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Aahsome ISSUE #1


Cover art by Sveta Kuznetsova



he main reason this magazine was started was twofold, to give

each of us, and acts against freedom are much more rampant inside us,

readers a chance to explore outside their usual boundaries. And

than the ones that are shown in the daily news.

to give artists, writers and people with opinions, 10 minutes in

front of a larger audience. The site for Aahsome was started on 15th August, and that would be the primary reason for choosing Freedom as the theme for the first issue. By freedom we meant not just freedom from a foreign power, but freedom in all meanings of the word.

Freedom to me is best summarized by what Morpheus says to Neo, in the movie Matrix, “I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.” The final step towards freedom has to be our own. — K.A. Anand

Freedom always brings thoughts of Gandhiji or our colonial past, since not being free as a country for so long has brought that aspect of freedom to the foremost. What we don’t realize is that being free doesn’t necessarily mean free from outside power. In fact we knowingly give away our freedom each day of our life. We loose our freedom to not buy, by watching advertisements and getting emotionally affected into taking our wallets out. We loose our freedom to think for ourselves when we start believing

K.A.Anand is the founder of Aahsome magazine. He is a User Experience Designer by profession and blogs about design and everything else here:

in generally accepted notions of truth, without examining the logic ourselves. We loose our freedom to act by choosing not to act. Most of these losses are not because somebody came and took it by force, but we chose to let our freedom go to rot. The notion of freedom is much more inside



D for A humble idea that started out with a few enthusiastic people, is growing to be a bigger, better project. The wall project started with a blank white compound wall, with an intense burning feeling of “something has to be done to it�. Set in an old East Indian village in Bandra, colourful with people of many talents, all hidden in their tiny abodes. It was an initiative to add visual elements of colour, form and texture to a space, to make the area more alive and generate a feeling among people who pass by it daily. Inviting more people, not just artists to come paint, and to hunt for interesting locations to paint. We hope the pictures in the following pages would inspire you!







Photos: The Wall Project and ht tp:// photos/magiceye

There are more such events planned in other cities. Connect with The Wall Project on Facebook to stay in the loop.



A PETITION from the manufacturers of candles, tapers, lanterns, sticks, street lamps, snuffers, and extinguishers, and from producers of tallow, oil, resin, alcohol, and generally of everything connected with lighting. To the Honourable Members of the Chamber of Deputies


entlemen, you are on the right track.

political economy; therefore we shall call it your

on us so mercilessly we suspect he is being stirred

You reject abstract theories and little

practice — your practice without theory and

up against us by perfidious Albion (excellent

regard for abundance and low prices.

without principle.

diplomacy nowadays!), particularly because he

You concern yourselves mainly with the fate of the producer. You wish to free him from foreign competition, that is, to reserve the domestic

We are suffering from the ruinous competition of a rival who apparently works under conditions

has for that haughty island a respect that he does not show for us.

so far superior to our own for the production of

We ask you to be so good as to pass a law

light that he is flooding the domestic market

requiring the closing of all windows, dormers,

We come to offer you a wonderful opportunity

with it at an incredibly low price; for the moment

skylights, inside and outside shutters, curtains,

for your — what shall we call it? Your theory?

he appears, our sales cease, all the consumers

casements, bull’s-eyes, deadlights, and blinds

No, nothing is more deceptive than theory. Your

turn to him, and a branch of French industry

— in short, all openings, holes, chinks, and

doctrine? Your system? Your principle? But you

whose ramifications are innumerable is all at

fissures through which the light of the sun is

dislike doctrines, you have a horror of systems,

once reduced to complete stagnation. This rival,

wont to enter houses, to the detriment of the

as for principles, you deny that there are any in

which is none other than the sun, is waging war

fair industries with which, we are proud to say,

market for domestic industry.



Claude Frédéric Bastiat (30 June 1801 – 24 December 1850) was a French classical liberal theorist, political economist, and member of the French assembly. Bastiat was the author of many works on economics and political economy, generally characterized by their clear organization, forceful argumentation and acerbic wit. Among his better known works is Economic Sophisms, which contains many strongly-worded attacks on statist policies. Bastiat wrote it while living in England to advise the shapers of the French Republic on pitfalls to avoid.

we have endowed the country, a country that

Bastiat’s argument cleverly highlights basic flaws in protectionism by demonstrating its absurdity through logical extremes.

