Wednesday, December 30

Report Card

(Written on 31st Dec’2009)

Another year slips into nothingness
The disco lights festoon the shops
The retail reward points entice
gullible shoppers, shopping for
strawberries, plum cakes, frozen food.
The New Year plans are clogged
in Saki Naka traffic.
The sultry seductress on the billboard
invites the teenager in the auto rickshaw
to her year end cleavage show.

I am sublime. Last night’s caprioska
Drunk in gulps at the suburban Zenzi
is still playing with my mind.
I look at my legs, they need waxing
And a little exercise.
I want to bring my thirty third year
with clean toenails.

Besides, I have nothing else to show.
A defunct mother, a forbidden love
My father in heaven or hell (I don’t know)
and two deviant siblings.

My senile mother is calling;
she has got a wind of my holidays
I am torn between talking to her or
resuming my silent walk
I consider the scars of my
childhood and disconnect her call.

Save these eccentric walks
I keep the pretences rather well
I go to work everyday
I meet people I neither love nor hate
I pay my taxes on time
Once or twice I say my prayers too.

I walk past a magazine stall.
The TOI carries an article “Noose tightens
around Rathode”.
The former DGP, is a child molester.
He is media’s favorite
whipping boy.
I say a silent prayer, despite
my scars, I have survived.

On the other end of the road,
Little girls in pink pinafores
Get off their school bus smiling
Each with a school bag
And the weight of their childhood
On the road opposite to this
There is a cinema hall where
3 idiots” runs to packed audiences
It’s a film about following your hearts
I wonder if the girls in pinafore would
Follow their hearts.
I wonder if they would slither into their
Thirty third year, like me
With little or no faith, and a cell phone
that cannot stop ringing.

I walk back to my apartment. I
Turn my lonely key into the automatic lock.
On my dining table, I see a bottle of red wine
And a copy of Allen Ginsberg’s “Collected Poems”
I switch off my cell.
“Happy new Year mom and everyone”

Saturday, December 26

7 haikus on paragliding

I want to fly.
The autumn sky,
Blue sheet of peace.

I feel fear
Like the eaglet
Feet stuck to the ground

Secured with harness
On the brown cliff’s edge
I stand.

Voices fade
I walk without ground
Beneath my feet

I am clumsy
I run in the light breeze
Scared of vacuum

With open arms
I take the wind
My orange wings flap

I stop my trudge
Wading in the sky
A majestic eagle

Soar high
Above the sahyadri
The queen of sky.

Friday, December 25

Paa ( No Papa) - Top of mind thoughts

Why is Paa not what it seems? C'mon guys, I mean what are we celebrating in Paa? Balki the ad guy turned filmmaker or the greatest ever Big B ?

I love Big B, ever since I have known (OF) him, I have loved him even when movies were forbidden, i fell in love with him in the posters, never had to go to a theatre too.

too bad.

But he is not my idea of a progeria ridden "Auro". The role should have gone to Darsheel.

I think Balki is smart, of course he has to be, one has to be real smart to produce ads. Which is why Paa gnaws at you for a split second,like a jingle, makes you laugh, has the right people, the young upright politician who spells hope, Auro with his oversized head who spells doom and Vidya Balan, the single mom who spells ???

And thats why I wonder, where do these people come from ? I think and I thought the same about Cheeni Kum , Balki's weakest link is his characters are often , always in vaccum, and it takes 30 seconds for a movie to get killed for me, if it lacks context and characterisation.

1. Where is Lucknow, did he find a woman , who wanted her daughter to be an illegitimate mother ?

2. Wheere in Lucknow, did he find Vidya, who walked out on her heir- apparant, too good to be true, boyfriend, and gave birth to Auro, if that was the case, we wouldnt have the Surya clinics mushrooming in small towns where abortion happens under a dim yellow light with primitive methods.

ok, so you think I am deviating from the topic. This movie was about Auro.

1. So Auro has too adult a pair of eyes for a 13 year old, Does proegria do this ? Do your eyes enamate "been there done that"? Please. Amitabh, the greatest ever actor was a wrong cast. Perform , he did, for who, he is, but he didnt look convincing atleast to me. Every time I saw his back, I knew it was Big B ill fitted into Auro costumes.

2. Auro was cracking far too many jokes with sexual inneuendos directed at his mom, another trademark Balki. Yes, children talk sex these days.... but incestuous comments .....err, excuse me.

3. I may be blamed for nit picking but Auro boy didnt feel half as real as Darsheel in Taare Jameen Par. And while we are it, Tabu in Cheeni kum also didnt feel real.

4. Was Paa a love story, no ? Was it a woman's fight against destiny , no ? Was it about progeria ? ofcourse not, that would be too depressing.Was it about father - son relationship, no ? It was a little of all this just like a coca cola, feel good, fuzzy but not something you carry back, like you did in many other father - son movie ( give me masoom any day over Paa).

To me it was one of the greatest Big B ad ever made. Full of marketing gimmick, but no product.

Monday, December 21

Ode to a Postbox by Aidan Andrew Dun

I just think this is unstoppably brilliant. I have been shameless to upoload this here withoit regards to copyright rules. But for good or bad, the links were not working and what the heck, I mean at the end of the day the world knows that this has been written by Aidan Andrew Dun.

Ode to a Postbox by Aidan Andrew Dun


Of you, humble postbox, positioned between people, halfway house
in the affairs of human beings, the poet sings, his business also the
transmission of letters.
Like you he is a go-between who doesn't move about, who sends his
thought to faraway places, stamped and postmarked with the deep
furrows of his brow.
Like you, the poet stays in one place a long time, keeping guard, as it
were, over his meditations. Letterbox, do you meditate? Are you a
Buddhist?
It's a revolutionary act to remain in one place in the metropolis.
Letterbox, you project the colours of an activist and a militant.
Yet your dissidence is Gandhian, nonviolent. In the modern anthill of
hyperactivity you're a smallish postbox with steel rimmed spectacles
and a loincloth.
The world's motion sick. Who stands still in the city, a receptacle for
messages? Out in the rain, a lonely man and a letterbox could be
mistaken for one another.
Mailbox, geometrically, you have neither front nor back. But distinct
aspects of your existence fascinate the contemporary passerby, make
him ponder.

Mailbox, geometrically, you have neither front nor back. But distinct
aspects of your existence fascinate the contemporary passerby, make
him ponder.
Take the act of posting. A metaphysical exchange which mysteriously
resembles the transaction of a priest as he or she offers a white host to
the communicant.
Holy medicine is placed between red lips. The world becomes
warmer, lighter, less substantial. A journey begins outside three
dimensions.
Postbox, offering, as you do, a short cut between people, you could be
said to represent a time machine invented several hundred years ago.
Let's take stock of perspectives of you in a roughly bicentenary
existence. Now you're an impressionistic smudge. Here, in cubism, a
pillar of the abstract sky.
Suddenly overflowing under turquoise winter heavens you wear a
superb white mantle, carrier of warmest salutations at the sun's
rebirth.
But you're not all blessed. There's more to you than stageprop for.

Father Christmas making his beneficent peregrinations through the
general public.
You've a dark side in spite of avuncular rotundity, high colour,
somewhat exaggerated corpulence. (You evoke a country gentleman
in gumboots on odd occasions.)
In shadows of the towerblocks at night, near the park, a sinister bulky
silhouette is a jumper-in-waiting. But relax, citizen, it's only our
familiar friend.
Whose nevertheless potent combination of wide black base in striking
contrast with the colour scheme of the whole upper structure gives a
warning.
Postbox, you resemble the overheated barrel of a shotgun pointed at
the poor. Those who can't pay see punishment as stated in writing.
Sometimes we discover the phenomenon of a double letterbox,
corresponding without doubt to a double-barrelled shotgun.
Devastating!
Heroic mailbox, in some secret future life you might act as bunker in
the great siege of class war. Extremely small riflemen could use you as
barbican or redoubt.
Through a loophole, where envelopes fly and slide, through a military
embrasure, hails of lead! One more revolution not looked for. And no
surprise.
But such activism would go against your Pasternakian non-
involvement. You'd be deeply compromised as the purest observer.


