The shadow that came across today
Looked as someone known to me
Though he didn’t stop me en-route
My soul refused to move
Saying it wanted to have some conversation
I said I didn’t have time
Life had become so spontaneous
That when a day became so routine I never knew
I would chart my ways, visit places
Sometimes, I would have introductions
Sometimes, it would be about exploring things
But more or less,
It was all in the known and familiar realms
Realms that would be in conversation
Sometimes mutual, sometimes solitary
And a shadow would always stay with me
That I so spontaneously thought was mine
I was where I thought I needed to be
It was as my days were
I always thought there was a silent commitment
Between my soul and my shadow
And that we all were in harmonious coexistence
But the shadow that stopped me today
Way belying this
My soul today refused to hear me
While talking to that shadow
That looked like a past connection
Raising questions,
That the shadow following me could not answer..



Life is unpredictable. Life behaves in bizarre ways.

Routine experiences in life – yet disturbingly new in their shock value – that make our thought processes so sick that we feel like resigning to our fates.

You never know what is going to happen the next moment yet you plan for it. That is human nature. Building you future on your perceived permutations and combinations is human nature. We all do that.

We pass. We fail. We feel stuck.

Sometimes, life walks along with us. Sometimes, it chokes our vision. Sometimes, it simply goes blank.

Routine experiences in life – that make us question our existence – or simply co-opt us to get along with the flow.

But come what may – a life we all have got – to live.

It is unpredictable. It is bizarre. Yet it is the only life that we have got – that we will get.

At times, it shocks you and it is true that no one else can do anything for you. It is only you who can find a way. It doesn’t matter how sick you are feeling, you have to find a way out of it.

You have to live them as routine experiences – being always conscious that they are not going to dictate your thought process – that they are not going to be the person for you.

Yes, that is always unpredictable – a shock’s shock-value – yet you have to find the threshold of it.

It’s bizarre – yet imperative to live your life here.



It was a bad day
And it was not a so bad day
Life had something to offer
Life had reasons to differ
And life had plans to betray
Yes, feelings were mixed
And nothing felt jinxed
There were moments
When life really sucked
But it’s for that healing touch
That life had in the day for me
A ray of hope, a way out
After every letdown
It was a bad day
When life tried to make it so
A mess after another
Loss after loss compounded
Senses were left speechless
Romance of loss setting in
When hope flickered
With a message
That there was hope still
To look beyond
What was already lost
To go ahead
From that dead-end point
I had no other way
But to act on those voices
I stirred my soul
Out of the trance setting in
Away from that romance
To give the day another chance
Creating on that healing touch
To make for the ones
The day had taken away
A day’s life
Had seen many rough patches
But now, a day in life
Had some positive energy
To undo the bad
To talk to the good
Yes, it was a bad day
But it was no so bad after all..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –



It is a busy public intersection in Delhi. All around are marketplaces, shops and big shopping malls. And there are street food vendors of all hues dotting the stretches on all sides.

The traffic red light at this public intersection is quite a busy one with long queues of vehicles on each side waiting for the signal to turn green. Throngs of people can be seen waiting for buses, auto-rickshaws and other modes of public transportation at every road diverting from that intersection. And in addition to all this, a regular flux of people keeps coming in and going out of the Delhi Metro station which is exactly above this intersection (Delhi Metro is an intra-city public transpiration system connecting to suburbs of Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad and Faridabad).

As I stepped out of the Delhi Metro station, I saw a street food vendor badly pounding a handicapped man – in that hubbub of people – and no one was coming forward. In fact, a passerby like me tried to intervene and was meted with the same treatment. Well, the way he was thrashing that guy, with his both polio-affected legs, the incident first shocked me.

Yes, I have seen much more human brutality than this, but such things always shock me. But I knew I didn’t have much time and I was about to intervene when I saw this police patrol vehicle. By this time, I had clearly come to know that the vendor was drunk and the handicapped guy was a beggar.

So, here was this guy, a street food vendor and he was drunk, beating a handicapped person like hell and extending the same treatment to the other guy who tried to intervene, and there were people all around – most of them able-bodied who could easily take on that guy but were desisting from intervening. Probably, they all would be having their own reasons and reasoning.