cannot, without betraying ingratitude, abandon us today to so unequal a combat. Be good enough, honourable deputies, to take our request seriously, and do not reject it

exhausting plants will come at just the right

But what shall we say of the specialities of

without at least hearing the reasons that we

time to enable us to put to profitable use the

Parisian manufacture? Henceforth you will behold

have to advance in its support.

increased fertility that the breeding of cattle will

gilding, bronze, and crystal in candlesticks, in

impart to the land. Our moors will be covered

lamps, in chandeliers, in candelabra sparkling in

with resinous trees. Numerous swarms of bees

spacious emporia compared with which those

will gather from our mountains the perfumed

of today are but stalls. There is no needy resin-

treasures that today waste their fragrance, like

collector on the heights of his sand dunes, no

the flowers from which they emanate. Thus,

poor miner in the depths of his black pit, who

there is not one branch of agriculture that would

will not receive higher wages and enjoy increased

not undergo a great expansion.


First, if you shut off as much as possible all access to natural light, and thereby create a need for artificial light, what industry in France will not ultimately be encouraged? If France consumes more tallow, there will have to be more cattle and sheep, and, consequently, we shall see an increase in cleared fields,

The same holds true of shipping. Thousands

It needs but a little reflection, gentlemen,

of vessels will engage in whaling, and in a short

to be convinced that there is perhaps not one

time we shall have a fleet capable of upholding

Frenchman, from the wealthy stockholder of

If France consumes more oil, we shall see

the honour of France and of gratifying the patri-

the Anzin Company to the humblest vendor

an expansion in the cultivation of the poppy,

otic aspirations of the undersigned petitioners,

of matches, whose condition would not be im-

the olive, and rapeseed. These rich yet soil-

chandlers, etc.

proved by the success of our petition.

meat, wool, leather, and especially manure, the basis of all agricultural wealth.



We anticipate your objections, gentlemen,

wheat, and textiles, “Yes,” you reply, “but the

gifts would be to reject wealth itself under the

but there is not a single one of them that you

producer has a stake in their exclusion.” Very

pretext of encouraging the means of acquiring

have not picked up from the musty old books of

well, surely if consumers have a stake in the ad-

it? But if you take this position, you strike a

the advocates of free trade. We defy you to utter

mission of natural light, producers have a stake

mortal blow at your own policy; remember

a word against us that will not instantly rebound

in its interdiction.

that up to now you have always excluded

“But, you may still say, the producer and the

foreign goods because and in proportion as

consumer are one and the same person. If the

they approximate gratuitous gifts. You have

Will you tell us that, though we may gain by

manufacturer profits by protection, he will make

only half as good a reason for complying with

this protection, France will not gain at all, be-

the farmer prosperous. Contrariwise, if agricul-

the demands of other monopolists as you have

cause the consumer will bear the expense?

ture is prosperous, it will open markets for man-

for granting our petition, which is in complete

ufactured goods.’’ Very well, If you grant us a

accord with your established policy; and to

monopoly over the production of lighting during

reject our demands precisely because they

have the right to invoke the interests of the con-

the day, first of all we shall buy large amounts

are better founded than anyone else’s would

sumer. You have sacrificed him whenever you

of tallow, charcoal, oil, resin, wax, alcohol, silver,

be tantamount to accepting the equation:

have found his interests opposed to those of the

iron, bronze, and crystal, to supply our industry

producer. You have done so in order to encour-

and, moreover, we and our numerous suppliers,

age industry and to increase employment. For

having become rich, will consume a great deal

the same reason you ought to do so this time too.

and spread prosperity into all areas of domestic

against yourselves and the principle behind all your policy.

We have our answer ready: you no longer

Indeed, you yourselves have anticipated this



In other words, it would be to heap absurdity upon absurdity. Labour and Nature collaborate in varying proportions, depending upon the country and the climate, in the production of a

objection. When told that the consumer has

Will you say that the light of the sun is a

commodity. The part that Nature contributes is

a stake in the free entry of iron, coal, sesame,

gratuitous gift of Nature, and that to reject such

always free of charge; it is the part contributed



by human labour that constitutes value and is

exclude it from competition, how can its being

of consumption free of charge or the alleged

paid for.

totally free of charge induce you to admit it

advantages of onerous production. Make your

into competition? Either you are not consistent,

choice, but be logical; for as long as you ban, as

or you should, after excluding what is half free

you do, foreign coal, iron, wheat, and textiles, in

of charge as harmful to our domestic industry,

proportion as their price approaches zero, how

exclude what is totally gratuitous with all the

inconsistent it would be to admit the light of the

more reason and with twice the zeal.

sun, whose price is zero all day long!