Yes, red organ of the true life, the human heart shall be transformed.
Love will inspire the uprising which will teach this cold world a much
needed lesson.
It shall never be said, O cache of happy postcards, you were
indifferent. Pillarbox, you have a social conscience. You stand out in a
crowd. A dramatic individual.
Is it going too far to describe you as a free spirit? Is it over-optimistic
to imagine a beacon on dark nights issuing from you as from a sort of
lighthouse?
If this were the case it would be a comfort! No hyperventilating lover
need ever say again: 'O hell! I've missed it. The last post has gone.'
Future postmen and watchers of the skies would make their rounds
under the all-seeing zodiac. Not a letter would fall into the mails without their knowing.
True placement of letterboxes is a science. They don't just plonk
down at random. It's more a question of exact location on the double
ordinance survey map of Middlesex.
O pylon of codex and papyrus. You stand as waysign, reminder,
example. But of what? We struggle to encompass your all-embracing
significance.
Perhaps you're an omen of global warming. Perhaps other street
furniture, large objects of daily life, will also turn red in due course,
additional prognostications.
Letterbox, thanks to hyperbole, you are sometimes a blood covered
whale expiring on the pavement. Your slitlike venthole spurts
lungfroth on unwary pedestrians.
The message of such life-affirming street theatre is simple. All acts and
intentions are visited backward in the apocalypse.

To return to a more interior symbology. (No adroit philosopher likes
to be dragged into the fascinating turmoil of exterior illusion.)
Letterbox. For a sad man you mark the last outpost of a friendship
transcending finite conditionality. He passes you and murmurs the old
valediction always.
Yet at the other end of the spectrum you are merely a small red
mausoleum which commemorates the predecessor of email. How
reductionist and unromantic!
Yes, there is something romantic about a letterbox. Admit it,
diamond-hard alpha males who have never moistened a postage stamp
with your tears.
Wasn't there a trivial Beatles song which went: 'Wait a minute, wait a
minute, please, please, Mr Postman.'? (A cover of the Marvellettes on
Motown.) More evidence.
The letterbox is the glowing lantern of those mariners who sail the
wreck-strewn oceans of romance. Never forget this: One more letter
might help.
Yet as one man's sunset is another man's dawn the world is a duality
where contradiction raises its ugly head to spoil everything.
How charming. In some cliched green lane of middle class
imagination, a lovesick English gentleman reaches out to a postbox.

Decisive gesture!
No going back once that declaration's through the red aperture.
No return to level-headedness of stockbrokerdom possible.
O joys of commitment. Marriage! Mailbox as rubicund finger with
extra large diamond ring. But what is that fragrance, musky and pagan,
rising?

Feline stink assaults the nostril, miasma of the cat who rubs her
hindquarters on the circumference. Round and round the black base
on tiptoes. How suggestive!
Look at the animal! Far from any dream of shy maidens,
unapproachable sylphs, what about the presence of the scarlet woman
in the cosmos?
O letterbox. Why do you paint yourself so luridly and stand on the
corner of Keat's Grove where certainly the sick poet often
encountered you in twilight?
'I should have lived had I not seen her again.' Last words of an
immortal. Singer of the fever hospitals. Shipwrecked genius,
you are your own mythology.
Heartbroken, oppressed pure one. May a mad dog bite the postman
with the postbag containing Lord Byron's barb, blot on literature.
(What happens to hopelessly lost love letters, by the way? Does
anyone burn them? They can't be returned. The sender has usually
expired.)
'I should have had her while I was well'. Words from the deathbed of
a poet. What fires of spontaneous combustion flare in each mortal
temple! Rest easy, John.
She was faithful in black many years, unmarried a decade after your
terrible departure. God bless, Fanny Brawne. All flesh knows the
valley of suffering.
A smile on the side of an red obelisk which stands in wind and rain at
the corner of a leafy London street means forgiveness.
The lover tastes death in disappointment. But an after-sensation of
sweetness is left on the tongue. Things go from bad to worse to
brilliant.

If any see smoke spiralling from the open mouth of a postbox and
wonder, here's the answer. Something ignites in us, in the deepest heart.
The letterbox is the unassuming emblem of a transformation taking
place every day. You can read about it in any local newspaper.
'Twice we have seen smoke issuing from a letterbox and are writing to
complain that such things are not possible. Disenchanted.
Hampstead.'
Letterbox, finally! Would it be true to say you are both erotic and
mystical simultaneously? Are you double like Mercury? Alchemically equal?
Mercury was the postman of the ancient world. Today the messenger
god wears airsoles, presents himself as expert breakdancer on the
weekend.
Winged sandals are making a comeback among the planet's
sunchildren. Eventually, the same spirit will lift all who tread the earth.
If the postman is the bee, then you, pillarbox, are a red hibsicus flower
full of the nectar of communication. One day we will stick our stamps
with honey.
The world shall write a love letter to itself and entrust it to the poet
who will place it in the postal system at the earliest visitation of his
first class muse.
Sacred and profane. Sayonara. Farewell. We take leave of you,
mailbox of contradictory manifestation, not to say schizophrenic
tendencies.
Little round wayside shrine of communion, realistically we know our
giving and receiving sometimes shake a house of assignation in the
small hours of the morning.
But the definingly human encounter with the world is the balanced
reaction to the content of our experience, not the experience itself.
Amen!

O pillarbox of pronouncedly phallic appearance, though you blush
for your visibility on the main street of existence, never feel low.
You are the red lingam of the chaste dancer Shiva, erect but controlled
and cooled by superconsciousness. Jai Shiva Shankar.
In a midland city of this island someone was arrested for worshipping a
letterbox, for scattering over it fresh milk and sunflower petals.
The latter extraordinary fragment of information was invented as a
tribute to the power of imagination locked up in the unimportant postbox.
It's all under lock and key in the Royal Mails so that what is intended
to be shared may be delivered at the appropriate time and to the right
person.
Her Majesty the Faerie Queen and no one else transmitted these
truths in a letter addressed to an obscure poet known as Voice of Kings
Cross.
It was postmarked from the highest point in the galaxy and arrived just
after midnight in a marvelous explosion of sunrays.

Friday, December 11

Elegy for an Uncle

The cops inform her promptly whenever
there is new body at the morgue
She rushes all alone to see if it is him
Her heart filled with fear and hope

Every new year, she makes roasted meat
His favorite, and waits for him to return
She wonders what would give her closure.
Will his dead body answer all her questions?

Daughters, two of them held her hands
Time, though, heals sore wounds, sharp pains
Anger replaced pain, and life distracted them
What they feel for their father is only disdain!

Her memories refuse to fade, the little things
The night before he left he was unusually gay
His spectacles still conjure a wink, but what
haunts her now is his planning for a rainy day

She thinks of the reasons, was he kidnapped?
Or another woman? She shakes off the thought
The phone rings, it’s the cops again, she goes
Slow but stoic, to face her life, a new corpse

Thursday, December 10

Free Verse : Storm

Dark clouds curl at the mouth of sky
Dust rises, invades and blinds the eyes
The wind howls in rage, throws itself at
window panes and doors like bad intent
Thrown empty plastic bottles scuttle away
Pieces of paper sway in the fury of nature
A silver streak of anger darts across the sky
The rains come abruptly, without warning
Matching the storm’s fury, step by step
And then changes to a drizzle, like a balm
Inside the living room, we sit beside the fire
And nurse our storm fantasies with ghost tales

The distant drum of globalisation : Villanelle

Hear the distant drum of globalization
Take heart, children of hungry nights
The new dawn will change the nation

Wipe off the face of consternation
Jobs will pour, they wax lyrical, who
hear the distant drum of globalization

Your life will change beyond recognition
Fields would be ploughed in cyber space
The new dawn will change the nation

Enthusiasts laud the end of long hibernation
Cornucopia will be celebrated, when they
Hear the distant drum of globalization

Old people have become a botheration
Worried about their sake, can’t they see,
The new dawn will change the nation

The marginalized man and his frustration
The cry of left outs deafens, all those who
Hear the distant drum of globalization,
The new dawn will change the nation

Saturday, December 5

Sonnet : Vote for me

( abba, abba, cdecde)

They stood in a neat row, seven brides to be,
Nice eyes, chiseled nose, full lips, black hair
A sherwani clad groom surveyed with an air,
The seven brides, done up like Christmas tree.
The first one spoke, dressed in a sapphire blue
A hush descended over, and many hearts tore,
Vote for me, prince, I am nice, pretty and pure
I will cook and clean, marry me without any rue
The prince nodded, his ego, an oversized balloon
I wondered, what’s with all the women these days
The “perfect brides” on telly in red, pink and rust
Why for this dandy, would they pout and swoon,
On national network? Is it a fad, a new young raze?
“Brazen”, I said and changed the channel in disgust.

