Thursday, November 26, 2009

Beauty will rule

At times, it feels like the world is floating away on a peacock feather. On something light, airy and midnight blue. There we are, on a perfect, iridescent filament. It will come to life with the first hint of moistness in the air. The world feels grand and opulent. The world feels like it’s floating away on the impeccable virtuosity of Mughal taste. Floating away to find ourselves perched on a cathedra that announces the invincibility of beauty. At times, it feels like the world will find itself on the Peacock throne.

A year ago...

...that thing happened this day. It took three days to stop them. There was suffering. There was shock at how little this mattered to people who’d told us we matter. There was some reaching out. There was also some turning away. There were rude jokes made about our temerity to continue, not just living, but life.

There’s no revenge better than living well. So, take that, suckers – WE ARE HAPPY.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wait, watch, and then walk out

Some time when the year began,
The cracks had started to show,
Frowns came in when the sun filtered in
And all our smiles hung low;

Sometime, as the year went by,
It got cold, dark, unyielding,
Words were sharp and hurled about
To be braced and taken, unshielded

Sometime, as the year wore on,
We had a pile of qualms
We’d lost so much in all these days
Our fireflies and our storms

And though the door’s open now
Through which either of us could go
We wait back and talk idly of
The cracks that had started to show

Friday, November 20, 2009


It has been a very busy week. It promises to be followed by more harrowing stretches of time. I don’t have time for a lot of things but here’s what I miss the most: cleaning up my kitchen cupboard. Now, this is odd because I don't mind the other cupboards being in disarray. But kitchen cupboards are special to me. They are important. A ready stock of nice smelling cinnamon sticks bundled neatly, set next to a jar of cloves is comforting. It keeps a certain sense of well-being around. I like my kitchen cupboards to convey a loving preparedness. To make up for a slow, steady erosion of peace that happens on busy days.

Like maybe I didn’t get time to eat a leisurely breakfast or write a song about a blackbird. But should I decide to wake up in the middle of the night to listen to traffic, I could open my kitchen cupboard and make something to drink. A cup of something warm and soothing. Usually, it’s highly cooked tea. But sometimes, on beautiful nights when skies and earth are at peace, I make something mellow. I have hot water with honey, lemon and crushed black pepper, stirred with a cinnamon stick. The drink is a beautiful color. If it got transposed onto a lipstick, it would probably be called ‘Ambrosia’ and be used by ladies who lunch in expansive gardens.

It’ll be a while till I have a nice, long, peaceful weekend. And when that happens, I will enjoy it, savour it, remember it, and treasure it. I suppose, I’ll just take it and lock it up in my cupboard.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hey yippee! Hey yippee!

Sitting at work, typing away…looking on the screen, looking away; something tugs at you, on an ordinary noon; something pushes you to get out, and not a moment too soon; it’s gotten grey now, and all misty and fresh; tingly rain now, and windy to impress; it’s a November day, it’s a November game; to catch you off-guard, with god-bless-you type rain; it’s the quickening of heartbeat, like when boy meets girl; or when you step into a beautiful day... and a wonderful world.

*- when it rained in Mumbai and it was November!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Yoga damage

I am bright and early for my yoga class. The earlier instructor is taking another batch, so she won’t be teaching us any more. This month, we’d have a new instructor. I missed the first class of November (on account of running around Juhu beach at midnight, for which I am not sorry at all). I have no clue who she is. So, I’m sitting in my yoga room, watching the faint, winter morning paint the spit-and-polish granite floor. A man walks in. Fit, speedy, somewhat short. He looks at me and says, “Good morning.” He’s the instructor.

There are no mats in the room. Usually, the instructors are supposed to have the mats in the room, open the windows, draw the curtains, etc. etc. Generally, set up the class so to speak. But if any of the students reached early, we do the same.

Since I’m there, I ask him if he’d like some help getting the mats from the store room. He blinks and says, “Maaf kijiye. Aap krupya Hindi main baat karengi?”

So I repeated it in Hindi. He looked a little perplexed. He came up to me and said, “Aap Hindi main bolengi, please?”

I nodded earnestly and told him, “Maine aapko Hindi mein bola.”

He looked, if possible, even more confused and replied, “Woh Hindi thi?”

I mean…if that’s not insulting…

Then the class began. And man, is this guy tough! Sure, I’m better at yoga now than when I started out, but this teacher definitely pushes the limits. My personal best is doing 20-25 suryanamaskars easily. I’ll sweat a bit if there are variations where you hold a pose for 15 counts longer or you do the Bhujangasan with your knees off the ground or you do the knee-chest-chin dip with your body two inches off the floor. But overall, I thought I was good. Until today.
I think he must’ve made us do 50. Then 20 more with variations. And since we had time to complete all the other pranayams, etc., I am guessing this gut-splitting routine must not have taken up more than 15-20 minutes. By the end of it, everyone in the class is probably re-thinking the sanity of performing exercises that were developed by people living in mountains eating berries.

