Friday, December 30, 2005

Year end advertising

The year ends. No, that by itself is not anything new... in fact it is a regular annual event. It is what the year takes along and what it leaves behind that is interesting. This year has been extraordinary. Truly fantastic I should say. Let me tell you how.

It actually started last year with this, and then it was in January when I was high on adrenaline. It felt so good to be reaching for the stars. It is such a tremendous high to try and clear that extra high bar. I sure had the gall to try the jump and I floated all through the month, because I was up somewhere midway my jump and was super happy to have left the ground.

February is my month. A month of kindness and love and many first meetings. It passed without causing any major upheavals, as did perhaps March. Except I got a little closer to that bar all the time.

Bang! Crash! It came in April for the first time. The fall. It hurt pretty bad. It was as if I had reached the bar, and somebody pushed me back down. I skinned my knees and broke a few bones perhaps. Rejections are never easy to digest and I got a very big one - one that was rude and made me feel so puny in the grand scheme of things that it almost killed of my sense of self worth. It was only because I had a wonderful circle of people around to hoist me up that I kept standing. Hats off to all of you. April was also the month when I started yearning for someone. This was also the month when I posted my first short story.

If the first fall was hard, the second one, in May, was crippling. But I survived. Though I am not quite sure how. And while the world went mad around me, I wanted so desperately to reach out and be held in a warm embrace. And then my home started going apart in pieces, with my help of course. I also talked on phone with a completely unknown and completely out of this world person for the first time ever

Oh, how can I forget June. It was the month when I lost my sweetheart. I landed up in a new home, right across the city. And I also got my prized pair of khaki corduroys. I look almost "desirable" in them. Ahem!

I moved out of home, into the hostel, in July. I am changed man because of this decision. Earlier I could only eat. Now I can eat anything! I love this story that I wrote. I got the idea in the middle of a phone call. A very important question raised its head in my head (kind of complicated, really!), for the first time. I also remember losing control of how I felt and survived for the longest time ever on a ten rupee note.

August is sort of super special. I met my first ever blogger, and earned a good friend in turn. I realized that I had an uncanny ability to talk a lot. Most surprising! My talks with myself found a reflection in my posts and prevented my sanity from filing for divorce. I decided to walk a certain path, knowing very well that a fall is imminent again. Where did I get so much courage? I never knew I could feel like this.

Why did I write this? Yet it popped up so clearly in my head, that it had to be written. If I auctioned of how every feeling I felt right then and every one was sold for a million, I would still be a pauper. As I battled on one front, another rejection creeped up on me and voila, it's a hatrick of nays at work. I have still not told mum n dad about this one. I think I never will. This one caused me a lot of tension and stress. I was wondering how I got the courage last month, and now I retreated. Somehow, this was harder.

I came close to giving up the blog, and then something mended itself inside, though at what cost. I wrote my first post in Bangla. I never thought I would be able to do justice to the language, but I might attempt another post someday soon. And then the world exploded, and the fire singed me.

In November I finally saw Parineeta. But all I remember about November is work and more work. Amidst all that work I had to explain my actions and words to people I care about. I lost my temper. I think I have found it back again.

I completed something really, really, really big in December. It has required so much of dreaming, love, madness, inspiration and elbow grease to finish this, I still cannot fathom that it is done. I am eternally indebted to the people who helped me on the way. Whew! I met another charming blogger this month. And now as the years ends, life has come full circle. I am ready to fly again.

Will you join me?

In Remembrance

Last year saw the world go through a spate of disasters. Many people lost loved ones and many lives were torn apart. Though I have not really done anything to help these people, I do admire those who have lent a helping hand. Let us not forget these brave people who had the courage to fight the real battle, and let us all help in our own little ways.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Shei Tumi

Shei Tumi
Neel aakash theke neme aasha shei megh,
Kalo megher adhale shei bikel,
Shonali biddut bhora bikeler maajhe shei brishti,
Bhije, thanda, brishti te dadiye, shei tumi.

Shetpathorer shei koekta sheedi,
Sheedir upore uthe shei purono baranda,
Bhenge jawa barandar konaye shei mishti duphurer rod,
Dushtu duphurer roddure lukiye, shei tumi.

Dur, bohu dur cheyye dekha shei poth,
Klanto pother sheshe ekta budho bot gaach,
Gaacher chaayay shuye dekha shei shopno,
Preme podar shopne phire pawa, shei tumi.

Koikta shada kalo choole dhaka shei maatha,
Pagla maathar sharathi shei duti shukno chokh,
Shukiye jawa chokhe shei haariye jawa jol,
Phonta phonta jole meshano, shei tumi.

Woh Tum
Neele aasman se zameen par utre woh baadal,
Kaale baadalon ke peeche woh shaam,
Sunehri bijli se bhari shaam me woh baarish,
Geeli, thandi baarish me khadi, woh tum.

Sangmarmar ki woh kuch seedhiyaan,
Seedhi se upar chadhkar woh purana jharokha,
Toot te jharokhe ke kone me woh meethi dupahar ki dhoop,
Natkhat dupahar ki dhoop me chhupi, woh tum.

Dur, bohot dur khoya hua woh raasta,
Thake hue raaste ki manzil woh budha bargad ka pedh,
Pedh ki chhaya ki neendon ka woh sapna,
Chahat ke sapno me phirse mili, woh tum.

Kuch safed kaale balon me dhaka woh sir,
Pagal sir ki sarathi woh do sookhi aankhen,
Sookhi hui aankhon me khoya hua paani,
Boond boond paani me ghuli, woh tum.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Life uninterrupted

Many things have happened. Life has been whizzing past while I stand frozen, like these lines from a Salil Chowdhury song,

Aamaar chotur paashe shob kichu jaaye aashe,
Aami shudhu tusharito goti heen dhaara,
Aamaaye proshno kore neel dhrubo taara,
Aaar koto kaal aami robo disha haara.

I spent last night at S's place. S is a temporary bachelor, as his wife has taken off to Kolkata for the week. S lives in a rented house in C.R. Park. For all my years in Delhi, my night life experience is actually quite limited. In fact the first time I even returned from a pub (absolutely sober and quite alone) at two in the morning, was in a small town in the French Alps! So when S asked me if I wanted to have a double-egg-double-chicken roll on a very chilly evening I was duly tempted. I don't know which billowed more vapour - the hot chicken or S's cigarette or my mouth. Much as I detest smoke, my best friends always turn out to be smokers! We wandered about, taking in the ambiance of roadside stalls selling gud (jaggery), bodi (dry dumplings of ground pulses), narkol (coconut), fish cutlets, old books and mishti paan (sweet paan). We returned home and while S worked away, I caught a movie on the tube.

Then at around 10 p.m. we went down to the kali baari cafeteria, and had a sumptuous dinner of bhaat, daal, aaloo kopir dallan, macher jhol and tomator chatni (rice, pulses, a mix of potato and cauliflower cooked in way I cannot translate, fish curry and yummy tomato chutney). And guess the cost of this three course dinner - 35 bucks! We had two huge helpings of everything (it's an all you can eat meal, except for the fish). Then I came back and watched "Aranyer Din Ratri," vintage Ray. There is nothing more intoxicating than a movie which makes you forget that you have a brain, it just seeps in through every pore of your body. I do not understand cinema as perhaps a connoisseur does, but I do live the stories of the movies I like, in the moments that I watch them. And trust me, there is nothing else which is more liberating and more escapist than this.

But you might be wondering what was I talking about when I started this post. Life seems to be treating me like a king. It certainly has been, and I am not complaining. The point, however, is everybody is moving on. Y got married. B has become a father. S got a job which is going to make him a millionaire overnight. I am still where I was yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. I do not even know what I am complaining about here, because I have this feeling of unprecedented calm which has descended upon me. I am content. It is driving my parents crazy, because to them it seems that I have suddenly become addicted to compulsive laziness. But I have always been lazy, yet this, this is scaring the wits out of me.