Anyway, after my initial shock, my priority was to save this man because whatever was happening was grotesque, grossly inhuman and could never be justified in any possible way and then I saw this police vehicle. Well, being a journalist, I am comfortable in approaching police and whenever I do so, I am quite rigid and straight in my dealings with them.

That police vehicle was steps away under the shadow of Delhi Metro stairs and was not directly visible from the spot where this guy was being badly beaten by a drunken ruffian.

I spontaneously approached the police and they were there in no time. When a policeman from the patrol vehicle reached there, the street vendor was still exercising his meek bravado on a man who needed society’s care and support. As soon as he saw police, as normally happens, he changed his track. He started verbally abusing the guy of harassing him daily and trying to show nothing beyond that had happened. Probably, he thought no one would come forward to tell what he did – even if the handicapped guy had his shirt ripped apart and his ears had a shade of blood – probably (and rightly) he thought the police would not get bothered about a beggar.

Well, I was in no mood to let this happen. I could never have allowed this blasphemy. As soon as we reached the spot, I grabbed the vendor and pushed him away from the handicapped fellow. Then, I had some pretty tough and rough words for the policeman as well for this ruffian – for the police to do something – and for the vendor to dislodge him from his drunken tyranny.

I knew my words were meaningless for a drunken fellow of that mindset but it did make other people to join me in protesting the incident – who, till now, mere just mute spectators. I was quite agitated, and well, we all should be, in such circumstances. And it took a while for me to calm down, but not before the vendor had some ‘unofficial treatment the Indian police way’ and he was made to shell out money for treatment and clothes of the handicapped fellow. Meanwhile, another person came forward with a burger and reassuring words for him.

The final outcome was like this. The vendor would pay for rickshaw and doctor’s fee, in addition to what he had already given earlier, and another vendor there assured that he would ensure that nothing untoward happens after the episode. The policeman also said that he would keep a tight vigil and would inform the ‘beat police constables’ to keep a tab on the vendor.

While leaving, I warned the policeman and the vendors there I would come there again tomorrow to check on what I was promised.

I know we live in a society where there cannot be permanent solutions to such anomalies. What best you can do is to remain humane in your sphere of life and be true to the principles of humanity. Yes, it is very difficult, but once internalized, like an incident had done it with me a long ago, it becomes inseparable part of you.

You don’t need to become a reformer or an activist for doing so. Just a case by case approach would do. What we need to do is to remain honest in each case and to remain honest with what we see – because we, practically, cannot go into the past and the future of every such incident – or in fact, in almost of them.

When I was leaving, a man came and told us that whatever happened to this handicapped fellow was justified. He said the fellow begged in this entire area and would regularly engage in confrontation with society guards while under influence of alcohol.

That may be true but that doesn’t allow the vendor (or someone else) to beat this man. What this fellow did or what he does may be entirely wrong but justifying ‘beating him to pulp’ is equally inhuman. We have countless men and women in our society who need the state’s help for their rehabilitation – the help that never comes.

We can do a lot by being honest to them and to us – helping them whenever and wherever we can.

And thankfully, I don’t think I am doing something extraordinary by doing so. It is the basic minimum that we all need to do to express our gratitude for our existence here.

And one should always go ahead of this ‘basic minimum’.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


I was being inconsiderate or life was getting inchoate
I cannot say but thoughts were certainly not amorphous
Distant in the past or remote in the future or even now
Or the events of yesterday or the thoughts of tomorrow
Living was taking meanings of a transcendental abyss
Into chasms and alleys of days experienced and sought
I wished to run away, I tried to walk in, rereading them
But sense in words failed to register on a cerebral mess
I had travelled for so long in my thoughts, unrestricted
Going to the years so far that I had not kept the count
But I could not decide how to get out of this labyrinth
Even if I let my ‘self’ flow along the designs of the times
I could not see the elements that were there yesterday
Even if I allowed my soul to wander again into this chaos
All I could see walls all around which I had razed long ago
Contemplation & The Reflex









©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –



There are ways to fight the ways of life.

Every life has problems. No life is without its own set.

