwali away from home. Yet there’s something about the shared sense of loneliness that turns it into a communal solitude…one that dissipates amidst sparklers that rain down on the demons of Nostalgia come midnight. Mica waali Diwali was one such experience. Half part lump-in-my-throat, equal parts Damn-Do-I-Love-The-Buzz-Of-This-Mad-Mad-Place!”

-Shiraley Chandra, PGP-1


manisha

“Diwali 2016 was special indeed. This lush green campus and all these warm, creative people make you smile so wide that you forget to remember your home. This was my last Diwali at MICA and it will always remind me of this small family that I have found in 2 years. Friends, Chhota canteen, and the mess food has given me an unforgettable memory to cherish forever. Thank You MICA. :)”

-Manisha Saun, PGP-2


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“Diwali to me has always been about the pain of waking up early, the uninterested oil bath with groggy eyes in the morning, the excitement of new clothes, the huge spread of breakfast and sweets, the irritating sound of crackers while I am trying to catch a special program on TV in the afternoon, spending time with family and friends.

And so much more

But…

Diwali can also be the excitement of planning Rangoli designs with your friends in a hostel. Diwali can also be the excitement about lighting up Diyas on your hostel steps and corridors. Diwali can also be about running around the hostel asking for a matching duppata for an old kurta of yours. Diwali can also be the fun of having an cookout session with your friends. Diwali can also be the effort everyone put in to make the campus amazing and beautiful more than a GharWaliDiwali!

And so much more.

Mica wali Diwali was no less and i will cherish it forever.”

-Anithasree Munuswamy, PGP-2


Teacher’s Lounge

panda-sir

Prof. Rasananda Panda

Closeness

ନିବିଡ଼ତା

– ରସାନଂଦ ପଂଡା

ସତରେ
ମୁଁ ଭାବି ନ ଥିଲି
ତମେ ଆଉ ମୁଁ
ହୋଇଯିବା
ଏକା ଆଉ ଅଭିନ୍ନ
ଖୀର ଆଉ ନୀର
ଠିକ୍
ଗୋଟିଏ ଫୁଲର
ଦୁଇଟି
ପାକୁଡା ପରି
ଯଦିଓ ଆମେ ଭଲ ପାଉଥିଲେ
ଦୁହେଁ ଦୁହିଙ୍କୁ ।
ଆଉ ଜାଣେନା ମୁଁ
ଆମର ଏହି ମିଳନ ପାଇଁ
ଦାୟୀ କିଏ।
ତମେ? ନା ମୁଁ?
ନା!!!
ଆମର ନିବିଡ଼ତା।

Translation:

(translated by Bagmishree , PGP-1)

Really,

I hadn’t thought

You and I

Will become

One and inseparable

Like milk and water

Like

Two petals

Of one flower

Even though we loved

Each other.

And I don’t know

Who is responsible

For our togetherness

You? Or I?

NO!

It’s our love and closeness.


Poetic Musings

shabad
Shabad Singh, PGP-2

Homeless

They say home is where the heart is

But if your home is a wanderin’

Where does your heart stay?

Where does it sleep?

They may find themselves a cozy nest

A place to rest their ego

I hope I find none

Even though I may ache for one

There are many addresses I have forgotten

There are some I wish I hadn’t

There are some I never can

There are some I wish I could

There are many bridges to cross

There are many to burn to the ground

Help me burn this one with you

And watch our goodbyes turn to ash

I may have traveled far

No swallows tattooed on my shoulders

I soar with my wings

And I know mine don’t melt.


 

ayushi-mona
Ayushi Mona, PGP-1

Bui-Doi: Less than Dust

There are but a few hours to go

The lights dim

Heavy curtains drawn shut

While I lie on a bed-like mess.

There are wires clogging my chest

And sweat pouring down my eyelids.

My clothes strewn around me

In Homage.

I think of a flash of light

Eyes wide spread

Unlike mine

Shimmering with blue

Like the pond where I played

My brother and I.

The night is silent

My mind is not

It is a box of bones

Holding the tremors of

The ghosts of the dead.

I feel the last few tears

Roll down uneven cheeks.

I suck in my last breath with a round – O mouth.

I did this before

I can do it again.

No child born of rape will come to this world.


 

kanj-saurav
Kanj Saurav, PGP-2

हसास

सरआम  वजहें कई हैं

एक ही है हमको, पर

गुमान होते किस्से कई हैं!

तमाम बेकद्री के और

हम पस्त तो नहीं, पर

क़तरा क़तरा पुरज़ोर!

इल्म होना मक़सूद नहीं,

मगर शुबा किया था

और हाय! मात खाई नहीं!

अब वो मैंतुम, हम हो चले

क़ायदे से हम थे ग़ैर

बग़ैर ही फिर, हम हो चले!


 

ayushi-sah
Ayushi Sah, PGP-1

Cybernated

Hashtag cyborgs

They communicate without noise

Noise that runs on another frequency

Frequency that is no longer analogic

They are everywhere without being present

With the world in their hands

And choices on their fingers

Hashtag swipe left. Hashtag swipe right.

Information, information, information

This generation is moved by information

It’s information overload with low reception

This reception culminates fear

Why this social angst if disconnected?

Hashtag FOMO

Validation is paramount

Experiences don’t count

Know everything or lose it all

Because life isn’t a buffer but a stream

Tweet post trend

Hashtag end. Hashtag stop.

Or don’t. Run digital.


Artist’s Block

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By: Suman Kaur, CCC
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The Portrait of a Lady in 2050- Standard Beauty

 

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By: Ishita Singh, PGP-1

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By: Ankita Madan, PGP-1

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By: Payal Pereira, CCC
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My version of Tito Lane, Goa (inspired by Mario Miranda & Kerby Rosannes

 


Articles

dubash
Aditya Dubash, PGP-1

Tech Detox

Hey, do you want a job? Apply through LinkedIn. Want a date? Swipe on Tinder. Want to talk to that old friend from school but are too lazy to go meet her? Well, Facebook to the rescue! Want to play football? Sure, let me just hook up the Xbox. Remember the last time you took a day off from screens? No? Welcome to today’s world. Technology is a part and parcel of our life and there is no denying the fact that it has made our lives much easier. Whether it is to ensure our clothes are washed, dried and laundered or the ability to order groceries at the click of a button, we have benefitted so much from the extra time we have on our hands that technology has gifted us. Or have we?  