I wanted to research a piece on undecidability in computation, and look what came out instead. It is like I am no longer in control, and I am content to let it take me where it does. Am I being foolhardy, or for the first time in my life do I see things clearly?

Dil ke kuch shikwe jo baaki hain dil main,
Unhe tumse kehne ki chahat kyun baaki nahi rahi,
Agaar aaj, abhi, isi lamhe me zindagi guzar jaaye,
Dil ko marna gunah hoga, ya daba dena usme tamannaye unkahi?

I actually had planned on posting this on Christmas eve, thinking I'll be working as always, but as things turned out I was with friends watching Chicken Little, eating a huge pizza and jingling away to Christmas carols. Then I got a cute message from D, asking me whether I had a date for Christmas eve. When I said no, she asked me to it's about time I got around to seriously thinking about having a serious relationship. Seriously!

So, as I end this post, I smile and I savour the warm sun on my face, and I am thankful for being the way I am, and where I am, today.

Shayad phir tumhe dhoondne ki koshish main,
Zindagi se kahin phir mulakat ho jaaye,
Shayad phir khwabon ke aasman se utarkar,
Kamsin chahat ki baarish bhigo jaage.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Her eyes. Hazel eyes. Eyes lit with dancing flames. Eyes which spoke that which he could not bear to hear. Eyes which betrayed that which she would never bring to her lips. And so it had been, every evening for the past year, when he had walked her home.

"Every finite dimensional vector space, with an inner product defined, has an orthonormal basis." The first line he had ever heard her speak, when he had entered her first class on graduate linear algebra ten minutes late. She was graceful, intelligent and always smiled when anybody gave the correct proof for a theorem. He was not smitten by her instantly. But when she turned out to be the only person who could hold his attention in straight conversation, he had to admit something was different about her.

That had been a year back. Now, as he walked beside her on the concrete pavement, neither of them spoke. He just looked at her. She tried not to hold his gaze for more than a few seconds. The air between them hung like an old curtain, with layers of dust making it too heavy to blow in the gentle breeze. He opened his mouth to speak. She looked up and tilted her head to a side, and he caught her pleading glance. He struggled to keep the words inside. Cars and busses roaring down the road, hawkers on the pavement and the traffic policeman whistling with all his might to halt the flow of cars. He could hear none of these. The only sound he wanted to hear did not come.

They reached her apartment block. As she started climbing the small flight of stairs, she looked back. He caught her eyes, twinkling in the street light reflected from shop windows nearby. He turned away, for he could not bear to hear what they spoke. Her eyes.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Glimpses from going back

Ah winters! Short days and long nights - right out of my 7th class Geography book. First thought which comes to my mind as I walk out of office at 6:30 pm. After a short call home, to tell them I'll be home in about two hours, I begin my daily trek to the bus depot. It is dark, and I am feeling hungry. I take out my muffler and wrap it around my neck. Though the winter has been a benign cohort from my childhood days, I've learnt not to trifle with the ice cold air currents which romance the velvety evening as I walk down the street.

Now, something has to be said about my muffler. It has a bright green border, and is covered with a pattern of black, red and white diamonds. I have had it since ages, and my friend G says that I look like a doodhwalah with it wrapped around my head. So I am quite used to the curious surreptitious glances it attracts from all around.

I walk down a long well lit street to the gate of the campus which opens onto the main road. And the world erupts in a flurry of headlights, taillights, street lights and red lights. As if being blinded is not enough, I am simultaneously deafened by blaring vehicle horns from all around. Between all this commotion, I accompany two college students, a portly aunty all tucked up in a shawl and a nervous old man holding a perky kid's hand, in their attempts to cross the road. We alight from the pavement, dodging first the bicycle rider, then the Maruti 800 and then stop dead in our tracks to let the DTC bus pass. The wine red Tavera screeches to a halt inches before aunty, just as she puts up her palm as the divine gesture asking him to stop. Everybody scrambles onto the safety of the road divider, and then a repeat performance ensues for the other half of the road.

I walk into a dark bus depot, with a solitary street light marking the spot where the peanut seller has setup his stall. Five rupees for hundred grams seems to be the going rate for roasted peanuts. I stuff my pockets with peanuts and rewri (small tablets of jaggery and sesame seeds). While I make the purchase, the bus strolls into the depot, like a drunken elephant. Everybody scrams to get a good seat, as do I. The conductor bellows at everybody to pay him the exact change for the ticket, while a dilapidated radio blares:

Zindagi to bewafa hai, ek din thukraayegee,
Maut mehbooba hai apni, saath lekar jaayegee,
Mar ke jeene ki ada jo duniya ko sikhlaayega,
Woh mukaddar kaa sikandar, jaaneman, kehlayega.

Another hour, and I'll be home.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Have some why

Why do I feel restless?
Why do I feel this is going to snap a few neurons?
Why do I feel hysterical?

Why do I need to get an approval from everybody?
Why do I need to get an approval from anybody?

Why do I fumble at the simplest of questions?
Why do I fumble only when someone really asks them out loud?

Why do I feel singled out in a crowded room?
Why should it bother me that everybody is laughing?
Why do I smile as I type in this question?

Why did I spend the whole two hours behaving like a giggly teenager?
Why do I rebuke myself for just having fun?
Why do I have to measure up each time?

Why does it matter if I do not do what is expected?
Why do so many people expect anything at all from me?

Why is it so fascinating to think of running away?
Why is the thought of actually doing it so scary?

Why do I have to explain myself to everybody?
Why do I care if anybody gets me wrong?

Why does everybody have to see my point of view?
Why do I always see their point of view first?

Why is it so important to be nice?
Why is it so nice to be important?
Why being neither doesn't matter at all?

Why do I have to love anybody or anything?
Why do I like what I do?
Why do I do it better than a whole lot of other people?
Why do I bother if I do not?

Why is it essential to be original?
Why is it imperative to be creative?
Why being a snob is inevitable?

Why is it that I think I end up being condescending?
Why does it matter if I do?
Why can I not be rude?
Why is it pleasurable to be nasty?

Why do I have to have an opinion?
Why do I need to know politics from erotica?
Why do I have to say anything of interest to anybody?

Why is it always I before anybody else?
Why should it be anybody else before I?

Why is it so easy to be defensive?
Why is it so difficult to attack?
Why is it even harder to restrain my rage?

Why do I stand ignorance?
Why am I ignorant of all stands?

Why do I try to write, even though I am no writer?
Why is it easier, than to just think all the time?

Why is it that I love to eat?
Why is it great that I can eat what I cook?
Why is it even better when a friend can beat me at it?

Why does it feel good to show off?
Why is nobody watching what I want to show?
Why do I want to show anything?
Why do I want to see what other's are showing?

Why is there always a now and a then?
Why is there always a she?
Why is it that I am always temporally misaligned?

Why are there no links to other blogs on my blog?
Why do I read them?
Why do people comment on my ramblings?
Why do I want them to comment?

Why is this a personal blog?
Why does it not talk about something important to society?
Why should anything be more important to me, than my life?
Why am I labeled separately from the crowd?

Why does chaos make sense?
Why can a fixed point iteration converge?
Why does fever manifest on a paintbrush?
Why is a fugue fascinating to a bear?

Why can I ask all this?
Why is there no end to questions?
Why does this feel liberating?
Why is this post so long?


Friday, December 09, 2005

The Power to Dream

A life I chose,
Of loving those,
Very animated few,
And in lieu,
I gave up being normal.

Streaks of calm,
A star-crossed palm,
Flavour my bewitched brew,
Searching for that ever new,
I fell in love with the search.

Sleepless nights and burnt out days,
Breathless years of ceaseless chase,
Focused on that single spot,
As I joined dot after dot,
I gave birth to my inner child.

