Question of death: Comfort in philosophy or religion?

I have never been a religious person. I used to grudgingly partake in religious ceremonies in childhood, and as an adult, I have deliberately stopped it altogether. With all the baggage an organized religion comes with, it was a conscious decision on my part.

The question of dying and how to prepare for death is something that has always intrigued me. After all, for all of our discussions on politics, society, economy, and every other thing under the sun (termed imagined reality by Yuval Noah Harari), this is the ultimate thing, the philosophical and literal final nail in the coffin. Continue reading “Question of death: Comfort in philosophy or religion?”

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Short Story Recommendations for a Dose of Magic

The only memory I have of my grandfather before he passed away was him calling me ‘good gurl di laltain’ when I was a toddler, for pulling off my part in our game. I would spin around in my lehenga, to him singing dholi taaro dhol baaje. I never knew why laaltein, or what all of it meant together- I made my peace understanding it as a Punjabi grandpa’s drivel, stashing the memory away as a precious obscurity. It was only in high school when I decided to excavate some of my family history of partition through the stories of Saadat Hasan Manto, did his words take on meaning. In Manto’s Toba Tek Singh, a few years after Punjab is split into two, it occurs to the authorities that the lunatics in mental asylums must also be exchanged across the border, the Muslims to Pakistaan and the Hindus and Sikhs to Hindustaan. News of the transfers bewilder the inmates, who, cut off from news, are in a frenzy over whether the asylum had been in Hindustaan or Pakistaan, which of the two their own villages fell in, and how it came to be that land that was Hindustaan a few years ago when they were brought in was now Pakistan. The opinion of one Sikh inmate is sought out on the matter, and his response was always: ‘Uper the gur gur the annexe the bat dhayana the mung the dal of the Government of Toba Tek Singh.’ The words struck me as the long form of the gibberish my grandfather would come to imitate when playing with me. His call had been translated to me, in a strange sense, from beyond the grave. All of a sudden, with this tiny story, the old drivel became boundlessly meaningful, and made me swell up in the lofty awe of being, not rootless, but forever embodied in the webs of history, whether I’d know it or not.  Continue reading “Short Story Recommendations for a Dose of Magic”

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Self-Care Or Self-Sabotage?

Self-care leaves me exhausted. There. I said it!

All that talk of bubble baths and scented candles and DIY artisanal food trays make me want to crawl under the covers and never come out. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a pretty salad as much as the next person – but notice how I said ‘pretty’ salad and not ‘healthy’, ‘tasty’ or ‘fulfilling’? Because that’s what our generation gets caught up in – how things look (literally) and how they appear to others (representative of our success at adulting). Self-care, as we’ve come to popularly understand it, has started to feel like an awful lot of work to me. Continue reading “Self-Care Or Self-Sabotage?”

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In the midst of a pandemic: Struggles of LGBTQ community in Kashmir

It is no hidden fact that a population existing in a political conflict experiences an increased susceptibility when it comes to mental health issues, apart from the economic strife and socio-cultural struggles. A population that is already pushed to the margins, unfortunately also has the marginalized within the margins, who suffer doubly. This is especially true when it comes to the LGBTQ community of Kashmir. Continue reading “In the midst of a pandemic: Struggles of LGBTQ community in Kashmir”

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Interview with a modern-day Witch in India: looking at magick with a feminist lens

Witchcraft is said to be the first feminist movement in world history. It has been demonized by the male-centric Christianity and the practice is often ridiculed even today. From a feminist’s gaze, witchcraft has empowered women as it gives them the power to be independent and self-reliant. All these years women who were strong or have stood against patriarchy have been associated with the devil and evil. The infamous witch hunt was started to target women who were easily labeled as witches. Modern-day witchcraft is non-pagan. Many women have started practicing it all around the world irrespective of the religion they were born in. There are no hard and fast rules. Today, being a witch is being a feminist with a touch of extra empowerment.

Harsh talks to Aakerschika Narayan Mishra, a modern-day witchcraft practitioner. She is 35, a single mother, and a successful witch. In her interview, she talks about witchcraft, her journey of becoming a witch, and busts some myths about the practice.

How would you define witchcraft? What is the essence of this practice and how is it different from other religions?

Witchcraft is considered a religion because it’s practiced by a community of people. It often involves paganism. However, for me, it is more about a way of living than a religion because there are sects of witchcraft that totally rely on path works and spiritual power rather than pagan rituals. It is something very personal because it’s practiced by each person in their own unique ways. Every witch has a different approach and maybe even different principles. There are some who totally shun the use of props & sacrifices. They focus more on their imagination and path work. It is a personal spiritual practice. Continue reading “Interview with a modern-day Witch in India: looking at magick with a feminist lens”

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The truth about G-spot, nipplegasm & other things they didn’t tell you

It’s important to remember that unlike what you might see in movies and porn, sex isn’t always effortless and mind-shattering. On top of it, women especially in India are often led to believe that sex is shameful, which makes it harder to achieve orgasm and sexual satisfaction, and even communicate about their likes and dislikes to their partner. 