Technology has cost us something that we do not realize – the comfort of facing another person. We become so busy acquiring and posting to our 1000+ connections and “friends” that we forget to spend time with people who actually matter. Just like phone numbers, we are reliant on Facebook tell us when our friends and family were born. Gadgets and social media are not only hampering the human touch in our interactions but also are slowly eroding our ability to remember. Today, I feel the same amount of satisfaction sending an emoji that I used to feel giving a hug to my brother. People are actually developing serious mental conditions that are characterized by panic attacks when they feel that their phones are missing.

What can we do now, you ask? Well, imagine waking up and taking a steaming hot cup of coffee, sitting in the balcony and reading a book. Was that so hard? Imagine the feeling of running on freshly mowed grass, giving your all trying to score a goal and the joy of actually succeeding. Brings back childhood memories to the forefront of your thoughts? Now imagine climbing through a hard trek; watching the sun set between mountains and the smell of wet earth all around without whipping out your phone and posting a photo with couple of filters and a dozen hashtags. All this while actually creating memories, not posts, with your family, friends and other special people. It’s not too late to look up from your screen and watch that odd little bird flying across the horizon; not too late to play hide and seek with your child while dozens of emails are left unread; not too late to surprise your father on his birthday by visiting him in person and not just wishing him over a Skype session. When you think about it later, you will realize that time slows down, allowing you to be at peace with yourself and create stories that you will share; laugh about years from now rather than having a cap of twenty four hours. There, was that so hard?


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Mitrajit Biswas, FPM

Bollywood and its implied viewers

The Article is an attempt of the understanding of the Bollywood film industry from theoretical perspective. The Article wants to use Walter’s Benjamin’s discussion of the work of art’s ‘aura’ and Christian Mertz’s seminal characterization of theatrical and cinematic media and their crucial differences particularly in terms of spectatorship . Bollywood has a typical image of being three hours long with a variety of filmic strategies which is often refered to as “Masala” (a spicy, mixed dish). In the movie of Bollywood film industry music plays a very important role. The practice of doubling up the music with the professional singers has been in vogue in Bollywood from 1930. In the beginning it used to be in sync with the recording of the actor . However with time the process got reversed as the prerecording of the songs stated to happen. This allowed for the directors to create scenarios “without having to accommodate the particular vocal limitations” . The music for the narrative of the Bollywood has been the signature style. Dancing often accompanies the sexual love which is not portrayed directly by the Bollywood films.

The films of Bollywood are presented as a fantasy where the audience takes in the form of a passive audience. The experience is more of a “Darshan” following the Darsanic tradition. The tradition follows the idleness of the Indian audience. A tradition of voyeurism is exercised in the movie narrative. Though there is a sharp distinction between the voyeurism of theatrics and the cinematic. In Bollywood the performance of the cinematic experience is a mix between the Indianness and the “Western” model. The model of Indian delusion with the “Western” influences has become the peculiar way for the narrative of the storyline. The direct message is not presented through the celluloid. Regarding this since the inception of Indian cinema scholarship there has been a representation of it as an opiate. It can be well summed up in the fact that “Bollywood has developed a meaningless, devious style that has been its greatest deterrent to maturity” (Sarkar 1975). It has been the trend of Bollywood for a long time where Hindi Bollywood cinema “deludes audiences into believing their own delusions”. The reason could be possibly mentioned as “this ultra – Puritanism- it would seem, is a hangover from the Victorian outlook, grafted on to our system and fostered by a conventional morality” (Sarkar 1975). Bollywood has suffered from the dilemmatic oscillation between the western and the Indianness. The elements of both the different school of film making thought in Bollywood has created a hybrid model. So it is not easy to categorize Bollywood into definite Binary Models. There is an element of colonial construct juxtaposed with the Indianness which as Kakar mentioned has an element of dependency. The dependency along the family ties.  Apart from this the effect of the “Darsanic” gaze as discussed earlier is the most important component of Bollywood movies. Representation of “Voyeurism” which is different for the cinematic versus the theatrical is of prime use in Bollywood. As mentioned earlier theatrical voyeurism is different from the cinematic voyeurism. The space of screen is a very important context here.

In the cinematic world of Bollywood the impact of the screen is a very strong phenomenon. The representation of the actors in the cinematic space of Bollywood is very different from other classical cinema practises around the globe. The representation of actors looking directly into the camera is in direct contradiction of the norms accepted and practiced around the globe. Bollywood creates this viewpoint for audience not being a part of the cinema directly. However in Bollywood the other elements of significant importance are the concept of the “religious” world view. The movement of the religious entertainment has been also there in Indian cinematic sphere for a long time. Bollywood movies over a period of time have developed a hybrid model of cinematic experience.  This experience is more of a deliberate attempt to resist the Hollywood mode of production. As explained earlier the model of Bollywood is more of a mix and match model and cannot be classified in one simple category as mentioned by Vijay Mishra. The elements of the devotional aspect have been a key element of the Bollywood film industry. This has in fact been even extended in the television concept as well with the religious drama which has dominated a major chunk of the entertainment industry. There is a tendency of predetermining simplified approach to the audience as in Indianness. This Indianness makes a very different aspect of Bollywood. Tickling the Indian ego which is more comfortable with childish ego as mentioned by Prahlad Kakkar has been the key component of cinematic experience of Bollywood. Indian society evolution had an impact on Bollywood however the core components remained the same.

 


 Reference Guide: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

By Matt Hoffman

With 18th November, 2016 approaching slower than we’d all like, we thought why not find a quick reference guide for all you Potterheads out there to freshen your memories, heighten your excitement, and revive the fandom that is Harry Potter series?!

Discover an awesome guide to J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that we found for your perusal, below. We hope you have a magical time!

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Black Coffee 2016 Issue #3

Editor’s Note

So.

Welcome back!

10494864_10205072142914796_4101056931226006777_nBefore I start off with my monthly monologue, here’s a small bit of advice. We’re smack-dab in the middle of Navaratri season already, so the sooner you give your clothes for alterations, the better it is for all parties concerned. Oorja is colors brought to life, a festival that has a special place in every MICAn’s heart. All those sights and sounds, laughter and dance! The food and sweets on offer will gladden your heart and maybe add an inch to your tummy. It’s also the perfect opportunity to explore campuses other than your own. Take a trip to IIM-A or NID for their Garba night. Hopefully the rains will give us a break.

We’re down one trimester already. How do you feel? Relieved or sad? Frightened at the rate at which time goes by? Don’t worry about it. There’s a lot coming up so strap on your seat-belts and be ready.