Paused now, and standing tall,
As I wait for a tumbling fall,
Burn, and let the ashes rise to see,
To reach for that realm of fantasy,
I am ready to create again.

To everybody who has stood by me all these years and seen me through my madness. I hope each and every one of you get to live your dreams. Thank you!

Monday, November 28, 2005


Born to my hours of solitude,
And to my moments of upset calm,
Was a bonny boy, in the pink of health,
Adding a dash of red to my dying charm.

He grew fast and he grew strong,
Carried me over despair's peak,
Yet something in there alarmed me so,
I dared not protest in a voice meek.

Soon he channeled all my thought,
Away in crevices of joyous rage,
As my last hope of survival,
I decided to let the battle wage.

Days on end I fought with him,
Brutal, unceasing, blow by blow,
Bludgeoned him to his bloody grave,
Till a whimper of life he ceased to show.

Free at last of his sinuous spell,
I lay down, calm in my victory's fold,
Slowly as it dawned on me,
My beating heart froze, ice-cold.

Merriment and anguish found a place,
Shame and worry crept back inside,
A part which never came back to life,
The missing due, was what had died.

Armed with a sword of treacherous trust,
Shielded by my gullible peace,
I had killed my anger with my own two hands,
Now, the mocking laughter refuses to cease.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Nobody in vicinity

I felt you close, oh so close,
That I cannot still believe you chose,
To walk away from it all,
Leaving me to break apart and fall.

In the moment that you were,
Within the fringes of my heart's desire,
I can still feel it linger inside,
Ashes of burnt dreams I cannot hide.

When your voice stood next to mine,
In still nights, in days benign,
Your scent fills the air around,
Whenever I remember that enchanted sound.

Then you walked a few paces away,
Answered my plea with a sonorous nay,
I had hoped you would hold your stand,
Till I could follow your steps on sand.

Ascribing me of a frigid stance,
Indifferent to every clumsy advance,
You went away, melting all my dismal nice,
Me inept to find what seemed like ice.

Beyond and away, and further more,
If you ever return to the times of yore,
You will find a ghost remained,
Frozen, mad, yet forever restrained.

I feel so idiotic. It's as if I am lying on a busy pavement letting the whole world walk over me, and I am not getting up. Why? Do not ask me that, for I cannot answer. I've been tense the past few days. Big deadline approaching sometime next month. I hope I can meet it.

It is not the deadline, however, which is driving me nuts. I am quite angry with myself for not letting my writing stay honest to what I've been feeling. The moment I start thinking about how whatever I write will affect others (well I hope it does affect somebody at least), there goes honesty out of the window! I almost shelved the above poem. But then I realized I would've buried some part of my heart if I had done that... so I let it be.

Life's being quite kind at present. Listening to Doob Jaana Re from Main, Meri Patni Aur Woh, eating an egg roll, and pondering the Ozu Yasujiro film I just saw, with a friend I met after a few months. I had my Spanish exam today. It went off quite well, though I had a tough time on Sunday trying to study for it. I am amazed at the discipline I could muster to sit at a table and actually study. I haven't done it in ages. I guess the fear of flunking an exam can still make me do a few good things!

Aaj maine dil se, badalon se mil ke,
Sapno ki baarish se kaliyan sajake,
Mehki umango se khusboo churake,
Halki si boondon main,
Lehron ki goonjon main,
Gum ho jaana re.

Inspite of all this there is something wrong at Pooh corner. It's something that an animal of very small brain like Pooh calls "Crustimoney Proseedcake." It's like I have a whole world's talk to talk about but only there is nobody to talk to. But then I met Eeyore and he said, "One can't complain. I have my friends. Someone spoke to me only yesterday." So there. I am not quite alone here. And yet...

Doob jaana re, Mujh ko doob jaana re,
Tere paas aana re, Mujh ko doob jaana re.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Modulated Fusion















Sunday, November 13, 2005

La tortilla espaƱola and a whole lot of fun

Thursday morning started like any other Thursday morning. Moreover, it ended like any other Thursday morning as well. However, Thursday evening... now that's the story I want to tell. U had cramps in her leg and had limped in to work. She was about to limp back home in the evening, when Y suggested we go over to her house and help her with dinner. U's leg must've been really hurting bad because she's didn't bat an eyelid and said, "Yes!"

So, Y, N and me descended on her house discussing plans for the night's dinner. U's kids were rightly horrified when they came to know that the night's dinner was dependent on our culinary skills. We quickly settled on a menu of French toast(N), Spanish Omelette(me and Y) and Maggi(everybody). U, I think, got a glimpse of the things about to take place, and she hastily added Tomato rice to the list, and volunteered for dinner duty as well!

U's son was made to run about for the eggs, cheese, bread and Maggi, while Y chopped tomatoes and I got the easiest task of chopping up onions. Now, I love making omelettes. There's something about the smell of eggs frying on a well-oiled frying pan, which feels erotic to my taste buds. So, obviously, I did a good job of chopping up the onions! The eggs arrived and N got busy with the French toast. "Add some milk," "beat the eggs faster, more vigorously," "the frothier, the better is the batter," "add some salt," "dip the whole bread," "no! chop it up in four pieces and then dip it." Finally, my rumbling stomach got to taste the exotic creation. What do you know! It tasted good. So, obviously, now expectations from my culinary skills went up.

Well, once I got the eggs, and tomatoes, grated cheese, onions, and chopped up green chilies, I bravely went and walked up the aisle. It was like being asked to walk off the plank of a pirate ship! U was standing behind me like Captain Hook, waiting to see when I would blow up her kitchen. The beaten eggs slid out of the bowl and into the pan, sputtering as they hardened to the warm caress of the oil. The tomatoes and onions rolled into the bed of soft eggs, in flirtatious foreplay. The grated cheese melted around the green chilies, drowning them in lusty juices of milky white. The omelettes definitely looked orgasmic. If Y had not interrupted me, I would have finished it right off the frying pan. The moment I got it out of the pan, N stole half of it, put it between two bread slices, and walked around the house saying, "not bad for an amateur!" Amateur! Me? What nerve!

Anyway, then Y had her go at the omelette, which looked more like Spanish scrambled eggs by the time it was off the pan. She said she was making scrambled eggs from the start, but I told her what I believed, and as a result was not allowed to touch a teeny-weeny morsel of the very delicious looking dish. After, this entire hullabaloo, Maggi was child's play. We added all the remaining vegetables and cheese too, and it turned out to be the best instant noodles I have eaten in a long time.

U's tomato rice was out of the world. V and P turned up too. P kept U's daughter busy, playing chess with her, while the U's son just couldn't take it any more and ran out of the house to play with friends. V made some heavenly coffee afterwards. We chatted until 1 a.m. afterwards, mostly about Y'’s impending marriage and my non-existent one. And everybody had oodles of noodles to eat. I had to walk Y home after that, but even that was a small price to pay for such a perfect evening. I said out loud, "We must do this again sometime," before we left. But I doubt U shares my enthusiasm! Miraculously, the cramps in her leg cured themselves overnight and she was a-ok the next day. I think it was my omelette that did the trick!

Sunday, November 06, 2005


Ratiyaan, kaari, kaari raatiyan.
Ratiyaan, kaari, kaari raatiyan.

I could have named this post more dramatically. In fact, I usually think of the title after having written the post. However, whatever I think of, can never out think the master storyteller himself.

Raat hamari to chand ki saheli hai,
Kitne dino ke baad, aayi wo akeli hai,
Chuppi ki birah hai, Jhingur ka baaje saaz.

