Book Review: Dongri to Dubai

There are a very few books that can pick up facts from eons-old police records and news reports to put forth the story of a city’s organized crime as a story and not just facts. S. Hussain Zaidi’s ‘Dongri to Dubai’ fits perfectly in that segment of books.

It is unlike many say, not just the story of Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar’s gradual progress in the world of crime from a small time goon who lived in Dongri to a global terrorist whose activities are controlled via Dubai. It is in fact, primarily the story of how organized crime in Mumbai began with local smugglers in the dockyards of the city, how over the years with one thing leading to the other expanded incredibly vast from just smuggling to the infamous bomb blasts while it’s control contracted from the myriad gang leaders to one person named Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar.

Covering the activities of many including the Midas of Mumbai, Mastan Haidar Mirza and the cruel lord of the Pathans Karim Lala, the book progresses telling stories of their rises and falls in quick succession until it comes to narrate the tale of Head Constable Ibrahim Kaskar’s second son. The story of Dawood has been told effectively using many incidents of his youthful rage and foolish moves. One cannot fail to read between the lines the direct and indirect support that the Mumbai police extended to Dawood for uprooting the Pathan gangs who never bowed before any law.

This, it seems, not only uprooted the Pathans, but also helped Dawood to get a strong foothold in the criminal qorld which resulted in an era of gang wars so extreme that there were incidents of murders taking place in hospitals under police protection, courtrooms and even police lock-ups. While telling these stories in detail, the author doesn’t fail to show the helplessness of the Mumbai police and by default that of the Maharashtra government to put an end to the city’s organized crime. The second part of the book describes how Dawood fled to Dubai and from Dubai to Karachi, how blindfolded by religious extremists became hell-bent on destroying the peace and unity in India and how gradually, became a global terrorist. 

You should read this book even if you aren’t a Mumbaikar or an Indian, because it isn’t just a plain narration of Mumbai’s underworld. At some point, the book gives you an example of how should the police NOT behave while dealing with a criminal, how shouldn’t a nation’s government be voiceless and why you cannot make even the smallest mistakes while going after a most-wanted terrorist. It conveys how, due to all these things, Mumbai’s ill fate shifted from a little nuisiance in one of it’s integral parts to a national threat controlled in a middle-eastern country, from Dongri to Dubai.


An Open Letter to Anyone Who Writes an Open Letter


I don’t know how to begin talking in open letters because I haven’t read open letters as much as I should to learn the art of writing open letters. I was taught in school that you should never read others’ letters and back then I wasn’t acquainted to anything called an open letter. So I never asked my teacher if I could make open letters an exception to this rule. Now when I want to ask, she is dead and I’m scared of talking to dead people since I saw a Hollywood movie about talking to dead people. This, I hope, explains in a satisfactory manner that I wouldn’t ever read another open letter because I don’t have my teacher’s permission. But I have this curiosity about people like you that compels me to write this open letter.

What do you write in an open letter? And if you want to write something openly to someone, why don’t you tweet about them or post it on their facebook wall? Because if you write an open letter to someone and post it on your blog website, they aren’t going to read your letter because they won’t see your letter unless it is a love letter that talks about your skin cancer or any other incurable disease you’re suffering from and both of you, the writer and the receiver, are for a change, born from Nicholas Sparks’ pen instead of your respective mothers’ wombs. That’s the only possibility how they might come across your open letter, otherwise nope. I’m saying this because I know from my little acquired knowledge about open letters that open letters are always written to famous people by people who aren’t famous but want to be famous through the open letter that they’re writing. I had once seen someone’s open letter to Dennis Rodman that had appeared on the last page of GQ. The person should have known that if he wanted Dennis Rodman to read the letter, he should have printed it in ‘Nuclear Activities and Basketball: Top Secrets of Kim Jong’ or some booklet like that. My point is open letter should reach the person to whom it is addressed, and if you fail to do that, the open letter is a mere article. This further leads to a question, do you write open letters to win publicity? That’s bad my friend. And my teacher who died used to say that bad people go to hell when they die. Now look at me, I know this letter will reach you because this is where a whole clan of open letter writers is always sniffing opportunities to write open letters to others. That’s why I’m not a bad person and I might go to heaven.

