Monday, July 28, 2008

Meter, rhyme, verse

Today, the world is a beautiful, gossamer grey…as if one we were looking at it through a stocking. The sky is smooth and dull, in the manner of a peculiar whalebone that has been polished to perfection. It stretches comfortably over buildings, tree-tops and terraces. It stretches so very comfortably over that which we call ‘the expanse’. This whalebone polished sky expands over it all.

The rain that escapes from this fine sky is another story altogether. Rambunctious – like kids running past the gate on the last day of school. Hurried and with no motive other than ‘to simply get out of here’. And although it whips upturned faces and splices through fleshy, green leaves and pierces through grills and grates and pelts away indiscriminately, people understand. They nod and sigh and occasionally smile. After all, it is their time of the year.

This morning, a long car stands before mine at the toll booth. It is a beautiful shade of crimson. Like a chilli flake. When it moves again, inching slowly on the grey, wet road, it looks like a beautiful manicured nail caressing steel. Both hard…and hurtful, if you were careless.

Up ahead, the traffic is regular. Torrents pour down and a minor wave seems to be descending from the sky in little fragments. It’s getting darker by the minute and all the cars switch on their emergency lights. From where I am, the synchronicity is almost operatic. Specks of amber flash through sombre layers. Fiesty little dots. And almost festive. As if we were celebrating a different kind of Christmas. And far, far away, over and above tall buildings, I see tops of pretty palms swaying.

Driving in Mumbai during the rains is classic poetry.

Few read it, fewer understand it, and most will never know what they’re missing.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The good life

Dawn. A meal of rice and beans. Roof of the verandah shuddering in a strong, monsoon wind. A great book. Hush. Solitude.

This is why an almost Monday morning feels like a vacation…even though it isn’t.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

hello stranger

impossible to have known it then
not easier to think of now
will forget about it later
but would write about it somehow

the hazy promises of photographs
lazy lies and smudgy smirks
glistening poetry of a moment
montage of jolted quirks

mountains dissolving in a lake
ripples searing with shafts of light
butterfly wings and mossy swings
roads slicked by rain and ochre night

clumps of snow on red-tiled roofs
pile of orange leaves on a field
indigo buds tumbling atop a cave
clumps of snow on a windshield

yellow speckles on a snake
long and rough elephant grass
stylized rooms of people
with faded jokes and plates of brass

friends guffawing in a market
dinner for two on a beach
beautiful shells on slothful snails
and freezing stars, just out of reach

these photographs trace changes,
also trap some old familiarity
but i usually spot a stranger in each of them
and that stranger is me

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

When friends are wise

It wasn’t a starry, starry night. It was, in fact, a night with cadenced breeze and shadowy clouds. It was a night that could have been the prologue to a happy story; but chose to be the dénouement of a sad one. It was a night when you couldn’t see the moon, but you could gauge its longing in a fuzzy spot of light. It was a night when plebeians entered a princess’ room in her absence. The opulence was delectable; and the thieving intrusion even more so.

The sky was the colour of soot – the kind that forms the backdrop of a Dickensian novel. It was also the colour of imperiousness – a purple-violet-blue-plum squish. The sky was, at that moment, a worthy beholder of the night.

We sat at the verandah – Dee, Rhett, and I. There was some chai that had the smoky secret flavour of being brewed at 2 a.m. in the drizzle. There were bright, ambitious embers on cigarettes. And stretching before us were long hours filled with the belated eloquence of the inarticulate - Edith Wharton’s description of a lover in the ‘Age of Innocence.’

That night we talked of destiny.

Sometimes, time tessellates into moments of quietude, only to give voice to drifters that couldn’t say anything. The leaf that floated down a river; the feather that sailed away in the night; the slabs of sand that shifted under feet when someone waded into the sea. Did they know where they were headed? Did they care?

Rhett believes that everything about this world is perfect. There is a deep underlying synchronicity in the scheme of things – so much so that even if two people were to behave really badly towards one another – each would be perfect in his or her position. Every mistake is perfect. Which, I think, essentially means that there is no such thing as a mistake. This perfection, this impeccable orchestration of ‘choice’, is fate. Dee, I think, asked about where free will fit into all this. “Is there a plan?”, she asked. “Or is it all just… ‘pffooof’?” She waved a cigarette at a lazy cloud.

Rhett leaned back and stated quietly that it was all the same anyway. “The other side of complete randomness is perfect symmetry.”

And this how we talked of destiny that night.