Sufism | Bridging religions

Prayer Flags


This is something extremely relevant is the current ecosystem. It is a story that has various aspects. It involves the beautiful relation between a master and his disciple; it involves two friends belonging to two different faiths and people belonging to different strata of the society. How rare it is these days to find people who keep humanity above religion and don’t let their ego come in the way of interacting with people! The competition, envy is getting deep rooted in us and apparently we are forgetting the fact that after all we are all humans. It gets my goat when I read online, people killing people in the name of religion. I am not an erudite but I’m pretty sure no religion teaches us to kill. I usually come across balderdash that people post against each other on social media as if trying to prove that one religion is better than the other. When will this ‘my religion is better than yours’ thing end!


In this blog post trying to mention an example that demonstrates the communion across religions and status. Sufism has many such examples that can help us mitigate the existential tension among religions. Mian Mir a sufi saint and his life is a brilliant example that blazes a trail for all of us. Mian Mir a Muslim sufi was invited to lay the foundation of the Harmandir Sahib popularly known as ‘The Golden Temple’. Mian Mir, a quintessential Sufi loved simplicity and had a huge disdain for gloating and arrogance. The Mughal emperor Jahangir wanted to meet Mian Mir but Mian Mir never really entertained him. Mian Mir didn’t like his greed and insatiable desire for power.


Mian Mir liked Dara Shikoh, a Mughal emperor with Sufi inclination. Dara Shikoh was a learned man who believed in humanity and had not even an iota of arrogance in him. Dara Shikoh was a highly devoted disciple of the Saint Mian Mir and the saint liked him as well. Mian Mir was also friends with Guru Arjan Dev Ji the fifth Sikh guru. It was Guru Arjan Dev Ji who invited Mian Mir to lay the foundation stone of the golden temple. The shrine of the saint Mian Mir is visited and believed by Sikhs and people of other religions as well!


When our genesis is so eclectic in nature, what then instigates us to draw blood in the name of religion! This is a beautiful example and teaches us that religion and stature shouldn’t stop us from befriending people and loving them. We are all humans after all. Even if someone doesn’t treat you well, reciprocate with utmost generosity.

“What forgiveness is?

Sufi replied: It’s the fragrance that flowers give when they are crushed.”


Tea Vs Coffee









Also Published in Half Baked Beans

When you talk about beverages and brews you cannot leave out tea and coffee. The daily life of humans hinges upon tea and coffee to a great extent. Although, there is a lot of history associated with both tea and coffee. If we plunge into data and historical facts, there have been wars for the access of these products.

This itself speaks a loud about the popularity, significance and usage of tea and coffee. It is believed that Tea was discovered by the ancient Chinese rule Shen Nong, when a historical leaf fell into his boiling water. Fortunately, when the leaf fell into his boiling water, he decided to drink it. Not thinking at all about how it fell, the mechanisms and the physics involved; an approach thoroughly unlike that of Uncle Newton. The history of coffee began much later as compared to that of tea. It is believed that coffee was first discovered in Arabia near the Red Sea. So, as we can see both Tea and Coffee have great associated with them.

Tea has a lesser amount of caffeine content in it. The caffeine content in tea is about 40-50 mg per cup. Apart from caffeine, tea has Tannin and Catechin that help in preventing cancer and heart diseases. Coffee on the other hand, has really high caffeine content. The high caffeine content is perhaps the only drawback and demerit associated with coffee. Tea occurs in the form of leaves, while coffee occurs in the form of beans. There are different forms of preparation of tea- White tea, Green Tea, Black Tea, Red Tea and others. Similarly, coffee has different types of consumption as well- Drip Coffee, Espresso, Brewed, Instant, Plunger, Filter et al. So, the users have ample of choices and they can pick according to their taste and need.

Tea is a refined beverage. It has a calming effect and works like a tranquilizer. The pace is slow and tea helps you to relax. It is because of this very reason that most of the Tea TV commercials/advertisements strive to demonstrate and exhibit this calming effect of tea. That is the obvious reason you often see the protagonist saying “waah” after sipping tea, to show and highlight the calmness and satisfaction sipping tea brings to him! On the other hand, the coffee culture can be fast paced and frantic. It gives you a feeling of excitement, helps you stay awake! Coffee gives you a sudden rush; you feel it in your veins!

