The land of Nobel

Nobel Prize had been a childhood fascination for me, from the days I began collecting trophies in school quizzes and gully-debates. While Mother Teresa and Rabindra Nath Tagore seemed too ethereal, Hargobind Khorana seemed achievable and I began studying medicine. And when I first opened my email account on Hotmail, one of my first emails was directed to scripted in a broken english,

Dear Dr. Khorana,

I had been fascinated by your research from childhood, and wish to join your lab. Though I am in process of application to your university and have taken all requisite tests, there are meagre chances to join your prestigious university. Please accept me as Eklavya if not Arjuna, by just replying this email.


Man never replied. Eklavya turned Devdas. Cursed the old man with abuses gulping bouts of drinks. Years later, I figured out man didn’t know how to reply emails. He didn’t even reply to White House when they conferred him with National Medal of Science. A white house representative had to track him down on foot to make him attend.

Anyway, I figured out, to win a Nobel- you have to become a cynic psychopath scientist with a french beard, an Einsteinian hairstyle, a test-tube in hand, and sitting in a US-lab. And here I was! Sitting in a prime lab in United States, with similar attire and outlook, and joined the most cynic professor’s lab. Man kept snails as his pets, who even followed his orders! My research progressed with snail pace, and I would have taken more Vodka shots in those test-tubes than performing experiments. Well, that was cynic!

One day my professor asked, “So Kumar! How is your research going?”

In serendipidity, I answered, “I am making a mathematical model of snail behaviour.” Huh!

“Hey! That’s awesome. Let’s meet up this wednesday and see it.”

WTF? Mathematical model of snail behaviour!!! What the hell is that?

Greatest solution to all problems existed even those days some 12 years back. Baba Google!

With a good bout of plagiarism and copy-paste Java animation programme, I was ready with a simulation program on snail movement. My professor clapped when the snail model moved dodgily on the computer screen. When I discussed the model with an IITian friend, man wrote his first mathematical paper on some ‘stochastic behaviour’ and scribbled my name in acknowledgement. The snail shit was superhit!

But, I knew Nobel would never be awarded for decoding a snail’s behaviour. It has to be a ground-breaking research which will shake the world. Something like, “The formula to kill the cancer”, “the secret of addiction”, “the special gene responsible for woman’s abnormal behaviour”, “the neuron which excites on seeing the porn”, “why Katappa killed Bahubali?”.

I quit the US Lab, and began my journey to ground-breaking research, breaking a coconut in one of the famous south Indian temples. The priest said looking at me, “You have a bright future waiting for you, all you lack is focus.” Priest was damn right!

Focus! I googled and ordered the famous book by Daniel Goleman “FOCUS”.

I don’t know if I misunderstood him, but to achieve a target, I understood I have to be close to the target. Left the country, weathered the snow, and landed for good in Land of Nobel. Searching for the clerk in Nobel committee who will get things done for me, and assures, “Kaam ho jaayega” (The work will be done!)

Norway! Here I am! Come on Nobel, now lay on me!



In a dinner with Nobel laureate physicist Anthony Leggett (who incidently was my room-mate’s guide) in 2004, he asked, “Doc! You would know it better. Isn’t virus a live moving nanoparticle which targets our cells? Why the hell people are crazy for designing one to target this or that, when its right in front of us? Leave it. I don’t know anything about this.” And he laughed away.

Years later, in 2012, Nature published ‘virus as nano-particles’, what they called ground-breaking research. Beautiful minds toss such ideas on dinner table!


बस यूँ ही, मेरे मन की.

यूँ तो मैं हिंदी में कुछ खास लिखता नहीं, बचपन से वही मिडिल क्लास वाली अंग्रेजी की कवायद. लेकिन आज़ ज़रा देशी मामला है, और ये ब्लोग-स्लोग में तो क्या गोरे और क्या पाकिस्तानी? कोई भी मुँह उठा के लाइक करने आ जाता है. धर्मपत्नी जी भी परेशान, कि ये किन लड़कियों के कमेंट्स पढ़ मुस्कुराते रहते हो? मैने कहा ऐसा नहीं है. आधा वामपंथी, आधा गाँधीवीदी है ये वामगाँधी. निर्मोही. निर्विकार.

तो प्वाइंट पे आता हूँ.

ये किसी छिटपुट बात के बतंगड़ पे किसी गाँव में कोई हादसा हो गया. कुछ खाने पीने का मामला था. छुटपन में हॉस्टल के मेस में मैनें भी काफी तोड़-फोड़ मचाई थी. खानसामें मेघलाल की लुंगी खींच चड्डी में दौड़ाया था. साले ने तूर दाल ऐसी बनाई की चार गोताखोर डाले फिर भी दाल का दाना नहीं. जीभ मत लपलपाओ अब तूर दाल के नाम पे. मेरा ब्लोग तो सस्ते में पढ़ रहे हो ना? और जकरबर्ग मियाँ अमरीका वाले ने चाहा तो बिल्कुल मुफ्त.