Also I’m curious to know if you get an open-letter-reply to your open letter, or you get an enclosed-letter-reply and if you get one, do you publish it? Or you don’t get a reply at all? Out of these is the second possibility occurs and you choose to publish the letter, I must tell you that showing your letters to others is bad and you know where bad people have to go. Also, if the third possibility occurs and it’s occurrence is very common, I know that because I have done my homework about open letters, then I’d like to know why would you keep writing open letters? Do you know what are people who write letters in spite of getting replies called? Psychopaths. My grandmother says that and she isn’t dead yet. Just saying. But that’s not the point, point is you should write letters in such a fashion that you get a reply. Otherwise people are going to call you a psychopath. My grandmother’s friends would at least, and she has a lot of friends. Again, just saying.

I don’t know if this is a conventional manner of writing an open letter. There was no purpose to write this letter in fact. I haven’t written a letter in a long time and I just wanted to write one. Thanks for reading, and beware of my granny.

Lots of love,

(because that’s what my teacher who is now dead asked us to conclude the letter with)

Another open letter writer. 😉

9 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Write 9 Reasons or So.

So I have been reading quite a few posts on the internet that are anything from ‘5 Lessons You Should Learn From a Lesbian Mom’ to ’10 Ways of Knowing Your Girlfriend is a Slut’. Initially, I began reading it because I just wanted to read something. Then, I began liking some stuff there because it was to the point and very uncommon. I mean I don’t remember reading about lesbian mothers and their teachings anywhere else. And then, there was that someday when I wrote an article in points. 1,2,3,4. Done. And I liked that. It was fun, but fun can be anything including sniffing two strips of cocaine and falling on your bathroom floor. What is important is whether the fun is safe. In this case, I figured out that it wasn’t (no asshole, I’m talking about writing in points, cocaine is all good). But since I haven’t really experimented much with this style of writing, and since I also know it’s insidious, I’m writing this article about why shouldn’t you write in points, in points.

1. This is a manner of writing that can actually make you forget about how to write in other formats.

2. It will make you a ThoughtCatalog writer sure, but you’ll be stuck there forever identified as a ’20-something writer who loves music and farts way too much’ or any other stupid lines joined together.

3. It will make you a pretty lazy writer because you won’t really be taking efforts to write and form paragraphs since writing in points is so easy.

4. You’ll find yourself talking endlessly about ’10 Signs to know your boyfriend wears dirty underpants’ or something like that which will never even be topics in the first place.

5. You’ll hate reading anything else written in a good, comprehensive manner. You might even get lazy to finish a 250-pages book and you’re going to hate Jane Austen and Emily Bronte for their large works.

6. You’ll never be able to live like you did before because you’ll lose the patience in a quest to write everything quickly.

7. You’ll write points that don’t even make sense like the last one I wrote. You’ll be fooling your reader just to accomplish reaching whatever fancy number of reasons you have written the title with.

8. You’ll soon realise that this is a cliche and there is no way out.

9. You’ll die one day, having written ten thousand articles about tens of thousands of things that will never win you a Man Booker Prize or even make a difference to someone.

Think about it.

My Wife

I’m sitting in the bedroom right now trying to write. There is a slight amount of noise coming from the kitchen – clatter of plates, water gushing continuously and the humming of a Hindi song. It’s my wife Archana. I have told her many times to see that she makes minimum noise during my writing hours because I need to concentrate and every time, she agrees only to forget it at the next instance.

Archana is quite forgetful about many things. So much that her mother used to say that she might even forget her husband someday. It was funny to hear that until two days ago. Yes, a couple of days ago something happened that made me wonder if she has really forgotten me and something that in turn, devastated the lives of both of us in different manners.

It was a Sunday evening. I had taken up the important task of lazing in front of the TV to watch the repeat telecast of the FIFA Worldcup. Archana wanted to watch some stupid serial which led to a petty argument over who gets the remote and soon, it turned from petty to a considerably large one. She was accusing me of acting as the boss of the house. I replied by increasing the volume of the TV. She was pissed and with a grumpy face, she sat on the couch telling me that I was self-centered.