The past week was exhausting. I went back to work on Wednesday. After three 20-hour workdays, I had to turn down S's offer of a Saturday morning movie. I just wanted to get back home and sleep. Sunday morning plans were also cancelled at the last moment and I was all set towards having another lousy weekend. I even wandered into the nearby mall to catch the matinee show alone and guess what - it was house full! I was doing aimless rounds of the mall, when I decided to buy myself a VCD. When my eyes fell on the lovely Vidya Balan, looking towards me with those intensely questioning eyes, I couldn't help but buy Parineeta. I remembered having decided that I would not watch the movie before I had read the original story. I had finished reading it long back. But I had not managed to see the movie. So I came back home, popped the VCD into the player and...

...I was there. I do not know how the City of Joy looked like in times of the novel, but in the movie, it seemed enough 1962'ish to me. But then appeared Shekhar, and then Lolita. And I might as well have been a character penned by Sarat Chandra himself, for I was right there, beside those two.

Raat hamari to chand ki saheli hai,
Kitne dino ke baad, aayi wo akeli hai,
Sanjha ki baati bhi koi bujhade aaj,
Andhere se ji bharke karni hai baaten aaj.

What had struck me when I had read the novel was, that how subtle and yet how powerful it was. My prowess in Bangla leaves a lot to be desired but even I could feel the story in my heart. Yet I had to re-read portions of it to figure out what did Shekhar actually do to her - the briefest of the intimate - that sealed the strongest of bonds. It was then that I realized what the writer intended to say. What he meant by Parineeta. How overwhelmingly strong he had painted his protagonist.

Andhera rootha hai,
Andhera aentha hai,
Gumsum sa, kone main baitha hai.

The movie is not so subtle. It could not have been. It would not have worked. But as I saw the movie, I realized something. I realized the genius of Sarat Chandra. His acute understanding of human nature - of men and women. Man hasn't changed much since his times. He is still given to his flights of fancy, his fits of jealous rage, his overwhelming desire to possess his loved one - I don't know about others, I know I am. In other words, he still acts like an idiot mostly and gets away with it mostly (though not as often as before). The woman, however, I wonder. I wonder if what Lolita portrays as a female protagonist makes sense to a modern day feminist crusader.

Andhera pagal hai, kinta ghanera hai,
Chubhta hai, dasta hai, phir bhi woh mera hai,
Uski hi godi main sar rakh ke sona hai,
Uski hi bahon me chupke se rona hai.

Before my blog is summarily torched by all my female readers, I beg that my question be considered without bias. I am curious to know. I am not talking about the later part of the story/movie when Lolita would have surely walked away, and not uttered a word, if Shekhar would not have owned up to their union. I know that idea may not (and perhaps should not?) make sense to a woman of today. What I am asking is that, in times when even the idea of marriage has mutated into something totally new, whether that one act in the movie - a garland thrown around a beloved's neck (or the golden chain in the movie), that too in innocent play - is enough to evoke even an idea of life long trust. I know that the love story is about so much more - it is about what has transpires between the two protagonists over years and years of knowing each other very closely. I submit that they both loved each other, but I also suspect their story would have treaded a different path had it not been for that one night of intimate confession - all sparked by that garland. I want to know if a woman can, in times like these, gift her trust so totally, so unconditionally, so innocently to... merely a man.

Aankhon se kajal ban, behta andhera.

Or would she rather trust the pre-nup?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Beyond reach

Hands going cold in my sweating palm,
In this fickle world, you are my steadfast mooring.

Heaving breaths drawing life from a plastic tube,
The air touching you, still blooms of spring.

Weak, blanched lips, quivering with every word,
Your passion to live still scorches.

Lying amidst white sheets in a sterilized bed,
You still shine like a thousand torches.

Eyes brimming with drops of pain,
Every ounce of your strength flows anew,

Stay, please, do not let go yet,
Where will I find another you?

She did not stay a second more,
Raced infinitely far ahead,

The world stopped living then,
Everything was dead.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Where are you tonight?

Tonight I am lost,
In dark, circuitous lanes of my wayward mind,
Where are you, O light of innocent dawn,
Saviour of my cursed kind.

Tonight I am afraid,
With uncertain tremors of a failing heart,
Where are you, O calm of virgin morn,
Manifest whole in my every part.

Tonight I am restless,
With blind lust of a passionate kiss,
Where are you, O rage of fiery noon,
Drops of joy in my distilled bliss.

Tonight I am alone,
In the echoing facades of my solitary prison,
Where are you, O twilight's muse,
Reason beyond my most logical reason.

Tonight I am tired,
Of endless toil to fulfill my destiny's share,
Where are you, O tryst of lovelorn eve,
Kindness incarnate in my trivial care.

Tonight I am dying,
Of a wasted life and murdered faith,
Where are you, O cohort of velvet night,
Spark divine in my mortal wraith.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Did someone ask the bomb?

Ever since I was picked,
With the red wire and the green,
I knew the clock that ticked,
Wished as much I had not been.

It was inevitable then,
I cannot help my living death,
Was decided the day when,
Bartered I was for some innocent's breath.

I was left alone, in the shadow,
Dark in the middle of cheerful light,
People overflowing in the narrow,
Unaware of their fatal plight.

Helpless, I see a kid smile,
Run closer to me in frolicking play,
How do I warn him of intentions vile,
Tell him to get away!

The countdown ends in an inside spark,
Ripping me through all around,
And though I light up every dark,
I cannot hear a single sound.

The roaring blast of heated air,
Life freezing in a fiery blaze,
Even though I cannot spare,
I liked that kid's trusting ways.

If that is what I take with me,
Trust lost by my living gain,
Some body stop those wiring me,
I never want to live again.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Literally in Love

The words still did not come. Words had always been easy for him. The open window let in the bountiful morning sun with the mildly scented air. Mrigank stared outside, not looking anywhere in particular. On the desk, in front of him, lay the few handwritten pages of the manuscript of his current novel.

In the past, Mrigank had invented brilliant characters. The hilarious Bantu De, the very lovable Snigdha Sreemala, the conniving Tejram Tokus and the very evil Kaushik Mistry had all formed the tangy pastis that had been his previous bestseller. He had laughed and cried with them for days. If only it would come back to him now. He wanted to create the magic again. He wanted his character. He wanted her. The only problem was he couldn't see her yet. Unable to write, Mrigank decided to go for a stroll.

He put on a casual khaki brown shirt, and his old, worn out slippers. The road in front of his house was already alive with the chaos of the vegetable market which sprang up there every morning at 7 a.m. He loitered in between the carrots and the tomatoes, as if in tandem with the cow who was busy chewing the spinach leaves strewn on the road. It was then the voice caught his ear. It had the timbre of a drum beat dying away slowly, after being struck with great violence. He looked around, and saw the most alluring face he had ever seen. She was dressed in a faded green cotton saree, and was busy sorting her stock of vegetables into piles.

He watched her for a while. A dark face with eyes which shone with the lights of a wildfire. Her black locks were carelessly tied in a bun behind her head, with a few wayward strands crisscrossing her face. She was humming a song to herself, and every time she parted those mesmeric lips he lost all bearing of space and time. This had to be her. He just knew it. Then as if suddenly snapping out of her spell, he darted back home.

He could not wait to put pen to paper, and draw her out of hiding. He gave her the face he had just seen, and the voice he had just heard. He gave her the purity and freshness of Vermeer's `Girl with a Pearl Earring.' And he gave her the love of Meera. Finally, he christened her Nivedita. When he put his pen down, he could see her, sitting quietly, among his written word. He could feel every tinge of life that radiated off her. He was most certainly in love.

He had only one thought left in him now. "Does she love me too?"

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Not for all the chocolate in the world...

So said Charlie Bucket! I was somewhere inside the chocolate factory when he said this. This... `one liner' snapped me back. If I had been a girl I would be head over heels over Johnny Depp by now, however, I must say this about little Charlie. That boy has magic in his eyes. Ah! But now, about the movie. It's a little gem, and of course, it is about chocolate. Loads of it in fact.

Chocolate flows, chocolate flows,
Drowning in sweet all sad and lows,
Better than many people on this planet,
Ummm on my tongue, 'tis the best it can ever get.

