Thursday, April 22, 2010

Elegy for an Undead Person of Interest

This is for Firoze Shakir, the noted Sufi-inspired Poet, Blogger,

Flogger (yes, he flogs himself) and Pho-togger of the dark
side of Humanity. The one who unerringly refers to himself
as 'Bollywood's Most Wanted' and 'Photographer No.1'.
As he approaches the sixth decade of his life he has begun to
increasingly ponder on that extraordinary life and what it
might mean if he is gone and forgotten by all including the
media and his long list of followers and friends on the Social
Networks he haunts at all hours. I responded via email that I
would make sure that didn't happen, because I was in the
process of gathering my thoughts in order to write him a fitting
eulogy, one that he could appreciate while he was still alive.
Here's what came out of that promise.........

Let no man write the Epitaph
of the man who lived to Photograph.
Except me, maybe.

Endless Comments of praise
lengthy Poems of Pain
from a tireless body
and an untiring brain.

Firoze slept with one eye
as the other one scanned
his photos of victims -
the downtrodden, the damned,
the rich man, the beggar
Transgenders and Gays -
no one escaped
his unyielding gaze.

From Bandstand, in Bandra
to Borivli and Thar
he loitered and lingered
in Andheri and Khar
to make himself welcome,
to shoot pictures unharmed
Firoze traveled through Mumbai
as many he charmed.

With feet void of footwear -
often bleeding and cut,
boldly he entered
a Mosque, Church or hut
with simple intentions of showing the truth
of lives all around him,
be they smooth or uncouth.

The orphans, the children
he cried for each time
his lens perpetrated
the scene of that crime
where Padres and sinners,
fanatics in trance
played out life as his camera
recorded their dance.....

the dance for the Prophet -
this follower bled,
piercing body and soul,
even cutting his head
as a symbol of Faith,
as a means to an end
seeking justice for all -
a kind-hearted friend.

On Vox and on Twitter
his words still resound, 
on Facebook and Flickr
his pictures astound
those without eyes
and those without ears
who spit out their secrets,
but rarely their fears.

So was it all worth it,
this endless crusade
to educate, enlighten ?
This Tailor by trade

was a Poet by calling -
superb lensman, no doubt.
We would err by forgetting
him. Over and out.

How to Use Flickr: The Digital Photography Revolution

Twitter For Dummies
Facebook For Dummies

The Original Avatar from Pune

Hazarat Babajan Pune India

What shall I say of the Hazarat Baba Jan shrine and the
atmosphere, the magic of it all ? The Char Bawdi area
where I grew up, 2 minutes away from my home, the same
place where Avatar Meher Baba decided to become a
disciple of the lady who set him on his life's great journey ?
Gift of Love: Sayings and Messages of Avatar Meher Baba

My thanks to Jitendra, a Flickr friend who recently shared
this pic/gift (Click the link) when I spoke of a yearning to see
this special shrine one more time. The place where I stood and
stared, danced with whirling, piercing, bleeding, entranced
dervishes who flogged themselves so forcefully that the scene
took root in my brain and I just had to go home and try to flog
myself with a belt. True story. Ouch ! I gave up within a few

On Ash Wednesdays and throughout Lent I would stop by and
smear ash on my forehead from a bowl that rested at the entrance.
The thick pungent aroma of Incense was overwhelming and blinding
but the ash was all-important to me back then, for it served as
physical 'proof' for my Christian family to see and approve that yes,
I had been to Church (which I hadn't). I saw no wrongdoing
in my trickery since I believed that the ashes were holy anyway
as witness the number of devotees from different faiths who
stopped by at all hours to pay respect. I respected that.
Such is the power of Baba Jan. Read and appreciate what this
all means to people around the world : 
but don't take my word for it. How about a Celeb's devotion ?
No less than Pete Townshend of The Who 
Meher Baba M4Meher Baba M4
came for inspiration to my city, Pune en route to neighboring 
Meherabada colony near Ahmednagar, where the Meher
Baba Ashram is located. 

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Hotness and What-not -ness

Call it Synchronicity or auto-sync or co-inky-dink or whatever
you want to call it when random events re-occur inexplicably in an
almost-connected sequence within a short period of time.
I experience this a lot, so much so that sometimes it seems to me
that I may have been touched by an Angel. But probably not.....
today, it's more likely I've been touched by a Bhut. *


March 25: I was watching the local Houston Fox News station
when I heard them mention Bhut, the world's hottest Chili Pepper.
I was thinking, yeah..... I'm in Texas, where they love their hot
and spicy Chili bowls as much as their flamin' hot Barbecue Wings
and Baby Back Ribs. But this Bhut doesn't come from Texas or
nearby Mexico, where they pride themselves on their production
and exports of Jalapenos and Habaneros. No, this red-hot Chili
Pepper that's hot as Hell thrives in the Indian subcontinent regions
of Manipur, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and each region
wants to lay their claim to fame as if they owned the copyrights to
this red devil from the Plant Genus Capsicum

But on with my synch-ed story......March 26, the next day, and my
nephew with the 'Superman' avatar sends out a Facebook message :

' Trying to get my hands on bhut chili.....Does anyone know
where I can get a hold of one of these peppers? '

' Hey ! Now that's odd......maybe he was watching the news
at the same time as I was', I said to myself.  I had no answer for
him as I saw subsequent messages saying he wanted to eat it and grow it.
Hmmm... I decided I had to find the source for Bhut in Texas so I could
watch him suffer. But before I got to my Googling for the day, three days
passed and then.....March 29.

I was killing time before the afternoon shift by watching the Travel Channel,

and there it was again....on the program called 'Extreme Destinations',
a segment featuring the TV host in the act of taking on one of the greatest
challenges he had ever faced : the Four Horsemen Burger which contains
four of the hottest chili peppers known to man, including the Bhut !
It's stupid, it's dangerous, it's excruciating and it's an insane San Antonio, 
Texas thang, as extreme as they come.

4 Horsemen Burger Challenge
Uploaded by natchezoo. - Discover the latest sports and extreme videos. 

And so this post is dedicated to 'Superman' Shaheed as he devours what
could be Kryptonite of a different form....

Dave's Gourmet Ghost Pepper Naga Jolokia Hot Sauce. 
Insanity Plus Jolokia! 5oz. Glass Jar from Dave's Gourmet


Dave's Ultimate Insanity Hot Sauce Hottest Sauce in
the Universe from Dave's Gourmet


* In Hindi, the word 'Bhoot' means 'Ghost' ; Western researchers have
made the error of identifying the Bhut pepper as the 'Ghost pepper', fancifully
associating it with the Devil and the hottest destination you never want to visit, 
Hell. This is a matter of controversy and opinion for the proud growers of
Bhut in the Indian subcontinent according to wikipedia
Read all about the Bhut meaning :
and also how it's being used in India as a weapon against Terrorists 
Wilbur Scoville, scoville rating worlds hottest pepper, worlds hottest chile, chilli, chili Below is a  listing of a just a few peppers as rated on the Scoville scale.
There are many more not on the list, but none are hotter than the
Bhut Jolokia and the Red Savina Habanero.



Pure Capsaicin
1,001,304Bhut Jolokia
577,000Red Savina Habanero


Habanero, various


Thai, Chiletepin, Pepin


Tabasco; Cayenne


Chile De Arbol






Ancho; Pasilla




Bell; Pimento