It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

We hope you enjoy this issue. Feel free to write to us, whatever you like – right from articles, stories and other artwork that you wish to share with us to feedback and reviews about how we can improve Black Coffee and give you a more enjoyable reading experience.

Cheers!


The Storyteller’s Corner

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Bala Sai, PGP-2

Taxi

The taxi growled and puckered to a grind as the lights changed. Parthiban winced in the back seat, his forehead knocking against the window glass as the timid yellow beast shook itself awake. Outside, the city of Kolkata exercised its chaos, a yellow light washing over its potent nostalgia. A Bengali tune from the car’s radio wafted around his head like a ring of Saturn, kept from crashing into him by the barrier of language.

It was 8 in the night, the time when Hoogly takes to the streets, its currents knotting around black tires, polluting the air above with furious honks. A massive new clock-tower was being constructed outside, looking heavily like a structure one would describe as ‘Victorian’ even if one had no idea what ‘Victorian’ was. It was a behemoth with an identity crisis, new in age but old in character, with no idea why it was pretending.

“Or maybe it has to do with our inherent distrust of everything modern,” quipped the taxi driver, peering at him through the rear view mirror.

“If that were true, I wouldn’t trust my I-Phone. But I do.”

“That, saab, can be explained by the inherent trust of everything western.”

“Is there no value for merit, then?”

“Oh there is, there is! There is just no value for history.”

“What is the point of valuing history? History is for people who consume the story and leave the people behind. It’s for the dreamers and the cowardly. It’s for the birds that do not land. This clock tower you see here? It’s like a bowl of worms. It’s for these birds on the clouds to swoop down, satiate themselves and fly back, while its weight crushes those men with their feet on the soil, those unconcerned with history.”

“But saab, many a times, aren’t these two the same person?”

Parthiban sighed. “All the time. The heart is a foolish thing. Passions corrode.”

“You seem to be quite a romantic yourself, saab,” he said, chuckling.

Parthiban grunted and looked out of his window, at a huge digital billboard advertising a political party, a few damaged panels exposing its lie. The elections were just round the corner and advertising spaces in the city were high in demand. The buses and the trams, the auto-rickshaws, the huge billboards, all reflected a face. It was always the same face, regardless of gender or age or affiliation. It was the same face as every time before and every time after.

“Democracy, saab. Democracy. It’s the cruelest thing. It makes you believe you have free will.”

Parthiban chuckled. “You’re too well-informed to be a taxi driver,” he said.

The driver turned back and grinned. “You’re too passionate to be a cynic.”

“I never claimed to be one.”

“Nor did I.”

“What are you then?”

A pause.

“Sometimes, I think that I’m a means, a conduit.”

“Meaning you know where this road leads to?”

“No, but at least that it is going somewhere.”

The car came to a sudden screeching halt, almost crashing into the minivan ahead.

The traffic had come to a standstill as a political procession clogged the road ahead. Frail little men crowded around the circus- doe eyed and ripe for charming, as the Gods danced for them on the stage, their deceptive dance of hopes. Khaki clad policemen with worn-out lathis appeared on the sidelines, their frowns directed at the men rather than the Gods.

“Well, the road might be going somewhere, but at this rate, we sure aren’t”, quipped Parthiban.

The driver threw his hands up and slunk back in his seat. “So, what destroys your sense of balance, saab?”

“I’m not sure. The deeper you go, the more meaningless it gets. Deep inside, man is unreasonable. And all those knots you tie to keep your beliefs secure- faith, hope, rationality- all of them unravel if you look long and closely enough.”

“Then how is it, these peace people ply their trade? Those that shape and hold sentiments, who mount the throne that is the state?”

“The key, bhai, is to time your tricks. To strike when they haltingly believe your knots are in place.”

The driver grunted. “It must be fun, believing that chaos unfolds somewhere far below you, and you can watch it with a sigh of contempt.”

“There, there. What is the point of privilege if you don’t appreciate it? Why am I supposed to feel guilty for the mess these others are in?”

“But, saab, an economy isn’t made with one man, you must concede. The consumerism you indulge in won’t exist if not for the chaos that engulfs these others.”

“This is no longer a question of political ideologies, is it? You blame the system, not just the politics, for corruption and greed. I contest that, though. Corruption is basic human nature. Let us not glorify humanity by arresting it in a code of Honor – an Honor that is dynamic, personal and amorphous. Breaking the code makes humanity less honorable than a species that doesn’t even make a code to begin with. All we get out of it is guilt, and sometimes, it is with this guilt, that kingdoms are made and slain.”

“Do you think that is wrong?”

“No. That is the way of the world. Some people are always bound to bleed. Civilization is all about disguising it. The system just makes sure people don’t slaughter each other on the streets.”

“What you are otherwise saying, saab, is that the system thrives by destroying equality, while promising it in some invisible future. To wilfully let them grab your will, cosseting yourself with indecision. It seems like quite a masterful deception, I would say.”

“It’s not quite as conscious as it is an aftershock.”

“Aftershock of?”

“The insecurity of the weak. The necessity for the weak to create weaknesses in others.”

“Dangerous words, saab. Myopic as well. I would say that the strong have reaped more out of it than the weak have eventually.”

“That’s because it was the system that created the strong and the weak in the first place. A fake sense of inequality kills a society from the outside. But a fake sense of equality, destroys a person from inside. And that, bhai, is the greatest violence in the world.”

“Are you saying that a person is a person without the society that shapes him?”

“I am not arguing between them. I’m arguing about which should power which.”

A policeman knocked on the driver’s window with his lathi, gesturing him to move to a side lane as the procession moved forward. The driver peered behind, honking furiously. Parthiban placed his hand on his shoulder.

“What’s your name?”

“Tilak.”

“Tilak, I want to watch it closely. Can we not duck into that alley?”

The driver had a fit of laughter, chuckling to himself. “How voyeuristic of you, saab! And how unsurprising.”

Parthiban rolled down the glass, and noise filled the cab.

“There is always going to be conflict,” the driver was saying. “You can’t choose to stay out of it; it’s not your privilege. Not as long as sacrifices continue to be glorified.”

“What are you saying, Tilak?”

“I’m saying that there is no solution in your way. It’s far too late for that.”

“Nobody acknowledges a revolution until they are halfway in it.”

“Is that what you intend to do? Spark a revolution?”