If an orange from Lisbon sells for half the price of an orange from Paris, it is because the natural heat of the sun, which is, of course, free of charge, does for the former what the latter owes to artificial heating, which necessarily has to be paid for in the market. Thus, when an orange reaches us from Portugal, one can say that it is given to us half free of charge, or, in other words, at half price as compared with those from Paris.

To take another example: When a product, coal, iron, wheat, or textiles comes to us from abroad, and when we can acquire it for less labour than if we produced it ourselves, the difference is a gratuitous gift that is conferred up on us. The size of this gift is proportionate to

Now, it is precisely on the basis of its being

the extent of this difference. It is a quarter, a half,

semigratuitous (pardon the word) that you

or three-quarters of the value of the product

maintain it should be barred. You ask: “How

if the foreigner asks of us only three-quarters,

can French labour withstand the competition

one-half, or one-quarter as high a price. It is as

of foreign labour when the former has to do all

complete as it can be when the donor, like the

the work, whereas the latter has to do only half,

sun in providing us with light, asks nothing from

the sun taking care of the rest?� But if the fact

us. The question, and we pose it formally, is

that a product is half free of charge leads you to

whether what you desire for France is the benefit




“dillitown” 2008-09

Meera Sethi

From the series “Word.” Giclee on archival paper Limited edition



“Heaven on Earth” 2008-09

Meera Sethi

From the series “Word.” Giclee on archival paper Limited edition



“Sadho, sabd sadhana kijai” 2008-09

Meera Sethi

From the series “Word.” Giclee on archival paper Limited edition



“Lahori” 2008-09

Meera Sethi

From the series “Word.” Giclee on archival paper Limited edition



“pindi” 2008-09

Meera Sethi

From the series “Word.” Giclee on archival paper Limited edition



“Tat Tvam Asi” 2008-09

Meera Sethi

From the series “Word.” Giclee on archival paper Limited edition



Meera Sethi is a visual artist working in the mediums of painting, drawing, graphic design, and photography. Her artwork addresses the joys and challenges of living in a third space where two distinct cultures collide creating ruptures, fissures and hybrid ways of being and doing. This experience finds expression in the references to Indian and North American popular culture, textiles and patterns, contemporary fashion, clothing and religious and cultural identities found in her work. Meera’s aesthetic is full of minute detail, lush colour, geometric abstractions and minimalist clarity. View some of Meera’s work at



The Last Day by Leela Alvares


he picked up the photo frame of her niece

She sighed when she pulled out the magazines

bother to turn. She guessed they would be talk-

from the desk and looked at it for a mo-

that she’d been saving to read some day. Some

ing about her. The office boy came straight to

ment. It was the first to go into the brown

of them were two years old. Without another

her table with her favourite frothy cup of coffee

thought, she tossed them in the bin.

and placed it carefully amid the growing debris

cardboard box that the office had provided. Next, she picked out the blue fiber tip pens from the pen holder along with just one pink highlighter. The much-used Thesaurus was wrapped with newspaper and tucked in a corner of the box. It had been her travelling companion as she’d navigated her way up the corporate ladder.

She noticed a colleague looking at her from the corner of his eye. He quickly averted his gaze and started clicking his mouse furiously as

on her desk. He muttered something under his breath which she didn’t catch, and he walked away, shaking his head.

though a deadline loomed over his shoulder. She

As she sipped the hot liquid, she felt the

also heard a few whispers behind her but didn’t

lump in her throat slowly melt, and she stole a



look at the half folded letter on the desk. The

the maelstrom of emotions within, and she

to her mundane job. Relief at being finally able

words ‘economic downturn’ and ‘regrettably’

wasn’t sure if she could trust it yet.

to free the muzzled voice which sought expres-

came in sharp focus, followed by ‘terminate’. A short laugh almost escaped her lips, which she converted into a cough. There was hysterical laughter bubbling under the surface, she knew, and the last thing she wanted was to make a fool of herself. No, it wouldn’t do at all. She arranged her features into an emotionless mask and continued filling the box.