Okay, okay I admit it! The `Ummm' inspiration is from Preity Zinta (Ummmm ;o) ). So now, Durga Puja is over, and soon it will be time for Diwali and then it will be Christmas! This is the better half of the year. Loads of holidays. I, however, had a funny start to the festive season this year.

I was in my hostel room. I had just emerged from the bath, my hair smelling divine from the `Ultra Doux Olive Oil & Lemon' shampoo. Actually, it is part of Y's recipe to get my hair to grow back. I do not know what good it is doing to my follicles but it smells yummy! I was in front of the mirror, with the world looking distinctly foggy through my wet glasses. I groped around and located my handkerchief. I took off my specs, and began to wipe it dry, just when it went - SNAP! Right then the world went right out of focus. The spectacle frame had broken in two. I am all blurry eyed without my glasses, so it was quite out of the question to search for the spare pair in such a condition. I called home and that confirmed my worst fears - I had left the spare pair at home! Leaving behind the screaming (and very worried) parents on the phone, I decided to brave the outside world.

The mess seemed all silvery - almost out of Dumbledore's pensieve. The sambar vadas were missing their hole from in-between. Breakfast tasted the same, but looked a whole lot different. Then I walked to work. I could see coloured shadows everywhere - people, cars, trees and after a few hands distance the world disappeared into a medley of mad watercolours. I reached the office. Y, U, V and S seemed most sympathetic, though I could hear the occasional chuckle every now and then. The computer was out of visual bounds of course. I just ordered Y to accompany me to the optician because I would not be able to see the spectacle frame without the specs! What a Catch 22! Y was quite accommodating and agreed to accompany me.

We took an auto. Delhi roads seemed a lot a less crowded and more colourful. It looked as if it had rained just now. I could not see people's faces, the car's number plates, the occasional wandering cow, the crowd spilling out of the DTC bus, the dust covered trees and rows upon rows of shops. I could only hear life. Oh and it lived. It lived right there, all around me, through me, with me. It was some experience - those fuzzy ten minutes. I got to see a very big picture, which I might have never seen otherwise. I also saw the big picture in my own life right then and there. Above and beyond all the people who were crammed into it. I got the courage to let go. I raised my hands and I surrendered. There are things in my life, I realized, which I will never be able to control. I think we are supposed to be thankful for that or else all of us would be control freaks with a lot of frazzled nerves.

I got my new frame. I also got a couple of very pinchy `new-pinches' from S! It looks exactly like the old one. But amidst this entire hullabaloo, I now I have an inkling of what I am capable of. I will never again, give up on me. Not for all the chocolate in the world...

Still an extra bar of chocolate never hurt anyone. So, if someone wants to be generous and give me some, I am up for it. Always and anywhere!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Shonar Kella (The Golden Fortress)

I am writing this post in Bangla, because it came to my mind in those words. For those who cannot read Bangla, a translation in English follows.

Aaj obdi jaa korar shahosh korte parini, aaj chelebelaar ekta sriti ta korte baddho kore diyeche. Jaa kokhono korini sheta hochche Banglaye lekha. Shotti bolte ei kotha gulo Bangla okhore lekhar khomota aamar aajo neyi, sheyi jonne Ingriji alphabet er shahajjo ta nite hocche. Shei kotha nahoye aarek din bolbo. Aaj ja bolte ichche korte tayi boli. She holo sheyi pranbhore haanshar diner kotha.

Dhuloye dhoa neel aakash, Rajasthan er morubhoomi te koekta oonth, ekta te Feluda, ekta te Topshe aar ekta te Jatayu. Aami je Shonar Kellar kotha bolchi ta nishchoyi etokhonne bujte perecho. Aaj pujo pandel theke vcd ta kenar por thekeyi aar torsh hochchilo na. Bari esheyi cinema ta dekhe phellam.

Satyajit Ray er mon jodano sur mone koriye delo shei prothom baar T.V. te cinema ta dekhar shei din. Tokhon chotto aami, aaro onek beshi dushtu chilam. Hoyeto beshi khushi o chilam. Ma aar Baba tokhon oto chinta korto na. Chotobelar din gulo ke golapi kaanch diye dekhte aaj chokhe jol bhore aasche keno taayi bojhbaar jonne eta likhte boshechi. Kintu taar uttor to aami jaani. Aar shei din hoyeto kokhono phire pabona.

Tobe tayi niye aamar kono aakhep neyi. Chabbish bochor bhaloi katiyechi. Golpo, kobita likhte shikechi, aankteyo paari ektu ektu. Gaan gayile keu kaache darate chayena bote, tobuo, gayite bhaloi laage. Bondhu bandhob shobi aache. Ekbaar prem korar chesthao kore phelechi eri moddhe. Kintu kotha ta theek ta noye.

Ja kore uthte parini, aajo, ta hochce nijer mon ke boojhe nite. Aajo nijer bapaare bhaabte gele koek minite por theek kore aar bhabte parina. Aajo khali mone hoye ekta bag kandhe kore shaara prithibi ghurte beriye podle mondo hobe na. Aajo Baba Maake hariye phelbo kono din bhableyi, khub bhoye kore. Aajo kauke moner kotha pooro poori bolte onek shomoye laage. Aaj Baabar jonmodin. Baba ke gola jodiye, Happy Birthday, bolar aage, paanch minit dhore ki je bhablam sheta ekhon kichuteyi mone korte paarchina. Jaatishor kothar orthota aajge cinema dekhar porei theek bhujte parlaam. Sumon Chatterjee'r ei gaaner hotath notun maane khuje peychi taayi -

Aamar shopne bibhor hoye jonmecho bohubar,
Aami chilam tomar kamona, bidroho, chitkaar,
Dukho peycho jotobar jeno aamaye peycho toomi,
Aami tomar purush, aami tomar jonmobhoomi,
Jotobar tumi jononi hoyecho, totobar aami pita,
Koto sontan jalalo preyoshi tomar aamar chita,
Baar baar aashi aamra dujon, baar baar phire jaai,
Abaar aashbo abaar bolbo shudhu tomakeyi chai.

Aasha kori aar joto bochchor banchbo, taar modheyi nije ke khuje pabo kono ekdin.

I haven't had the courage to do something till today. But today a childhood memory has forced my hand. That something which I have never done before is writing in Bangla. To tell you the truth I still do not have the ability to write this in the Bangla script, that is why I must take help of the English alphabet. But that tale is for another day. Let me say today what I really want to say. I want to really talk about those days of heartfelt laughter.

Below blue skies washed in dust, a few camels make there way in the deserts of Rajasthan. On one is Feluda1, on another one is Topshe and on the third is Jatayu. You must've realized by now that I am speaking of Shonar Kella2 (The Golden Fortress). From the moment I bought the vcd from the puja pandal today evening I could not wait a second. As soon as I reached home I watched the movie, again.

Melodious strains of Satyajit Ray's soulful music reminded me of the day when I had first seen the movie on T.V. I was younger then, a little boy and was much naughtier. Perhaps I was happier too. Mum n Dad did not worry so much in those days. Why looking at those wonder years through rose tinted glasses still brings tears to my eyes? That is why I sat down to write this post today. But I know the answer already, don't I. Besides I'll never get back those days again.

But I have no regrets about that. I have had a good twenty six years so far. I have learnt how to write prose and poetry. I can even draw a few wayward lines on white sheets of paper. And even though people do not like to stick around when I start singing, I like to sing. I have a great bunch of friends. I have even tried my hand once at falling in love. But that is not the point. Not exactly.