“The revolution is closer to you than you can possibly imagine.” Parthiban paused. “What is your solution, Tilak? What is your way?”

“My way is simple, saab. The wheel of fortune keeps spinning. I want to spin it the way that benefits my people best.”

The crowd began to push against the taxi, the procession squeezing through the narrow lane, now within a few feet from them. Parthiban could now see the leader, the several expressions of his face, the venom of his words sifting through them.

“Tell me, Tilak, is it about the pleasure of having others partake in your selfishness? Does that reassure you? A cause?”

“You’re seeing it backwards. The world isn’t bottomless. It ends in darkness, a black, slippery pit that consumes the self. ”

“An act of selflessness is a very selfish thing, Tilak.”

“If that is so, I am proud of it.”

Parthiban chuckled. “Do you realize that we’re saying very similar things, yet they are in direct conflict?”

The driver nodded, acknowledging him with a subtle smile on his face. He looked up at the rear-view mirror and caught Parthiban’s gaze. He held it. It was just for a moment, but it changed something in both the men. It wasn’t an exothermic change, but a slight exchange of confidences, a soft but thrilling realization.

They would have burst into a bout of laughter, if the bomb hadn’t detonated in the taxi that very moment.


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Kajol Gupta, PGP-1

From Eyes of Lust

Ancient eyes stared dispassionately from the shadows at the crowd that moved aimlessly without any spirit or care, gait a lackadaisical approach at sophistication, manners a pathetic excuse in the name of gentility.

Devoid of humanity and laden with an unsettling inquisitiveness, the eyes that looked out at the surroundings were bright with an attentiveness that lacked both judgement and condescension. No one noticed the man standing beneath the oak tree, despite his unusually tall height and the hypnotic pull of his personality that would, normally, be noticeable even before his presence was ever realized.

Traffic lights changed, conversations flowed, an errant laughter floated in the air washing over pedestrians while rich aroma of various street foods mingled within themselves along with the smoke that was a constant presence of the city life. And while all this happened, while various scenes played as if snippets from a movie- a kid paying for his ice-cream, people waiting irritably in a queue in front of an ATM, a construction worker ducking under the yellow tape, finally leaving for home- the man beneath the tree stood silent and reflective.

Taking a deep breath that he didn’t really need, he intoned a word in a language unremembered, the movement so small it was as if he didn’t move at all. For a moment, limitations ceased to exist. Time lost its meaning and life seemed to halt for the ignorant while, in actuality, for those who could comprehend even the very basic nuances of enlightenment, it began. Breath was a useless commodity and time didn’t need to be clocked every second because it was eternal and multidimensional.

Now, as seconds were stretched and divided into their very tiniest component- a number truly inconceivable for the puny human mind to understand (a number they would naively call infinity) – the man moved out from beneath the shadow of the tree and looked up. His eyes were a color that would be hard to define- a base of warm brown with all the iridescence of the celestial spectrum, irises brightened with shades of green, gold and bronze. Raising his hands in an almost theatrical sweep, he whispered another word and in a swirl of blurring colors, he turned into smoke, seeping into dark corners, permeating slowly into all the living.

There wasn’t a human who could look at this creature in all his majestic glory and still remain sane. He was sensation unadulterated. He was power pure and simple. Seduction in its rough, undiluted essence- he was radiance of a thousand suns. Gratification in its paradoxically violent calmness… Want with its scratching, sizzling burn.

He was Lust. An amoral inhuman being, supposedly fallen from God’s good graces, now wandering the earth.

Just as innocuously as before, when time had began working in supernal terms, it went back to working around the clocks and the night sky was once again filled with the chatter of birds, while the humans resumed their activities, unaware of the phenomenal incident that’d just taken place.

Lust hovered in the sky in his new form as smoke- smoke, so easily disregarded because of its familiar presence in the city- snaking through cobbled streets, saturating the air with his presence, sinking in warm, inviting skins.. All the while peeping into human minds and observing the world as it happened.

He let all the occurrences of the planet wash over him. He let the busy minds of people with their constant murmurs and restless energies buzz through his psyche. He forced open all mental barriers until he was one with the world and then, he began to listen and to watch. From the multitude of happenings that occurred around him, he chose a random handful and let them play like a bunch of slides in front of his eyes…

A girl lay half-conscious on the dirty street. Her weakened body broke with a keening whimper as she desperately, unsuccessfully tried to shield herself from the ruthless, lascivious stares of the brutes who’d ripped her clothes to tatters and from the looks of it, may even have knocked her around with fists and blades. Blood covered her upper half as if a shawl wrapped around the shoulders. A meaty hand of another man jerked her cradled body to his while others catcalled with impatience and steadily growing lust of the perverse. The scene faded with the sounds of the girl’s sobs still ringing in its wake, that were now no more than silent cries of her heart as her will was callously overlooked and violated.

Another scene took over as the previous lost its grasp on Lust’s mind.

A man stood with a glass of champagne in his hand, leisurely gazing at the infamous veteran businessman with a multi-billion dollar empire as he finished his speech. To an idle spectator, he would look like any other ordinary guest enjoying a good inspirational speech while internally, he was seething with a bitter envy and a lust for power so far gone, he was like an addict in his last phase. Uncaring of his wife waiting for him at home, he smiled down at the petite blonde by his side as he jealously eyed the power that the businessman on stage commanded. The man’s mind was poisoned with a want so sharp, he was lost to happiness- too caught up in all things materialistic and temporal. Eyes burning with a feverish gleam as the man planned the biggest, most risky and the most dishonorable deception of his life, with an apologetic shrug to the woman next to him refusing the obvious invitation in her eyes, he turned to go set up.

As Lust moved on to another scene, he now latched on to the happenings between a couple who looked so engrossed in each other, it was obvious that they were blind to the world around them.

The woman stood naked in a room and turned to look at her partner as a touch traveled down her spine making her arch up. The air around them was thick with mutual anticipation and excitement that was so heady, they both leaned into one another more closely. The woman stood on tiptoes, tangling her fingers with the hair on the man’s nape as she tilted her head to catch his mouth in a kiss that was searing in its passion. The man wrapped his arms around her and brought her more close to his body as they continued kissing each other, all the while murmuring endearments and encouragements. This, Lust thought, wasn’t just his essence that they felt. There seemed to be another lingering fog surrounding them. Not a fleeting desire but something deeper, more meaningful. Love, he thought, ah. Letting the present sweep over him as he enjoyed their command on his core power, he turned to go, gathering his smoky tendrils as he began his transformation back to a human body.