“This is it… guys,” she said aloud, her voice unnaturally calm. She lifted her chin and looked around, her eyes radiating a confidence she didn’t completely feel yet. “It’s been a pleasure…” she continued, “well, most of the time, at least.”

shake her hand and wish her luck, but without

she stiffened. It was her closest friend at work,

looking her in the eye for long. Was it guilt, she

and she prayed that he wouldn’t say a word.

wondered? Guilt for the relief they felt that it

She could feel the waves of sympathy and pity,

was her and not them.

the tightly reined emotions were sure to give way. So she didn’t acknowledge the hand on the shoulder and merely gestured to the papers that lay on the desk. He understood and started gathering them for her. When her desk had been stripped of all signs of her, she stepped back and took a deep breath. This was easier than expected, she thought suddenly. There was a strange feeling growing amid

at being finally able to see the sun and feel its warmth on her face, rather than the dull glow of a computer monitor. Thank you, she whispered, tears flowing freely now. Thank you, she said.

Her colleagues chuckled and came forward to

A hand pressed gently on her shoulder, and

even though no one would meet her eye. And

sion in writing, in poetry, in song and art. Relief

She turned around and found her friend had already picked up her box. She smiled at him and walked ahead, lifting her head high. It finally came to her, the feeling that she’d been trying to give a name to. The feeling amid the shock of being terminated and the fear of being without a job, even if it was a job she’d outgrown long ago. It was relief, she realized. Relief at no longer having to let a part of her die every day she came

Leela Alvares is a copywriter from Bombay, now in Dubai. When she’s not extolling the virtues of brands, she writes articles, stories and bad poetry. If you’re patient, you’ll find her suddenly and magically on her blog















Contributed by Nitin Vetukar of



The Dream by Prashant Kumar Das


t was not just another winter morning in Tariq’s

to New York City, once in a diplomatic dele-

life. Several people including him had waited for

gation with the Commerce minister of

this day to come — his father, friends and his

old time sweetheart — Neena. While his car sped on the ring road, he could see the horizons of

India. In fact, his first trip abroad was to New York too. The Ferry to Staten Island, Bright LED

Delhi, spires partially bathed in orange sun

Digital Signage at Times

and partially shining with shades of morn-

Square and the Malaysian

ing blue. When the car would leave the

restaurants in China Town…

highway and merge with the service road,

every bit of the city enam-

as every day, they were to get trapped in

ored him. “The city has a sex

the traffic; meaning it was still an hour

appeal”, he would tell Neena

from his office. He started imagining the

over phone, “and I will marry

outside scenery smelling of the Berry Patch

it before I marry you”. Neena

aroma that emerged from his car freshener and pretended as if it was New York City, the city of his dreams! He had been to the US several times before; on short term news reporting assignments. Six times

would smile and curiously start asking about the Path ride between Jersey City and Manhattan. The news house that Tariq had been working with for years had a nominal 27


representative office in New York City,

was a shock to him; but he could not have

would open the door of his cabin, his assis-

handled by one Ramesh Patel, an NRI who

flown back even if he could know about her

tant reporter stuffed his mouth with a pas-

actually worked as an independent columnist

heart-attack three days before she died. The

try. “You did it Tariq”, she said. Anxious, he

for Wall Street Journal. Tariq’s writing style,

only son in the family, Tariq could not even

hurled towards the greeting card. It read-

a mixture of news analysis blended with a

come for the funeral ceremony. Two years

‘Congratulations sir, on your promotion as

common man’s romanticism and down-to-

ago when Neena fractured her leg in a traffic

the Chief of brand new New York Bureau’.

earth perspectives, had always appealed

accident, Tariq was flying to Seattle the same

Mr. Sengupta, the chief managing editor

to the masses. His weekly column of the

day for a reporting assignment. When he

rushed towards him, shook hands and said



learnt about the accident, Neena was in the

“So, the board decided Tariq, who else than

popularity with every passing year. That was

hospital and he on his way to the airport.

you could be the right person to start our

why in spite of several multinational news

“Sweetheart, I am postponing my flight-

news-reporting operations in New York; that

agencies venturing into India, Tariq remained

ticket; and coming straight to your hospital”,

city is all yours now”, he continued, “…and

with the same employer. Not that he never

he called up from his car. “No, please fly; else

that comes with another great news: the In-

thought for a change; but every time he did,

you will miss this event the day after…lets

stitute of International Humane Journalism

the Editor-in-Chief would come up with a

meet three weeks later when you are back…

(IIHJ) has decided to award you with their

tempting salary hike. “Buddy, would you like

I shall be OK”, Neena had said. Realizing

annual title this year. We thought of club-

to fly to New York? We again need to cover

the importance of his assignment, Tariq was

bing the awarding ceremony with our formal

the Indian Entrepreneur summit there”, he

helpless not to press much.

public announcement of our New York Op-



would say; and escort him to an instantlyplanned five-star dinner.