What I havent been able to do is to understand myself. Even today I cannot fathom myself for more than a few minutes. I am always feeling that it would be great to just pickup a backpack, go and roam around the world. I am still scared to death by the fact that I'll lose my parents one day. Even at this age it takes me a long time to tell someone of my heart's deepest desires. Today was Dad's birthday. What was I thinking for five minutes, before I decided to give him a big hug and say Happy Birthday, I still cannot remember. I understood the word Jaatishor3 only after watching the movie today. Hence, suddenly, these lines from one of Sumon Chatterjee's4 songs, by the same name, has found new meaning in my eyes -

You have been reborn many times, forged in my dreams,
I am your yearning, your revolt, I am your screams.
You have felt me within, whenever you've been lorn,
I have been your man, I am the land where you are born.
Every time you have been a Mother, I have been a Sire,
So many sons, O beloved, have lit our final pyre.
Time and again we come together, and seperate to bid adieu,
I will come again, if only to say, I only want you.

I hope I find myself, in whatever few years of this mortal life I have left.

1 and 2. Satyajit Ray's inimitable super sleuth Feluda, his cousin Topshe and their friend Lalmohan Ganguli (aka Jatayu) are enormously popular fictional characters in Bengal. Ray published a large number of mystery stories featuring Feluda in the children's magazine Sandesh. Shonar Kella (The Golden Fortress) was the first of the popular Feluda movies which he made. It remains my favourite of the lot.

3. Jaatishor means one who can recall events or memories from past lives.

4. Sumon Chatterjee is a well known singer from West Bengal.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

A Balancing Act

I cannot help but laugh,
At my state of affairs,
Pardon me on my behalf,
As I proceed with repairs.

First it was a `Do you?'
Which gave way to a `Why?'
Lost in a divine milieu,
Circumference remained 2r pie.

Then there was a `Why not?'
And finally a `When?'
Amidst all this I nearly forgot,
The number of times I had said amen.

Neither add nor can I subtract,
As I become my own tragic hero,
A heart I lent I cannot retract,
Forever, balance a perfect zero.

Monday, October 03, 2005

In hate with myself

Me, myself and I,
Weird combinations of the self, collide,
Every nook and corner I pry,
To find a grave and bury it inside.

The deeper I go, more it becomes scary,
Unknown voices, echo and sneer,
Trembling feet be ever so wary,
What demons lurk beneath this loving veneer.

Dark and lifeless, walls so strong,
Bar all bridges to trust, and how,
Surrender every right to every wrong,
I hate this me inside, now.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Forgive me

I have thought many times within the past week of giving this up blog. Why? Because my life has turned upside down on its head in the past few weeks. Surely that is no fault of the blog. But it is the only thing over which I have total control. Actually that is also not true - as much as I have wanted to shut it down, I cannot bring myself to do it. It would mean burning down another bridge. I have burnt one too many already.

I do not even know the purpose of this post anymore. I do not have anything to say, nor do I have anyone to say it to. It is strange to run out of words like this.

I am not quite built for this. I feel too strongly. I think too much. I cannot think of more than one thing at a time. I tend to talk a lot with myself. I dream a lot. There should be some kind of ban on dreaming too much. It's not good for one's perception of reality.

Forgive me.

Klanti aamar khoma koro probhu,
Pothe jodi pichiye, pichiye podi kobhu.

Ei je hiya thoro thoro, kanpe aaji emontoro,
Ei bedona khoma koro, khoma koro probhu.
Pothe jodi pichiye, pichiye podi kobhu.

Ei deenota khoma koro probhu,
Peechon paane takayi jodi kobhu.

Deener taape roudro jaalay, shukay mala pujar thaalay,
Sei mlanota khoma koro, khoma koro probhu.
Pothe jodi pichiye, pichiye podi kobhu.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Graceful retreat

Is it not strange,
The things which are,
Are the things which change,
As I travel from near to far.

I do not know why or what,
Changed from the past to now,
I asked, and no matter what I got,
I have it in me to do it again; Wow!

Two of all, a friend and a thing,
One helped to see me better,
The other helped find new meaning,
A precious life I was willing to fritter.

What I believe is me as is,
I do not ask you not to be,
If you are static in being this,
I shall downgrade to being me.

No more questions, no further ado,
Innocent fire is fanned,
I'll wait halfway though,
Should you ever need a helping hand.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Snapped out

If only the world changed,
At the snap of my finger,
I would make it go back a few turns,
Not for a moment linger.

At things I have longed for,
Prayed for with earnest zeal,
In times I wanted to stay frozen,
Obstinate scabs that refuse to heal.

Stepped on a twig of dry wood.
Snap! It went out of sight,
Before I realized I could,
Break things without any might.

A green stem might have bent,
But dried up fancies do not dream,
Of heavens, they just relent,
Inside out at every seam.

If I snap back with spite,
I will never forgive me,
For I swore not to write,
Another word to foster thee.

Holding back was never so wrong,
Neither so hard, as is now,
Hearty laughs canter along,
Whatever might you endow.

Every time I look at it,
A snap of the could-have-been,
Surreal, yet so aptly fit,
Too perfect to be seen.

Every time I look away,
Run from it what-could-have-been,
Try as far as I can stay,
Meaning well without the mean.

Do you see a difference around?
Can any trace of it be found?
Everything is as it is,
Owners pride, hers or his.

Magical as exploding snap,
Enticing, one's follies trap,
Play to win but know hereby,
In tiny parts, a part will die.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

It rained that morning

Monday, 19th September:
Sad day. Called home and mom was not in a good mood. I spent the day thinking about what might have been. I thought I might cry after a long time. Couldn't.

Thursday, 22nd September:
The day began so nicely. I had breakfast with A and then I went back to the room to sleep. I returned to the office at 10, only to find the boss walking up and down the corridor. Bad News. My report came back without being evaluated. I got these terrible anxiety pangs. Why? Was it bad? Is my work not good? Maybe I do horrible stuff. I am a failure. Surprise! Boss acted like an angel and kept me afloat.

In the evening went for a long walk with Z. Talk, talk, talk, ice cream and more talk. Z is either being very patient with me (bless her) or she loves the sound of my voice (is that so hard to believe? *stifled laughter*). Mom called in between the walk. Did not, or rather could not give her the bad news from work. After a lovely evening, came back to room and called up D.

D is an old school friend. Had promised her I'd call on Thursday. Chatted for an hour! Eeeeks... my cellphone reserves went down by Rs. 200. I've known D for like ever. It feels nice so to let your hair down every once in a while (not that I have much hair to let down but that's beside the point). Talked the usual marriage-girlfriend-career stuff with her. The thing is she is as scared about the whole deal as I am... so it is comforting. As soon as the phone got over, I felt miserable again. Sigh!

Friday, 23rd September:
The day was half here and half there. I was busy since morning trying to find new people to evaluate my work. Amidst feeling miserable and being busy, managed to wish two old friends Happy B'day! Had Spanish class in the evening. Cute Spanish teach asked me to translate a huge sentence on the blackboard. And what do you know! I did a perfect 10. When she said, "very good", I was getting all moony eyed. Just then, Y whispered into my ears, "Seen her engagement ring. It has eight diamonds." Why! Why of all the ten thousand blue blistering barnacles! Simple dinner, and a ice cream at midnight with Y and I was still feeling miserable. Thought about someone, and then felt even worse. Trust S to be a dear in such situations. He gave me a movie to watch. If you haven't seen Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang, its entirely your loss. Such a wonderful, mood-uplifting movie. Why if I had been Caractacus Potts - I would have fallen for Ms. Truly Scrumptious too! Went to sleep misty eyed.

Saturday, 24th September:
I had forgotten how much I liked the rain. In the morning when I was returning to my room, walking back after breakfast with S, it started drizzling. The first impulse I had was to run. Then something in me asked me not to. So, I just decided to take a stroll. And oh was it lovely. I was being my grumpy self in the morning, when the rain started and invited me to play. I was angry! I even raised my head skywards to shout at Him. Couldn't. All that came to my head was a big "Thank You." "Thank you for I am still standing on my feet. After all that has happened I am still standing. Thank you for giving me the strength to move on, always." After that, I strolled back slowly, romancing the flirting rain, as it fell from the clear blues.