हाँ जी तो हम कहाँ थे? वो कुछ वही बजरंग बली के भक्तों ने मोहम्मद साब के चेले को…. फिर कान खड़े हो गये? अबे सिनेमाखोरों, ‘बजरंगी भाईजान’ की कहानी नहीं सुना रहा मैं! ये तो ग्लैमर-स्लैमर से कोसों दूर गाँव-साँव का मामला है.

खैर. तसल्ली है. भुखमरी से न मरा कोई. बढिया माँस-मुँस खा के डकार के मरा. मेरे अस्पताल में तो वो खडूँस डाइटिसीयन है. आधे तो वो गीली खिचड़ी और उबले कद्दू खा के सिधार गये.

सुनते हैं, बड़ी तादाद में लोग बाग आये. मरने से पहले भी. मरने के बाद भी. अजी गाँधीजी को एक गोडसे ने निपटा दिया था. पर ये लॉजिक बेकार है. वो ठहरे गोमूत्र पीने वाले शाकाहारी जब तब भूख हड़ताल वाले कंकालनुमा व्यकतित्व. और इधर तो गोमाँस वाला हट्टा कट्टा. खैर ये गाय वाय से दूर ही रहना ठीक. आदर करो या निरादर. मारे दोनों सूरतों में जाओगे. न गाँधी बचे न वो बचा.

अखबार में ये पुरष्कार वापसी का दौर आया तो मैंनें भी बचपन के क्विज डिबेट वाले अवार्ड ढूँढे. ये चिंदीचोर लेखक. अवार्ड वापस करने गये तब लोगों को पता लगा कि ये है कौन जनाब. इनसे ज्यादा तो मेरे ब्लोग के फौलोवर निकलें. मेरे क्या आपके भी. देशी कोई पढता कहाँ है? हाँ पीते बहोत है.

अब जो हुआ वो तो हो गया. मैं नहीं करता कुछ वापिस. मेरे जैसे बिरले ही मिलेंगे. आज भी स्याही वाली कलम से लिखता हूँ. अजी दवात से वो कलम में स्याही डालने का मज़ा ही कुछ और है. अब स्याही पोतने का तो तजुर्बा नहीं. हा हा हा हा.

The origin of curses

An untold history of indian gaalis.

ITO Circle, New Delhi. Summer 2009

A Toyota Camry brushed past my Maruti Alto embossing a subtle scratch; Somebody appealed, and somebody caught the Camry driver off-guard like a third umpire. Camry took the brunt of Delhi-Wallah’s enviable collection of curse-words with his entire feminine genealogy denigrated within minutes. The victim, myself, could just mumble to pardon him, and was snubbed off with a hackneyed delhi phrase,

Aap tension na lo. Hum dekh lenge ji.”

(‘Dekh lenge‘ verbatim means ‘will look after’; it practically means a barrage of abuses and may be a slap or two)

Although, its a blasphemic topic to talk about, I was always curious about the origin of curses and abuses in India. Who was the first man on Indian soil to plant abuses on another? I look back at history in chronological order.

Pre-historical mythical era:

A still from Star TV serial Mahabharat
A still from Star TV serial Mahabharat

Ramayana and Mahabharata, the grand-epics of war with epitomic bad-men ‘Rakshasas’ and ‘Kauravas’ never mentioned about any abuse. Else, Bibhishana and Sugreeva would have been blasted black-and-blues with ugliest of abusive inventory. But, nothing! No such mention in Ramayana. Duryodhana and Karna did improvise a bit abusing Pandavas and Draupadi, when Karna called Draupadi ‘unchaste’ (dramatised by these TRP freak serial directors as ‘veshya’ and what not). Ved Vyas too would have scandalised the issue a bit. Still I believe, event was much milder in terms of curse-words as compared to ITO affair. And above all, disrobing kulvadhu‘s pride and womanhood can’t be compared with some random Alto car being brushed. If 100 curses were reason to kill Shishupal, half of delhi would have been dead by Krishna’s sudarshan.

Medieval era:

Chakravarty Ashok Samrat: A colors channel TV serial

Neither in Romila thapar nor in Satish Chandra’s medieval history, curse-words are accounted.

They might not be apt for a written history, but people like Huen-Tsang or Megasthenes could have mentioned about them. Why would the outsiders care to maintain decorum?

Pali language of those days could have had some encrypted ‘gaali’. But, why didn’t archaeologists find anything? As a natural reflex, they should have decoded all porn and banned stuff first.

May be all was burnt like Nalanda legacy. I don’t quite buy that argument either. Even if somebody nukebombs our country, atleast one curse-word would remain somewhere, on some facebook status, or some piss-sprinkled wall, or some public toilet or some chetan bhagat’s novel.