We Indians consider tea as the king of all brews! Coffee has a huge popularity all over the world, in the United States in particular. In the recent few decades, we have seen many coffee chains growing business in India. Few of the big shots coffee chains are- Cafe Coffee Day (CCD), Barista Lavazza, Costa Coffee and Tata Starbucks. Thus, this stamps the fact that India loves coffee as well! Most of these coffee chains are expensive and way out of reach for the people belonging to the lower strata of the society. While you can have a fantastic cup of tea on road-side tea stalls as well. That’s the beauty of it. India is full of these tea-stalls and each one offers a unique taste. There is this special “Kashmiri Chai” that contains dry fruits as well. Every state in India has a different and unique way of preparation of tea! Still, both beverages have immense significance, taste and usage- Keep sipping!

An Interview with an Item Girl!

Rohan Kalia

Item songs or item numbers have become a part and parcel of every Bollywood movie these days. Looks as if the Bollywood flicks are all about these item numbers- All pump and show! The concept of these item numbers didn’t come suddenly out of the blue, neither did the item girls land in a jiffy from Mars. The concept already existed in Bollywood, camouflaged by one thing or the other. We saw yester years Bollywood actresses like Vyjayanthimala and Padmini demonstrating their moves on various item numbers- Though the precise term “Item Number” was nonexistent at that time!

You feel at times whether there is any logic or reason behind these item songs! Well, I have never seen an item number taking the story of a movie forward or taking the story anywhere for that matter. They don’t really contribute or gel with the plot of the movie. Still they exist and are bloody rampant these days as well. So if we take direction and the concept in consideration, the item numbers are not of any significant avail. There is no smoke without fire. Likewise, there must be some reason for the vast usage and presence of these item numbers in Bollywood. Well, there are a good percentage of people who come to watch the movie just because of its hit item number. People belonging to the lower strata of the society iron out there frustration through these numbers. It is like a great source of recreation for them.

Most of the item numbers or songs use local languages and the popular slangs. Thus, it becomes rather easy for the general mass to connect with such numbers. The element of vulgarity is becoming an essential ingredient in most of the item numbers these days. May be that’s a trick of the trade as well to make such numbers the “talk of the town”!
Here is an interview with an Item Girl-
The anchor- “Shall we begin?”
Item Girl- “Begin what?”
The anchor- “The interview”
Item Girl- “Okay….okay”
The anchor- “Well, you have gained so much fame in the recent past. You must be feeling proud!”
Item Girl- “Well, but I had to work real hard for this. I had to work day and night or may be night and night….err…err. ”
The anchor- “Okay. Hard work is always the key to success.”
Item Girl- “Yes- It took me several nights to become an overnight success!”
The anchor- “So, what is next. You must be aiming more things, more achievements.”
Item Girl- “Yes- I aspire to be a cheer-leader in the next IPL season. That would really be a dream come true.”
The anchor- “Okay, we wish you all the luck. But why are you called Item Girl, don’t you have a name?”
Item Girl- “We are called Item Girls, because we do Item Songs.”
The anchor- “But why are these songs called Item Songs?”
Item Girl- “They are called because Item Girls perform them!”
The anchor- “You don’t make any sense.”
Item Girl- “I am not expected to make sense. My songs don’t make sense either.”
The anchor- “Okay. Thank you so much for your time. No more on item songs, let’s call it the swan song!”
Item Girl- “Swan, what?”
The anchor- “Leave it, beyond you. Thanks, anyways.”

Do you want to be a NRI?

Rohan KaliaAlso Read this at Half Baked Voices

Well, different people have different definitions of NRI. Some people call them- “Not Required Indians”, while some label them as “Not Reliable Indians”. But it really gets my goat when I see so many youngsters carrying an ardent desire to leave India and settle abroad. If it’s just for education, knowledge or experience then it is okay. Otherwise, our culture is so vivid and rich and there is so much to improve in our country. Then, what is the point in going to an alien land and serving an alien country. It is like you just consume, without giving anything back to the nation! As it remains, patriotism is a totally natural phenomenon- Nobody can teach patriotism!

 When they leave India, they are filled to the brim with emotions. They say they are putting everything at stake to go to learn or earn, so that they can serve their nation better. Soon after a few years, they land in a limbo! They either make excuses of getting stuck in a quagmire or play gimmicks to justify their decisions. Gradually, they plunge into gadget freaks, fast-food lovers, fancy car lovers and fast paced life lovers. The concept of self-concept overtakes patriotism. Although, the Indians living in foreign land find it a bit difficult to confess or admit this fact! I still remember, I saw a man in a party. He was looking suave, wearing a black color suit and having a Rolex in his left wrist. He was telling everyone, how much he missed India! He said- “I have been living in America for more than two decades, they don’t have any emotions whatsoever. It’s like a “machine life” there. No one really cares about you there, I miss my nation so much, specially the rich Indian culture”. Everyone was listening to him with great attention. Suddenly, there was a power cut. Power Cuts and summers are like best buddies, they go “hand in hand”. Everyone was sweating, I was observing that man and he was getting really uneasy. Finally, he gave vent to his emotions- “You know what, that is what I hate about India. The power cuts, the traffic jams- It is so bloody crowded here. No roads, no modern facilities. It is like too below par, when you compare it to the US”.