It trickled down my oily face, after barely getting lost in my receding hairline and slipping on my spectacles. It caressed my skin and ran down my chest like her hands from my dreams. It found all the nooks and corners on my body which had shrunk into dark corners and made them wonderfully wet. It made the most thoroughly enjoyable squelching sound under my sandals. It cleansed me. After a bath and a quick ride home, I got home. I still could not tell mum and dad about the thing at work. They will worry. I do not want that. Chatted through the evening and wrote long, crazy emails.

Sunday, 25th September:
Spent the morning fighting with the downstairs neighbours about a leaking pipe. The new owner of the ground floor flat looks like King Kong! Eeeew! Got car diagnosed - battery is down. Dad will have to get it replaced during the week. Sis 'n family came over in the evening. Spent a lazy afternoon talking nonsense with funny nephew. Now the TV has gone bad. I am feeling a tad ok. Tomorrow it is back to work. Oh n I have to write an essay on `¿Por qué quiero estudiar Español?' Help!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Fair Price

They sat quietly, beside each other, by the river bank. The river looked sluggish today. Jyotsna could feel drops of rain starting to fall. A drop hit her cheek and streaked down her face. She kept looking at Shubhankar. "Why me? Why is it me always, Shubhankar?" He held her close, with his head resting against hers. He did not say anything. With his other hand, he lowered the volume of the transistor radio lying beside him. The radio was the first gift which she had given him, after she had got her job. Shubhankar managed his father's grocery store. His was a `fair price shop.' He had worked hard to get the license from the government.

Iske aage ki ab dastaan mujhse sun,
Sunke teri nazar dab daba jayegi,
Baat dil ki jo ab tak tere dil main thi,
Mera dawa hai hoton pe aa jayegi

"He was so good, Shubhankar. He was.. you met him. Wasn't he?" Shubhankar remembered the first day she had set foot in his shop. Dressed in a bright orange-red salwaar, she had looked like the proverbial Phoenix. As a weary smile crept between his lips, he just held on to her. "We had such good times together. I felt it was real love this time. Why did he have to ruin it all?"

Tu masiha mohabbat ke maron ka hai...,
Masihaaa..., masihaaa... mohabbat ke maaron ka hai.

Tu masiha mohabbat ke maron ka hai,
Hum tera naam sunke chale aayen hain,
Ab dawa de humain, ya tu de de zeher,
Teri mehfil main yeh diljale aayen hai,

Shubhankar understood that a kilo of rice cost Rs. 45, and that buying a larger bottle of Head & Shoulders shampoo saved you Rs. 10. But he did not understand the arithmetic of Jyotsna. She was invariant to the slow routine humdrum of his life. "When he asked me out for dinner, a week ago, I was so thrilled. I was sure he was going to propose." Shubhankar was hearing, and not hearing all at once. He could hear his own, awkward, stammering proposal at the same time.

Ek ehsaan kar...., ehsaaan kar,
Ek ehsaan kar, apne mehmaan par,
Apne mehmaan par ek ehsaan kar.

It had been a year since he had known her, when one afternoon he had tried to sell a customer 10 packets of chicken soup, whilst he had asked for only 2 packets. His father had lost his temper, and had been upset with him for the whole day. But Shubhankar was so enthralled by the fact that Jyotsna had coloured her hair a dark shade of brownish-red, he had hardly paid any attention to his father's shouts. It was only later, that he had realized what she meant to him. He had instantly decided to ask her. She had said no. He had not asked why, and never asked again. As the setting sun reflected off the mild river currents, the rain seemed to be emulating her mood.

De duaen.
De duaen, tujhe umr bhar ke liye.
De duaen, tujhe umr bhar ke liye.

" `We cannot be together. It will not work.' That is all he said. Am I so bad, Shubhankar... haa? Tell me." Shubhankar looked at her, and nodded a mild `No.' Her eyes were asking for reassurance. "Why me all the time? Every time! It is so unfair." It had taken him a lot of time, but now he had resigned himself to the connotation of `fair' as it applied to Jyotsna. He held on to her tight. The rain continued to fall.

Salaam-e-ishq meri jaan, zara kubool kar lo,
Tum hamse pyar karne ki, zara si bhool kar lo,
Mera dil bechain hai humsafar ke liye.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Barsaat Aayegi

Ek soch, hamesha, hardam, har ghadi,
Aasman par chaye kaale badal jaise,
Saari roshni ko roke khadi hai,
Barsaat aayegi.

Geeli hawaon ki seelan deeware gira rahi hai,
Deeware jo ghar banati hain, aur sarhaden bhi,
Aur main hoon ki usi dewaar ke sahare khada hoon,
Barsaat aayegi.

Patton ka hara nikhar raha hai,
Kamsin dhoop kahin sharma rahi hogi,
Par ye jo badalon main goonj raha hai, yeh tum to nahi ho.
Barsaat aayegi.

Unchooyi, unkahi, tumhari madmati hansi,
Kya us maikhane par bhatak gayi hai?
Bheegne ke dar se ja chupa hu usi maikhane mai,
Barsaat aayegi.

Chamatki bijli mai jagmagati gadiyan,
Bhatak gayi hain bheed ke veerano main,
Usi veerane main tumhe kabse dhoond raha hoon,
Barsaat aayegi.

Ajnabi baarish main, tum, humsafar,
Phir bhi baarish se jaise barso ka naata hai,
Aur tumhe main aaj bhi nahi pehchan paya,
Barsaat aayegi.

Na vaade, na kasme, na saath tumhara,
Batao, kuch kabhi manga hai maine?
Tumhari chatri ka aasman, thoda, shayad maang loon.
Barsaat aayegi.

Abort, Retry, Ignore?

If I tell you how it is,
You'll probably laugh,
For right now I cannot,
Separate the grain from the chaff.

In these alleys of rhyming words,
And lanes of cyber touch,
I found her standing, alone,
Lost in bits and bytes, as much.

If imaginary friends were ever so good,
Her voice was the sweetest ever heard,
You'll never guess what I did,
Even if you knew word for word.

Ferrous to the magnet's pull,
It hit a glass wall,
I could look through but not pass,
Yet I could hear every cry and call.

Addicted to hallucinating sights,
Which I had never seen,
I transcended from being to not being,
Passed from reality to my dream.

Sand slips from clutching palms,
As glass walls stand firm,
Electronic paths begin to erode,
I stand half apart, unable to confirm.

Saturday, September 17, 2005



In endless shades. Burnt yellow. Washed emerald. Blushing blue. Breaking brown.

He sat there.

Slaps of bashful froth on silky rocks occasionally punctuated a creeping night. Hours following distant twinkles got lost in the black. Unseen, it crumpled soft in his palm. Just as always.

This night, however, would never end. Never again.


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Difficult choices

Dancing flames,
Shining swords,
Swirling poison,
Scorching air,
Menacing looks,
Ominous curse,
Crushing power,
Blinding light,
Hideous thoughts,
Darkening hearts,

Warming fire,
Protecting swords,
Healing poison,
Soothing air,
Inviting looks,
Blessing curse,
Gentle power,
Resplendent light,
Tender thoughts,
Lambent hearts,

Why is this choice so difficult?