Once again he stood beneath the same oak tree, now more pensive than alert. He pondered on all the visuals he’d just had. On all the things that were happening right this moment even as he breathed.

Hmm.

He thought about how, through centuries, the humans portrayed him as the good, like Eros- the Greek god of love, and the bad like Asmodeus- the demon of lust. He thought about how, with their limited thinking and prejudiced ways, they’d always looked at things with their smug preconceptions, which constantly resulted in a biased judgement. Fact was, he was too multifaceted and too magnificent to ever condense into a restricted mold.

He was utter seduction of the senses until it owned a person. He obsessed the soul, but not without permission, and that’s all it came down to- an individual’s willingness to give in.

Memories still sloshing in his mind, he remembered all their thoughts, their feelings, their experience and it singed his vanity a bit, even as impartially emotionless that we was, to always be cast as a villain or a hero. When would the humans learn?

Humans, with their love of dropping blame on everything other than themselves and their uncaring attitudes towards the consequences of their actions… He was surprised to find himself feeling something after a long, long time. He felt pity for them.

There were no victims, only participants. He didn’t prey on innocents. He overwhelmed only the weak that were too limp in their resolves to be so easily strayed or the willing, who were aware of the consequences of every action, who were eager to let go. It’s always a decision, never a fate. He wasn’t a sin, perversion was. Anything exploited beyond morality, anything blackened with malicious intent, excess beyond limitations.. That was a sin.

But, he wasn’t only good. He wasn’t only bad either. He was both. He was like a coin with two different sides, balancing the karmic equilibrium of the living. How the beings used his power, how they reached their satisfaction and how they reached their end- that was all in their hands, not his.

But oh, didn’t he show them a good time.

Shaking in silent laughter as shrugged the sombre thoughts, he spared one last glance at the vibrant city in front of him as he slowly closed his eyes. With a smile still tugging at his lips, he disappeared, as unnoticeable now as he was even while he was present.


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Nitika Satya, PGP-1

Boy Friend

Ever wondered about a gap? Of course. You have wondered. Always. From the first window you got between your teeth to your adolescence when thigh gaps became an unspoken desire to the emotional gap you felt for the first time between your parents and you, ‘gap’ has been a significant part of your life. And you have detested it most of the time. Only a handful number of people can boast of their diastema. Generation gap is one thing that has troubled every individual. Hence, it is not a surprise that the word ‘gap’ has earned a negative connotation for itself.

What is surprising is that it is not true even though we love to hate it. How conveniently we forget the gaps we deliberately introduce when we need our own “space”, just like we introduce gaps between railway tracks to prevent constant pushing and pulling against one another. These gaps complete us letting us have our own individuality.

Perhaps this recurring, incessant urge to “fill in the gap” blocks our vision to view a ‘gap’ as something providing liberation and novelty … a space to wander about and deliberate when others are working hard to fill in the gap, in the process suffocating you … a ‘gap’ that gives us a beautiful relationship despite being devoid of those butterflies in the stomach.

I am talking about that particular gap which gives you a person to depend upon when you want to cut out the drama from your life. It is just a small gap between two words that lets you breathe, small enough for you to occasionally jump over to take a completely different perspective. A gap that provides subconsciously required separation with a promise of continuity.  It resides perfectly between those two words where its existence is sometimes questioned with suspicion and uncertainty, sometimes with a shocking denial of its authenticity.

Can there truly be a gap between ‘boy’ and ‘friend’? It almost resonates with the famous Mohnish Behl’s dialogue – “Ek ladka ladki kabhi dost nahi hote.”
Only if the character knew that friendships were gender blind. (sigh)

It was not completely his fault. He had been raised in a society which still took a girl-guy friendship with a pinch of salt. A section of society influenced the character and the character’s dialogue influenced more sections. It’s certainly innocuous but films mostly end up showing two best friends falling for each other in the end thus destroying the vision of immaculate guy-girl friendship in gullible eyes. Films mostly try to show that friendship is the first step to eventually falling in love. Hence, when there is a friendship blossoming up, the next level has to be love!
I am not guilt free. I too felt bad when Rani didn’t end up with Oleksander in ‘Queen’ but I am glad it didn’t turn out that way. So much for that idea of ‘non-existent cute gentleman who can truly be only a friend’ !  There’s so much concentration on ‘romance’ that platonic friendship is mired in expectations and anticipations of evolving into something … well, ‘romantic’ !

Will I get jealous when my boy friend ( mind the gap!) gives priority to his girlfriend? Perhaps , yes . No, the cupid has not hit me. When a mother grows jealous of her daughter-in-law because her son devotes more time to her , it’s not because of the cupid. When one girl becomes jealous of a guy because her sorority sister is giving more time to her boyfriend, it is also not because of the cupid. So why does the jealousy cropping up between opposite-sex friendships have to be necessarily seen through romantic lenses? I am sure the chubby toddler has better things to do.

Cupid will someday turn its attention towards us if it hasn’t so far. Meanwhile , we can try to appreciate the gap that is giving us a beautiful relationship. One that helps us understand the bro-code and more importantly, technology – related issues. (I hope the so-called feminist squad is not reading it). The gap between ‘boy’ and ‘friend’ is not a gulf that swallows the connecting chord, nor an abyss which can force you to fall infinitely into nothingness. It won’t complete you but you sure are incomplete without it. Feel lucky if you have a boy friend.


Teacher’s Lounge: Welcome

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Falguni Vasavada-Oza, Faculty

Twitter Stories

#1 Their first pic together meant the world to her! She found love being portrayed flawlessly! He instagrammed the pic with a “brighter” filter & edited the flaw!#‎LoveintheageofSM

#2 She wanted him to post something about her! He posted on happiness instead! She unfollowed making someones world devoid of happiness! #‎LoveintheageofSM

#3 She: Come let’s see our pics!
He: Share them on WhatsApp, honey!Memories, alas, were lost over a network.” #‎LoveintheageofSM

#4 After applying a brush of “Smile” they arrived at the party. They truly played the role of a happily married couple! He thanked the photographer and she thought about a “filter” to post a happy pic! #‎LoveintheageofSM


Poetic Musings

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Shashank Srivastava, PGP-1

Abhi Baaki Hai

Nange pair chalatha ret par,

Chalte chalet kadam naa jaane kaha le aaye,

Mud kar dekhta hut oh lagta ha abhi toh shuru kia hai,

Kadmo ke nishaan banana toh abhi baaki hai,

Patto si sukh chuki hai palke meri,

Patto si jhad jaaye itni kamzor nahi,

Inhe pakad ke nichodoge toh paoge,

Ki inme paani abhi baaki hai,

Mann mera ghabrata hai,

jab umeed ka ujala dhundlata hai,

Phir khud hi ko main samjhata hu,

Abhi toh bas badal chhaye hai,

Din dhalna toh abhi baaki hai,

Neend bohot hai in aankho mein,

Neend mein chupi ek khamoshi hai,

Waqt nahi son eke liye,

Kyuki kuchh khwab abhi aise hai,

Jinhe pura karna abhi baaki hai.