Then we do the other stretches. The instructor just didn’t let up. I mean, sometimes, if I have eaten sensibly over a few days, I can bend and touch toes and forehead to knees, etc. etc. But last week, there have been…ahem…indulgences. So, no…I couldn’t make the two ends of my body meet. Of course, the instructor thought otherwise. He snapped something about ‘aalas’ (laziness) and insisted that my head and feet get re-acquainted, whilst my back played spoilt-sport. I did think I was damaged for life.

But I have to say that I actually feel so light and limber today. It feels as if the ligaments and muscles have just opened up. It’s a beautiful feeling.

But the remark about my Hindi – that still hurts.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

To look around and to see

Stones that got stepped on by wandering stars
Wind that was shoved aside by speeding cars
Nights that came abruptly, said hello, and left too soon
Joy that got confused somewhere and morphed into A-grade gloom
Chess players, thinking hard, thinking of a move to make
Flowers listlessly standing still, looking for hostages to take,
Children growing up in slow motion, bubbling over like cappuccino froth,
Alternating between excitement and molass-laden sloth
Colors almost there, and almost bare, but all in all they fit
One sees the mess a rainbow makes when a world is wiped with it.

Monday, November 02, 2009

My guess is…

The weekend was yellow...bleached with white-hot streaks of the November sun. We took a walk in the afternoon, up Zig-zag road sidestepping splinters of light in the dappled shade. At the bend of Carter Road, one could spot the ocean. It looked homey. It looked like it was on vacation. It looked like it was taking a break from being expansive and had just folded itself up into comfort. It looked like a pool.

We went to Juhu at night. Entered the quiet, nice part of the beach. The part that doesn't have rows and rows of stalls, and waves and waves of people. It doesn't have chana garam hawkers, or people shoving sticks of kulfi under your nose, or giantwheels throbbing in acid-purple and hooker-red lights. It’s a smallish stretch with a nice, little dosa stall on a wide bulwark. Had dosa. Liked it.

Walked ahead. While friends got busy with entertaining themselves, I tiptoed farher into the sea. Sea that was ready for concert. There lay, in front of me, a thick layer of dense, lighted, smudged up air. I couldn’t see anything in front of me. The only way I knew I was by the sea is because I could feel it lap at my feet. And I could hear the wet, throaty roar. And suddenly, as if from a closet of darkness, waves came…one by one, building up strength, to break at the shore.

The sea seemed to be carrying messages from a dark, unseen beyond. It seemed happy. It seemed yellow.

Cousin moved out to a Byculla hostel the next day. Treated me to a nice lunch at Yellow Tree Café right by my house. I had a light, herb tea with some apple and rosemary pie. From where I was seated, I could see a little tree from the window slats. The tree wasn’t yellow, though. It had white flowers, thick ribbons of green leaves, and a sudden burst of magenta blooms.

We cabbed it to Byculla. Empty roads. Shiny, large bus stands near Worli, a skyline that, if possible, looked even more stunning in the daytime than at night. The sun shone on. Bright and full. Yellow.

Some friends came over. Made perfect cups of tea…thrice. They liked it so much. Listened as a friend gabbed on and on about the difference between Khar and Bandra. Listened as he asked me what the heck I was doing with my life. As he asked me how, when I die, I’ll have nothing notable to show the world. And then asked me to make him another nice cup of hot chai.

Later went back for dinner to Yellow Tree Café. Was dining with a friend this time. Slightly more formal. Several notches more grown-up than my cousin saying “Thanks for everything”. The place was now pretty and lit up. Beautiful people smiled and chatted. They sipped wine. I met, what had once stolen my heart many years ago, the Long Island Iced Tea. Paid homage by having a Coke in exactly the same kind of frosty glass with twists of lime. The place has a lovely collection of cookbooks. Was inspired.

Crossed the road and came back home.

Got a friend’s message – the same, tea drinker – “Really, muks…what are you doing with your life? Time you thought about it.”

So I thought. My life, perhaps, will not be markedly different from this weekend. Segmented into meals and outings with friends, and chats with families, and stolen perfect moments by the sea alone. It might not be the robust, full-throated song that carries over valleys and echoes forever. It will, who knows, be nothing more than a simple smile that reached the eyes.

I’m not doing anything with my life. That much I concede. But sometimes, I can guess what my life’s doing with me.

It’s painting me yellow.