Friday, December 4

Sonnet : Pangs of love

Pangs of Love

(ababcdcdefefgg)

I stirred in the bed, you lay asleep.
I would be gone before you woke up.
The alarm shook my bitter sweet dreams
I got up and filled warm water in the tub,
I took a quiet bath, and peered over you
You still slept, like a stranger, in the dark
I felt a stab, sipping my morning brew
Another work week for us, living apart
I changed, noiseless, under a dim light
You nodded dreamily, as if you approve
The fragility, in a half morning, half night
I planted a kiss on your neck, long overdue

I hoped you would drag me back to the bed
You rolled over and hugged my pillow instead

Thursday, December 3

The Kali Temple



















On the banks of the pious Ganges
stands an old consecrated Kali temple
Symbol of my faith, the she- god
last refuge of dropouts and derelicts

The road to the temple is paved with
cobblestones, beggars and lepers
On another side, rows of shops stand
entice seekers with the smell of flowers

The staircase that leads to the precinct,
is weary, trampled over ages, by sins
The precinct is dark and dreary, walls
grown moist with human suffering

There is an old tap in one corner,
to wash off the worldly wise dust
The sacrificial lamb are washed
blood, that flows into the Ganges

The rickety bell hangs in the middle
tired of ever growing devotees
The bell’s age old ritual: to herald
the deviants awaiting her blessings

The sanctorum, where she stands
is a contrast to external austerity,
Yellow lights festoon the entrance
The mother, herself, a rare beauty


Her eyes, red, blaze with fury
A silver spear adorns one hand
a demon head, another, ungodly
a blood stained tongue hangs

In her angry incarnation, Kali
revels in her nudity, she hangs
a garland of severed heads,
the only semblance of fabric

Outside smoke rise from huts
The mellowed Ganges flows
Inside, an unlikely goddess,
keeps busy, being a goddess.

Tuesday, December 1

a ghazal

We said it with blossoms, and your slightest touch
Tickled my core, I long for that touch tonight

When we watched the rain, or wrote love notes
On a scrabble board, I long for those words tonight

The fret for bread, the mundane life consumed us
We drifted aimless, I long for the old rush tonight

A pain nags at me forever, like ice cold bitterness
You sleep dreamless, I long for your turn tonight

I fear that your coldness will enter me, my bones
Nothing will thaw me, I long for warm love tonight

Tuesday, October 27

Quatrain : Second Chance

We both stood there, divided by the black conveyer belt,

Unclaimed baggage, our divorces, the septic pain we felt.

We remained distant, as though our pains would react

to each other, and char our recently drawn pact.


Pact that defined pain, its extent detailed

Permissible hurt was defined, clear and dry.

To cross these, would mean, “we failed.”

Our caution typical of once bitten, twice shy!

Monday, October 19

Poetry Assignment -3

In this assignment, we had to read up Aidan Andrew Dunn's workshop and write a poem on a mundane object. I, ofcourse, cant reproduce the entire workshop here but I can provide the link of an extremely powerful poetry by Aidan Andrew Dunn.



My own attempt is a feeble one, but my tutor Mac,says keep writing and keep re drafting.

So this is the first draft

This chair, made of the finest Burma wood,
belonged to my great great grandfather
handed down to me through generations of
poisoned grand fathers and snake bitten uncles

This chair, once a shrub, in an illegal plantation
meant for a tropical rainforest, reduced to log
Brought to India, by the sea, where men died
tired of their vomit, their bodies let into the sea.

This chair, lay alone and offended in a godown
in old Delhi, from where my great grandfather
brought it, and our carpenter, an underpaid
talent, smothered its sadness into a chair.

This chair, stayed with the family, is family.
It rested my great grandfather, the vain landlord
as he smoked the water pipe and ordered
his child bride, her breast full of longings

This chair, where my grandfather full of his
British education and ideas, sat, with pride
The "Rai Bahadur", admonishing his boys
For their lack of English grace and etiquettes.

This chair, sat vigil against the dark door
when my grandma, a lady of steel, huddled
behind, to avoid the nocturnal police raids
For an uncle caught on the wrong side of Raj

"This chair", my senile grandma gushed,
"was where my father was conceived" in a
toothless grin.” “A very unlikely thing", said
mom and did her best to change the mood.

This chair, where I saw my father, sitting
A fading bureaucrat, with my mother sitting
across, in a fiber chair, their defunct marriage
lay across the table with their three children

This chair, I brought to my lonely apartment
from my home of twenty years, I sat in it
sipping wine, happy with my Bombay life
the old town holding me back in the chair

This chair, stayed with me, in it I saw one ex
his head buried in a pair of silicon implants
I threw him out of my life bag and baggage
And wiped the chair clean for new beginnings

This chair, I have decorated with an orange
cushion and lovely mirror work, bought at
Jaipur, it will be my witness, my testimony
That I led my life well, with love and dignity.

I need to rework on this and especially the ending which I think is Maha cliched.

Poetry Assignment - 2




















Potrait of Helena


My face is a monument.
Tourists visit me, seeking
cheap relief. Scholars, to
unravel the layers beneath.

Do you see where the brows
meet? The asymmetrical
crookedness came about
through deep conflicts.

This charcoal grey around
me, is no stroke of artistry,
It is the chaos, the mayhem
that is my ash - grey history

The contours of my face
Are undefined geographies
Plundered by races for greed
I stand deprived of sanctity


This streak of red is blood
and not some cheap lip-gloss.
A testimony to man’s instinct,
I am no painting on the wall.

Tuesday, October 13

Iambic pentameter and laundry

As part of my poetry course with Oxford University I am supposed to produce a line from where I was sitting. I was forbidden to use imagery, rhymes or any other poetic form.

I was sitting on the sofa, with my chocolate colored bean bag in front of me, my laundry for the last 2 weeks lying on it and my domestic help in the hospital. ( for all you essential humanists, she is doing fine now.)

so this is the line I produced


My laundry stares at me to stake a claim

and then I completed it like this.

My laundry stares at me to stake a claim
To my here and now, crawl on all fours
To me, tug at my skirt, jump and jeer, till
I pick it up, pull it by the ears, and throw
it in, with a handful of washing powder
to a whizzing silence, where it gets mauled
into cleanliness, dignified, and stain free.


Ofcourse i have drifted from the form atleast in 3 lines in this poem, doesnt matter, i think this sounds reasonably fine.

suggestions on bringing it back are welcome.

Sunday, October 4

A passing thought

Today somebody wrote to me across the time zones. It must have been really late in the night for her.I knew her from work, we had shared spaces in a 200 sq ft bench in an MNC office for over a year. Heard each other's professional and personal conversations over the phone, read official e- mails and did spell checks for each other.She is a lot younger and I am quite fond of her, I see a lot of myself in her. sans the scars. sans the loss. For starters, we went to the same B school, lost our fathers before we got a chance to know them better, share a deep interest in Literature, love to cook, travel, blog.She wanted some information and I gave it to her. We exchanged some moments and then this girl who must be half a decade younger told me not to waste my life in HR.You're cut out for writing, she said, when are you going to sit down and just write and come up with a collection of poems ?

She made it sound so matter of fact.As though I call in tomorrow at work and say, I am sorry, there's been a mistake, I am caught in a wrong job, from what it looks. I would rather sit at home and write poems or may be stories, whatever makes sense. I may or may not be the best poet around or even a technically good poet or writer, but at least when I sit and write I don't clock my work. And that makes the difference.


A decade back when I chose this I didn't quite know what it meant. I didn't know it meant that I have to pretend to do something I was quite indifferent to 10 hrs a day, 50 hrs a week, week after week, months after months, years after years. It seems like a lot.

At 24, when I got my job, I was very flattered. Being good at what I do was fairly effortless. May be I have the aptitude to be an HR person, its the indifference towards what I do everyday that I cant cope with. And I know one day, someone is going to see through the pretence. Someone will be able to spot the smirk on my face or the loathing at the corner of my mouth. I am scared of that.

And when I write I just love what I do to words. I may set out to make something with words, hold on to one chain of thought and I may end someplace else yet I enjoy the journey. I read so many blogs and some of them do make me realise as to how much I need to unlearn and learn. I am painfully aware of the mediocrity of my written word. But that does not make me scared.

I know I want to learn. After every 3 months I go into what I pompously call " writer's block or shall we say " blogger's block", as much of what I write is "on borrowed time" but that hiatus fails to scare me. I know it will come back to me, words, lyrics, poems, they will come back and fall into place.

There are times when I write something and I am a little unsure and I call up these few people who read my blog come rain or sunshine to know how they felt about it. I disappoint them quite a number of times, but I am not scared of losing them. I have an uncanny feeling that they would be part of my blog for as long as my blog is around or I am around.I know they would read what I write and when I write. I didnt lose them when this blog , now 5, had died a natural death.I didnt lose some of my blog friends to the onslaught of facebook, they will be around.

I may not ever write a book, may be the only thing I would ever write is on this blog, an average of 15- 20 pieces a year, half of them superficial updates which no one is particularly interested in but I would always be a writer.