Things were a bit different last Friday

erations”. Tariq felt elated.

when he arrived at his office. Everyone

In fact, Mr. Sengupta was one of the con-

And yes, it was a trip to the same city when

started clapping when he passed the lobby

tenders for the New York position. Tariq’s

he lost his mother. The reporting assignment

and his cabin’s glass door was covered with

extensive reporting experience in New York

was too important to miss. Her sudden death

a huge “Congratulations” card. Before he

City and his public appeal forced him to take



up the second option: Europe. Mr. Sengupta

non-profit??? They do not have any foreign

products, many a times to New York. That is,

did not resist for two reasons: first, Europe

trips to offer; not even a proper HR system in

perhaps, how Tariq’s passion for the city had

was a larger portfolio to handle; and second-

place. Are you nuts, Tariq?...” Definitely, his


ly, he knew that New York project had been

present job was too good to give up. Tariq

Tariq’s dream.

decided that he would passively work with

The venue for the felicitation ceremony was close to Tariq’s office. His publication

IIHJ whenever he is relieved a bit from his role at work. That never happened.

Tariq’s father, an avid sculptor had started creating miniature statues of liberty with molded copper. Impressed by what his father did, Tariq often came up with this idea

house had spent heavily on publicizing the

His office room was artistic. Beautiful

expressed vehemently, “Abbu, I want to be

New York operations. IIHJ office was located

brass artifacts, glass furniture and an

a sculptor like you”. His father would reply

close-by too. They were a group of senior

impressionistic oil-painting of a Manhattan

“No, you little rascal! You should probably do

journalists from the National Capital Area

street covered with thick copper border. The

the business of sculptures rather than being

who had been nationally acclaimed some

border had real patina on it that resembled

a sculptor…”, he continued “you see, son, ap-

time. “Locally spread, internationally inte-

the real color of Statue of Liberty. The brass

preciating the art is one thing; and becom-

grated” was how their tagline read below

miniature sculptures reminded him of his

ing an artist another… earning your liveli-

the logo. IIHJ came up with strategic level

childhood days that he spent in a tiny shack

hood in spite of being a great artist is not

openings several times. Tariq wanted to work

in Moradabad that pretended to be a house.

that easy. I think you should study, and be

with them. He had been a big fan of the fa-

His father worked in an exporter’s factory,

a business man. Your school master told me

mous columnist- Mr. Sahani who was the

chiseling brass sculptures. Tariq would often

about emm-bee-aye thing; and you must get

president of IIHJ. Joining the Institute would

come with him to the factory on Sundays and

that degree”. And he would invariably add

have given him the opportunity to work so

do his homework in the factory’s resting area.

“…but stay back in your country, stay close

closely with Mr. Sahani. But his intent to join

His father worked overtime to feed his family

to the soil… we are born here; and must die

IIHJ was always contested by his friends: “Will

of three; and also save for Tariq’s education.

here…” Perhaps he was completely disillu-

you really leave your big company to join this

The shop-owner traveled the world to sell his

sioned by his own employer’s frequent busi-



ness trips abroad. How these trips ruined his

they were impressed by Tariq’s job and partly

With time, visits to Moradabad had become

family life and how materialistic he had be-

because they were awed by the powers of a

a pattern for Tariq’s creative process.

come were some things that Abbu was never


tired of describing.

One fine weekend afternoon, when it

On weekends, Tariq would typically drive

started raining in Moradabad, Tariq and

When Tariq grew older, he chose a journal-

down to his father’s place in Moradabad

his dad sat in the balcony chatting over the

ism school instead of business. Several of his

and spent most of his time in the factory.

sips of hot cardamom latte tea. Enjoying the

near and dear ones thought it was a wastage

Especially after his mother died, his father

faint splashes of the drizzles, Abbu asked him

of his father’s hard-earned savings until he

preferred to spend his weekends in the

“Tariq, is the snow fall in New York as beau-

got hired by this company with a handsome

factory too. They had a small “art room”

tiful as these rains in our neighborhood?”

salary package; directly from the college.

in the factory. Its setup resembled their old

Tariq looked around from the balcony. All he

Within two years, his Abbu stopped working

house. No elaborate furniture; but a clean,

could see was houses and their terraces with

in the factory; and set up his own with the

bamboo mat and a large ply-wood board

patches of trees wherever an open piece

money Tariq sent to him.

