Monday, 30 April 2018

Sauna sonnet

If I should compare thee to a summer's day
It meaneth this: thou dost me irritate.
Hot winds do irk the prickly heat of May,
It seems summer's lease wast under old rent rates.
Always too hot the eye of heaven blazeth,
These Elizabethans who liked this were dim.
Every hair by persp'ration and heat is braiseth,
The body droops, there is no remn'nt of vim.
Will this eternal summer ever fade?
We do not even get an effing spring.
Not a leaf stirreth, 'tis 40 in the shade!
Merciful death, where TF is thy sting?
There is no relief, e'en from cold libation;
Methinks I must perforce try aestivation.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Cancelled an Ola because

Cancelled an Ola because the driver was from the BJP and I knew he'd take me somewhere different from where I wanted to go and then tell me it was the Congress's fault.

Cancelled an Ola because the driver was from the Congress and I knew he wouldn't have a map and would have to wait for directions from Delhi.

Cancelled an Ola because the driver was from the AAP, and those folks only seem to know their way around Delhi.

Cancelled an Ola because the driver was from the CPI. I knew the fellow would wait at every traffic signal until it turned red.

Cancelled an Ola because the driver was from the Lok Satta Party. He seemed well-intentioned and all, but the vehicle didn't have a single seat.

Cancelled an Ola because the driver was from the Shiv Sena. Only thing he seemed to want to do is crash into the BJP guy's taxi.

Cancelled an Ola because the driver was from the JD(U). Didn't want to take a chance on a driver who thinks taking a U-turn is the best way to stay in a seat.

Cancelled an Ola because it was an autonomous car and I wouldn't be able to make any jokes about the driver.

Inspired by this:

Friday, 10 November 2017

Freelance feature writers wanted

I work with The Hindu's Bombay edition. We cover western India (Maharashtra,Gujarat, Goa).

I'm looking for a few freelance features contributors who can do regular work for us. You'll need to be a good writer who can work to a brief as well as come up with interesting pitches of your own, and know the geography you're pitching a story for. If we hit it off, I can promise regular work over the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (less frequent for the rest of our coverage area).

A non-exhaustive list of areas I'm particularly looking for features in: civic issues; citizens' initiatives; culture, communities and neighbourhoods; enterprises (including social entrepreneurs); education and campuses; history and heritage; environment and conservation; philanthropy. social work and the development world; health and fitness, including community and indigenous sports.

Please email me at firstname dot lastname at thehindu dot co dot in with (a) preferred broad subjects or areas of specialisation (b) links to two or three published pieces you're proud of, and a link to a personal blog or Web site, if you have one.

You don't need to send pitches right away, but I promise to read them if you do

(Also happy to hear from you if straight reporting is more your thing. We work with several freelancers who report for us on an almost daily basis. You'd need to be on top of your beat, regularly pitching and delivering, and potentially available seven days a week just in case something comes up.)


I’m a little despot
Short and stout
This is my hashtag
These are my louts
When the country's polling
Hear me shout
Now that I won UP
Can't have a Guja rout.


Little Ms Muffet
Went to the buffet
To get herself some food
She took some beef fry
And she didn't die
This was in Kerala, dude


Jack and Jill
Went up the hill
Where they met some goons quite hairy
Jack "fell down"
And broke his crown
Because being in love is unsanskari


Cowpat-cake Cowpat-cake
Photoshop man
Meme me a fake
As fast as you can
Proof it… oh eff that
Who reads anyway
If it's mocking Pappu
It has my okay


Little boy saffron,
Come blow your conch,
The gau-stuff's hit the fan
In a word, we are bonked.
But where is the boy
Who's good for the economy?
He's searching a haystack,
Finding black money.
Will you wake him?
No, not me;
The last time he 'acted'
We got demoneyed.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Advice to myself

• Stop sexual abuse and harassment when you can.

• Call it out. Without fear of repercussions. Remember what she's going through is worse than you might have to go through if you grow a spine.

• When you can't, help amplify her voice. When she stands up, don't assume she needs help, but let her know you're there if she needs you.

• Be aware that as much as you try to be a nice guy — and remember that 'nice' is a work in progress, an aspiration — she doesn't know it. She has seen too many nice guys turn into dick-brains. If you sense discomfort, give her space. That could mean leaving the room. Or making sure the door is open. Or making sure there are other people at least in sight or within earshot. When in doubt, because you're not good at reading social signals, assume you're being threatening.