“Prakash won’t have acted like this”‘ she said while accusing me of a thousand things. I looked at her in bewilderment, she looked dumbstruck.

“Who is Prakash?” I asked.

She kept looking at me in a tensed, horrified manner. I wasn’t a fool to not understand it at that very moment. Turning off the TV, I asserted, “You’re having an affair.”

She began crying while explaining that it was a big mistake. She was falling short of words, but she kept apologizing.She looked so miserable! I wrapped an arm around her and said,”It’s okay. Tell me what happened. We’ll get through this okay? I love you.”

Still crying, she told me the whole thing in bits. It appeared that she had been attracted to an office colleague and they had been seeing each other for over four months now. I put on a brave face while listening her confession but it had shattered my heart. All the years of or courtship, the moments we shared and the happy marriage we were having, she had flawed it. I had never in the worst of my imaginations thought that Archana would do something like this. How badly I loved her! Archana had always been the love of my life and never, not even once in the whole course of our relationship and marriage had I even thought of cheating on her. And what had I received in return? A wife who sleeps with another man? It was smothering me. I couldn’t bear such a thought.

“It’s okay, you did a mistake but we’ll do something about it. Don’t you cry, I love you okay?” I said fighting back my tears.

She seemed a bit relieved.

“I love you too”‘, she said still weeping a little and hugged me.

Excusing myself for having to be alone for a while, I went into the bedroom and locked myself. Then, I cried. Men don’t always cry, but when they do, they’re really, really broken.And so was I. I cried a torrent of tears. At the same time, I kept wondering what could I do about this situation I was placed in. I could never believe her again. She had broken the trust that had always mattered more to me than anything else. What could I do? It was as if, with the trust, she had also shattered the happiness in my life. Whom could I expect to love me wholeheartedly? The tears couldn’t stop, nor could the thoughts. I sat on the bed for a couple of hours with my face sunk in my palms. Then, I rose with a decision.

When I walked out of the bedroom, I saw Archana in the kitchen. She was preparing for dinner and washing the plates simultaneously. I tip-toed behind her and stood quiet. Sensing my presence, she turned around to look at me. In one moment of agony and rage, I wrapped my hands around her throat. She tried to scream which only resulted in my grip getting firmer. In the struggle to escape me, she fell down and I sat on top of her, still squeezing her throat. I squeezed tightly, and squeezed till she was no more. Sweating profusely, I sat still for a while and looked at the fine job I had done. She was unworthy of my love. She deserved this.

Leaving the corpse on the floor, I went to sleep. It was a sound sleep that I had been craving for since weeks. The next day, that is yesterday, I woke up to the sound of plates in the sink, the gushing water and the humming of a Hindi song. The noise has not ceased since. And I don’t need to go out and check if it’s just my imagination. I haven’t dared to step out of the bedroom since then, because I know what will I see. Standing by the sink she’ll be there, my wife, Archana.

AIDS Awareness Article

How many of you have ever bought condoms? The question is valid because some guys are too shy to go to a shop and ask for a condom, and they end up borrowing their friends’ condoms. I think that is crass. A man should always buy his own condoms.

Buying condoms is quite a lengthy process. You go to this medical store around the corner and two or three people are already there buying crocins or cough syrups. So you have to linger there looking at boxes of tablets having names you cannot even spell properly. And right when you’re staring at a condom poster, the girl behind the counter asks you what you want. She is hot and what you want is to see her moan in ecstasy in your bedroom but you cannot say that out loud so you muttter “Condom”, while looking at her in a lecherous manner upon which she looks at you with an expression that either says ‘fuck me’ or ‘fuck you’. You shoot a smile at her but she doesn’t smile back. And when she seems like Zoe Saldana from Columbianayou know this just isn’t your place. So you find another medical store with a man behind the counter. This is a quiet place with no customers around.

You say, “Condom.”

