Author: ContentMatters

A media professional and a keen observer of the shifting shapes of content and those who make it.

Dear Intolerance,

You’re quite a slime, you know.

What are you doing in our country? What place is there for you with your ‘My way or the highway’, ‘Divide and rule’ and ‘I know best’ attitude?

You have snuck in casually and brazenly without a by your leave.

The rate at which you go about your daily chores, Mera bharat mahaan will soon be replaced by mera bharat kahaan. Will you rejoice then?

Please don’t try our tolerance too much.

With growing intolerance for your ways,

concerned, peace loving citizens

Dear Visitors,

I await with dread the incoming traffic today of all nature of emissions destined to take place in my space. Its strange but i rarely feel clean and i never feel any respite from filth. I’ve been mulling over my predicament and figured that its time i spoke out. I’m ubiquitous, almost. Airports, railway stations, bus stands, market places, multiplexes, highways, towns, cities, some villages, the list is endless. My presence is necessary and mandatory but basic respect unfortunately, eludes me.

As a public shauchalaya i feel abused and angry. My job is to be welcoming, clean and a haven for those who desperately seek release. I would like to take pride in what i do but I’m dependent on the management which seems to be managing every thing else other than its KRA.

The management does not have the basic material required to keep me spic and span. Not even cheap disinfectant.
They don’t have enough to hire cleaners so stains grow and residual matter collects and the rot sets in.
There is no maintenance provision so if the tank leaks or the tiles are coming apart … so be it.
There is no provision for hygiene education so most of the management and the public remain ignorant and, if i may say so … unwashed.

I’m tired of my own stench. You walk in and turn up your nose but i have to live in it!

Then the public walks in. Some of you don’t seem to know what a WC is meant for. It is definitely not a ladder with a hole on the top. Its a seat. Please do NOT climb on the WC and release your innards all over the place. Its offensive.

Sometimes, I’m able to offer tissues and wipes and all things nice. Sometimes, i can barely offer water. In all cases, it should not stop you from doing the right thing by yourself … and that is to follow basic hygiene.

There is something called a flush. I understand you cannot do anything if there is no water … but at least check once! The function of the flush is to pour a whole lot of water down the drain so the sewage gets carried along and the next person who comes to rest their ass is not confronted by a large turd or some floaters. I have, however, noted that an unflushed toilet does not deter some people …. they come right along and happily add to the collection. So now we have a pile up. Flies start buzzing and i have a whole new situation to deal with … the public no longer walks in. Stray animals do. All of you have by now contributed efficiently to converting me into a disease plaza. Which one would you like to rent today … i have on offer gastrointestinal afflictions, dysentry, bird flu, dengue …

You see where this is going?

Its not going in your favour and that’s for sure! If you want a swachch bharat … please get off the seat, pull the flush and wash your hands … for starters.

Reprovingly yours,

the shauchalaya union

Hello (adele style),

‘Hello from the other side
I must’ve called a thousand times’

Sarcasm doesn’t help. You never get it.

Anger doesn’t help coz you just clear your throat and ask me the same question for the 50th time.

Your responses start from a recorded message … to a very long wait listening to a very annoying update of all that you offer other than a quick response … to a very slowwwww and sleepy voice asking how you may help me.

Then the rapid-fire questions begin at a speed that questions the existence of speed and defies all speeds of comprehension. You want my DOB, my address, my pan card number, my phone number, my this number and my that number by which time i have emptied out my wallet desperately trying to feed you all the information you need while my voice rises in decibel levels and i think i may get a stroke. You may very well ask me to be patient but its 20 mins since i dialled the number and i haven’t even got to the point where my complaint can be registered. And i know that the actual navigation of comprehension, language and articulation will challenge every last cell in my being.

22.5 mins after my dialling the number …

My nerves are shot. My eyes are glazed. My hands are shaking. My phone is lying shattered on the living room floor and there is an ungainly dent in the wall.

