Friday, September 26, 2008

Requiem for a torn fantasy

They pick out moonlight
from grains of sand
that lie sprawled over a beach,
The beach that’s hidden
In the groove of a conch
used to summon and to beseech
Tired gods and strong sharp forces
That hold the world this way
Tired gods that stop and strengthen
This weary world’s decay

The moonlight is so hard to find
In that state of dark
Light does not glint or hint
Or indicate the spark
That mortal eyes now expect
and hope to see this way
But what can they do for they do not know
their gods have feet of clay

Thursday, September 25, 2008

what NOW?

I wonder if there’s something a little off in the world. Or my world. I think it is mighty rude to keep criticizing someone’s city in front of a native. At some point, the gripes cease to be ‘opinions’- that beautiful can of worms everyone seems to be entitled to. The gripes turn into something more insidious – judgments and remarks or, at the very least, stuff that hurt someone’s feelings.

Okay, so it is an age-old debate as to which place is better – Bombay or Delhi. Maybe the verdict has come in the favour of the capital. Great news! It’s good if the capital of one’s country is deemed to be paradise and all that. But…I mean, I think it is one thing to praise one’s city. It’s another thing to constantly compare and carp about another’s region – especially if it is one where you have come to work and live, out of choice. Sure, I get that this city is not as clean and the roads are not as wide and the food is not as tasty and the people are not as decent or well-groomed. But this city is definitely NOT the hell-hole that it’s being made out to be.

Currently, I am meeting people from Delhi and Chandigarh and Ludhiana more often than before. I am meeting people from Bombay and Pune and Bangalore who have stayed in Delhi. And they are all coming across as such a mass of whiners. And I’m saying this as a Bombayite – we were the original regional chauvinists. (I know I was insufferable in Pune.)

I think it’s time one stopped and insisted on a little bit of respect for the city. I see people throw banana peels down a drain and say that the city is so dirty. They hear a language they don’t understand and they say it is so crass. They see potato and peas cooked in a regional way and go to town about how people here don’t know how to cook. They look at vada pavs and make faces and talk loudly about how nauseating that looks.

I wonder where all this migrant problem is coming from. This city seems to be full of people who don’t want to be in it.

I understand how Bombay may be another fractured, crumbling, old, weary aging city to many many people.

But…guys…to many many others, it’s home.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Didn't see it that way

It’s late at night. Dei (my roommate) and I are having tea in the verandah. We are dozing off in the cool, yummy rainy air. We’ve planted a banana tree outside our home and there are pretty white flowers blooming all over our gate. There’s a dog cozying up to a bag of cement across the garden. And a soufflĂ© shaped cloud hides a thick wedge of moon.

She’s talking about men. I listen and offer my advice – which isn’t much. And then she says something strange. She says, “You’re interesting. When you’re there, I guess your girl friends won’t miss their guys when they’re not around.”

A very odd thing to say. I’m touched.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Man! I am so tired. In fact, the last few weeks (or even months, I think) just rolled by like a white lie off my tongue. I suppose that’s exactly what September is for…to make you feel that the year you had built, one anticipation at a time, is now slipping out of your hands and will be crashing into a crescendo soon; to a countdown, no less.

Anyway, apart from the incidents that parade inside my head like a line of blurry marching ants, there are some things that I’ve managed to soaked in- frenzy notwithstanding. A really sweet e-mail from an ex-colleague (a friend really) on l’affairs de Coeur (perhaps I’m not spelling it right…although it’s interesting that Coeur meaning ‘heart’ in French and cur meaning ‘dog’ in English sound the same. What could it mean? That a dog is all heart? Or maybe a French dog is all heart. Or wait! An English heart is like a dog! Interesting).

The thing is - I would really like to write about the book I enjoyed- ‘Marrying Anita’ by Anita Jain. However, I’m moved to write about an awful compilation of drivel called ‘Absolutely Positively’. A colleague took one look at that book and told me, “Is this the one where the woman gasps when she sees his ‘manly’ chest?” I had laughed then…in folly.

Oh, the woman gasps all right…when she is not ‘collapsing’. The word ‘collapse’ has been used pretty extensively here. Essays and novels and tomes on archaeological destruction of civilizations may have been written with fewer usage of the verb. “Molly looks at Harry in the middle of the night and collapses with relief!” “Molly thinks of her sister in the morning and collapses with grief.” “Molly kisses Greg in the balcony and collapses like a thief.” (Those weren’t the exact words...I mean, the book did get published.)