Yes, nature, degree and frequency of problems affecting lives vary from life to life.

The majority of humanity has more of them but even the privileged ones are not without issues in their lives.

Yes, the way to approach the problems, if differs for from life to life, is also dependent on the class and is affected by the concerned equations of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.

One can face the problems of life by accepting their presence, reconciling with the situations of life while trying to find ways out or ways up.

Or one can refuse to reconcile the way life has become while trying to rebuild the life.

I met this rickshaw-puller again today. And while he was not in queue, with his rickshaw parked away, I preferred to go to him.

It was a similar ride to what I had on the other day – but on a positive, confident note. While walking to his rickshaw today, I was not in two minds, unlike the other day.

Collage-Rickshawpuller-May28, 2015

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –



Like it happens every day with them, they were calling to pull attention as I got down the Delhi Metro station. It was the hottest day of May so far, over 45 degree Celsius.

It was routine, calling passengers like this, but the rickshaw-puller on that day pulled my attention. He was a lanky fellow, lean and thin, extremely skinny. His bones were visible on his long and thin body. And he was underage too, certainly below 18.

His rickshaw was nearest to me so it was natural I would go him but after seeing him, I was in two minds.

It was more due to his physical structure than his age. I was in two minds that how would he pull the rickshaw and how would he climb up the patch of the track with a passenger ?

I am anti to underage labour but not the way it is in rulebooks. In fact, underage workers are prevalent and it is a burning truth about India and many societies in other. And it is not wrong. The first preference always goes to the survival instinct. And the primal survival instinct is to survive each passing day by first having food and a place to sleep.

And it is true for societies across the world. We may debate the age of underage workers. In India, education of children up to the age of 14 years is state responsibility. Children up to 14 years of age cannot be employed, except in ‘family enterprise’ and ‘entertainment trade’. Children above 14 years can work based on socioeconomic profile and survival needs.

This rickshaw-puller was around 16-17. Yes, like it happens he was not sure of his exact age. And like everyone, he had all the rights to make ends meet of his life. The family support for education goes up to at least 20-22 years of age but it is empty sociological theory for many. Education is still a distant dream, an ignored entity in the list of priorities of millions.

They know only one thing – somehow to survive the day – while thinking for the next. And it is true in societies across the world.

The rickshaw-pullers, originally from the hinterland India but toiling in big and metro cities, are a prime example of this social order, an order that is complex and multi-layered.

And like everyone in the society, this rickshaw-puller, too, had every right to survive the life, to meet the basic needs of the day and to think of the day coming next. There are many including me who feel heat pangs even if the window is of 10 minutes while the people like this rickshaw-puller earn their livelihood under the open sky, be it in the scorching heat of May or June or in the rainy days of Monsoon.

I was in two minds that how would this extremely lanky fellow would pull his rickshaw along with me. I was also thinking that I had no right to deny him his livelihood because if it was not me, he would carry someone else to earn his living.

The two minutes of dilemma gave way to saying yes to the rickshaw-puller. I was thinking he would not be able to pull the rickshaw easily and I would get down wherever required, i.e., on the upslope of the track. Also, as is the case with me, I was thinking simultaneously about my write-ups while taking the rickshaw-ride to my workplace. Public transport is my favourite for the reason that it provides me with time and ideas to think further about my written work.

While lost in my thoughts and looking all around, I asked the rickshaw-puller if he could pull me and if he went to the school.

He confidently said yes but what he said on my second question I could not understand. His language was not totally comprehensible but I could grasp from his words that he was around 16-17 years old and driving rickshaw at this age was his compulsion.

Soon he proved his words – about pulling the rickshaw. His speed was even faster than many well able-bodied ones. He was pulling rickshaw efficiently and easily. And he carried me to my destination in less than usual time.

I felt relieved – on the fact that he pulled rickshaw like any other rickshaw-puller, like any other able-bodied person. He did not show the problems I was thinking about. I was thinking to offer him some extra money but why I didn’t offer him I could not say.