• Being nice does not get you a medal or any other benefits. It's a minimum requirement.

• You're suspect because of your gender. Big fucking deal. She is a target because of hers.

• Remember, whatever your self-love issues, you're older now, which is power to some, that you sit in a seat that some perceive as powerful, that while you're not a huge guy, you're bigger than most women, that you have loving friends, but so many of them wield power. Remember that any or all of these things make you scary.

• For all of the reasons above, remember that whether you like it or not or deserve it or not, you're a role model.

• Assume no consent. Wait till the consent is explicit. 'Yes' is sexy.

• Listen. It's not about you. Just listen. Provide a shoulder, a hug, when you're sure that that won't intimidate or add to the problem. But at least fucking listen.

Added later

In a conversation with a dear friend (won't tag her, because she's a very private person) yesterday, she said something that made me think.

She did me the honour of saying, you already do these things, so why call it advice to yourself?

Yes, that is partly true.

I do do these things, or try to. But I didn't do them automatically, from some great inner sensitivity. I learned these things because I had good teachers who opened my mind up. And despite trying to internalise them, I often forget. I'm a reasonably normal heterosexual male, and sometimes that can take over. Also, because the nature of privilege, like bias, is that one doesn't see it. So I need to remind myself. Constantly.

As for the title, I did think of starting with something like 'advice to men' but didn't for several reasons.

The most cold-blooded first. My inner copywriter sensed that that would not break through the clutter, because, you know, there's a lot of advice to men happening out there.

Second, that would be a sermon. That is, I am showing you the path, follow me. That wasn't the intention. Related: while some men I know may benefit from reading this, I also know men far more sensitive than I am who reached these points long ago.

Third, this is an encapsulation of a personal journey. These are my learnings, which I try to live by. I'm putting this out there as a personal commitment, and a standard to be held to.

Post script:

The personal journey has by no means reached its destination. Advice, recommendations, pointers, all welcome. #NotAllMen refuse to ask for directions. : )

Monday, 13 March 2017

Freelancers and freelance markets

If you're a freelancer who would like to have editors know what you do, fill out this form.

If you're an editor who wants to tell freelancers about the kind of work you commission, fill out this form.

Here's who is in the freelancer database so far (you can also see the database here):

Here is who is in the freelance markets database so far (you can also see database here):

Tuesday, 14 February 2017


We're on the same beat and our publications compete
Alas it's only at press conferences that we get to meet


Avec moi ce soir, voulez vous coucher?
Say oui and I'll fill out the on-assignment voucher


Are things getting intense? Do we need clothes here?
I think we should practice full disclosure.


Your advance (copy) has been received and seen
Now, let's both get Lit, if you know what I mean


The markets are up by every index
Let's you and me meet and celebrate the sensex


With edits and op-eds the editor can fiddle
Let's you and me spend some time fine-tuning your middle


What would it take to get you to my kamra?
I could snapchat you my piece-to-camera


Of course it's legal; of course you oughta
I should know; I'm a crime reporter


I'd be good for you, you know that my sweet
I spend all my time on the healthcare beat


No one will know if we hook up, I solemnly swear
My bylines are all under diplomatic affairs


Everyone knows Desk gives the best head
lines. So I'm a copy editor; take me to bed


I don't edit copy, I'm not a reporting hack
But I have a column that I could show you in the sack


That's a lens in my pocket but I'm happy to see ya
I'm the photographer and I'm good at exposures


Yes, you're with @BuzzFeedIndia, but I still think we should date
Here are 17 reasons why I know it will be great


I know you're very busy and online there's no off day
But surely you have time for a little @scroll_in the hay?


Of course you're very busy with that Page 1 lead today
But maybe later you and I could do an exposé?


I would confess my love which has grown & ripened
I would try to woo you but I don't even get a stipend

Animal Passions keeps calm and carries on

The female lllacme plenipes is the leggiest animal: she walks on 750
The male has just 562, & 4 of those are gonopods, which is V-day nifty


Arthropod aedeagi deliver spermatophores (capsules of spermatozoa)
Some leave 'em lying round on the ground (most only give them to their lovers)


Some arthropods also give their partners gifts of spermatophylax
Which are balls of nutrients for the kiddies; a better gift than lilacs


Most male spiders are smaller than females & a date could be a bad fate
So they detach their pedipalps & scarper & it continues to ejaculate


Daddy-longlegs couples mate & then mum delivers fertilised eggs
Dad Daddy guards ’em, & doesn’t let mum Daddy eat ’em, not even if she begs


