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जगति की सुधि लीजिये, राम-राज घनघोर
साधू मंजन बेच रहे, न्यायधीश बने मोर

दरबारी बेज़ार हैं, राजा गाय के चोर
परजा जड़मत भोग में, जनमत भटका शोर


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झूठी लोक-लाज से डर के जिसने सीता को दुत्कारा था,
क्यों नहीं राम का चरित किसी अग्नि ने ललकारा था?

जब पांच नपुंसक बना रहे थे नारी का परिहास,
रचा जा रहा था भारत के घर-घर का इतिहास!

अब आस-पास सबको सबके चेहरे काले दिखते हैं,
पर झांके दर्पण में, हम खुद कैसे सारे दिखते हैं!

जहां युधिष्ठिर धर्मराज हो, अर्जुन को वीर कहा जाता हो!
रक्त-पिपासु धर्म-ग्रन्थ हों, मानव का लहू बहा जाता हो!

जहां राम को देव-पुरुष, उत्कर्ष बना रखा हो,
राम-राज्य को नीति का आदर्श बना रखा हो!

साहस का, धर्म का, नीति का फिर क्या पर्याय मिलेगा?
सीता! ऐसे समाज से तुझको कैसे न्याय मिलेगा?


To Malala Yousafzai, to the girl from Delhi and to every other girl in our part of the world – We’ll murder you in the womb. If you survive that, we’ll stop you from going to school. If you manage to, we’ll track you down with a gun and shoot you in the head. If you still survive that, we’ll gang-up, 6 or more to 1 and rape you till your guts fall out – show you your place in our world! Will you still fight back?

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The sun begins to set over the Tungabhadra…

A fisherman hurries his boat, adjusts the wind against the sail –
before the night falls, he must return to his clan…

Meanwhile, the ruins begin to tell their melancholy tale –
of the passing of time and the passing of man…

The stones are silent, except, that they sing!
The stones are captives, except, they are free!

And nearby stands a Mango Tree
witness to promises and shared dreams…

Memories are made just as the lanterns glow-
etched in the lovers’ hearts, warm and slow!

The evening melts…

The river’s flow is now a mystic chant;
We meander our way through the banana plants,
watchful- lest a snake should somewhere lie!

Stars are the twinkling lights in the sky
And around us twinkle fireflies…

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It is an autumn afternoon, a Saturday, perhaps. Sitting by the balcony of the first floor apartment, one looks over the kids who have just come out and are trying to agree on a game they’d all like to play. It has just stopped raining. The scent of the moist earth evokes memories of the times bygone and one is suddenly teleported to a world where scenes from the past – distant and recent, real and imagined – come to life and serenade the senses.

It is the same poignant magic that Kazuo Ishiguro’s stories create as they meander through labyrinths of mementos. Mementos carved not out of extravagance or flamboyance but out of the monotony of everyday life. Not in Technicolor but in sepia! A cup of tea turned cold. A conversation oft’ imagined and rehearsed but never performed. Things left unsaid or undone because they seemed too out of place in the grind of the passing of days.

Almost nothing of significance ever happens in these tales. Nothing that can not be dismissed as ordinary. At least when put into perspective through the lenses of the ordinary man – a distant observer who considers it not his place to philosophize over the political, historical, ethical, or moral repercussions of what goes on in the world at large. There are no heroes in these stories and no villains. Just ordinary people going through their lives as ordinary people should. They don’t put up a fight – not in any obvious manner, at least. They don’t strive to change the world or even their own lives but carry on, accepting things the way they are. And there is nothing to suggest that this is not a good way to lead one’s life. The characters are not ashamed of who they are, not ashamed of their insignificance, happy to play their parts according to the script that has been handed out to them.

The stories celebrate melancholy. The passage of time. Twilight. Reflections. Experiences. Memories. Regrets. What ifs. Rued chances. Opportunities not taken. Potentials not reached. Promises not made, nor kept. Yet, lives well lived with simplicity, restraint and honesty! Like Mr. Stevens, when he remarks about the English landscape (in The remains of the day),

“I would say that it is the very lack of obvious drama or spectacle that sets the beauty of our land apart. What is pertinent is the calmness of that beauty, its sense of restraint. It is as though the land knows of its own beauty, of its own greatness, and feels no need to shout it.”

Or like Kathy, when she describes her fantasy (in Never let me go),

“as I stood there, looking at that strange rubbish, feeling the wind coming across those empty fields, that I started to imagine just a little fantasy thing, because this was Norfolk after all… and I half-closed my eyes and imagined this was the spot where everything I’d ever lost since my childhood had washed up, and I was now standing here in front of it… The fantasy never got beyond that –I didn’t let it– and though the tears rolled down my face, I wasn’t sobbing or out of control. I just waited a bit, then turned back to the car, to drive off to wherever it was I was supposed to be.”

These are worlds we can all easily imagine to live in. The world we all live in, the vignettes of a people we all are! Like Kathy and Tommy, we all look for our Norfolk – a place where everything we have ever lost in life is washed ashore and gathered for us to find! And like Kathy sums up,

“We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time.”


Nocturnes – a collection of five stories of “music and nightfall” was my introduction to the worlds and stories of Kazuo Ishiguro. ‘The remains of the day’ and ‘Never let me go’ followed (both of which won the Booker prize and have also been made into movies with ‘The remains of the day’ being one of the finest adaptations I have ever seen). I’m currently reading ‘An artist of the floating world’ & ‘A pale view of hills’.

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शमा को रोशन करे, वो लौ नज़र आती नहीं
अटकी है सिहर के साँस यूँ – आती नहीं, जाती नहीं
सर्द है मौसम कहाँ आलाव तापे जिंदगी?

नम है लक्कड़ आस की, ख़्वाबों की लपटें बुझ रहीं!
पाला पड़ा है ज़ोर का, नियति से तेरा ज़ोर क्या?
पर जब तलक चिंगारियां धू-धू के सुलगती रहे,
राख बनके भी सनम, जलते रहो, जलते रहो!

रात का काला पहर, तम् और गहराने लगा;
जबकि था जिंदा अभी, कोई मातम मनाने लगा!
मोम के इन होंसलों से कैसे कटेगी रात ये?

सोच के, “होगा सवेरा कोख में ही पल रहा”
देखो सूरज, है क्षितिज पर, डूब के भी लड़ रहा!
बाकी है जब तक आत्मा में तेल की इक बूँद भी,
दीप बनके ख़ुद तिमिर में, बलते रहो, बलते रहो!

पथ पे रिश्ते टूटते और पथ पे ही जुड़ते रहे
थे चले जो हमसफ़र हो, हर मोड़ पर मुड़ते रहे!
हर दिशा से हर दिशा यहाँ हर दिशा में मिल रही!

छुट चुके उन साथियों की याद लेकर साथ में,
स्वप्न और संवेदना की मशाल लेकर हाथ में,
खत्म जब तक हो ना राहें, मक्का मिले न सामने,
रुकने की सोचो नहीं, चलते रहो, चलते रहो!

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The ‘bye-bye’ mail that I sent to my team at Microsoft. I guess a little late but perhaps a more permanent tribute to the wonderful people, place and time!

From: Tushar Malhotra
Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2011 4:19 PM
To: AppFabric ICB FTE (IDC)
Subject: Moving my cheese – So long and thanks for all the fish!


Unlike the false alarm at the social last week, this mail really is long 🙂 In fact, I think the best part about writing a bye-bye mail is that you get the license to make it *really* long and yet have a reasonable chance of people reading it!


For those with a short attention span / a super busy schedule / better things to do – the crux is, as you know by now, that after 5 delicious, cosy & fun years at Microsoft here in the CSD Edge à BizTalk à AppFabric ICB team, I have decided to (finally) pursue my Masters in Finland. (Yes, Finland! Yes, It’s right up there… no, further up… tucked-in between Sweden and Russia… Hint – Start looking down from the North Pole :)). It’s a multidisciplinary program, spanning the realms of Design, Technology and Business, called IDBM at the Aalto University. Never heard of it? Well, neither had I until about a year back, which was when I started researching. (Incidentally, Microsoft Europe’s Futures magazine recently covered the university – just in case you are curious!)

I guess 5 years ought to be a long time. Heck, it’s half a decade! When I joined Microsoft, there was not a trace of Building-3; Building-2 had just been completed. Hyderabad Central was the only mall in the city. The airport used to be at Begumpet. Ezeego & Cleartrip were not the names they are today – there was “indiflight.com” (Ask Mustansir and Mukul about it!) and we used to wake up in the middle of the night to book the zero fare tickets announced by Air-Deccan. And yet, clichéd as it may sound, these years have passed me by without so much as a whisper.

Yes, I have had my share of pangs of “Oh! It’s been ‘X’ years and I’m still here!” syndrome almost every year! The original plan, of course, like most people who join from campus, was to hang around for a year or two and move on 🙂 But I stayed back (partly because I’m super lazy but mostly) because Microsoft just seemed like the right place to be. It still does – keeps you happy and pays you well (the basics, of course). You don’t ‘work’ on features / areas / products here – you *own* them. So being possessive and passionate and fighting for them is fair game and expected. More importantly, you don’t need to wear shoes (or, God forbid, Ties!) and don’t need to iron your clothes or comb your hair! You can sleep in your cube and have your feet up on the table in the meetings, notwithstanding who else is present, as long as you have opinions and ideas and can wireframe / design / code to back them up!

Microsoft gave me a lot of precious ‘First Experiences’. My First job (of course, bummer!). My First flight (that amazing feeling you get looking at the bed of clouds beneath you!) First experience living away from home (I was a day-schy in college). My first trip abroad (and the feeling of sheer ‘awe-ness’ at how big everything in US was). First chance to be on the other side of the table and interview people (Yay! There are at least 4 people in the team now who I interviewed 🙂 Raise your hands please!). My first car (‘Sparky’, she’s called) and the love for driving!

