Thursday, October 31, 2013


Most Indians, Hindu or not, would call Rama the hero of the Ramayana. So what is it about heroes that sets them apart from the rest? In his book, The Songlines, Bruce Chatwin describes a hero:

"Myth proposes, action disposes. The Hero Cycle represents an unchangeable paradigm of 'ideal' behaviour for the human male... Each section of the myth - like a link in a behavioural chain - will correspond to one of the classic Ages of Man. Each Age opens with some fresh barrier to be scaled or ordeal to be endured. The status of the Hero will rise in proportion as to how much of this assault course he completes - or is seen to complete. 

"Most of us, not being heroes, dawdle through life, mis-time our cues, and end up in our emotional messes. The hero does not. The Hero - and this is why we hail him as a hero - takes each ordeal as it comes, and chalks up point after point."

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The War of Ten Kings

Long ago, there lived a king named Sudas, who belonged to the Trtsu dynasty and was sixteenth in the line of descendents of King Bharata (after whom India is named in Hindi). Sudas was the grandson of the powerful king Divodas Atithigva, whose empire was in the region which is now Punjab. Divodas had earned his fame as a warrior by waging a long war with the powerful non-Arya king, Sambara, whom he had ultimately defeated and killed. He had also destroyed the ninety-nine towns under Sambara’s control and killed Varci in Udabraja.

Sudas expanded the kingdom he inherited from his grandfather. In the process, he alienated all his neighbouring kingdoms. After years of subjugation, a group of ten (dasha) kings and chieftains (raja; rajnya) formed a confederacy to combine their strength and defeat Sudas.

The ten kings were led by Anu, Sudas’s arch-enemy and his spiritual adviser Sage Vishwamitra, who hated Sudas’s adviser, Vashishtha. Though many of the kings were allies of Sudas, they turned against him and his small but strong tribe of Bharatas. They thought that if Sudas and his men were surrounded with forces so superior, they would have no chance of survival. Sudas’s enemies wanted to destroy the Bharatas. They wanted to take the Bharatas as dasyas (slaves) and divide their lands and booty among themselves. One day, suddenly, their great army assembled on the banks of the Parushni (River Ravi in Punjab) and challenged Sudas. Since his army was vastly outnumbered, Sudas should have surrendered. But he knew he had done nothing wrong. He was righteous and had the love and support of his people. He chose to fight.

River Ravi, known as the Parushni in those days, was the site where the Dasharajnya War was fought
The devas (gods) watched from their heavenly abode as the battle progressed for many years. Finally, because of Sudas’s moral superiority, Lord Indra, the God of Rain and Thunderbolt chose to support the Bharatas. He whipped up a storm so great that the ten kings were easily overcome by Sudas’s army. Sudas and the Bharatas won the Dasharajnya War (The War of Ten Kings). The Bharatas became the dominant tribe of the Indian sub-continent.

Later, Sudas’s descendants split into the Puru and Kuru lines and waged another great war for Arya supremacy: the Mahabharata War.

Read more stories such as this one in Flow — River Legends from India by Eisha Sarkar available on, and Google Books.

Flow (e-book)

Friday, October 25, 2013


A bleeding heart,
A song in my head, 
Words with no voice, 
A temple of regrets. 

A raging storm, 
A silent wanderer,
Pebbled streets,
Weathered heels.

I look back,
To see what I had,
What seemed like a lot,
Is now naught.

A past forgiven,
A lonely tree,
A weary soul,
Is laid to rest.

A resurrection,
A new me,
A new world,
A new journey.

 - Eisha

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A pocket guide to how the world is

This week, I got a free subscriber's copy of The Economist's Pocket World in Figures 2014 Edition. It's a comprehensive compilation of facts and figures about the world's geography, demography, business, finance, economy, transport, tourism, environment, society, health, culture and crime. Here are some interesting facts it throws up about India:

  1. India has the largest number of listed domestic companies in the world. It tallied 5,191 at the end of 2012
  2. The cost of living is the second-lowest in the world after Pakistan. Of course, they have been compared with New York
  3. Our people do the most car journeys in the world. The average distance travelled per car per year in India in 2011 was 23,448 km
  4. We have the second longest road network in the world, a stretch of 4,242,371 km. The longest is in the US, 6,533,218 km of road (as of 2011)
  5. We have the world's third largest number of Facebook users (63,793,000) after US (158,923,000) and Brazil (71,865,000)
  6. We had the highest number of visits to the cinema in the world (3.1 billion) in 2011. The US had only 1.3 billion and came second
  7. We are the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world after China
  8. We've had the 19th highest economic growth between 2001-11. Azerbaijan tops that list
  9. Delhi was the most polluted city in the world in 2009, with 118 micrograms per cubic metre of particulate matter followed by Xian, China at 115 micrograms per cubic metre
  10. We, as a country, are the third largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the world after China and the US
  11. 212 species of fish are under threat in India
  12. We have a workforce that comprises 74.7% males while Mozambique has a workforce with 53.2% females (figures for 2012)
  13. We consume the most sugar in the world (23,130,000 tons in 2011)
  14. With a population of 29.3 million, Delhi is all set to become the most populated city in the world after Tokyo in 2020
  15. The average age of mothers giving birth to children in India in 2010 was 25.3, the lowest in the world
  16. India's was the most undervalued currency in the world in January 2013, a comparison of the Big Mac prices showed
  17. India had the fourth largest deficit after the US, Turkey and Italy in 2011
  18. Workers remittances in India were the highest in the world in 2011 amounting to $63 billion
  19. India does not feature in the list of the top 48 fastest growing populations in the World. Qatar tops. 
  20. Kazakhstan, Turkey, Philippines and Indonesia are more competitive in global business that we are
  21. We are not in the list of the 24 countries who come up with innovations or are technology-ready even though we are not in the highest brain-drain list of 12 countries
  22. Mumbai's Bandra-Kurla complex was the 11th most expensive office rent space in the world in the first quarter of 2013
  23. India does not feature in the list of 13 most corrupt countries in the world. Afghanistan tops and North Korea and Somalia are joint second
  24. We do not feature in the list of the 17 countries where businesses use pirated software. Zimbabwe rules
  25. Turkey and Egypt gained more in global stockmarkets between December 31, 2011 and January 2, 2013 than India did
  26. We withdraw 761 billion cubic metres of freshwater every year, the highest in the world
  27. America exports and India imports the most arms
  28. We have the fifth largest number of prisoners, around 372,296. US tops that list as well 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tweet a story

I tried to tell a story within the 141-character space that Twitter provides:

She'd had enough. "No more, never," she pledged. Then she raised her eyes. A cherry. "Christ, save me!"

Friday, October 11, 2013

A 100-word story

I just got tempted to try this out, after I had a chat with my friend Shreyasi who loves 100-word stories. Telling anything in 100 words is difficult and so I took this up as a bit of a challenge. Do let me know what you think about it.


A hand went up. "Yes, Dost." He looked at me incredulously. Had I picked him wrong? Maybe he didn't want to answer. I squirmed. He stood up slowly. Heads swivelled.

He gauged his audience. I was getting impatient. Finally he spoke, "Ma'am… Ma'am, I think you've got it wrong."

I glared at him. "He never utters a word in class and now he tells me I have made a mistake," I thought. With a wave, I dismissed him. “Anyone else?” Nobody answered. Dost shrivelled back into his chair. 

Flicking my hair, I turned to the board. It read, "E=m2c."

This story was published on Kreat!ve Kahaani