But after leaving his rickshaw, I was feeling good that, somehow, even if I was in two minds, I took the right decision and didn’t deny a person the chance to add to his share of daily earning.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Time had stayed on
The day.. though split
Was hanging around
With a curious aloofness
Showing the usual panache
To make the move
To sing its heart gently
To reach out
Thoughts were arrested
In the freedom
Of a nowhere zone
Its visage was caring
With its presence subdued
The day..though split
Was proving a companion
Adding freshness
To the duet
With a relevance
That had seemed illogical
So far
Picking up the journey
The loneliness had begun
The day..though split
Had just arrived
And was here to stay..

The Day..Collage-3


©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –



My friend, who is also a respected elder brotherly figure for me, first pulled my attention to it during our random stopover at a chai-shop (tea-shop) in the market opposite the main gate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT).

After lunch, we decided to take a walk and the urge to have some ‘chai’ took us to the market complex.

Now this dog was sleeping king-size in front of a food joint before the chai-shop, Chayoos, an outlet that we could locate where we thought to experiment with for fulfillment of our urge.

I had read somewhere that dogs sleep, on an average, some fourteen hours a day. Now I don’t have any idea about the verity of this claim but the dog here certainly looked living it fully.

In the midst of a slightly upscale market place with people frequenting food joints that dotted the place, he was positioned there, in his deep sleep, indifferent to the chatter of people gorging on delicacies while sipping their choices of brews.

Now, gorging on food is universal a habit to most of the Delhiites irrespective of which scale and class of the society they come from. In fact, the more affluent ones gorge more copiously (or stylishly), irrespective of which upscale area of Delhi they populate.

And by his size, our dog looked sharing this inherent gluttony of Delhiites. Clad in a striped dog coat, he was clearly obese. Sleeping under the tutelage of the ‘proclamation standy’ of the joint, with a radiant doggedness, he was sleeping like its brand ambassador and it seemed he was adopted by the ‘marketplace with many food joints’ and was enjoying many patrons and good Samaritans.

Pushed by my instinct and my friend’s suggestion, I clicked the frame in some angles. Thereafter, we proceeded to meet the demand of our urge.

Dogged Dog Collage-1

Now, this chai shop was like any other outlet in such places, promising big with cramped surroundings, with sitting places giving a feeling worse than the economy class leg rooms of many so-called no-frills air carriers. Frequented by people of all shapes and sizes, it had a longish menu on chai.

We both settled on ‘honey-ginger-lemon’ tea. The counter guy took our order, obviously with a smiling face. But the marketing innovation, yes the promoters of this chain would have thought so, that came with the smile while taking the order was a silly one.

With a marker in hand, the folk asked our name. It’s common, so I told him. Now what he does – he writes our names on the two mugs that are to be used to serve our order. And after the order is prepared, he shouts our name as on the mugs to call us. Now rubbish it was. It was a small space and there was no need for this senseless ‘value addition’. A simple order number would have done it better.

And we were not going to think in ‘outrageous for them’ terms that asking and writing names on mugs meant they would gift the respective mugs to the customers (and so to us). Even if their ‘honey-ginger-lemon’ tea was overpriced, the ‘innovation’ would not be financially viable.

Anyway, the tea served was good in taste and volume, better than my many experiences with ‘honey-ginger-lemon’ tea and ‘honey-ginger’ tea at many other outlets. We sat with, talked and discussed freely and had some quality time together on our once-a-year meeting. And the taste and the volume indeed helped in this. Also, they had accepted our request to bring down the volume of the audio.

After finishing the tea, when we came out, we again saw our dogged dog, now fully awake and strolling around the marketplace in unison with its oversized built. He was walking around like he owned the place.

Naturally extending my previous act, I took some more frames of him and we proceeded to complete our walk.

Dogged Dog Collage-2

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–


The day was naked and chopped
It’s fragments were thrown in an abyss

Its vestiges were never enough
Yet, the show followed the unchanged script

As if living a leased day in life
Stealing from the text of yesterday’s lucidity

Imbibing the nakedness of desires
Trying to squeeze meanings from its elusiveness

The day’s today was barely enough
Surviving somehow, pushing the characters

It was mutilated and stripped of its soul
Staring through the lashes piercing its many lives

The vestiges were forced to hold the day
As if the day’s tomorrow had also fallen apart

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –