By Neel Anil Panicker

Black is beautiful.

Black is pure pearl__ossidified, solidified, petrified to perfection emerging after thousands of years of penance from the earth’s belly, hissing, glistening, and illuminating all of mankind with its sheer magical brilliance.

Black is velvety, curling and embracing and reaching hidden chambers of your heart, unlocking secret still born desires, and reaching out to places and people so wrongly misconstrued as unreachable.

Black is when you look into the eyes of your lover and see not the whites but a pool of water ringed with pain and sorrow and grief and bereavement and all other words that tug at your heart and dip and bale and scrape out the last remnants of joy and happiness, leaving you dangling in a gravity-less mid-air suspension, your body a waste, your mind even more.

Black is the colour of her lustrous hair, a long, endless ink of total darkness and your fingers slipping in and out of its strands, tying and untying the umpteen knots that bind your soul to hers.

Black is what envelops you when she opens her arms and you close your eyes and your breaths become one while you side, slide and collide even as your bodies merge and submerge, swimming in the high tide of noon’s unbridled desires.

It may not be as black and white as it seems but BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL.

#neelanilpanicker #musings #black #beautiful #blackbeauty #love #power




Aligarh Muslim University, AMU

Image result for jinnah

By Neel Anil Panicker

Are we going Pakistan’s way? Are we becoming a mirror reflection of what Pakistan has become in recent years?

By focusing our eyes, ears and all of our sensory perceptions on our next door neighbour are we in real danger of morphing into the monster that Pakistan has turned into?

Well, if you were to ask me I am going to stick my neck out and say an emphatic ‘Yes’.

Chew on this___Ram, Padmavat, cow, beef, Taj…we seem to be never falling short of issues to fight over. Almost every other day we are out on the streets, armour and shield, guns blazing, ready to attack and maraud and exterminate vile enemies of the nation__be they real or imaginary.

The goal posts keep changing, the game remains the same, the spectators ever on the rise.

The latest in this year’s edition of the IPL- acronym for the great Indian Political League__is the absolutely farcical and totally unavoidable brouhaha created over Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s portrait.

I am of the firm opinion that all those students and their political Godfathers who are crying themselves hoarse and fighting a pitched battle in a bid to force authorities to remove Jinnah’s portrait from the precincts of Aligarh Muslim University, are anti-nationals.

Yes, you heard that__these lumpen hooliganists, this fringe group of pseudo nationalists who indulge in violence and fight over non-issues, who go about brow beating and attacking all those who oppose them including the police and all right thinking citizens of this great country__they all are anti-nationals for in this 21 ist century post liberalised highly competitive modernist economic world that we live in the only rightful definition of anti-national that we need to subscribe to is one who expends his time and resources in derailing the economic growth of a nation.

For aren’t they not anti-nationals all those who burn effigies, stop traffic and hold up trains, sit in dharnas and kill and loot and plunder in the name of protecting, preserving, protecting, upholding some abstract dinosaur like values so very absolutely anachronistic in today’s jet age?

Shouldn’t the students of Aligarh Muslim University of both  and all political hues be expending their valuable time and energy into the

pursuit of education, a pursuit that would not just shore up their intellectual wealth but also help them bag jobs and ultimately lift this country out of the economic morass that it has fallen into?

It is a question that needs answering; not just by the innocent lambs who are systematically led to slaughter by their political self serving selfish political masters but by all right thinking national loving citizens of this country.

And the answers need to come, fast and quick, for I am afraid, the time is running out.

#neelanilpanicker #editorial #KNEELING DOWN #jinnah #amu #politics #anti-national #portrait





By Neel Anil Panicker 

Her’s a quick quiz. Which one month of the year is it when the blood pressure levels of parents with school going kids in India touch the roof?

You guessed that correctly. It’s March but of course. March is that one interminably long month when it is examination time all over India for students, especially for those  who are appearing for their all important 10th and 12 Board papers.

Yes, the Ides of March strikes big time this third calendar month whether one’s kid is appearing, has appeared, or will be appearing for their ‘life making’ examinations.

So, is this period tension time, or fun time? Well, a bit of both, or maybe midway between the two?

It all depends on what demographic category you belong to__ a male parent, a female parent, a male or female parent with one child, a male or female parent with twins, both of whom  appearing for the exams, or a male or female parent with two or three children, at least one of whom has already appeared, one is to appear this year, and the other the next year.

So here’s the drama unfolds on D-day.

DAY ONE, 8 AM:  I and my better half am standing outside the school gates with kiddie dear and all I see around me are hordes of parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and of course school children in their monochromatic uniforms, the ubiquitous bags strapped to their shoulders, albeit relatively less light.

Like mice the children are being herded inside the school compound while outside the parents, in groups of threes and fours huddle around, the women to one corner, the men to  the other___all talking in low voices, a few even gone silent, each one of them taken in by the solemnity of the occasion.

8:30am : The students troop out of the main hall and are led to the school bus that awaits them, ready to transport them to their examination centre, which incidentally is a good seven kilometres away.

“Thank God for this service. Otherwise how would the children have gone everyday to such as far off centre”, says a parent to be immediately retorted by another, “Till last year it was easy as the students had to just to walk across to Bal Bharati, referring to the school that’s a hop, skip, and jump away.

8:45am : Anxious crease lines appear on more than a few mothers’ faces as the bus slowly edges its way out of the school gates. A flurry of quick bye byes are exchanged from half open windows as I hear more than  gasp from the crowd of guardians.

“Where’s Rajat. Is he in the bus. I can’t see him”, half cries out a woman.

“He’s inside. Where else can he be. I saw my son go in. They are best friends, you no. Don’t worry, ” assures another.

We watch as the bus hits the road and takes a bend.

“It’s going from the Ghazipur side. That place stinks worse than a pig. Why can’t the driver take the regular route via Mother Dairy?”, shrieks out another parent even as she grandly declares that she is going to the centre.

That was it; an impromptu decision is made and everyone hops onto to one or the others’ cars, bikes, or whatever means of transportation.

9:15 am: We are standing outside the massive gates of Plato Public School, the CBSE allotted centre for the students of Salwan Public School.  We are al happy again, having united with the children. The kids are now huddled to a corner, exchanging last minute notes, while their parents stand guard, respectfully standing a few feet away, discussing amongst themselves, trying in vain to ease out their worries.

9: 45 am:  The subject teacher elbows her way past the choc-o- bloc crowd and reaches upto to her wards for some last advice.

“Stay calm. Do all the questions in  a sequence. Be mindful of time, too”, she speaks out, her voice an epitome of calmness.

10 am: The gates open and one by one the students troop in but not before they are kissed, hugged and served ample dozes of “best wishes” by the anxious parents.

10:30 am The exams commence while outside the parents await. A few women have retreated to a corner and started chanting, their voices breaking out in silent prayers, their eyes half closed, the fingers of their hands joined together as if reciting indecipherable Sanskrit shlokas.

Others too hang around and having nothing better to do discuss the importance of the Board exams.

“Remember, even today, wherever one goes, they ask you for your School Certificate as proof of  your date of birth.  It is that important. Others nod in acquiescence.

11: 30 am: The throng of parents and kith And kin has thinned. Most of them have gone but promises of coming back in an hour.

“ It’s a three hour exam. It’s better to go now and an hour or so. Now there destiny is on God’s hands,” one parents almost wails out, a tad philosophically.

All of us concur and leave for the time being with promises to meet shortly.

For us, the battle has just begun; the war is not yet over.



By Neel Anil Panicker
There was none like her. She was non parallel. She was the queen of hearts. She set the screen on fire with her smouldering sensuality. She was head and shoulders above all.
She was also a narcissist who had taken self obsession to the utter extremes, spending crores of her hard earned money on beauty care products and treatments, she was so vain about maintaining her gorgeous looks that she took all manner of drugs, went under the knife countless numbers of times, was gobbling up dangerous, unsupervised drugs and injecting botox shots into her veins by the hour till the last moments of her death.
She was also an alcoholic, a shameless drunkard, a woman who swallowed five full bottles of the best whisky every single day right upto the day she died.
The world and its uncle have gone to town writing their own individual obituaries about the demi-goddess of Hindi film industry, Sri Devi, who was found dead under very tragic circumstances in a five star hotel’s bathtub in Dubai.
It seems everyone knew her intimately, knew her likes and dislikes, knew what she ate or did not, what she drank or did not, who she cavorted with and not, who were the loves and hates of her rather shortened stay on Planet Earth.
And what they knew they spoke with complete conviction like there’s this guy who pronounced rather pompously the other day, “Do you know her monthly expenses on maintaining herself was Rs 25 lakhs?”.
No Sir, I didn’t know that, and thank you for illuminating lesser mortals like us with such pearls of your wisdom.
Another, this one on 24 hour national TV, quipped, quite majestically at that “she took to the bottle as Boney had stopped caring for her”.
Yet another, this one a well known producer and “very very dear friend of her” had this to say, “Sri lost it after Mithun refused to marry her. From thereafter, it was just one big slide.”
Now, can we all stop this gibberish, utter nonsense that are being bandied about in full public glare and shamelessly carted around as if they were the Gospel truth, as if the holier than thou dispensers of such ‘authoritative’ facts and figures are the whole sole purveyors of truth?
Can we stop being so reckless in our opinions about people we haven’t even met or aren’t even remotely aware of, especially when aren’t even present to defend themselves against the relentless onslaught of abominable comments and innuendos that are being peddled around by people who have nothing better to do with their lives?
My answer to that is Yes. Yes, we can give the middle finger to all these shallow people and their meretricious comments every time they start throwing their gauntlet over the windmills.
#neelanilpanicker #sridevi #death #bollywood #indiancinema #467words