lying in the center of the room. That was his

of land was left available. Across the street

father’s canvas to draw newer designs for

downstairs was the cart of the tea vendor

the sculptures. Tariq enjoyed watching his

which could barely balance itself on the four

father designing. By the by, over the cups

spoke-wheels surrounded by thick mud. The

of tea they also discussed their perspectives

neighbor’s rooftop was flooded with a black

on the world. Abbu was not educated; but

fluid caused effortlessly by the old tire bleed-

his insights about life were impeccable.

ing due to water flowing through it. Not too

Tariq drew most of the basic ideas for his

far from the site was Yadav’s dairy with a

upcoming stories from Abbu’s talks. In short,

semi-open yard for cows and buffaloes. The

his Abbu’s factory was the place where

cowdung leaked through the weeping walls

creativity spawned in varying manifestations.

and the smell could sporadically be felt from

]In fact, frequent foreign trips also helped Tariq find the international markets for his father’s art work. That business flourished to an extent that his father had to employ a Manager for the factory and another for the outlet. When they needed loan to buy automatic molding equipments from Germany; Tariq guaranteed it; and the bank readily agreed to release the amount, partly because



Tariq’s factory. In all, there was little that

to Tariq’s collection, many of his childhood

and the scheme was awarded annual govern-

could be cited as a “pleasant site” if one was

pals had seen the photos of New York City-

ment funds. Statutorily, they needed a Board

to compare it to the view of Ellis Island from

the lady with a torch, tall sky-scrappers that

of Directors to prepare annual strategies for

a Manhattan hotel, especially when it was

touched the sky, the KingKong at a building’s

the NGO. Tariq was the first person Raju re-

snowing. Tariq did not know how to answer

spire. “Tariq, you must go to this city when

quested for the Directorship. “We shall pay

this question. He took a deep breath and

you grow up. You are meant for it”, his best

you honorarium for your work, please join

the smell of soil and exposed bricks absorb-

friend Raju would say. Raju was almost an or-

us, friend”, Raju had written to Tariq. Tariq’s

ing the rains passed through his nostrils. He

phan adopted by a distant uncle who made

reply was obvious-“Raju, my friend, who else

found himself lost in trance; and it suddenly

him work hard in his grocery shop. Tariq’s

than I would be more interested in this job?

felt like days of childhood to him…how he

clout in the band, which was due to his aca-

As it will be part time and in-absentia, I can

and his band of friends ran in the rain in spite

demic standing at school, motivated Raju to

easily manage. I come to Moradabad every

of mothers shouting at them; and how the

finish his college. After that, he joined an

week, anyway; l and we could schedule the

catch-me game would soon turn into a pleas-

adult-literacy NGO of Moradabad as a local

Board’s meeting every weekend. I cannot

ant mud-race… “No Abbu, these rains are

fund-raising officer. Later, Raju was able to

tell you how much passionate I am to be a

the most beautiful things on earth” he said.

convince his organization to start a subsid-

part of this. Maybe, soon, I can work full time

His father gazed at him with amazement.

iary in their neighborhood to help orphaned

with the NGO. I’ll talk to my boss tomorrow

kids. Raju became the head of that wing.

as a formality, and let you know…” When

They ran playschools for orphaned children

he did discuss the matter with his employers;

and collected public and private money to

and his boss’s reply was simple-“Tariq, you

ensure a minimum of high-school education

are a man of very high potentials. Leave such

for the children they pledged for each year.

jobs to people who aspire far less than what

This particular initiative was recognized by

you deserve. Moreover, our organization’s

the federal government as an ideal model;

policy will not let you work simultaneously

“Do you want me to park the car at our office first; or should drive directly to the IIHJ auditorium, sahib?” This was Tariq’s driver. They were close to the office now. “IIHJ, please”, was Tariq’s short answer to him. He wanted to steal a few moments more and remain in the memories of his past. Thanks



for two employers”. Raju kept modifying

had started inside. Tariq got out of his car

to New York; for you and me. New York is

and re-modifying the proposed assignment

and stared around looking for Nina. She has

a beautiful tourist spot; and that is what it

of directorship to suit Tariq’s employer poli-

just arrived the venue too. They hugged, and

shall remain to be for us!”

cies, everytime to be rejected. Later, Raju had

hurriedly exchanged gifts. Tariq ran towards

to hire a professor from Delhi University for

the dais and lost vision of Neena who had

this job. Yesterday, when Raju learnt about

found herself a seat among the audience. It

Tariq’s New York assignment, he immediate-

was a huge auditorium, almost full. The first

ly called him up and said, “Tariq, now that

row had colleagues, journalists and some

you have achieved a bigger thing in life, you

white-clad leaders. People clapped when

can easily forget the smaller ones you lost in

Tariq climbed the steps and was escorted by

past…congratulations”. Happiness evinced in

a host to his designated chair. A large ban-

each word he said.