That's my first vocation. This feeling is really matter-of-fact for me,but there's that something that holds me back to pursue this irrationally.

I wish I was unreasonable with myself.

And on that note I look forward to the ides of October. HR, my day job intends to keep me very busy and I only hope that I can moonlight on this blog.

Monday, August 17

Death by boredom

I remember Bangalore, and a lovely dessert we used to have in Corner House. Death by chocolate something closer to Chocolate Avalanche in Mocha.

If I were to die know , I would die young and my epitaph would read Death by Boredom.

Please please somebody please save me.

Saturday, August 15

This is Sunday morning fodder.





This time our very own SRK, our collective pride, has undergone over an hour of detention at New York airport sans cellphone and sans dignity.

SRK Detained.

We are undergoing indignation, anger even humiliation depending on our surnames. The whole incident has exposed the seamier side of security measures in US of A,another one for Obama administration which is doing its best to wipe off Guantánamo Bay phenomenon from a post 9/11 America. ( though a simple wiki search tells me that it existed even before that.)

World over States fail to strike the balance on such issues how much security is enough security ? How much racial profiling is enough and when does racial profiling infringe on fundamental human right to live with dignity ?

While at one level when can understand US's paranoia over the issue of terror, it would be worthwhile to hand over a two pager on "whats done' and "whats not done at all". I was far more indignated when our ex president was asked to put his cellphone aside for frisking by must- be - a trainee, in the Indian Soil. That was a violation of a process.

And I am sure that a country as enterprising as that can find a better method of separating the wheat from the chaff, because racial profiling against the Khan or anybody is pure humiliation for the victim and very embarrassing for the perpetuate of the act. Its just too damn embarrassing !!! Racial profiling is as big a slur as apartheid was

And I think whether its India or US or more recently Pakistan, all states have realised that the issue of Global terror is beyond a religion, a sect, its a far seamier truth than religious bigotry. It finds its origin in the history of a country, its own world views and faults with its world views.

When Obama says that Pakistan has no real threat from India , but its real issues are on the Pakistan Afhanistan border, likewise America's threat is not the influx of Khans & Alis on its airports but in its own at times divisive at times intrusive foreign policy.

US is doing this coz it does not want to deal with another Ground zero ofcourse looking at Shahrukhs' luggage on the airport is really looking at the wrong place but atleast it has a security measure, however faulty. As far as India is concerned there are only lessons from the American experience - America's security policy is saying - "once bitten,twice shy." As for us, we are still at large on our security measures.

By the way those of you who think that our processes do not make allowances for some of the things that happen in airports at America, thats not true, but these unlike the US are not articulated as strongly and to an average Joe, it may feel like harassment. Besides the rampant corruption ensures that any extra government window for extra scrutiny of papers, reduces to another Rs. 100 - Rs.200, in the hands of Babus.

We have our own Guantánamo's to account for, to many who want to read more on this issue, I would recommend reading " Curfewed Night By Basharat Paer.

On a sombre note....

I never thought that one day I would blog about Shahrukh Khan but I am increasingly getting impressed with his off screen persona. ( onscreen will take some more time).
It takes a Khan to register the kind of protest he did, "matured and unemotional". and quickly distanced himself from any half apology that diplomatic pressures would ensue. This Khan is evolved and truly professional. Truly an Indian icon. He wears his religion on his sleeve well, married inter religion, speaks in defense of Islam when he has to, and condemns terrorist attack openly. Yes, he is truly an Indian icon. Off screen.

Wednesday, August 5

Song of Sixteen at Thirty two

Well, I should have written this when I was 16, but at 16 I was busy building by vocabulary and doing my calculations, so at 32, I use my vocabulary to write this.

It seems a little juvenile but I will post it.

I have been there and done that
And thus I write this for you
My grey strands, I dye
on this page , in ink blue

Who one dates defines them
And the shape of things to come
Avoid the music later, learn to
Hear the sound of distant drum

You could always date the poets
Only don’t date them for too long
They are available aplenty, but
You will be their half written song

Don’t date a geek, ever
the forever obsessed nerd
he will write love letters in codes
and shrink you into a password

The actor who struggles forever
To start with, he will be taciturn
He will dig you till stardom, and
wonder, if sex is all he can return

If you are dating a banker
He will love you strong and firm
If he doesn’t invest in a solitaire
He isn’t thinking long term

And if you want to know life
And learn some endurance
For once date a man, a man
Who toils and sells Insurance

Sunday, July 19

Emotionally Disturbed

I dont know what triggers it
I just know this treason
of the brain, a severe headache
and the loss of reason

I become a stranger to myself
The feeling possesses my soul
All I want is to hate you, lash
you, before I become whole

Few minutes ago, I served you tea
and worried about your knee pain
was it that smirk on your face, a private
hatred for me, that caused the strain ?

I stormed out of the room,
I threw my cup, stomped in a fit
I abused you, you a stoic image
I, the captive of this mental cesspit

You sat there battered but unfazed
The tea turned tepid, irking me more
I had to do something much worse
To drag you out of you stupor

I saw you sprung into action
When I flung on the gas stove
A strange look on your face
A mix of exhaustion and love

You held me hard, my body
caught in violent paroxysm
You walked me back, my body
loosening, my mind still a prison

When I waded into a slumber
I saw you bent over me
You were wiping my vomit
And holding your pained knee

I know its wrong, what I do
My little holiday, this subterfuge
If only I could get a grip
There wouldnt be so much rue

If only you had held my hand
And only if you had been
a little less critical, I would
have fought the demon within

And so you go about your day
Reading a book, nursing your pain
I get up and make you tea, and
from allusion to "it", we abstain

Sunday, July 12

Middle Management

I am the middle management
Caught in a strange curious cusp
I am cheese stained soggy lettuce
Flanked by dry toast, sitting smug

My juniors find me conceited
From their little gossips excluded
I am friendless and insecure in the
Corporate ascent, its ladder eluded

I am top management's parakeet
who sings paeans for their vision
to a group of suspecting juniors
And live forever with their derision

Whole day I make presentations
labored over by other folks
I present their insight as mine
While their ambitions choke

The management finds me tiresome
Growth seeking, eager to please
Bad witb peers, worse with juniors
I am their idea of a corporate leech

And I keep blaming this and that
Hop jobs, or expect boss to resign
To storm the corporate citadel
And thus, I bid my time

Wednesday, July 8

My married friend's woes

This contempt of familiarity
The thing about marriage
Ebbing love, hiatus of "us"
This domestic barrage

Oh! Courtship, the rush of adrenal
The urgency, the living on edge,
The wanton ways, I prefer,
To this life of predictable drudge.

This daily fret for beer and bread,
Waking up to each other's breath.
The dinner jacket is for others,
And the boxers bore me to death.

Since you asked for the troth,
No point stretching this squabble.
Over fetching groceries, paying bills
Lets, for peace, again, play scrabble.

Lets entertain couples, as trite,
Stamp of boredom, their marriage
''Please pick my mom up tonight"
I meant her when I said baggage.

And honey, why do I see a yawn
escape you, I cant stand the sight.
This injured look on your face
You know, sex is for Saturday night.

Saturday, July 4

Politically Incorrect

This acquaintance of mine
Didn’t date, didn’t love
Her virginity intact
Like the smell of clove
This man, she married
Has other plan for her
He wants her to be
Wordless, quiet, demure
Cook, clean, pay
Warm the bed, love
Without a whimper, a say!
This acquaintance of mine
Virgin, clove, dew, petal
She is waiting right now
quiet, proving her mettle
Her lord turns away
In the nuptial bed, like ice
She is doing her best to defray
These thoughts, her only vice
Hoping her man, her master
Will surely turn around
Will take her in his arms
Coldness thawed, duty bound
I wish her the best
To pass in flying colors
This self imposed test
Her mother confirms with
An air of platitude,
That all will be well, the
Need is, a right attitude
If I were her, I would
Show loads of it, and
Steal this man’s gall
May be, castrate him
And fry his ball
I know, this poem
And the thought is
Crass and juvenile.
But what do you expect?
I can’t write
A politically correct
Pain laced, tear laden
Fourteen line sonnet.

Wednesday, July 1

Women like me

They live on their terms
They are women like me as such.
They don’t fret over their past
They don’t obsess with future much.

They drive their cars and their
view points, with the same alacrity.
From Mumbai to Manhattan
Their stories weaved in one tapestry.

They loved their men ruthlessly,
To each one they were true.
Fear and biological clocks apart
They shrug the going aways with little rue.