These pharmacists are funny people, so this guy will smile at you and you cannot help smiling back. It’s a kind of silent conversation that goes like this:

“So you’re banging a chick?”


“Do it. Display your manhood. Make your brothers proud. Go man.”

You think that is enough to get the rubber, but the pharmacist has other thoughts.

“Dotted, striped or plain?” he asks. And when you make an hasty selection, the next question is,

“Long lasting?”

Of course you want the long lasting thing. And just when you think you are finally bought the product,

“Flavor?” he shoots.

You want chocolate but he thinks you should try banana, and you agree to buy whatever he says. 

“How many?” is the next question.

You feel like Dan Bilzerian for a moment. You don’t want to look like a loser who has only one opportunity to bang so you end up buying six condoms. The pharmacist smiles with respect.

And when you’re heading home, you feel proud about yourself. It makes you feel like your manhood is coming alive. You like how you have bought a condom and you want to do this more often now.

And now since you are anyway going to buy condoms, use them too.  Eradicate AIDS, use a condom.


So my girlfriend wants to begin reading.

“Suggest me a book to read”, she said.

What?” I didn’t quite get her. I mean reading isn’t everyone’s job really.

“I want to read a book. I’m going to begin reading because I think it’s a good thing to read books”, she declared.

“While your thoughts about reading are appreciated, I’m sorry to tell you that I cannot suggest you a book to begin reading with. It’s not about you, I cannot tell that to anyone because I don’t know an ideal first book someone can read”, I said.

“Fuck off. You’re a petty man. You’re not suggesting me a book because you don’t want me to indulge in good habits!” she ended the conversation.

A couple of days later after this incident I saw a paperback with a cover of hearts peeping out from her handbag.

“You use slam books? What are you? 13 years old school; girl?” I asked pointing towards her bag.

“It’s a book. Oh Yes I’m Single and So is My Girlfriend. You probably haven’t heard of it. My best friend gave this to me”, she giggled.

“What do you think you’re reading? You shouldn’t be reading some stupid book he suggests. Why can’t you look for a book yourself?” I asked.

“You’re jealous because my best friend gave this book to me. Get a life Shivraj! He is nice to me. I’ll read what he wants me to. You don’t have to be bothered about it!” she was clearly taking the conversation to some unpleasant place.

“I’m serious. Please read a book that you find than reading what someone else suggests”, I protested.

“If you want to give away free advice about reading books, go and spit that on your blog. Don’t tell me!” she snapped.

Apart from the fact that my girlfriend is a brainless fop, what the above conversation conveys is that whereas reading doesn’t demand you to be a genius, selecting a book to read strictly requires you to have an intellect fairly higher than that of my girlfriend.

I come across many people who want me to suggest them a good book to read. It is obvious and I get that. Since I write and since people believe that anyone who writes must be familiar with the best books in the world, it isn’t a surprise when they demand me to suggest them a few. But trust me, nothing can as tough as telling someone a book to begin reading with. And that’s not just about me, ask that to anyone who writes or reads a lot and they will back what I say. This is because we all differ in  our tastes. So when I find Wuthering Heights adorable, Yash whom I consider my mentor, finds it a tad boring. And that is the reason why if I suggest you a book to read which I find perfect, it might act like a sleeping pill for you. Sometimes when people have pestered me to suggest them a book, I have suggested them terrible books to get rid of them. I remember I handed a guy The Mark of Cosa Nostra by Nick Carter who had asked me for a book to begin reading with. Needless to say, he lost his enthusiasm and I killed a budding reader. My point is I cannot tell you a good book to read. No one can. It is a voluntary act. You have to find your own ‘good’ book. That is what I was trying to tell my girlfriend when I saw that terrible book in her handbag.

And it might get a trifle difficult when try to fumble through a book shelf to find your ‘good’ book. Everyone has to go through it. While I cannot tell you an ideal first book, I can however, tell you what you shouldn’t begin with;. Avoid romantic fiction. You’ll find it in plenty later. But if you’re going to read Nicholas Sparks or anything from Mills and Boon in your very beginning, you’ll keep looking for similar stuff and end up reading a bunch of cheesy lines put together that will lead you to believe that you’re reading a romantic novel. You’ll be fooling yourself then. You can of course choose to do otherwise because this isn’t my area of expertise, what I’m telling you is from my little experience I’ve had as a reader.