ner on the backstage said: “the Annual IIHJ

As the car moved towards the IIHJ auditorium, which was visible now, right on the

crowd. He had un-wrapped his gift-packet too. The gift for him was an aerial photograph of the Statue of Liberty. “Freedom”, he murmured and looked at Neena with a smile. She shook her head, as if none of the two was surprised. •

award ceremony”. Tariq’s press was named as the lead sponsor.

middle of the terminating straight road in

Neena could not wait any further to see

the front, Tariq’s feeling that his dream was

her surprise gift. She unwrapped the packet;

realizing was growing stronger. Neena was

it was an envelope tied with a ribbon around

driving down to the venue directly from Mo-

it. Beneath it was a greeting card with these

radabad. In her last phone call she told that

lines handwritten: “I decided to not take up

she was bringing a surprise gift for him. Tariq

the New York assignment. I am resigning

bought her a present almost every time they

from my job to join Raju’s NGO. I have also

met. This time was no exception. By the time

decided to work on Abbu’s sculpture busi-

they arrived the parking lot, the function

ness. Attached is an envelope with air tickets

By then, Tariq had spotted Neena in the

Prashant Kumar Das is the Editor of India China America Institute Newsletter and is pursuing Doctoral Fellowship in Business from Georgia State University. He acquired a bachelor’s degree in architecture from IIT Roorkee and has worked with several multinationals and non-profits thereafter. He is fond of sketching, short-stories, ghazals, “South Park” animated sitcom, computer AI games and cooking among several other things. He lives with his wife Minu in Atlanta. More about him at 32


Svetlana Kuznetsova



Svetlana Kuznetsova



Svetlana Kuznetsova



Svetlana Kuznetsova is an Illustrator based in St. Petersburg, while she is not travelling. She is an indophile who was in India for 9 months and had to leave when her visa expired. She posts her art work on flickr:



ਮਨ ੁ ੱਖ,ਖ ੁ ਸ ਼ ੀ ਤ ੇ ਆਜ ਼ ਾਦ ੀ ਮਨ ੁ ੱਖ ਚਾਹ ੁ ੰ ਦਾ ਹ ੈ ਚੰ ਦ ਚ ੀਜ ਼ ਾ ਂ ਅਪਣੱਤ, ਪਿ ਆਰ ਤ ੇ ਆਜ ਼ ਾਦ ੀ