Lunch can be forsaken, niceties as well
Dinners and dates can go cold
But they jump up enthused, at midnight
For the mad dream that they hold

These are women like me as such
Devoid of seduction, free of clairvoyance
Their tales many muted mutinies
Mired in morality, also an act of defiance

Sunday, June 21

and now for some self absorption....

Please go to Pravin's blog to see my poem for the Beautiful Mind Contest

www.pravintalan.blogspot.com

I am happy to know that I could contain what Pravin shot in a poem. Thank you for your piece Pravin.

Sunday, June 7

Shards of my everyday Life

The little things in my bag that construct me
gradually, bit, by bit, shards of my everyday life

My bank statements, the forms and bills, a notebook
that reads “Things to do”, cards of my everyday life

A pepper spray, a Swiss knife, my security card for that
stalker, who may lurk behind, guards of my everyday life

A lip liner, compact, a kohl pencil, a hurried smudging
to face the made –up- world, facades of my everyday life

My ipod full of Leonardo Cohen music, scribbled poems
“The Golden Gate” by Vikram Seth, bards of my everyday life

My cell phone, messages from friends, and one from “have been”
My mom’s eight frantic missed calls, retards of my everyday life

These are things that make me and unmake me, the little things
That I fold back and keep, shards of my everyday life

Saturday, May 23

An Open Letter to Manmohan Singh

Dear Mr. Singh, at the outset,
We still believe you.
Across party lines.
Despite your spine
Despite your embarrassing awe,
At the G20, that we saw.
Despite the dismay, you lack,
At Mumbai’s terror attack.

But now, you have returned
With majority.
And you are people’s choice,
There’s clarity.

Votes have stung the wasp
Democracy is out of Laloo’s clasp
Out of Parliament’s crust
Left is biting the dust
We have rejected them all
Brokers, dealers, whores
Their pride has had a fall

But Mr. Singh, its time to
Go for the kill,
Coz people have
Voted for political will

Going forth we will watch
The old loyalist, the young Turks.
Though, we are critical, we know
In India, dynastic politics works.

But we want you to guard
The nation from this facade.
(I am personally embarrassed
With your party’s singing
Rahulji is our prince in waiting)
We want you to stake claim,
Our rightful role in global game.

To our neighbors, some hard
Messages are long overdue.
We deserve a terror free milieu.
From, you, we need reforms
We need the growth rate,
And we kept out the worms.

Mr. Singh, simple it may seem
But we want to live the new India Dream!!

Sunday, May 17

Women in 30s - I

A woman of thirty
Is at once, so many,
Things. But mainly
She is content with
Who she is.
Her body that defied
so far, learns
the law of gravity.
And the slither of silver
In her hair, is actually
A marked punctuality.
Her bills and taxes are paid
Her friends are measured,
Her plans are drawn
She is set in her ways
Music, food, movies.
She dresses her age
And yet she may leave all for a whim
Or a whim for all.
For one, she is done
With loving wrong men.
She knows Wickham for Wickham
And Darcy for Darcy
When, she re-reads her Jane Austen
She is so many people at once.
The prodigal daughter,
Indulgent,to her mom’s misgivings
After a decade of rebellion
And, the mother, that she is now
Her cup full of motherly longings
The partner, the friend
Who walks with her, an imperfect man
Sweat soaked man, with worry line
Its his calluses, she finds her own
His imperfection she finds divine
Over her intuition, she trusts no one
She basks in her belief, her belief
Takes her to places, others shun!!!
And, its her relationship with herself
That she wakes up to,
That she cherishes the most
She’s buried the hatchet,
Confronted old ghosts.
She is done with proving things
Done with critics and detractors
It’s a tenuous thread that gnaws within
A journey with herself that she begins.

I know this is like rough but I have another 7 -8 years to write on the subject, so no hurries and no worries

Saturday, May 9

Strawberry Cheese Cake













I made fresh
Strawberry cheese cake.
Easy and nice to bake.

Coz, I did not
Give you a piece
Here’s the recipe
If, you please.

Take a bit
Of margarine.
Break few
Cookies into shards.
Mix them well
With the lard.

Throw in,
Castor sugar.
And of course,
While at it,
Lick your finger.

To make the crust,
Press this flat
In the bake tin.
Meanwhile
Pour yourself
A gin.

And as you get
Giddy,
In a mixer
Make the cheese
Go dizzy.

Beat two eggs
And sugar,
Into the cheese.
You’re almost there
Rest is a breeze.

Pour this gently,
Over the crust.
Put in an oven
Bake till it turns,
The color of rust.

And, with the gin,
Things are a bit airy!
But now comes,
The real thing.
The strawberry.

Take the luscious
Red fruit,
Cut the ends,
and keep aside,
Sluice the cake
With fresh cream.
And stud the berries
On this dream.

Your cake’s done,
Its real cool.
What, you snoozed?
Who’ll eat this?
You drunk fool!

Thursday, April 23

Damn this.

I read a very old mail in my mailbox... and i was disturbed. It was a trivial matter , in hindsight ofcourse.

As I read the mail, I relived the conflict. Its anxiety clouded me all over again. And once more, I wanted to run away from the heaviness of it. Hide my self, duck from the unpleasantness of a situation.

I figure I am not able to get started on my book because of this.Needless to say, most of what I write will be about displacement. loss. its implications. and the futility of redemption.Needless to say, it wont be funny or amusing. Loss, never is.

Every time, I go inside myself to bring out the book, the story, the pages, the words, I feel heavy.I feel a strange sense of loss, as though something has gone irrevocably wrong. I dont know what.

I have everything I wanted, Life turned just the way it could have, give or take, some odd moments.I have my space, my life, I know folks who are reconciled to love me, folks who are plain indifferent and folks who would go at lengths to avoid stepping in the same elevator as me, if they had a choice.

If I look around, Life literally came on a platter. (without the dessert)Yet, there is that nagging feeling that life is passing by. and something that should have happened has not.

Does everyone has a foreboding of the shape of things to come? or things that should happen and dont.

I mean sometimes I imagine myself sans the last 10 years.

I actually see a whole life in a cinematic frame that could have been mine. Friends in a small colony in Patna with layers of last 10 years, writ large on their faces.
Marriage, cooking, parenting, taking care of elders ,some of them have grown into strangers, and the moments of knowing are scattered. There was this girl, I knew, as a child, who used to laugh a lot. She has two children now they look far more familiar than she does. Only sometimes, in between tea and lots of nostalgia, the girl surafces, when she laughs loudly, I see the girl I was friends with. She closes her eyes, her face in a cosmic seizure and she regresses. Otherwise, she is a restrained housewife who has to get chores done. You know, I could be her too.

And then sometimes I think about the writer I always wanted to be. My stories would be loved and wept over long after I am gone. I would write about the misery of love, I would taunt those at the struggle of existence. I would lament at the futility of redemption. And then I see the klaiedoscopic existence of a writer. A life of solitude, the loneliness of writing, ofcourse the trappings, a literature fest here, a book reading there, and then many years later, you will see an old lady, sitting by the fireplace, in her large library with Volatire, Pablo & Plath. You know, that lady, could be me.

And then in between all of this, there is this me,with this forbdoing about something that had to happen and didn't. Someone I was to be and I didnt, someone I am, that I dont want to be.

This search for the meaning of life. This unsatiable thirst that refuses to be quenched.Somebody once wrote : Jeevan ek pyaas hai, sabhee ko kuch talaash hain, jinkee talaash main hum umr bhar chale, koi jaanta naheen woh phir kahaan mile.

Saturday, April 18

The Escaped Naxal talks to his brother in US

I heard from you after a long time
You live across the coast now
You are living it big
Making money and
You remember nothing of it

All those talk of revolution
The big words, the small steps
We promised to walk
Till light shone, though
You remember nothing of it

Its not the same anymore
I know it in your voice
Sometimes there’s a spark
the fire’s gone, though
You remember nothing of it

Our brothers called from home
They said the
World was changing
We ought to be home, though
You remember nothing of it

They said there is food
In the kitchen
And sun streams
in our portico, though
You remember nothing of it

Life’s been hard to me
I have to do a job now
Bullets spared the words
And the poets are free, of course
You remember nothing of it

I will wait for you
To live the
“Yes, we can” dream
And come home, though
You remember nothing of it

Wednesday, April 15

People

My brother called
And we got
Talking.
I told him
During our
Brother- Sister
Babble,
Of
One more
Friend
Whose
Marriage
Went berserk.
(It was never
Right to begin with
)

A very bad
Story.

My brother
Heard me
As usual
( Must have
Tilted his head
Dropped it
Like a schoolbag
On one side
Like
He did
When he was
A boy.
Now, he is a
Man.
He pays
The bills.
Runs the
kitchen.)