FFfAW Challenge-Week of February 27, 2018FUNER



By Neel Anil Panicker
All of us have a past, some a present too, but none of us are promised a tomorrow. It is also equally true that almost all of us have hacked their way through the past and strive hard in the present, harbouring hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow.
And this maxim doesn’t just simply apply to the plebeians, the hoi poloi, the teeming multitude of common men and women who live and breathe, stretching limb and body, hitting the myriad roads that dot every nook and corner of this wide world.
It applies as aptly to the rich including the swish set, the uber crème de la crème of society as well.
Be they man or woman, rich or poor, good or bad, every single person on Planet Earth dreams and works towards a tomorrow.
The poor and not so poor slog their lives working towards a better tomorrow, for their children and the children of their children, if not for themselves.
As far as the rich go, well, let’s not be mistaken. They too slog, albeit differently.
Their tomorrows are not about garnering wealth (that they have in plenty, unless they are Palanpuri Jains, for then enough is never enough!)
Instead, they slog with only one purpose, which is to prolong the ecstasy of the present, so as it seamlessly merges with the unseen future.
Take for instance the case of Sridevi, the once reigning queen of Indian cinema who died of a massive cardiac arrest, literally dancing her way to the after life.
At 54, she had everything going for her: uncountable riches, a super cool sugar daddy of an understanding hubby, two beautiful daughters, and a fan base that worshipped the very ground that she walked upon.
Blessed with drop dead good looks, a coquettish smile and an impish charm that could melt even a stone, Sri Devi’s present was perfect__just like in the movies, the countless numbers that she played in, commanding fees and garnering accolades more than even the leading heroes of her time.
And then avarice took over. She began to succumb to a very common human failing. She wanted to live her dream for ever. She wanted her present to remain ever so, to continue into the future, not knowing that one cannot forever live in the present.
And for that she turned vegan, started following her doctor’s advice, went on a crash diet, prepared and stuck by a list of do’s and don’t’s__ reportedly she had started to micro manage her diet and lifestyle to the last micro second. What to eat, how much, when and with what and with whom blah blah blah…
Quite tragically, the world woke upto the news of her death. The cause: “massive cardiac arrest.”
So, what was her crime? Was it that she wanted to look beautiful for ever, wanted and desired that her hour glass figure and porcelain china face not fall prey to the ravages of time?
That she tried to delay the onset of ageing by going under the knife?
I remember in one her earlier interviews she had said and I quote, “ For me health is wealth and I take utmost care of it. I have gone completely vegan and monitor my movements to a T.”.
Picture this: here is one of the most beautiful women Indian cinema has ever seen, one for whom the world is her oyster, and all she wants is to look forever beautiful.
And she does all that is possible to maintain that image, that beautiful picture post card image of eternal beauty that is forever etched in the minds of her innumerable admirers.
Can one find fault with that line of thinking? Can anyone for that matter? Is there anything wrong in aspiring to do so?
Can anyone begrudge her this vain attempt to delay the inevitable, to dream of a tomorrow that never ever comes?
You don’t die at 54, wept her fans. She was so young, so beautiful, others moaned. All those who had swooned over her Greek Goddess’ looks, mooned over her lissom figure and touch me not butterfly eyelashes and winsome persona now wept, swept away in an avalanche of emotions.
Sridevi’s tragic death has once again brought home the stark reality of the transitory nature of our lives. It is told all that whatever be our past, we only have one present, and tomorrow is just a mirage that never ever comes.
A day prior to her shocking death, I had decided to go on a crash diet, strictly vegan.
Let it be known: I am off it, for now and for ever.
Oops! Did I say for ever? I am sorry, make that for now. For, don’t we all know that tomorrow is just a promise that never ever comes.
©neelanilpanicker2018 #sridevi nce #queenofhearts #bollywood




Image result for NEWSPAPERS
By Neel Anil Panciker

A recent nationwide survey conducted among 25,000 students between the ages of 12 and 20 threw up certain revelatory statistics.

A staggering 82 percent of them were unable to answer all the 20 questions that were put to them. Only three percent of the interviewed received a centum; answered all the two score questions correctly. Worse, 48 per cent of the children failed to answer even one question correctly.

And pray, what were these questions like? Well, as simple as ‘Who is the President of India? What is our National Anthem? What is the full form of UIDAI?

A pithy aside to all this is that over 77 per cent of the interviewed had at least three social media accounts and logged on to one or the other of them for at least two hours every single day.

One would like to believe that the knowledge level of these tech savvy children, exposed as they were to such a dizzying array of mind boggling media platforms would be very high.

Alas! that is sadly not the case.

Which brings me to my contention, which is that despite living in this fast paced technologically advanced age when every single thing that we want and need is available at the click of a mouse, our children are intellectually stagnating and not growing. Their understanding and knowledge levels are at best rudimentary, superficial. They have become the unwitting victims of a huge business enterprise  that believes in serving low quality, half baked, at times absolutely untrue news and information__all served in the garb of ‘insta’ hot news, breaking news et al.

‘Breaking news’, I fear, is just that__broken.

Instead, what we need is wholesome, holistic, well researched information that is unbiased and doesn’t slip through our doorways as advertorials and self serving

Promotional material.

And who best to fulfill this other than the tried and tested, our centuries old daily intellectually cuppa__ the newspaper. It is the not the paper that is of relevance here but the news that comes embedded in it.

News, in a newspaper, doesn’t just break unlike in Twitter, Facebook and all other ubiquitous newsfeeds platforms that are dime a dozen in the worldwide internet space. The ‘news’ in the paper, is real, actual, and meaningful and is broken down into its identifiable parts, its every single component, analysed threadbare, the ramifications thoroughly researched and made intelligible sense of.

And to top it all, simply have a look at the kaleidoscopic array of options that are available in the hands of a discerning readers.

Open any reputable national newspaper and you will find there is everything of something for every single one of us cutting across age, gender, social, ideological  and intellectual spectrums __all systematically arranged and segregated into neat symmetrical columns that are easy on the eye as well as easily identifiable.

Block headed into standalone pages such as CITY, NATION, INTERNATIONAL, OPEN ED, BUSINESS, LEISURE, SPORTS et al_, none, not even the most hardcore online news junkie can undermine the quintessential supremacy of newspapers over all other Johnny come lately ‘news’ sources that pop out of tablets , mobile phones and laptops__ all high sensationalism but rock bottom when it comes to content doing nothing but merely feeding into our inner depravities and innate voyeurisms rather than satisfying our intellectual curiosities.

On the other hand a good newspaper functions as a mid-path, quite removed from the puerility of ‘insta’ news and a mere arms stretch away from the great books that lie awaiting us in bookshelves to be picked up and read in depth.

To all those naysayers who aver that newspapers are an endangered species soon to be as dead as the dodo, to them I say that’s time they woke up and smelled the coffee__ with the feel of crispy newspaper pages in their hands.

For, such is the paradoxical nature of life that the more the internet grows and serves us ‘breaking news’ the more we will gravitate towards newspapers because unlike the former the latter doesn’t take recourse to short cuts merely to capture more and more eyeballs at the cost of ‘news’ that questions, probes, analyses in complete depth, not just for the moment but for the days and weeks that follow.

©neelanilpanicker2018 #newspapers




The merry season is upon us. Yes, you guessed it right__ Today is Christmas.

Unfortunately the yuletide spirit has slightly soured, marred as it were by the loathsome activities of a few lumpen elements, at best grossly misguided, at worst mere thugs and criminals, masquerading as self appointed and self anointed torch bearers of Hinduism.

Image result for christmas violence in india?

How else could you justify the umpteen attacks on Minorities especially Christians in the past few weeks?

Here, chew on this:

A group of Catholic seminarians and priests were attacked, forced to abandon what they were doing, which is but singing carols in Satna, in Madhya Pradesh, the heartland of India.

Worse, their car was set on fire, cases slapped against them for “hurting religious sentiments”, FIRs lodged booking them under the stringent Anti-Conversion Law.

In neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, the Hindu Jagran Manch has let out a not so veiled warning to all Christian-run schools of Aligarh not to celebrate Christmas.

And the icing on the cake: A serving Chief Minister’s wife  is castigated and viciously trolled on social media. Her crime: she suported a Christmas-themed charity event.

 She should have known better. For wasn’t it our very own recently re-crowned ‘omnipotent’ PM Modi who had so grandly announced in 2014 that December 25 would henceforth be celebrated as ‘GOOD GOVERNANCE DAY.’

So friends, here I am, painting the town red celebrating Christmas  for who knows for all we know there could be no Christmas to celebrate next year onwards.

That’s what good governance is all about, right Mr Modi?

Merry Christmas to all, and especially to those who see singing carols as a precursor to forced conversions.

(c)neelanilpanicker2017 #X-mas #non-fiction