Manukh, khushi te azadi transliteration in Roman characters

Human happiness and freedom loose translation in English

manukh chahunda hai chand cheezan

a person wishes few things

ਸ਼ ਹ ੋ ਰਤ, ਪ ਸ ੈ ਾ ਤੇ ਖ ੁ ਸ ਼ ੀ

apnatt, piaar te aazadi

affection, love and freedom

shohrat, paisa te khushi

fame, money and happiness

ਅਪਣੱਤ ਤ ੇ ਪਿ ਆਰ ਤ ੋ ਂ ਬਣਦ ੇ ਨ ੇ

apnatt te piaar ton bande ne

with affection and love


relationships evolve

rishtiaan ton bande ne bandhan

relationships evoke bonding

te bandhanan vich guach jaandi hai

and in all this bonding

ਆਜ ਼ ਾਦ ੀ


freedom is lost

ਪਸ ੈ ੇ ਤ ੋ ਂ ਮਿ ਲਦ ੀ ਹ ੈ ਸ ਼ ਹ ੋ ਰਤ

paise ton mildee hai shohrat

money begets fame

te shohrat ton aonda hai ahinkaar

fame begets pride

paise ton aundi hai , hor paise dee laalsa

money begets greed for more money

ahinkaar te laalsaanva vich guaach jandi hai

and in all this greed and pride


happiness is lost

te pher manukh hamesha labhda rehnda hai

and then the person longs for,

khushi te aazadi

freedom and happiness

ਰਿ ਸ਼ਤ ੇ

ਰਿ ਸ਼ਤਿ ਆਂ ਤ ੋ ਂ ਬਣਦ ੇ ਨ ੇ ਬੰ ਧਨ

ਤ ੇ ਬੰ ਧਨਾਂ ਵਿ ਚ ਗ ੁ ਆਚ ਜਾਂਦ ੀ ਹ ੈ

ਤੇ ਸ ਼ ਹ ੋ ਰਤ ਤ ੋ ਂ ਆਓਂਦਾ ਹ ੈ ਅਹਿ ੰ ਕ ਾਰ

ਪਸ ੈ ੇ ਤ ੋ ਂ ਆਓਂਦ ੀ ਹ ੈ , ਹ ਰ ੋ ਪਸ ੈ ੇ ਦ ੀ ਲਾਲਸਾ

ਅਹਿ ੰ ਕ ਾਰ ਤ ੇ ਲਾਲਸਾਂਵ ਾ ਵਿ ਚ ਗ ੁ ਆਚ ਜਾਂਦ ੀ ਹ ੈ ਖ ੁਸ਼ੀ

ਤ ੇ ਫ ੇਰ ਮਨ ੁ ੱਖ ਹਮ ੇਸ ਼ ਾ ਲੱਭਦਾ ਰਹਿ ੰ ਦਾ ਹ ੈ ਖ ੁ ਸ ਼ ੀ ਤ ੇ ਆਜ ਼ ਾਦ ੀ

Jasdeep Singh works as a Web Developer in New Delhi. He runs a Pubjabi poetry blog He scribbles at times too.



It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realised, somehow, through the screaming of my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you’ve got, that freedom is an universe of possibility. And the choice you make between hating and forgiving, can become the story of our life.” — Shantaram

Quote suggested by Anjana. Messy photo collage by Arun. Photo credits: com/photos/adriana-lukas/2562762750 and 38


It’s freedom that drives the life inside a shell to hatch and move out of it. Its freedom that then leads the little bird to start walking and then desire to fly, to be on its own. The little bird craves to experience the outward movement of wings and take off into the open infinite sky. The want to move where it’s heart leads. The excitement of not being bound, the enthusiasm to move without a path, the will to be surprised and enjoy all the different situations and environments it encounters. To experience all the colors and fragrances and move through all of them with ease and decide the one which makes it feel the fulfillment life has to offer. It’s this freedom that we all long for. The feeling of being able to leave all our inhibitions and fears behind, to move into the open sky and discover different environments and realize what comes closest to our dreams, what fills the space we all carry.

Aditi Agarwal is a student who likes writing poetry occasionally and also keeps a journal.

Photo credit: 39

Last word

Beards are aahsome!

“I heard Al-Qaeda is hiring, they offer good salary packages for dhadi walas”, said my friend Gopi, trying to be funny while commenting on a Facebook picture. “You look like you’re on drugs man”, said JK. Pat came the reply, “You’re just jealous of my beard man”. Alok had to take a jab, “Dude put this pic on your website next to the link to free weed”. “Dude the shit ain’t free and no, I’m not selling it.” A few others said “Cool look bro!”. The silly shit that one has to deal with while growing a beard can get insane. Some folks even try to look for reasons why you’re sporting a beard. Reasons. I put the question back to them. Why should a man not embrace his beard? It is a defining male characteristic, just as breasts are to women. Society has its set of mighty stupid ‘rules’ that most people take for granted, unquestioned (you’ll find the most stupidest of all in big company policy books). We are so used to accepting and believing this that we don’t take a moment to question it. Advertisements, political systems, school systems, organized religions, corporate policies are all really good at one thing — pounding bull shit into peoples’ heads with skillful suaveness. Actors, business men, politicians and the like represent this with clean shaven faces, demonstrating standards that the typical middle class society expects us to maintain. These people sow seeds that grow to make a man shun his own masculinity, adopting a persona that isn’t true to his inner self. Beards were a sign of masculinity and virility. They still are in many societies. But yet we are moving towards androgyny and giving up the simplest freedom to sport a beard. We give in to society’s ‘rules’ that alienate us from our own facial hair. I chose to keep my beard, I chose freedom.

George Carlin loved his beard.

J. Arun is the co-founder of Aahsome and a designer of sorts at SlideShare by profession. He loves sipping Nilgiris tea, mountain biking in foggy weather while listening to Aerosmith and Bon Jovi. You’ll find him dabbling in art, sketching and typography. He’s on Twitter at 40

Contribute to the next issue of Aahsome! Theme: Beauty Interpret beauty any way you like, if you find your pet pig beautiful, feel welcome to write an ode to it or snap a picture. Seriously amaze us with what you think is beautiful. You do not necessarily have to create something specific for this magazine. Even if you have something which you feel is appropriate but is already published, say in a blog, do send in. Submissions could be traditional art, digital art, poetry, short-stories, opinions or photographs.

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Aahsome Magazine — Issue 01, Themed "Freedom"