My brother
Had a
question
Like all brothers
Have.
(They have
a very matter-
Of- fact
Way
Of making
You feel
Nothing
Without your
permission)


My brother
Asked me
Why is it
That all
Your friends
Have stories ?

They are either
Child abused,
Or had parents
Who fought,
And fought.
When they grew
Up, most
Didn’t find
Love
money
Or friends
How come they
Are either
Single
Or divorced
Or better
On the
Couch ?

How come
You only
attract
these
emotional
Midgets?

I told
My brother
The first thing
About people
They are like
An envelope
From
The bank
With a secret
ATM code
You scratch
The surface
And you get
The combination

You can
See the
account balance
hence forth.
The gradual
withdrawals
Of love
Over time
The credit
Of pain
With all
Attempts
The debit
of spirit
Every day.

Its upto
You
If
You want
To know
These
Transactions
Or
You chose
To delude
Yourself
With
The envelope

My brother
Called me a
Peeping Tom
And hung
Up.
( Can I ever
Have the last
Word ?)

Sunday, April 12

The Daughter's burdern ?

Really, I thought, sometimes I would like to have a child. A very wise and witty little girl who'd grow up to be the woman I could never be. A very independent little girl with no scars on the brain or the psyche. With no toadying servility and no ingratiating seductiveness. A little girl who said what she meant and meant what she said. A little girl who was neither bitchy nor mealy-mouthed because she didn't hate her mother or herself.

Erica Jong

Fear of Flying

Thursday, April 9

Status Update

Your blog
Is a good
Way
To get a heads-up
No real reason
Just virtual tabs
It saves me the
Ignominy of sending
A text or a mail
And I don’t
Have to pretend
To be all
Good friends
With your
Buddies
Good- for- nothing
Lousy fellows
The reasons
For the first
Cracks
In our garden
Of Eden
Don’t presume
Anything.
Things like
I miss you.
I do. But
I am done with it.
Not the missing.
The self loathing.
Anyways we
Were on your blog
In any case,
“My attitude”, you said,
“To start off somewhere
And draw it to myself
Sucked.”
Before you left.
But that was that.
I read about you
The ups and the downs
The layers and the loss
On the things you do
And the things you don’t
I know you keep off
The usual places
They don’t find mention
In your blogs.
I know your trying
To date
Your drink buddy’s
Pretty sister.
I am not jealous
I am done with that too.
You wont be
the same you.
I feel sorry for her
She’s dating a residue.

Last week you
Won that big
Sales contract.
You could not hide
The glee
Atleast from me.
You missed several
Punctuation marks
And full stops
In the update.
I know you went out
With the gang
Had few drinks
Smashed few glasses.
What you didn’t write,
Though I read .
Between the lines
Many times
In the pissed drunk night.
You turned to your side
To hug me hard
Happy with life.
And grew silent
To find it empty.

Monday, April 6

Sugar and Salt

The doctor suspects
I have low sugar levels.
Though he does not say it
I believe, he suspects
I lack sweetness too.
I can’t remember
Precisely when
did I run out of
my natural reserves
The drying up
started
The first time
my mother
sat me down
and chatted me
about an unbalanced world
The history
of differentiation
And its scope
I was hurt
My adulthood began
Flagged off
By bitterness
Characteristic
Of those
Marginalized.
I wish she had
Added a footnote
No matter what
Each one got their due
or people still
Loved those
Who didn’t
So every time
I wanted something
Real bad
I scooped
A little
Of my sweetness
Grazed it with
Innocence
And traded
It over the counter
For something
Trivial
The frenzied games
At work, they are
The worst
They suck sweetness
And don’t give
back any.
I fear sometimes
When I will
be old. A
Grandma
With arthritis
And it
would be time
To perform
On bedtime
Stories
Dripping with
Sugar and honey
I will be
A mound of salt.

Black Out

One makes weekend plans
Painstakingly
Meet friends for a movie
Or have dinner probably.
A rushed trip to the gym
Is all it takes
To seal a responsible
Balanced week.
Exercise. Massage.
And a thud in the shower.
A heavily gymmed
Over steamed
Dry heat sluiced
body fell
on the floor
I missed few anxious
Seconds.
Of my life.
When I lay sprawled
On the floor
Parts of my life
Played by others
(or was it theirs ?)
I was shaken
Vigorously.
Called several times.
Fussed over.
I struggled back
To my world.
Regained vision
In halted seconds.
Door, shower
Faces
A towel tossed
Aimlessly on the
Floor.
More faces.
Some strange
Some familiar
I gained
Back
My parallel world
Thoughts, memories
Imagination
Images of my uncle
In epileptic seizure
Flashed past me.
Thank god,
I had a blackout.
It could have been worse.

Tuesday, March 31

Why Gulaal does not work for me ?

Its a little late to review Gulaal but the amount everyone is raving about the movie, I could not be a bystander anymore. And it is one of those movies that confuses the best of us.

Of course, it is a genre of cinema that has found its audience in people-like-us who would not be caught watchingsaas bhee kabhi bahu thee or reading pulp fiction. An urbane population that's had its fill-of-the-gloss.

Ofcourse, Piyush Mishra's rendition of Dinkar's Rashmirathi ( Dedo kewal paanch gram, rakho apnee dharti tamaam, hum waheen khushi se khyange, parijano par asee na uthayange ) is class. Also, the lyrics are a perfect foliage to this dark broody political saga, but not in an Omkara way, more alive and more political. May be bollywood's alternative music comes of age with Gulaal.

Of course, Gulaal is crafty, very crafty , with extremely real portrayals of a professor stripped and locked in a room or a student leader hung from a royal gateway in broad daylight, it chills your spine.

Of course, the humor of story telling is apt , Mahi Gill as the luscious beauty parlor turned to a nautch girl whose st rinking resemblance with Tabu is accentuated with its leverage in the movie. She suffers from a -you-look-like-Tabu in the movie. So is its lyrical format - the Prithvi Banna & the ennuch with painted body do leave an impact.

Of course, Cinematographer Rajiv Ravi does a brilliant job of the dry & dusty Rajputana in daylight and bears a fire glow in the night.

But Gulaal has its problems

When a movie maker has legacy like Black Friday & DevD to live upto and starts of witth tribute to the grandmaster of Nihilism Gurudutt's- Yeh Duniya Mil bhee jaye to kya hain, you expect better. There are two parallel plots running , one of the student union and the other of Rajputana's assertion as a distinct entity from the contours of Independent India. That's fine but fails in between is their intersection which is convoluted.

Besides, there were too many stories that remained unresolved in Gulaal.Jess Randhwa as the professor, remains peripheral to the cinema.

What distracts me most in Gulaal is the lack of characterisation. Or its superficial quality. None of the characters grow on you. Neither, the Bikaner Boy Dileep, whose journey from the earnest to the nihilist is off the mark or Doki Banna who wants Rajputana over his life but gives in to a capricious Kiran. Roles are very poorly essayed and I feel bad for some of these strong actors. Kiran;s role in the second half as the power-hungry seductress has no inflexion points barring a royal father who disowns her.

I am sorry to veto popular opinion but most of the performances don't make an impact barring a few. Ayesha Mohan is forgettable. Kay Kay Menon repeats himself. I find it difficult to differentiate between Sarkaar's Vishnu, Black Friday's Inspector, Hazaroon Khwaise aisi's Siddhart and Rajputana's Dokee Banna. Raj Singh Choudhary has to be watched more. Among all, Abhimanyu Singh as the estranged son of the king impressed with his earthy charm and Mahi Gill made an impression as a nautch girl. And of course Prithvi Banna, the John Lennon.

If I have to watch this movie again , it will still be for Piyush Mishra.

Saturday, March 28

Women's Day Part 2- Parbhavatiya

To Parbhavitya, who never got a chance or a way out.


Parbhavatiya lived
In the neighborhood
No one knew and
Where she came from
Or for that matter
Where was she headed?

There were these
Small stories
Doing the rounds
About her whereabouts
That we whispered
To each other
During load shedding,
Pitch dark
Ghost story time.

Some said
Parbhavatiya
Came from Far East
Half woman, half beast
Her husband
Sent her away
she stared, too hard
And to his dismay
Sat, howling
dog like
During the
coupling

Others said
There were mouths
To be fed
And her mother
Sold her, for boiled rice
And Parbhavatiya
Cheat, crook
Ran, did not
Pay the price

So she went about
In the neighborhood
Never to blend
Drank and smoke
and ran small errands
she jutted out like
“peepal tree”
On a white wall
Hideous, Insouciant
But free.