There’s no single handbook to achieve great orgasms or good sex, but knowing your body better definitely is a step in the right direction. Continue reading “The truth about G-spot, nipplegasm & other things they didn’t tell you”

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My therapist asked me to redefine love, here is my mediocre attempt at it

Recently I found myself in an unanticipated, serendipitous encounter with remnants of my past; it had a profound effect on me and for a few days, I found myself questioning my entire reality and foundation of love.

My lovely therapist asked me to do an exercise of redefining love. She asked me to take a pen and a paper and write down what does love mean for me. So, here I am taking a mediocre, confused, and chaotic stab at it and sharing it with you. Ideally, this should have remained in my diary, but well.

When I was younger, love for me was butterflies in my tummy and hot fiery sex that made my bones shatter. Love was the little tingling in my hands when his fingers touched mine and it was staying up till 5 am to talk to him because neither of us wanted to hang up.

When I was younger, I mistook romance and sex for love. When in reality, love is what remains when romance dies.

Continue reading “My therapist asked me to redefine love, here is my mediocre attempt at it”

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Deliverance amidst chaos – How the frenzy of the national capital set me free

Bob Dylan once said, “I accept chaos, I’m not sure if chaos accepts me

Last year I moved from my small hometown in Patna to the capital for higher studies at the University. I had always looked forward to a life away from home in a city which I could call mine.  The day I landed in Delhi, I was welcomed with a strong sense of nostalgia. I have never lived here but it felt that the city had embraced me even before. It was a strange yearning – a longing for a city that had died a thousand deaths in history. A city that had welcomed so many, welcomed me too with open arms. The bustling metropolis full of life immediately announced that it doubles as my home.

It happened quickly – moving to a 2 BHK somewhere near central Delhi, getting admitted into one of the most prestigious universities in India, walking through the small galis of Delhi, and the monumental realization of life not being the same anymore. When I first entered my room, I remember noticing the huge window in front of me, brimming with sunlight that hit my face. I instantly knew where I would keep my wooden desk, where my bed would be placed, and where I would be hosting my small tea parties and poetry sessions. It was a luxury to have a room all by myself in Delhi. I never took it for granted and eventually it became my writer’s den. A den where all the brainstorming happened, a place where revolutions were planned, a place where self-reflection happened, and a place that hugged me back on my gloomy days. Continue reading “Deliverance amidst chaos – How the frenzy of the national capital set me free”

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The conscious-unconscious uncoupling: A series (Part II)

This is the second story in the 3-part series of partition tales by the author. This story is based on true events, and the family members mentioned below are relatives of the author’s maternal grandfather. 

You can read part one here.


15 August 1947.

A date to be remembered eternally by the inhabitants of India and Pakistan. It
was a tryst of life and death, a scramble for preservation of identity and honor.

While the didactic and legislative attributes of this partition have been memorialized in multiple books as well as museums, those who viewed the unfolding of these events remember it first-hand as an anthology of trauma and agony. These memories of disquiet and paranoia are inscribed into the families of those displaced and left vulnerable, every scar commemorated, and each tear shed pulverized into folklore for the children of millennia to come. The lineage of refugees and those of the partition diaspora, carry with them the past never told, their reminisces intangible and aged, and yet preserved.

I belong to an aged ménage of one of the many families who fled from Pakistan during the partition. My predecessors belonged to the myriad inhabitants of Peshawar who absconded or succumbed to death, leaving behind everything they knew – fearful yet proudly donning their Kesari turbans as they marched towards a world unbeknownst to them. Continue reading “The conscious-unconscious uncoupling: A series (Part II)”

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The conscious-unconscious uncoupling: A series (Part I)

15 August 1947.

A date to be remembered eternally by the inhabitants of India and Pakistan. It
was a tryst of life and death, a scramble for preservation of identity and honor.

While the didactic and legislative attributes of this partition have been memorialized in multiple books as well as museums, those who viewed the unfolding of these events remember it first-hand as an anthology of trauma and agony. These memories of disquiet and paranoia are inscribed into the families of those displaced and left vulnerable, every scar commemorated, and each tear shed pulverized into folklore for the children of millennia to come. The lineage of refugees and those of the partition diaspora, carry with them the past never told, their reminisces intangible and aged, and yet preserved.

I belong to an aged ménage of one of the many families who fled from Pakistan during the partition. My predecessors belonged to the myriad inhabitants of Peshawar who absconded or succumbed to death, leaving behind everything they knew – fearful yet proudly donning their Kesari turbans as they marched towards a world unbeknownst to them. Continue reading “The conscious-unconscious uncoupling: A series (Part I)”

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