We have seen and heard a lot of British and American TV Series mocking and making fun of the NRIs, demonstrating how they make funny excuses for staying in the foreign land. Professor Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar), in the famous series THE BIG BANG THEORY told a FBI agent- “Please don’t send me back to India. It is so crowded there! Here in US, I can live as a care-free bachelor. In India, it is like impossible”.  Even in the epic British comedy series GOODNESS GRACIOUS ME you get to see such examples, many of them! For instance, in an episode when a father tells his son that all hair products are actually Indian, the son refuses to accept this fact. The father shouts back at him- “What do you know? You think all we had in India was partition! Not true; we also had side-partition”.

 Well living in India or settling in a foreign country is thoroughly an individual’s decision. But we must try to keep the patriotism in us burning and serve the nation in whatever way we can- Jai Hind!



A Tribute to Saadat Hasan Manto! #mantospeaks


 People love to hate him! They label him vulgar, cheap etc. But for me, Manto was a man with exceptional talent. I still remember, I read his story while browsing randomly on the internet and man it was goose-bumping stuff! The title “Thanda Ghosht”, itself was enough to give you an adrenalin rush. The story had everything; romance, fury, emotions, separation and of course sex- after all it was Manto stuff. I got sort of addicted to his stories since then, and believe me they take you to a different level every time you go through them.

 Manto’s stories may appear to be quixotic at times, but with the creative hat on- they do make sense. My gut feeling says Manto was too deep to comprehend for the people of Pakistan. His story “Khol-Do” which demonstrates the atrocities of women, the barbaric act of men- was taken as a piece that will instigate people to rape! Saadat Hasan Manto once announced in public- “If you find my stories dirty, the society you are living in is dirty. With my stories, I only expose the truth”.

 A man of Kashmiri origin, Manto was an iconoclast personality. He used to say- “To be a Kashmiri is to be handsome. And to be handsome, I don’t know”. Normally spotted in a white shirt or kurta, Manto had immense calmness on his face. Manto was an ardent wine lover and it is believed that it was his love for wine that brought about his early demise. Although he had all the fun elements in his stories, but on closer study and introspection you will find a flood of emotions. It was his unique style of masquerading emotions as desires!

 I personally feel the partition in 1947, gave him tremendous sorrow. This can be easily felt in his classic satire on partition- “Toba-tek Singh”. The protagonist, who is a lunatic Sikh, finds it impossible to believe that “Hindustan” and “Pakistan” are two separate nations. He denies living in either of the nations and prefers dying on an unknown land between the borders of the two nations.

“… इधर-उधर से कई अफ़सर दौड़े आए और उन्होंने देखा कि वह आदमी जो 15 बरस तक दिन-रात अपनी दाँगों पर खड़ा रहा था, औंधे मुँह लेटा है-उधर ख़ारदार तारों के पीछे हिंदुस्तान था, इधर वैसे ही तारों के पीछे पाकिस्तान ; दरमियान में ज़मीन के उस टुकड़े पर जिसका कोई नाम नहीं था, टोबा टेक सिंह पड़ा था.” – Saadat Hasan Manto.

A Get-Together in London before ICC Champion’s Trophy!

London PubsIt was a bright sunny day in London, one of those typical British summer days! People were moving inside a Pub (mind you it’s not called Bar in London). You could see people of different origin, different characteristics, different vision and different beliefs! I was sitting just next to a round table, where some of the celebs were sitting!

 Shah Rude Khan, enjoying a mock-tail was cursing Uncle Sam! Show-Abs Akhtar enjoying a Beer was thinking about the times he used to bowl at 100 plus miles! MSD who usually prefers milk over other beverages, was having a mock-tail for a change as well! Captain Cook who looks like a typical British gentleman was busy pouring scotch in his glass! Shame Warne the spin-wizard was busy spinning beers on his table!

 Then Shah Rude broke the ice- “Well, with due due due respect to all the teams of the world, I guess KKR is the best”.

“I agree, I was a part before my depart. The team has everything, good and bad. Sometimes I feel, our team is nothing but just an extension of our attitude and personality”. – Show-Abs Akhtar said, flaunting his biceps!

“Well, we British play cricket in the good spirit. That is exactly what turns me on the game; Flint-off was the only turn-off! Statistics and mathematics are not as important as ethics for us”. – Captain Cook said, gulping his drink!