Left to her senses
She was honest
Trimmed the grass
Cut the logs
Threw the rubbish
And took what was due
It was only on
Provocation
That you saw
Her animal
Variation

When the sweeper
In alcoholic stupor
Proposed
To marry her
She spat
At this suitor
And he called
Her a witch
a whore

And so we
Trailed
Parbhavatiya
Calling her
Randi, randi
Deafening
Till she
Got drunk
Wore
Her sari
Like a lungi
Around the waist
Not bothered
to cover her
Midriff, torso
And her breast that
Hung loose
Inside her
Blouse
What’s left to cover?
When so much
Exposed
Up for grabs.

She sat
In a deserted house
Drinking
Abusing
She wasn’t a randi
And they will
All burn in hell
The men who letched
And the men who
Pretended not to
And women who turned
Their heads in shame
At her sight
Could not get by
Without her
And
And she drank
Some more
And threw stones
At homes
From the deserted house

For the next few days
She fell out of favor
Till people forgot
Her venom
And spit
And then she came
Around
Sheepishly
Looking for odd jobs
The women
Wordlessly obliged
The grass needed trimming
After all.

Friday, March 27

Diet Blues

As a girl
I ate parathas
for breakfast
Triangular shaped
just like sin
Simmering hot,
Off a tawa
Fluffy like cotton
Beige parathas
dark brown
Pimples in between

I ate them
With
Aloo bhunjiya
Crispy, red
Oil soaked
Now sold as
Potato wedges
By Mac Donald’s
In thin
paper bags

Strangely
I felt fed
Good, healthy
Ready to work
I never put on
weight
I didn’t gym
Dreamt a lot
Walked some bit
Gorged food all day
Ma’s aloo curry
Home made kadhi badi
Evenings were aloo chops
Or chicken rolls
Bought off a greasy
Cart
Smelling of
Sauces and eggs
The 15 bucks
Happiness
I chomped on
With little guilt

Ma would
Caution
Many a times
Take care girl
In those days
I did not know
The ways of world
And how your
own body
betrays you
In the end.


And now
My wafer thin
Nutritionist
Laments
She is 5 kgs
overweight
Good bless her
I am ready
To trade
Fat for fat
And waist
For waist

I am careful.
I don’t buy
Potatoes any more
Calories are counted
Taken and
Lost
A hopeless trade
Over a treadmill
Sneaked
Trips
To the gym
In between
Or after office

My friends say
Don’t think so hard
You self crazed
Obsessed bitch
You are not going
To walk the
ramp ever?
Then why all this
Maneuver?

Its all
About feeling great.
I want to say
With a face so straight.

And then I chide
How can I ?
Think of my diet
When children
Are dying
In Somalia
And my maid
Who doubles up
as my cook
Runs off
To her home
To feed a good for nothing
Husband and waiting kids
After making my veg juice
Also when
IPL moves out of India
Giving space
To elections.

How can I think of myself?
Am I am bimbette?
To be thinking
All this while
About how I look.

I think of running
An opinion poll
On blogger
Or even office
Intranet
(that’s my idea of radical these days) !!!
Am I very fat?
Say “Yes” or “No”.
But not
“Don’t’ care”.

Sunday, March 22

Women's day - Part 1

( The views represented in this blog are my own and do not represent the views of my firm or owe allegiance to any other firm I worked for.)

I am not into Women's day.

This paper approach to assuage International guilt for the “supposedly second gender” held professional significance for me last year. As diversity head for Lehman’s India office, had to think through economical gifts for 700 odd women.

And then last Friday, I discovered a lone, drying rose on my table, an economical gift by our engagement team to celebrate womanhood at the workplace.

I kept it aside with amusement.

And it set me thinking,

What does it mean to be a woman in an Indian organization? Or a woman at workplace? Or maybe just a woman?

I am not going to be writing any of this as I can never know what is it not to be a woman?

I was designing a training program on “Gender sensitization at workplace” and I met this trainer who brought home the point that our gender roles at home and the society at large would have some likelihood to play at our workplace situations.

This premise, logical hit home real hard.

I remember starting school at a convent in Patna, much ahead of its times. Notre Dame taught me expression. Those expressions however, were too many to be contained in a milieu ridden by small town perversions.

At home, my mom, a teacher of the old world, worked on a strict Rewards and Punishment model for her three kids and gender never figured as a parameter. I or any of my friends didn’t grow up in homes where the chicken leg was preserved for the male child.

So when I went to the good old KV after 6 years in Notre Dame, I lacked on several counts. I didn’t know the first thing about guys and I soon had a reputation in school for being the domineering, too big for her boots, would not get contained girl in the class.

My reputation preceded me when I joined college. That I wrote on “then thinking topics” for the Times as a freelancer made me a very poor representative of my gender stereotype. For no reason, I was at the receiving end of perverse curiosity or plain curiosity in college. Its manifestation came in rude jokes, eve teasing, blank calls, bikes chasing and what nots in college.

I hated my college life. I clutched my bag close to my chest and entered the class after the professor and left it before he (SHE, trust me, women professors had their own battles to fight) left. Our gender ratio of 10 women in the Science section against a 100 boys made it impossible for us to be anything but a neglected minority.

Those of you who saw the movie “Gulaal” and did not relate to the ignominy of the women professor stripped and locked in a room, do take a conducted tour of Allahabad, Patna or any like minded University. The graffiti on the walls (if the universities haven’t had the funds for whitewashing) are a telltale story of stifled expression, college environment and gender ridicule.

A sample (I still go crimson to the roots, when I remember this)

Ek daal per saat kaboootar, satoon maange dana
Jab Jab (so & so) pair pasare sex kare deewana


This for a woman in my class who was among the 100 toppers of the State, whose father would have fought hundred financial battles to see to his daughter’s education, and the daughter who must have fought another thousand battles to live in a hostel. I can’t fathom what pair of eyes would see her like that, for when I saw her, it was a whole generation of women from her family seeking redemption through her degree. They were all at stake If she made it they would all know it was possible. If she failed there hopes would die.

Touché’ but true.

While I love my hometown in ways more than one, memories are bitter sweet. That whole “be pasted on the wall” approach in University egged me to leave its smugness for an environment where one could breathe easy.

A heroine of a professor remains my role model for ever. We were at the most neglected English class at Science College where the male behavior used to get worst. The lady Prof was taking attendance. She called a roll number and a boorish voice boomed “Present sir” and 100 men laughed as though the most intelligent joke had been cracked.

The professor looked up and said in the firmest of voice that could have come about only after decades of being treated like shit. “If he called me sir, because he is not used to being taught by women professors, he should be forgiven because to err is human and to forgive is divine. But if he did that to evoke slapstick humor he should be ignored because that kind of humor is the cheapest and most readily available.”

I knew her incisive putting people in their place may have escaped many people in the class but in my imagination I walked up to her and gave her a tight squeeze.

I am sure this would have played out in my MBA or the entrances tests too. I recall not speaking at the TISS GD till a good 5 minutes had passed by, though the I had almost slept with the anticipated topics several times over.

One cold train ride from Patna to Anand and a hurried trip from Baroda to Bombay changed my life for ever. I was to join TISS.

Honestly it was difficult in the beginning. Expression was the way of life at TISS, experimentation floated in the air. Social stereotypes were jettisoned in favor of alternative lifestyles. Deities were traded for defiance. Even gender ratios were reversed.

It must have taken some time to be able to express myself. I am sure that the effort showed.

At work, I did not or could not find too many gender differences. May be, I was many levels away from the proverbial glass ceiling. (I still am!!!) But I am sure they existed like gender differences exist otherwise why would there be only 7% women representation in board for India Inc. I thought it would be a lot easier if one is in a metro (Delhi?) but I guess that would be simplifying a complicated issue. From Manhattan to Mumbai, the issue remains topical.

I think what misses at the workplace is creating an environment where differences are respected or not considered a taboo to discuss. There is a lack of support group, mentoring, or even plain sensitization to women on their roles in families and how it would or could play out in their career. I represent a miniscule minority of women in this country who derive freedom of expression and sometimes even identity from their career. Despite that I never sat and thought about other roles I was expected to play. Marriage. Motherhood. Taking time off for creative pursuits. Nobody sat me down and chatted with me on these issues at workplace. Organizations wallow in complete gender indifference. Even individuals pretend they are neither from Mars nor Venus.

As the trainer and I chatted about these issues during the design of gender sensitization program for the first time I walked few paces away from myself and took a long hard look at myself. My whole life was led without asking some of these questions. Without making some of these choices. It all fell into place. In another life I knew someone who hated the “M” word. She wanted to fly and thought being pinned down to a man would come in the way of that. Little solace was offered by families and friends who reminded her of biological clock rather rudely. There were very few role models around her, those who were working had either stumbled into careers or were in it for financial pressures like divorce, widowhood, negligent husband etc.