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Angad Singh Bhullar, PGP-1

Principles

To get hated, and not yet hate,

To meet with a smile, all vagaries of fate.

To brush all rancor aside, and never berate,

To begin each day like a clean slate.

To get stereotyped and realize,

To end one’s generosity it does not suffice.

To fight for an idea one finds true,

To stick to principle, even when it costs you.

To sink really low and not yet despair,

To realize in redeeming yourself, the next day is always there.

To befriend someone, supposedly different from you,

To realize it only matters if the friendship was loyal and true.


Zeel M

Zeel Mehta, CCC

Uss din main bahut royi, school ne bas nikal feka iss duniya mein

Pucha bhi nahi agar main tayyar thi

Writer banungi main, ek badiya writer banungi, kaha mere dimaag ne ek khali dil se,

Par kya woh ek din kabhi bhi aayega, jab koi professor baccho ko prerit karne ke liye meri kavita sunayega?

Aur kya muje pata bhi chalega jab woh din aayega

Aaj thoda bahut likh leti hu, aur likhte likhte sochti hu,

uss chitr ka kya jo maine bachpan mein banayi thi

Sunita Williams ke poster ka kya jise bhula na pati thi

Uss camera ka kya jise papa se zidd karke kharida tha

Kya ek badiya writer ke liye yeh sab bhul jau?

Uss ek professor ke liye meri kahani puri na karu?

Kya hoga agar main writer na ban pau?

Professor yaha par kehte hai, sawal karo, sawal karo har ek cheez par,

Toh lo, uthaya maine ek sawaal.

Nahi banna muje ek writer, ek painter, ek photographer, banna hai muje sab kuch.

Thodi sketching kharab hai, thodi hindi bhi bekar hai, par kyu aap kehte hai mujse mere paas time naa hai?

Kahiye mujse Karo jo karna hai,

Saath hain tumhare bano jo banna hai!


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Aditya Dubash, PGP-1

A Glimpse of Paradise and a Slice of Brotherhood

Careful not to wake my parents,

I sneaked out through the attic;

To the wall a little ways down the road,

To glimpse the sky meeting the Earth. What magic!

The old man sat there, looking at the sky,

Like every other night, I sat by his side.

“Nay, old man, what do you see?”, I asked.

He took a minute, to collect his musings while I listened to the tide.

“A memory of a distant time at a beautiful land”, he wheezed.

“Close your eyes and try to see,

Of being nestled betwixt  the mountains, as the river flows close,

As dusk approaches and the whiff of pine trees”.

“I hear their light-hearted banter, as our laughter echoes,

Between the japes, the unknown tales venture out”.

“Who are these people?”, I asked.

“Brothers”, he managed to croak out.

“I see the road, as it snaked between the mountains,

Sometimes it’s just a path between walls of ice,

Sometimes a river flows beside us,

As mountains surround us beneath star strewn skies”.

“Such a place exists?”, I blurted out.

The old man laughed as the moonlight made the sea glow.

“Oh it did, boy. It was my first glimpse of paradise.

Of being one with nature, with brothers in tow”.

“We rode in awed silence, spectators to nature’s marvel,

Camaraderie grew stronger as we rode through,

Landscapes changed every half hour as if they showed nature’s changing moods,

Reflections of the sky that turned a whole lake blue”.

“How will I find my brothers old man?”, I ventured.

“Life will bring them to you”, was his reply.

“And if it doesn’t?”. “Then you belong to the world, boy. You are free”

He turned to me and the skies were reflected in his sightless eyes.

“Old man are you..?”, I began.

But he had already begun walking away.

Leaning heavily on his cane turned,

His last words to me, did he say:

“For one day you will fall for the feeling,

Of staring at the stars strewn across the sky,

Of making the whole world your home,

Wanderlust”, said they. “Human”, said I.


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Ayushi Mona, PGP-1

A Written Recurrence

I can no longer tell you what I had wanted to say.

Instead, I take the coward’s way,

I vomit words on a blank sheet,

I think I will send them to you in fond remembrance.

They won’t make much sense,

But we both know that anyway.

This is the luxury I give myself,

Of a few more words.

Before I fling myself into the abyss that has been waiting for me.

This is my syntactic pleasure,

The calmness of evenly spaced words.

Before I face (or escape) the muddle that awaits me

Sending you this is my momentary escape.

A tentative step back

To test waters of a troubled past.

I will go back

To find that the cigarettes have lost

And the vodka has failed

In this restless battle to reclaim.

So, I will let these scribbled lines be my friend.

Thus armed, I will return to you

An unimagined foe.

I will soak some of this empty pain

Before I douse myself in it again.


Photography Central

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Ashna Shah, PGP-1

ashna_photo-1

ashna_photo-2

ashna_photo-3


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Nirmit Shah, PGP-1

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Articles

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Shiraley Chandra, PGP-1

Thoughtcrime: Let’s Indulge

The law is the law but like always, laws are never absolute – only relative. A law that was, some ninety years ago, may be a crime today and a crime today may be a law some ninety years hence.

There is a world of difference between being a law abiding citizen and one that propagates it without due thought just because it is the law. Herein lies the fundamental disillusionment (or lack thereof) among fascism, socialism and capitalism, each subservient to other sub-genres, equally or more invasive to our psyche than we care to imagine or comprehend unless forced to.

Complacency and comfort are the cunts of cautious thought, guided much like carnal pleasure- by the need of sheer want; the biggest hindrances to revolutions brimming beneath our cranial shells. It is only when we get rid of these or forcefully dissociate ourselves from the confounded heresy of material distractions that our minds can truly fathom their true role in the grander scheme of things. It is only then that questions give birth to more questions instead of counter-reactions and this happens to be the premise of intelligent thought.