But more than anything else, it gave me a chance to work with, absorb and learn from wonderful people – I’m not sure if they put that in the CTC!

I guess I shouldn’t miss this chance to embarrass some of you 😛 So here it comes…

Koushik – Thanks for being the most wonderful first manager and a great sponsor! I loved working with you – No frills, no unnecessary sophistication, deep technical insights, trust and personal interest in making me grow. If and when I decide to be a people manager, these are the things I’d remember to emulate! Sriram – I’m not sure if this happens elsewhere but I guess when you are couple of months out of college and the ‘top-guy’ drops by in your cube to see a demo in works or when he stops you in the corridor and asks about the color and make of the car you’ve just bought, you learn important lessons in leadership! I have immense respect for the empathy, trust, passion and honesty you have for the team and the people. Thanks for being a wonderful leader and thanks for all the sponsorship you have provided me. Jayanthi – Thanks a lot for being the great mentor, guide and friend that you have been to me!

Mukul – Thanks for being my first mentor and for introducing me to the ‘ways’ of Microsoft! Sreeram – Thanks for the 1:1 at the Mexican place in Seattle (Not sure if you remember it now!) and of course for being a great guide / advisor. Mustansir – Thanks for exchanging the windcheater! (The CSD Edge one, you remember? Mine was a couple of sizes bigger… ). Working with you on Adapters, EPM and now the integration service has been a wonderful, enriching ride! Sandeep – I absolutely enjoyed working with you on the AF Connect but more than that, I have absorbed and learnt a lot even when not working directly with you, all this while. Harsh – It’s been great fun working with you, brainstorming, ranting about what’s right and what’s not, bouncing ideas and personal decisions. Thanks for the companionship! Vikas – Thanks for being a great manager/guide. I love your approach to structuring problems and the effort you make in getting the processes right. Working with you gave me fresh perspectives on quality. Krish – The debates, dialogues and interactions I have had with you (both, work related and off it – say those on ‘Being at home’ and ‘Corruption’ J) have been deeply enriching. The most important personal lessons I’ve learnt from you are simple (they even seem obvious, but somehow aren’t :)) – that it’s ok to be wrong and that it’s important to strive to get the conceptual model right. Thanks! Sanjay – While I only worked with you closely for a little while, I have enjoyed that time! Thanks for being a great manager and for your advice, feedback and wisdom! Pravin – Thanks for being the fun, pragmatic and hands-on mentor and manager that you’ve been. I relished your nuggets on ‘What it means to be a PM’ J Jithendra – In the short time I worked with you, I have developed a lot of respect for your openness, willingness to listen and make things right for the team. Thanks a lot for your concern and advice at every point in helping me make my decision. Sharad – Thanks for the advice you gave me when I was confused about Teach For India. I guess I’m putting to use some of that now! Vasu – I enjoyed having you as a manager but even more working with you as a peer/colleague. Any more weird i-doc dreams lately ;)? Sudipta – Thanks for being a lovely manager and person. Keerthi, Bhuvanesh – I had a lot of fun working with you guys. Thanks!

Neha, Upendra, Anshu (Rajat & Arpit don’t really count, I guess or do they :P) – I wasn’t planning to put you guys in this mail initially but then, I decided otherwise! If for some reason I get to keep only one thing from my entire time here at Microsoft, hard as it would be to give up on all the precious experiences I have had and relationships I have forged, it’d have to be you guys!

I’m sure I’ve missed out important names above (Pipelines team, Deepak, Sameer, Manas, Sai and everyone else) – people I’ve worked with, learnt from and had fun with – Thanks for everything!

The vice of Facebook, I guess, has taken the romance out of the finer moments like farewells! Otherwise, the following parting lines are my favorite…

“We meet to part, that’s the way of life.

We part to meet, that’s the hope of life!”

Till we meet again,


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कितने दफे मुझको लगा तेरे साथ उड़ते हुए,
आसमानी दुकानों से ढूँढ के पिघला दूँ मैं चाँद ये!

तुम्हारे इन कानों में पहना भी दूं बूँदें बना,
फिर ये मैं सोच लूँ, समझेगी तू, जो मैं ना कह सका!

पर डरता हूँ अभी, ना ये तू पूछे कहीं,
क्यों लाये हो ये? क्यों लाये हो ये यूँ ही!”

(Yun Hi – Tanu Weds Manu)


How many times, in my flights of fantasy,
you by my side, have I wondered…

What if, in the baazaars beyond the horizon,
I found a shop selling tiny pieces of the moon
I could melt them and mould them for you –
Earrings fashioned out of molten moonlight!

Hoping that, as I helped you with them,
and the glow from those danglers adorned your face,
perhaps, you’d understand how I felt for you!

But then, I fear,
it wouldn’t really turn out this way, would it?

Perhaps, instead, you’d chuckle and innocently ask,
“Why did you get me these?”
“Why did you get them for no reason at all!”

And, ofcourse, I wouldn’t know how to answer!

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