The muslim invasion and origin of ‘gaali’:

A still from TV serial Jodhaa-Akbar
A still from TV serial Jodhaa-Akbar

Only reasonable period attributable to earliest indian abuses, could be the period of Delhi Sultanate. In one of my childhood textbook lesson on Ibrahim Gardi, Ahmedshah Abdali called him, “Dozakh ke kutte“. And, that stays first documented abuse of Indian history in my memory. As most of these invaders belonged to land of unrest in middle-east, probably those war-cries and angry exhanges had permanently scarred their vocal cords. Words like ‘Dozakh‘, ‘Haraam‘, and ‘sahabzaade‘ crept over the people of India who were already tired of Sanskrit tongue-twisters like ‘kimkartavyavimudh‘. Soon, mutations and combinations gave rise to ‘apbhransha‘. How ‘Haraam‘ would have mixed with ‘Sahabzaade‘, and when ‘Matri‘, the revered maternal term, became ‘madar‘ and later to ‘Mother’, is pretty comprehensible.

Did Mughals really invent abuses?

Mughals or earlier muslim invaders are not to be blamed for curse-words for present day. Arabic language or present day Urdu are one of the most disciplined and respectful lingos, which has a certain ‘adab‘ and ‘lihaaz’, and distinct place for elderly and women. A sharp contrast still prevails between Delhi and Lucknow day-to-day usages.  In Lucknow, some would ask, “Aur zanaab, kaise mizaaz hain aapke?“. In a Paharganj hotel in Delhi, my friend was welcomed by morning chai-wallah, “Aur bhai! neend aayee ya machhadon ne maar lee?

British period

A still from movie 'Lagaan'
A still from movie ‘Lagaan’

Its pretty natural British would have pounded umpteen of abuses during their rule. But, only accounted and popularised abuse is ‘bloody Indian’. British and most of europeans even till date, aren’t much into sex-linked abuses, rather they are into scatological abuses like- bloody, scum, shit, faeces, dirt…and so on. That would have barely hurt Indians who never used a toilet-paper and loved to shit in open.

North-Indian origin: The aryan legacy or something else?

Coming back to counter muslim origin, my other contention is muslims of those days (and some even in present day) had consanguinous marriages, i.e. marrying within the family with some sister or cousin. North-indian Hindus stayed away from such traditions (rather its blasphemic to even think about such relations). Recently, one of the high-class polygamous woman is accused of murdering her daughter on this behest. Abuses based on such incestual innuendos are most prevalent today, and I believe they must have been brain-child of north-indian orthodox hindus for whom an incest could be the worst abuse.

Its not like south-indians would be less abusive, but their inventory must be much smaller than average delhi guy. Sweet-tongued bengalis probably have only one curse-word based on bengali word for stupid- ‘boka‘. In our college ragging days, we were told to utter abuses to the ceiling fan till it stops whirring. People from all states ranging from Bengal, Bihar, Madhya pradesh, Rajasthan tried their best but could not utter little more than filmy abuses like ‘saala‘, ‘kutta‘, ‘kameena‘ etc. But, when a punjabi began his ‘O teri ……’ , ceiling fan was almost shaking and about to fall at his toes.

Award winning scene from Movie ‘Omkara’.

While traditional crime hinterlands of Bihar and UP improvised on double-meaning Bhojpuri songs with roadside romeos uttering some cheap innuendos chewing paan, Sardaars (sikhs) and Jats of north innovated some hard-core abuses. A simple reason I could think is Punjab witnessed gory days of partition and terrorism which made the funniest and most gayful community burn in anger. Abuses may have emanated since Jaalianwalla Bagh and flourised till golden temple incident of 80’s. On the other hand, feudal lands of Bihar-UP witnessed suppression of dalits and lower caste by landlords in a derogatory way. So, the abuses were invented to laugh and scorn at them- subtle and punishing ones.

The days are over, and India progresses towards egalitarianism. From Dr. Dre to Honey Singh; Vishal bharadwaj flicks to Chetan Bhagat’s novels; MTV roadies to AIB Knockout; Rave parties to casual facebook posts. Abuses are a universal vogue entity. Some days back government was contemplating whatsapp monitoring. All they would have had is – porn and abuse collection for next decade. The beeps in movies prompt you to say it aloud, and the **** studded words appeal us the most.

Even if great Subhash Chandra Bose rises back from his grave, he would go back to sleep if he hears, “Bhaag bhaag DK Bose…….D K Bose.” and wonder if his land of ‘dharma’ has become land of ‘curses’.

If you are searching for some funky abuses for Nehru and Gandhi in his letters, remember it wasn’t us. It was the great orator and visionary Bose. Abuses are created by us, and hope next generation doesn’t get hold of them.

Jai Hind!

Disclaimer: Author has expressed his fictional opinions and interpolations, which does not claim to have any relation to actual history.

Read also:

The complex origin of our favourite ‘gaalis’