Question everything! Believe nothing you’ve been taught. Always question it till you receive an answer sublime enough to put said question to rest forever. Then question the next thing that comes your way.
The best way to question is to read. Read anything and everything you can get your hands on. Every piece of propaganda, of dissent, of the dissatisfaction of the proletariat and the feeble tries of the elites, the bourgeoisie and pseudo intellectuals to appease and assuage the impending overthrow, is an addition to the mightiest weapon at your disposal- your God awful intellect. It is also the only thing standing between you and the beautifully wrapped bullshit you’re spoon-fed to ensure the smooth functioning of the current form of complacency in your time, the poison of the period- democracy, autocracy, lunacy- whatever sails their boats (and yours).
Dissent at the top of your voice till your lungs give way to a throat filled with smoke and rapture and never ending slogans of questions that need answering. Turn to anarchy of the mind than that of the person and let your thoughts run free with wild abandon. Do not conform! Rebel against the contrived notions of submission and obedience just for the sake of it. Question your own motives for everything you undertake and make ‘thinking’ a part of everyday routine. Pay attention to the human condition and then shine floodlights on human conditioning, beaten into dank submission at the behest of comfort, at the cost of individual reasoning.
Think. Strive. Dissent. Rebel. Retaliate.

Never conform unless an idea resonates with every atom of your being. Never settle for a form of governance that doesn’t hold out for the greater good. Never ever hark hoarse about elites that pledge allegiance to people instead of the cause.

Read, my heretic hearts. Read and rebel against the shackles of what keeps you forced to drone on like worker ants when you’re meant to claim the open skies without a ticking death knell chained to your feet. Riot against complacency by reading, my renegades! Embrace heresy at the core of your being and question every single thing in accordance. Fight the doggone order of redundancy. Rise up to your own inner consciousness. Be a leftist. Be a rightist. Be whoever the hell your innate thoughtfulness guides you to be but for the love of everything that defies ignorance, read well enough that the questions make you ponder beyond the futility of life and into the realm of bettering it.


The City of Dreams

Chirag_Vegad

They call this city – ‘a city of dreams’.

Billions of dreams rise up every moment of everyday. Some of them realize into reality while others get squatted mercilessly. But the dreams never stop rising up again in a hope to see the light of the dawn, breaking the shackles of a nightmarish reality the city hides within itself.

I came out of the 8 P.M local after a gruelling day in the city. Somehow, I managed to brush past an ocean of men and women who seemed to rise above the tide of the cacophony to jostle and submerge into the ocean again. I was pushed, I was bashed and I was broken in spirit. But somehow, I did not seem to mind that at all. A pity from within caressed my ‘inconvenience’ when I realized that this was the way the city seemed to move forward, the way dreams were being chased relentlessly in pursuit of nothingness.

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I looked down; sweat dripping from my brows, my eyes fixated on the railway tracks after the local had disappeared into the smog.

“Where have they come from? Where are they leading to?”

Do the travellers really have a destination? An end to their journey?

Why do they pick themselves up every day and unfold the same story day after day after day?

What has this city given them? Food, shelter, livelihood?

A hand reached out to me, derailing my train of thought. It was the everyday child, soiled in the blanket of the city’s dirt, stretching her hand out to me as if I owed her something.

“Why is she begging of me? No, No! What is she begging of me?”

I’m not a messiah. I didn’t owe her anything.

“Is she asking me to give her food/money? 

Or a ransom to rescue herself from the spasms of atrocities that were evident on her wrinkled face?”

What was I to do but to simply move on?  I can’t trust every child extending its arm to be valued with my concerns. The city has taught me to be wary enough to snub away such emotions. I give myself a resounding justification of the propaganda that I’ve always found convenient – not to encourage child beggars.

“Was I wrong this time?” I asked myself.

Nah. Probably not.

I couldn’t be bothered on an empty stomach.

Slowly mounting up the stairs into the land of the surface dwellers, manifestations of the city pierced my eyes. A cool breeze swept past me which smelt like the rheumy, nauseating stench from the gutters of the city – home to some, a workplace for some in the city. Out of repugnance, I clasped the railings of the stairs which led me to the exit.

My senses gradually came back to normal. I had to catch a bus to my ‘home’, my destination for the day. On the edge of the road, I looked towards left. And then I looked towards right. And I looked towards left again; I had been taught this in my school. I had to survive while getting across the street. I had to come out alive on the other side of the road to make it to another day.

Is this what the city’s stooped to offer me after all this time? A few seconds of emptiness on the road, every day, as an offer to see my loved ones?

What did the city offer me then? My life? Love? Or an endless hamster-wheel run for me to never stop and wonder who or what put me on the wheel?

On the other side of the road, a few faces appeared resembling the autumn leaves ready to be shaken off in the wind. Ignoring them seemed the best option. The bus stop was a shaded respite for many during the day. During the night, it became home to a few. I took support of a dented pillar and waited for the arduous journey back to the hole from where I crawled out of this morning. Time never seems to pass when you’ve to wait for the last leg of your transit if you’ve already pictured a cold shower and hot food.

I took notice of a few girls playing at the other end of the bench. One of them was hitting the other for an arm that the latter had pulled off from the doll of the former. There was no crying, no tears in the eyes of the one who was hitting. Just a 10 year old stern face. She probably knew that no one was bothered about her emotions over a broken doll which had no use whatsoever. Tears rolled out of the girl who had been hit. Her cheeks had reddened and soiled with her tears. May be she wasn’t mature enough for the kind of life she was dealing with at the age of 5.

Wait, did I have some money on me for them to buy a new one? I checked my wallet. Green notes only.  Bad luck for them, I didn’t have change to spare.

Not my fault.

As I looked to the other way, a thick plume of smoke had started engulfing the area. I choked and coughed, trying to frantically fan away the poisonous smoke from my face. The smell – Carbon monoxide – caused due to incomplete combustion of organic matter. This knowledge came in handy today to decide whether I should bear with more of the revolting smell from the city or not. As the wind changed its direction, I could vaguely see a silhouette of an old lady fanning a burning log of wood. There she was sitting on a red brick, gazing into the fire lifelessly. She was wearing a tattered old yellow sari, which refused to cover her entire body.

My eyes had become watery and pain had become sharper. It had become unbearable.

“Are you mad lady? Why the hell would you burn a log in a public place, in the middle of summer?” I wanted to shout onto her face.