Literature is a platform to express thoughts which otherwise cannot be said out loud. Literature imparts freedom, and if you’re going to be dependent on someone else to get introduced to something as beautiful as this, it would be a tragic irony. Read what you want to. Read what appeals you. Heck! You can read cheesy novels too. You will not always be right about your choice. You’ll read poor literature too. Don’t fret. Don’t let that affect you. Keep reading. That’s how you will learn not to look at books through someone else’s perspective. And that is exactly how you’ll learn that there isn’t a good or a bad book, that there are just books and you have to read them and decide for yourself.  Happy reading.

How Do You Say ‘Happy Birthday’?

Birthdays are nice occasions as long as they’re yours or your close friends’. But when that day belongs to anyone else wishing them over the phone is quite unpleasant because you know where would the conversation go. There is the wishing part, and a series of awkward pauses before you finally hang up. But there are some people who have certain patterned manners of saying happy birthday and I’m sure you might have known some of those or might come across someone like that, or worse you might just be one such fellow. Here, find yourself.

1. The ‘Are We Good?’ Friend

This person will have disappeared from your life years ago. And you haven’t talked to each other since the last time you met. Not on phone, not over text messages and not even on facebook. Then, on your birthday this person suddenly calls you up from some unknown number and says, “Hey I’m Akash, you remember?” Sure as hell you do. You haven’t got the mad cow disease to forget this guy. He will wish you a happy birthday and talk generally about things that don’t even matter like asking you how is your college. These people call you only to see if the non-talking years haven’t created an awkward pause between you.

Say thanks and hang up throwing some lame reason before it gets too boring.


2. The Inside Joke-r

This is another person you haven’t seen or talked to in years. Probably your school-mate with whom you were pretty close and fast back then. They will wish you a happy birthday and to show you that it isn’t awkward talking to you after so long, they will remind you about the inside joke you had about your physics teacher. You’ve heard this from this same person on the last three birthdays in a row.

Giggle, giggle a little more and say bye.


3. The Party Animal

This person loves clubs and is always sniffing for an opportunity to go to one. They will call you right when the clock strikes 12 in the night, you’ll hear a heavy background music which means they’re already at a club and they’ll shout ‘happy birthday and tell you how awesome this new club is. Then it goes like this, “We should totally be here for your birthday party. I know a few people here and we can get a table.” They have invited themselves already.

Tell them that it’s too loud and you cannot hear them. Hang up. And yeah, postpone the party.


4. The Ex

This one will call you, say happy birthday and keep asking whom are you spending the day with. They’re just insecure because they want to come back in  your instagram birthday photos, and hopefully, your life.

Laugh and tell any random name. It’s your day afterall. The ex should suffer a bit.


5. The Love-lorn

This one is probably the scariest. They’ll call you and when you expect nothing but just a ‘happy birthday’, they’ll sing a birthday song they have been practicing a week prior to this day. They’ll ask you to meet them in the morning because they have a surprise for you. Okay, this is getting creepy now.

Say you have another call waiting and that you’ll call them back later, hang up, put the phone on flight mode and hope that person doesn’t show up on your doorstep in the morning.


6. The Cool Man

Yes, these are definitely only men, always. A couple of years elder to you probably. They’ll say ‘happy birthday’ sweetly and tell you to drink responsibly. They aren’t interested in your party because they have had far too many of those and they’re tired of all that already.

Say thank you like you mean it. You don’t have to hang up, they’ll do that before you do. Cool.


7. The Kid

I mean mentally. These people are still stuck in the teenage years because that’s how they’ll talk. They’ll call you and say, “Have an awesome birthday. Party hard! Rock it!! Wohoo!!!” That could have looked good as a text message 7 years ago, but these people are actually saying it out loud.

Say thanks, and don’t hang up, you don’t get to listen to a kid’s rant everyday, do you? 😉