Her marriage broke down. She could not balance the ever increasing emotional demands of her beau with her own ambitions. Fifteen years back she had to choose.

Have things changed today?

Yes and No.

Women still chose both ways. Women still may not have to choose both ways.

Organization citizens are now resources. Life time employment is now stints. Competitive pressures have increased manifold.

Is there bandwidth for allowances?

One may have designed the fanciest of Flexible work arrangements but how do you fight the ignominy of being on one? How do you reassure someone that their career do won’t slow down if they work 4 days instead of 5 amidst menacing colleagues and hyperventilating bosses?

Where is the appetite to train supervisor on remote working? The insecurities that it throws up. How to even have a measure of output for someone who is “officially not working as hard” in a context where sitting late is a celebrated behavior?

Demanding is not competitive

Many women even find it difficult to ask. We are a generation that grew under the scepter of Hindu rate of growth and the scarcity it spawned. Across the board, women would admit in an alcoholic moment of truth that they would find it uncompetitive to find out about crèches at workplace, bus services or even take leaves.

My friends even find it difficult to negotiate compensation when they change jobs. Talk about social context playing out in a work environment, deep down some of them feel guilty of their success or feel its fluke that someone would want to pay them so much.

Superwoman any one?

Many times I have heard even CEOs commenting if women break the glass ceiling in India they are super women. Not an exaggerated thought. But I firmly believe this super woman, super mom image fueled by media is actually a very small minority. Extraordinary women. I think it’s a pressure to live up to an image of a woman who can juggle work with office, success with mother hood, a fab figure with hectic travels, hobbies with cooking, drinking with sobriety. The list goes on.

I have heard guys acerbically complaining so and so is a mom at home, what right she had to waste a seat at TISS or IIM? I mean what right anyone has to assume that women coz they got that seat they deserved should carry it to their funerals. I mean how many times we expect an IIM grad to baby sit at home?

Even women who left work for the family and kids are forever guilty and have a sense of shame. “No yaar, couldn’t manage it with the baby.” as though they almost failed the sisters in Abbey.

Mindsets need to change in early for workforce

I remember shouting at a management trainee batch mate for a sexist remark. I made him apologize to me. It was probably my coming of age from Patna days where expressions were hard to come by. Several years later I subtly pointed out to a business manager about his prejudices during hiring. He was diffident of hiring a woman in his team. I also had to remind a fresher to mind his language when he had refused to play cricket because the team had women players too. These mindsets exist and acknowledgement may be half the battle won. We live in a society where a woman was murdered because she refused somebody a drink. We live in a state where progressive chief ministers make loose remarks like “the woman had an assault coming if she traveled at midnight” and the police commissioner in Mumbai commented “don’t blow it out of proportions, its just eve teasing” on a drunken revelry at a suburban hotel on New Year’s Eve. All these people have kids at home and do not expect these kids to model their behavior at workplace when they join. Work on these mindsets through interventions.

It may be a good beginning.

So this woman’s day

• May organizations commit few interventions towards gender sensitization.

• May recession not affect diversity momentum in firms

• May superwoman go out of fashion.

• May Patna & Allahabad University have a fund for whitewash.

Thursday, March 19

6th March' 07

I am not suicidal.
Nor do I endorse death
Of any kind.
Not the one
That happened in
The ICU.
And left behind
The perfect widow
A dutiful son
And two deviant daughters.
But that death was simple
Also hurried,
Not one for goodbyes,
Not one for niceties
He left, without guidelines
On how to mourn.
So it is confusing
And we do our own thing.
Every time,
Death in the ICU
Haunts us.


We keep the good memories
Like an old pickle bottle
That grows tangy
With familiarity
We unscrew the cap
Take a whiff
Smile, content
And keep it back safe.
To pass on
Children who will be born
Probably, may be.

We remember the laughter
The abandon to ridicule
All things
Mundane and ridiculous
The languid morning tea
The quoted and over quoted editorials
And that heart that throbbed
On all political occasions
Nostrils that flared at
Mandal & kamandal
Indira’s emergency
Rajiv’s infancy

We rejected all that didn’t conform
The whisky nights, the afternoon beers
The untouched food
The constant absenteeism
From life’s major occasion
Nephews and nieces born sans joy
Brothers and cousins who died unwept

It’s the grey memories
That I wonder mostly about
That mute spectator of life
Was it detachment?
A slow unobserved fading away
At loggerheads with his bed
Where he shrunk
And eroded
While the bed grew
Strong and triumphant

How do you remember?
Someone who had withdrawn long ago?
Make the best of food
That may go untouched
For taste didn’t matter
Feed the poor for someone
Who thought poverty was really
About economics and politics
Of nations.
Not about starving kids,
And kids were anyways
Much nuisance.
Or you go to a temple
“Really… that’s insane!
“Temples have bells.
“Never been there much myself”
So how do you remember?
Death in an ICU ?

To resolve,
This million dollar dilemma,
I dreamt of him again.
And forced him to eat my,
Banana walnut B’Day cake.

Cakes have eggs!!!
Shrieked the mother,
Not for a pious occasion,
“His rules, you see”
I shrugged.
“Let him have it in peace
Now that he is gone”
And we laughed,
Over the man,
We hated and loved in turns.
But never really understood.

And what’s wrong with a suicide?
It’s just another way to die.

Thursday, February 19

Don't lose your mind, lose your weight

I am reading this book, right now. In between flights, held up in the air, rough landings and waiting at the airports.

Rujuta Diwekar, best remembered for Kareena Kappor's size 0, is a nutritionist and if she is to be believed, I am going to be losing a lot of weight very soon. That too with exercise restricted to only 3 days a week. That's doable. And if she is to be believed further ( when it comes to matters around the waist, I would believe anybody. ANYBODY.) I can do so while I eat my Poori & Aloo ka bhunjiya ( she says stick to your genes) and any self respecting Bihari will admit there is nothing more sumptuous than a poori, and crispy, red and fried aloo ka bhujiya for breakfast on a languid Sunday morning. absolutely nothing compares.

By the way I shouldn't be caught mooning over High Carbs or Carbs with high GI. That's because my body is listening.And that's not quite good. Because if you moon too much over bad food, that too makes you put on good weight. I agree because ,for me if its not the food, it must be its thought that bloats me up.Even when I just savored my cucumber sticks packed in a plastic box, usually sneaked into the flight, as though it were swiss chocolates smuggled out of Switzerland, I wake up many mornings holding my love handles.

Rujuta talks about eating calmly. It makes sense. But I guess there is a general disappearance of calm from our lives. Consider this, I missed a 8:50 morning flight sitting at the airport reading a book, sipping a coffee, holding my boarding pass. The ground staff assured me that they had paged for me some 6 times and that I was the only one out of 145 people to miss the flight. Scary statistics. I didn't even have the energy to pretend to be an irate customer. I took the boarding pass for my next flight wordlessly, reached an hour late, gulped my lunch in two straight strokes and did stand up training for the whole day.

"Put an alarm like Ghajni" , joked my brother.

I guess we all need alarms to be normal now.

Another aspect that Rujuta talks about is "talking to your body", I like this concept very much. If you are at a wedding, let your body know that you are going to be eating quite a bit, the body will adjust itself. While it may sound funny when carried to another extreme, "body , I am heading for that glass of wine, you make sure there aren't any fallouts", but when viewed logically our state of mind is in our control. I am sure it isnt too different for our body.

If I jot donw the list of messages I have given to my body, I might be sued by my very own bod. I have told my body I hate it, I have looked at every PYT with a pang. I have looked at myself in a full length mirror only accusingly. One of my must dos with all my friends is to share an old snap where I thin. I was 19 then. ( accept it, you would not look 19 at 32, you would not, just accept it and move on ) I have never appreciated my fitness levels. Appraisal after appraisals my bosses have complemented my energy levels and I wrote it off to a state of mind.

And what I have to done to mys taste buds is far more criminal.

1. I have forgotten the taste of Thumps Up family of beverages.
( Really, I don't remember how Thumps tastes anymore.)

2. My cook knows the difference between Jowar & Bajra. Also Cauliflower and Brocoli.

3. I dont know the taste of Lindt chocolate or for that matter any chocolate anymore.

4. My comfort food used to be Khichdi. Rice & Lentils over cooked in Pure ghee with a lot of veggies in it.( potatoes, tomatoes, cauliflower, pees, carrot) Eating that gives me an uncomfortable guilt. A sinking feeling that what I have done is not right.

5. My favorite pass time is too google about condiments, food and their nutritional value.

This is my Life. While the diva of taste Nigella Feast winks in to the camera as she whisks a muffin and coos - Balance is everything.