I chose not to. She was boiling water for a handful of rice, probably the only morsel of salvation on this devilishly hot and humid day. I realized the fact that losing control over one’s patience over circumstances governing your life had no meaning in this city. I could have shouted. She could have simply ignored me. She was probably deaf for all I could have known.

A lady in her late forties was sitting besides her doing the same thing I had thought in my mind just a while back. She was as lean as the dented pillar itself on which I was leaning. She was carrying a child in her arms. I assumed it was a couple of years old from a brief look at them. The child had woken up from its sleep and started wailing loudly which irritated the mother to no extent.

For the lady with the child, the water had been boiled too long and the smoke made her child weep uncontrollably. For the lady with a foot in the grave, it did not even matter if the water had already spilled and doused the fire.  For both of them – No attention paid, nothing to lose, and no love lost before ending another day.

I asked myself again, what has the city given them? The answer was not a difficult one – Whatever they’ve managed to snatch.

The bus came hurtling sideways and screeched to a halt. I climbed in after being heckled again. It was irrelevant. It meant no disrespect if people involuntarily violated you. They were the same passengers as was I. I took a seat and looked out of the window. The fibre of the window made a rattling noise as the driver slammed his foot on the pedal. I looked out of the window and saw the same old, dreary bus stand. On its side was a poster – ‘Keep your city clean’. Clean, the city was – of dirt, not of people. I threw a last look at the old lady in the tattered yellow sari. Faint feelings of pity churned up in my heart. She did not have anything to look forward to at the end of the day, not even a soft bed.

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The bus crawled forward. I looked on as the lady as ancient as the city itself, rose up from her seat. She tore off the poster from the stand and laid it flat on the pavement. She then proceeded to empty the cooked rice on it and offered it to the baby in her mother’s arms.

I had seen enough for the day. I had picked up plenty from the city.

Now, it made me wonder again… what did the city then finally had to offer?

An answer that simple doesn’t exist. Even if it does, it changes its form and meaning every moment for everyone, everywhere. In reality, it might not suffice anyone’s curiosity after all.

But one thing’s for sure though, the city never lets you lose hope or stop dreaming for another day.

 

Chirag Vegad
PGP 21

Glimpses of India

rahul_nanda

Rahul Nanda
PGP 22

Chhitkul, Himachal Pradesh

Chhitkul, Himachal Pradesh

Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi

Humayun's Tomb, Delhi

Village Sankri, Uttarakhand

Village Sankri, Uttarakhand

The Prosaic

Neha_Vasishta

It may be a ray of sunshine, but it seems like a ray of hope,

It may be just the chirping of the birds, but it seems like the chirping of a symphony,

It may be just water pouring, but it seems like the pearls showering,

It may be prosaic, but it is not.

I am sitting in a corner of this bliss,

Yet I feel surrounded by its eternity.

I am just writing a few words,

Yet I feel unburdened from the disorder.

I am looking outside the window,

Yet I see a life raveling and unraveling itself.

Fighting with the confusion and playing with the solution,

It may be prosaic, but it is not ecstasy.

Neha Vasishta
PGP 22

Reflex

Shiksha_Singh

I look down to see my own reflection,

In the fields of raw earth and dust, replaced

By glistening marble. And I wonder,

At the transparent, all-telling sea, Erased.

 

There used to be upon this ground, poetry;

Of dead leaves and new fresh fruit,

Singing of ends that harbor perennially,

 Boundless tunes, from mother birth’s flute.

 

And even through clouds, stark dark nights

The foliage reverberated with sight,

And revealed within the unwavering black

“As dusk arrives, so does starlight”.

 

The open space of reason that stood,

And yet let fly has now made way,

For swarms of skeletons huddled together,

Within walls, yet cast away.

 

In looking up from my boxed desk,

A last Image flashes by,

Of the erstwhile tree that spoke when quiet

That “history shades, But I won’t deny,

 

When man grows enough to assume

That he shall race and pass me by,

Beneath the same ceilings and uniform rooms,

He shall realize his lost, endless sky.”

 

Shiksha Singh
PGP 22

 

Cyanide

Aishvarya_Raghavan

He staggered towards the kitchen.

Empty, it did not bear any signs of inhabitation, except intricately woven cobwebs looming from the high ceiling like an ominous oracle- “Whoever sets foot inside will be trapped”

Determined, he set out in his search for he knew what he needed was right here. How many times had he seen her uncorking the bottle and contemplating its contents? How many times had she shoved it into his face in manic rage?

The little ink-blue bottle.

It had been her grandmother’s. “It runs in the family”, she had laughed.

Those words ringed like a deafening roar.

Oh! He had no qualms in believing her, in fact that was one of the few things in which he never questioned her judgement.

But who would have thought her carelessly thrown statement would be fulfilled like a prophecy. And that too by him, of all people?

Now desperate, he fiddled with the desks and drawers, as quickly as possible.

Photographs, a moth eaten diary, a box full of old family heirlooms. He opened it, and there it was- amidst a necklace, rings, some other odd jewelry and trinkets- just as he remembered-

An ancient ink blue bottle with faded lettering bearing the words- Prussic Acid.

He sedated his raging soul with cyanide.

His mortality was just a casualty.

 

Aishvarya Raghavan
PGP 22

A Cloudy Past

sourabh

Rolled back the years with faint disdain,
Each page greeted by grimace new,
The words were broken, the people unknown,
Lines grew deep, desolation broke through.

The nascent stage was a joy to watch,
Early unions were met with nostalgic pride,
Strung together, words grew in strength and number,
Misunderstood yet unperturbed, hopped along the rocky ride.

Shadows converged and the Devil emerged,
Disguised in the raiment of a rebellious streak,
Naive youth are always eager for change,
They laid down their shields and agreed a surrender meek.

Twisted, enraged and punishing they became,
No thought of consequences on their mind,
The damage was done, the knife was twisted,
And in the far future, their fate would unwind.

Fiery rage grew as the pages crumpled,
Under the vengeful hands of now,
Torn to shreds and burnt to ashes,
The smoke of disillusion hung silently above.

The remnants of the book painted a picture gloomy,
At a curious loss to explain the past,
For everyone needs a Devil in their lives,
To steer the wheel and adjust their mast.

The smoke dissipated, amends were made,
Abrasive thoughts replaced by words benign,
Dipped in humility and kissed by joy,
Struck by wonder, sanity took a shine.

And then the book was opened again,
The inky nib rasped on the paper white,
The Devil lies in the details it said,
A cloudy past will always lead you to light.

Sourabh Bharadwaj
PGP 22

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