The call dropped just as you asked me the nature of my call. It DROPPED!!


I can’t do this again.

I give up.

An irate, helpless and weary caller.

Oh God,

Will you answer some of the questions that haunt me? Give me the answers that i dread. The knowledge that i fear. No. i don’t know what I’m asking for. Spare me. Don’t spare me. Punish me. Punish them. Punish everyone.

I can’t stop my tears. I struggle to hold back the silent screams that keep wanting to break free. My sobs escape even when i think i have my pain packed in and closed off. When i think i don’t feel is when the sharp, searing pain stops me in my tracks and i double up and sink to the floor. I’m in pain when her name is mentioned and when everyone studiously avoids bringing up her name. I don’t know what to do with this pain. I can’t breathe. I can’t think clearly. I can’t hear anyone. I can’t taste my food. I feel nothing. Only pain. Terrorising pain. Pain for her pain. Pain for what she went through. Pain of feeling helpless. Pain that i will never see her again. Never scold her. Never hug her. Never say the things i always wanted to. Never see her in love or with her children. I can’t cope with the thought of ‘never’. Oh god. How do i accept this horror? This nightmare?

I read the newspaper reports again and again and again … not wanting to see and yet wanting desperately to share her pain and her last thoughts as she finally gave in. To hold her tight and wipe away the horror. Turn back the clock. See her smile. Hear her laugh. Stop her. Fold her in my arms and refuse to let her out of my sight.

What was she thinking? Did she know her time had come? How hard did she have to fight? Did she feel the horror or did she go away before the pain could reach her? Did they not feel any remorse or pity? Didn’t they hear her screams? Do those screams haunt them today? What about their mothers? Are they proud of their sons? Proud of what they did? What is wrong with these people that they can justify these heinous acts by blaming a young girl? I want to curse them all. I want to curse the families. The people around me. I want to hurt someone. I feel such rage. Such anger. What do i do?

I don’t want these thoughts. I can’t bear them. I can’t bear the thought of it … and then i think to myself … she went through all of it and i shudder at just having to think about it?

Its six months now but the questions keep surfacing like dead wood. The pain has become lead in the pit of my stomach. I’ve gone so deep into my self that i don’t know how to come out of this fog that surrounds me all the time. I fear i may be going mad.

Why? WHY?

A distraught mother

To ‘paan’ spitters,

Specially those who like chewing and collecting the residue in their mouths for a future projectile like spit directed at walls, staircases or an unsuspecting pedestrian. I am categorically stating that i would not like to visit your home. The thought is revolting. You must be living in a spittoon.

I would urge you to travel outside of india. Please exercise this right you have appropriated of releasing the red colour residue in any and every direction. Use this right outside of India. I’m confident you will discover how lenient your country is compared to the others. And i trust the experience will not be enjoyable at all.

yours disgustedly,

wary pedestrian

Dear Mumbai roads,

It is with deep empathy that i write to you. You carry the weight of the city and yet no one gives you respect. There is no one to tend to your multiple fractures and your ill health. What you really need is the ICU but we all know that several contractors will vie for an opportunity to fix you up and then do a shoddy job because commerce dictates most decisions these days. You keep undergoing surgeries. Repair after repair but to no avail.

You may not believe this but even the vehicles that drive on you pray for your good health, when they aren’t cursing you for ruining their suspension.

Maybe, you should start an online campaign. You can appeal to the government and demand better services. You can appeal to be made at least as well as your peers in other indian cities. Alternatively, you could go on strike. Just collapse under the weight of the crazy traffic and refuse to get up till they fix you up right and proper!

Please do something about the ‘state’ you are in. Even Gujarat fares better than you.

Fervently yours,

A weary commuter

Dear auntyji in the car ahead of me,

You must have heard of the swachch bharat campaign? Does it mean anything to you at all or is it just something you applaud and think ‘others’ should follow?

You threw the following things out of your car window when we were all forced to stop at a traffic signal.