The blanket octopus male doesn’t get between the sheets with his lover
He detaches a… load-bearing arm and leaves it with her to… deliver


Hyena females have pseudopenises: clitorises which protrude 7 inches
For males this means they have to practise to get it in in the clinches


Many placental mammals’ baculums & baubellums aid 'em when having sex
Not humans alas, but we still get boners: creditable in that context


Leopard slugs are hermaphrodites who indulge in bondage play
They dangle from slime ropes & entwine penises & so literally swing both ways


The queenless ant female pulls off the ultimate dick (re)move
While they’re at it, she bites it off but leaves it in to prove her V-day love


Adactylidium mite females celebrate V-day while still inside mother
Then eat mama from the inside & leave, pregnant, thanks to their brother


Mecoptera studs give gals V-day gifts: bugs that they have caught
Less alpha males pretend to be girls, take the bugs & go off to court


The seahorse male has a cool Valentine gift: an egg pouch on his tummy
Bae drops her eggs in the pouch; he fertilises 'em & then he's mummy


Giraffes have something in common with POTUS number 45
Males taste their ladies' urine as part of the courtship jive


Fruit bat males have sex lives worthy of all male aspiration
While they're doing it the female encourages them with oral… affirmation


Indian flying fox females get better Valentines than most other bats
The males provide lingual stimulation; they clearly know where it's at


Hippopotamus Valentine's Day involves flying excrement
It may not work for you, good thing, 'cause for them it's signalling intent


In California winters, garter snakes come out to play one and all
They tend to do in rather large groups; it's called a mating ball


North Atlantic Right Whale threesomes are not easy to emulate
They can do simultaneous intromission; no one gets left… out, mate


California beaches, they say, are known for mating games
But the orgies of the grunion put all the others to shame


Lady Australian buprestid beetles are the colour of bottles of beer
Males have been seen…hitting bottles(like good Aussies they say Cheers!)


Of course sloths are slow, and on Valentine's day they… linger
But they do it dangling from branches; they're the ultimate swingers


Fig wasps are born in figs & their partners are their nestlings
You might say their Valentines are always quite incesting


When sharks make out, serious biting is part of the ritual
So when a shark chomps into you, just say the feeling's not mutual

Saturday, 24 December 2016


"Zat fish," Cloiseau said, "is not a suspect, but 'e definitely knows somezing about zis case. We should interrogate 'im. 'E is a poisson of interest."

Professor Higgs was certain now. This sub-atomic particle was not the one they were searching for, but he needed to question it carefully. It was definitely a boson of interest.

That clergyman wasn't the one who buggered the choirboys. But he does know the bishop, so we should question him. He's a parson of interest.

Those fried-&-dried snacks from western India aren't the culprits. But bring them to the interrogation room. They are farsans of interest.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

How many queues must a man wait in?

At a concert on Saturday, our Prime Minister quoted words of protest written by a certain Robert Zimmerman back in 1963. That reminded us of this more contemporary work by Balbir ‘Bobby’ Dhillon, who owns Noble Lorry 8 Pvt. Ltd. (‘We have no brunches’) and writes a bit while he’s waiting in line to withdraw cash to pay his drivers.

Come gather ’round people
It’s not time to roam
While you whined the lines
Around you have grown
Just accept it that soon
You’ll be tir’d to the bone
If your savin’s to you are worth drawin’
Then you better start queuin’ or you’ll be all alone
For the notes they are a-changin’

Pressti …wallas and critics
Who editorialise often
Do keep your eyes wide
We’ll change the rules again
So don’t speak at all
You can’t counter my spin
Here’s one more RBI notification!
Don’t try to figure it, you just can’t win
Hah! The notes they are a-changin’

You UPA Congressis
Don’t get it all
I’ll use your best schemes
And rename them all
I’m sure it must hurt
To hear all my trolls
Being ‘offended’ and ‘hurt’ and ‘outragin’’
And while you’re trying to figure it all
The notes I will be a-changin’

Grand-mothers and -fathers
A separate queue for you
And ’cause I sympathise
Take Saturday too
Your sons and your daughters
They will have to stand
Out on the road slowly agin’
Yes it’s your money, yes I understand
But the notes they are a-changin’

The line it is long
Do have a blast
The slow queue now
Will never be fast
You resent me now
I am aghast
Is your nationalism fadin’?
Alas your cash stash is now ballast
’Cause the notes they are a-changin’