And the adverbs! Sheesh! They drown the pages in a deluge! “Harry looked at Molly longingly and ate his sandwich slowly and thought balefully that his life was coming full circle blissfully….”

In any case, I was mighty relieved when I finished it. Usually when I borrow books from friends (as I’d done this time), I cannot put it down. Not because they’re always good…in fact, they seldom are…and the ones that are, I usually lose. Case in point is ‘The Pregnant King’ by Devdutt Patnaik. My roomie had loaned it to me for my Bangkok trip. Left it in the plane.

Usually, I don’t find books loaned to me really exciting…but I feel guilty if I’ve not read something someone has given me. So I attack it with assiduous interest until I have finished every last bit of it. Even the three or four token pages of the author’s next ‘dazzling’ new novel.

‘Absolutely Positively’ had all the humour of a mild cataract operation (I’m assuming that a cataract operation is humourless; I’d be very surprised to proven wrong there). The book also never seemed to end…and to think that with all the stuff ‘collapsing’, the end should have been swift, but no. It went on and on.

On the whole, I think, it was a passable read. Of course, my outlook to this may be very benign now that the ordeal is over.

In addition to reading ‘zzz’ novels, the other excitement in my life is driving with a toothache.

Friday night, around 2 a.m., I woke up with the most excruciating, shoot-myself-in-the-head, crippling pain in my tooth. Of course, I didn’t know it was my tooth then. The pain just kept moving up and down my jaw and nestled in some cochlear part of my ear before making a strong, quick trip to my brain. I thought it was perhaps a rather playful tumour. But it was horrible!

I started pacing all over the house and tried sleeping with a pillow on my face (it has worked for me before, but I think this time I was just unconsciously trying to smother myself.) I didn’t realize I had been weeping all this time because the pillow was wet. Involuntary, I started screaming – hoping that maybe vocalizing pain would reduce it. Well, it doesn’t. My flatmates are sound sleepers and although I was tempted to wake one of them up, it didn’t seem to be worth it. It was only a measly tooth.

But the measly tooth had caused me to fever up and contemplate suicide. (Murder seemed too much trouble – that’s how much it was paining.) And since I am quite averse to pain killers (they are for pansies), I turned my thoughts to consuming poison. (Now that’s a brave way to go.) But better (?) sense prevailed and I thought I’d drive down to Vashi and head to the dentist straight away. It was 6 a.m. at the time.

Outside there was a lovely drizzle and my beautiful, blue car looked like a piece of blotting paper dipped into a pot of bliss. But I disregarded all that and roughly got in the car and screeched past the gate. Now, the thing is, you expect to be going fast at 6 in the morning. And with a raging tooth ache, fast means somewhere in the vicinity of low flying. But no. That’s the time moronic Sumos cart around zombie-like people home from call centres. That’s the time trucks and out-of-town Volvos have suddenly discovered the accelerator. That’s when, outside the IIT Main Gate, a solemn procession of cows will stand in the middle of the road and look stupidly at the sky. And just when you least expect it, they’ll decide to moo, alarming the jeebers out of you.

That is when I silently muttered, ‘Long live the beef eaters.’

Anyhow I reached home to a set a very surprised parents.

“What happened? You look terrible!”, said my mother.

“You look shorter”, peered my father.

“I have a really bad toothache.”

And thus saying, I slump on the couch and sleep for the next 15 hours.

I haven’t gone to the dentist yet, by the way. I just figure I can cure my tooth decay by driving around the city like a mad woman at 6 in the morning. And if it really hurts badly, maybe I’ll get a cow to moo in my ear.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Your thoughts on this?

I got an email that forwarded this link and called the Vogue article tasteless and shocking. I wonder why...I'm not too sure whether the photo-shoot in Vogue is tasteless or not. My instinct is to say no...because I don't like any judgment calls given from a moral high ground. But again, the article does have a point.

Around me, people are celebrating with feasts and submergence of deities when elsewhere a part of country is drowning. But that isn't shocking or tasteless because....?

I don't know.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Poetry is a point of view

Tears at the turn of a road
that doesn’t lead home anymore,
Waves at unseeing people
Frolicking away on the shore
Peripheral stuff and sideway fluff
Find their ways in a scratchy song
Or become those soothing achy truths-
Those dreams that don’t belong.