Bits of paper that had been torn up and that fluttered across the road like leaves. One torn piece of paper on my windshield
An empty packet of Lays
Orange peels

I’m sure that had you been at home … you would have got off your fat ass (wild, but an accurate guess methinks) to chuck it all in a dustbin. You would NOT have littered your living room.

What makes it okay for you to throw your personal garbage on perfectly clean streets?

You know the best moment in all of this? The street kid, who picked up pieces of your litter and handed them back to you.


the car stuck directly behind you.

Dear Cow,

I wasn’t sure how exactly to address you but you’re the one we indians feel respectful towards even when you walk aimlessly along roads that are meant to be thoroughfares for traffic. We are understanding and forgiving and even good humoured about your blatant disregard for road safety. We indulgently accept your contemptuous stare when we honk to get you to move out of the way.

According to the dictionary, a cow also means an unkind or unpleasant woman. I admit i too use the term quite freely in that context but it wasn’t until recently that i questioned why a cow should be synonymous with an unpleasant and unkind woman. However, that’s not the point here. The point is you don’t seem too concerned about your reputation or image.

So dear cow,

An incident occurred recently. You were at the heart of the controversy.

You must have heard of a gentleman who was mobbed and killed by his long time neighbours because they took great exception to the notion that one of your ilk may have been killed and eaten by the family. So strong was this exception that they forgot they were a close knit community. They beat up an 80yr old grandmother. They beat up his son. Put him in hospital in critical condition. And KILLED a man. Ruthlessly. In cold blood. An eye for an eye or a human life for a rumoured cow life?

Maybe, dogs, monkeys, goats, fish, poultry will want their supporters to do the same? Maybe, the human race need not fear a nuclear warhead as much as an animal uprising? Maybe, all animals out there are building armies of humans who will fight and kill each other so that the animals can finally rule the world?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

With deep respect,

a curious onlooker

Dear Indian ‘Mass’ Television,

I have had the distinctive pleasure of being associated with you for two decades now. This tryst with entertainment began on an off chance and it continued as an uneasy dance where often we fell into misstep with each other and occasionally enjoyed the perfect waltz.

My fascination with you was all about your ability to effortlessly enter every home and make yourself the most cherished family member. Your ability to connect people with stories that touched their hearts. I don’t see that heart any more. I see mathematics and research and science and a lot of second guessing.
Why are you no longer the confident, sassy, strong individual with a mind of your own?
Why are there no icons that stand out and stand apart as beacons of light?
Why oh why are you such a sea of predictable consistency?

I think i know why. You want them to feel comfort in your presence. Not discomfort. You want them to feel lulled into the belief that nothing has changed. We are one big happy family in one big saccharine slug fest. You don’t want to take a chance on your popularity waning. You want the hero worship. You want to be everything to everyone and not just something to everyone. Its getting tougher though, isn’t it? Too many people to please … too many differing tastes … too tall an ask.

There’s an army of believers out there preparing to wage war for an original, breakthrough idea … in itself a cliche! You do need to wrest control and take charge, dear television, before the new age, brazen, mavericks get the better of you. I’m rooting for you.

affectionately yours,

family member

Letters to Everyone and Anyone

Dear everyone and anyone,

I use my power over words. Powerful, potent, sharp language that i know will slice and dice or create ripples of warmth and affection or easy intimidation or scathing wrath or a frisson of excitement … its all words. Its what i know. Its what i love.

This blog will attempt to be a series of letters to the world at large and individuals at random. The target will be unaware. The content will be unpredictable. The arrows may strike home or miss.

There is no agenda and no larger goal … well, maybe, it could become a compilation for a book … who knows. I’m invoking the SECRET here – the gospel that everyone swears by, few understand and many latch onto in the belief that they will earn redemption from their unfulfilling lives.

I don’t know who i will feel like addressing a letter to when the new day dawns. I look forward to surprising myself.

Have a good day.