“Hey, I played cricket for style. That is the reason all the models in this city are crazy for me. I know how to spin the Balls”- Shame Warne said, flipping his Beer Cans!

“Hey Dhoni, I bought a new Versace watch, can you touch it. I heard whatever you touch turns to Gold”- said Shah Rude Khan with a tint of arrogance in his voice. He was the only one laughing at his joke!

“Well, if you want that I will do that as well! Right now, I am just Enjoying The Moment. And trying to keep myself as calm as possible”. – said MSD, with a smile on his face that had all the calmness of the world!

“Hey, anyone wants Kabab, I have some”- Show-Abs Akhtar said!

“Why you brought Kababs, we could have ordered here”. – said Shah Rude Khan, in a stammering voice!

“No Bhai, this is a DOOSRA type of Kabab, specially made by Saeed Ajmal”- replied Show-Abs Akhtar!

“Okay Lets go, we have a dinner today at Imran Khan’s place”- said MSD!

“He is here in London, I thought he was there in Lahore”- said Show-Abs Akhtar!

“He goes there once a week, he is an ardent traveler you know”- said Captain Cook!

“Okay, can I take a model with me to the dinner party, I guess Khan Sahab will like it”- said Shame Warne!

“Yes, yes sure”- said Shah Rude Khan!

And they all left for the dinner party!






The Red Muffler!

Che Snap

It was a typical hot day in the month of June. I was sitting on a chair under a Tree at my place, playing taash(cards) with a few boys who lived in the neighborhood. As usual there was no electricity, but ironically it made things better as people came out of their places to meet one-another and chit chat! I was getting a few phone calls on my cell, but I didn’t pick any. I prefer keeping my phone in the silent mode whenever I am in my hometown. I decided to go for a ride on my vintage scooter. My scooter is not just an ordinary machine; it consumes one litre of crude oil for 10 miles. This is something I usually brag about when I am with my friends, I say pompously- “Only a Kalia Sahab can afford it”!

 I parked my scooter outside my friend’s shop in the market place. My friend owns a tailoring shop, he is a Muslim. We love spending time together and discussing things. In the summers, with no electricity mind you, the fun is even more. I entered the shop and he greeted me warmly-“Hey, look who is here”. It is pretty intentional that I visit him in the afternoon, because his father goes home to rest in the summer afternoons. He ordered tea for us and we began playing Ludo together. I said sipping tea-

“Kahin kuch jal raha hain kya”??

“Nahi Bhai, bagal ke hotel main murga ban raha hain”.

“For you- where there is smoke, there is chicken-tikka”- I replied. We both laughed and continued with the Ludo game.

 Suddenly, a young lad came into the shop. He was a Muslim; I knew when he introduced himself to us. He was a decent looking guy, wearing a Che T-shirt! He came to take his trousers that he gave few days back to be tailored. I asked him sarcastically-

“So, how is the revolution going”?

“It is not going sir, it is coming”.

The way he spoke and usage of the word “Sir”, assured me that he did his schooling from an English medium school. I asked him again-

“So, what do you know about Che Guevara”?

“Err, he was a really good man. He was very religious also”.

“Well bhai, I don’t know who told you all this. But Che was a communist who neither believed in God, nor in religion”.

“What, Che was a “comma”, whats that”?

“No, no- Che was a full stop”- I said sarcastically!

My friend knew me very well, I loved playing with people. Although, I lost more than I won but I enjoyed it. I headed out to get myself a pack of cigarettes and a “Saada khushbu-wala Paan”. I came back and played a Laal Band song on my cell-phone. The lad said impulsively-

“Hey that’s a Muslim band”.

“Nah, that’s a socialist band”.

“You are a cynical”- he said wearing his Red Cap that had “revolution” printed on it.

“Aah, you got that Red Cap too, you are a true rebel”- I commented.

My friend was smiling. “Kalia Sahab, stop playing with him now”- he said.

I was on a swing, was enjoying it. I further asked him- “So, you are starting the revolution! From where are you starting it, any plans”??

The guy looked confused, he had no answer.

“So, people call you Kalia Sahab”?

“Yes, actually they call me whatever they feel like! But you can call me Sir”- I said in a serious tone.

“Kyun bhai”??

“Don’t call me bhai, call me Sir”- I said.

“Okay, can I borrow a cigarette”??

I gave him one from my pack and quoted looking at my friend, who was seriously enjoying the episode-

Udhaar bade Showk se;

Lekin Inqallab, agle Chowk se!”

My friend picked up a Red color cloth from the ground and gave it to me. I wrapped it around my neck.

“That is actually wearing a Red Muffler”- My friend announced!