Resting in peace

I do not know about you, but I have found out that if you think for twenty-four hours continuously about the same thing, one of the following is certain - either you'll get a splitting headache or you'll end up in a very grumpy mood. That's the reason I was already in a bad mood on Friday afternoon. Besides it was almost time for lunch, so I was badgering S to leave his computer alone and come for lunch. He kept on saying, " another 10 minutes" and before I knew it, it was three o'clock and I was very hungry and very angry. So, I went for lunch alone. I had my dosa, all the time feeling as if I was the last person left on the planet, with just the sambar and coconut chutney for company. As I came out of the canteen, and walked by a bakery shop I got the distinct whiff of something freshly baked. Temptation was just the thing I needed, and so I yielded to a delicious looking cream roll. The weather was overcast - the sky puffed up with dark clouds had let loose a cool breeze. Cream roll in hand, I decided to go for a short walk. As I walked and talked to myself, I realized that I was more angry with myself than S. I was angry with myself for getting angry. When I got back, I found S agitated, running up and down the stairs, trying to get his salary slip somewhere. He took one look at me and asked, "Angry?" I just couldn't help breaking into a smile, and nodded him a vigorous no. Friends!

The evening had Spanish class again. I am getting better with it, but when the teach asked me, "Have you done the questions I gave for homework?" I nodded sideways, and said, "Yes." She, looking appropriately confused, broke into peals of laughter, as did Y beside me - and I could feel myself turning a deep shade of red. After the class, I had to run to the bus depot to catch the bus home. It was not there. There was no other bus either. I had to walk and walk and change two buses on the way to get home just in time for dinner. Mom's prawn curry! Heavenly and totally rejuvenating. I watched some TV and then had long chat with Y. Late into the night, after discussing the whole world from food, to Spanish, to impending marriage, to girlfriends, to crying in movies, I bid Y adieu. I had a half finished "Half Blood Prince" waiting on my bed. I read until 3 a.m. and then I apparated.

Today morning I got up really late, to the sounds of a late lazy Saturday morning coming from my verandah. With a breakfast of bread and eggs, I poured over every comic strip in the newspaper. It feels so good to be able to do... nothing! After working 24x5 the whole week, I feel I totally deserve my hours of nothingness. I helped Mom in the chopping of up some onions and peeled some garlic, and stirred a perfect chicken curry. Then I went back to Harry and Ginny "snogging," with Ron making up with Hermione. In the evening, we had guests - with them was this tiny 4-year-old bundle of energy. I spent the evening chasing R around the house, asking her ridiculous questions like, "Why are two of your teeth longer than the rest?" and "Why does the fan run and not get tired?" Her answer to all this was a lot of laughter peppered with very high-pitched screams. As I watched her playing in front of the dressing table, putting on puffs of talcum powder on her face, I felt so at peace with this mad, mad world.

And guess what? Tomorrow is Sunday!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Total Internal Reflection

Walls made of glass reflect,
Every ray of unwelcome light,
Invisible barriers fight illusory foes,
Winning gleefully with childish delight.

Silence guards the gates to a solitary realm,
Scaring away every ringing voice,
Resilient armies ward off surrendering enemies,
Conquering the harmless free by choice.

Unreachable unending roads lead the way,
Wearing out every traveling soul,
Enticing mists waylay innocent worlds,
Shredding into tiny parts a beautiful whole.

Monday, September 05, 2005


Everybody came, everybody went,
And the world went around once again,
Narcissistic, I felt it revolved around me,
As I was the only thing not moving.

Lights lit up and went dark again,
And the candles melted into lumps of wax,
Magical, I felt blessed with an enchanted halo,
As I was the only thing left burning.

Sweet candies turned into bitter delights,
And the passion drained from draughts of lust,
Satiated, I felt filled up to the brim,
As I was the only thing still overflowing.

Thoughts materialized into puffs of smoke,
And the haze oozed into stone and wood,
Astral, I felt destined to rule,
As I was the only thing around, dreaming.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

En la paz (At peace)

The room was dark. Dark rooms were always nice when Uncle Sleep was at hand. Tonight, however, he had called in sick. "Anita, you are the only friend I have tonight." Paz curled up tight, in his favourite corner, with his head resting on his bent knees. Anita was propped up beside him, as always, against the rails of the bedstead. He looked at Anita, and then at the closed door of his bedroom. "Why do they do that?" he asked, almost expecting Anita to answer back. Anita maintained her fuzzy noncommittal smile.

He could hear his mother scream, "How dare you?" The sudden sound made by a glass hitting the marble floor seemed to prick pins into the velvet darkness covering him. His tiny palm clutched Anita's arm, hard. "I am leaving. I don't have to stand here and listen to you ranting." "Daddy is always so nice, except when he is shouting at mommy." Anita's eyes shone brilliantly in the dark, reflecting the streetlight which sneaked in through the half open window. "Go! Run away... to her. I know you don't care for us anymore. Not me, not Paz. Go oooh!"

Screams and stifled cries. Paz was used to these sounds. The voices receded, Paz looked up and Anita seemed to fall to her side, tired with all the hullabaloo. Paz caught hold of Anita's toe and got down from the bed, dragging her to the door. "Tell me why? You cannot just walk out. You coward!" Paz froze in his tracks. His bare feet felt uncomfortable on the cold floor. Anita seemed to tug at his hands, so he let her fall to the floor. Paz could only think, "Why? Why? Why?" As if in answer to the question hammering away in his head incessantly, footsteps echoed. "I am going! Do you hear? I am going away... for ever. And I will come back for Paz. You are not fit to raise a child." "Never..." Paz heard the familiar click of the front door opening, and just then a loud car horn rang out. Startled, Paz stepped on Anita.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Jaayenge kahan soojhta nahi,
Chal pade magar raasta nahi,
Kya talaash hai kuch pata nahi,
Bun rahen hai dil khwab dam-b-dam.

Don't go! It is not worth the risk,
Not worth the time gained by a walk so brisk,
Heed the head; for it will stay,
When the fickle of heart will run away.

Tum jo kehdo to aaj ki raat chaand doobega nahi,
Raat ko rok lo;
Raat ki baat hai, aur zindagi baki to nahi.

I cannot, nor can you,
Alter what lies in nature's plan,
Even when laden with all your callous elan.

Ham apni wafa pe na ilzaam lenge,
Tumhe dil diya hai, tumhe jaan bhi denge,
Jab ishq ka sauda kiya, phir kya ghabrana.

Fear. You fool! Be afraid!
Of every loving word thou ever said,
For you are going to lose it twice,
In a rigged game of loaded dice.

Wohi hai dagar, wohi hai safar,
Hai nahi, saath mere magar, ab mera humsafar,
Idhar udhar dhoonde nazar; wohi hai dagar,
Kahan gayi shaame mad bhari,
Woh mere, mere woh din gaye kidhar.

Everything is here, you and the world around,
Every lost you ever found,
Do not search in vain,
In arid deserts for a watery rain.

Dil behal to jaayega is khayal se,
Haal mil gaya tumhara apne haal se,
Raat ye karar ki bekarar hai,
Tumhara intezaar hai.

Surely you jest,
In this season of gaiety and fest,
Who has the time to brood,
Of that to which you allude.

Kal aur aayenge nagmon ki khilti kaliyan chun ne waale,
Mujh se behtar kehene waale, tumse behtar sun ne waale,
Kal koi mujhko yaad kare, kyun koi mujhko yaad kare,
Masroof zamana mere liye kyun waqt apna barbaad kare.

The world will stop and time will freeze,
For everybody has you to appease,
Nobody says it in tastier verse,
Have you ever been a better worse.

Dil ke mere paas ho itne, phir bhi ho kitni door,
Tum mujhse main dil se pareshaan; dono hain majboor,
Aise main kisko kaun manaaye...

Is this a boxing match?
Is there a prize fish to catch?
Who are you competing with,
Unreal people or a real myth?

Hum ne jo dekha tha, suna tha,
Kya bataen woh kya tha,
Sapna salona tha,
Khatm to hona tha. Hua.

Deaf and blind, deaf and blind,
Only one of your cursed kind,
There is no end, for it never began,
A race won by an also-ran.

Kahin to yeh dil kabhi mil nahi paate,
Kahin pe nikal aayen janmo ke naate,
Hai meethi uljhan, bairi apna man,
Apna hi hoke sahe dard paraye, dard paraye.

Today or eternity, never lost,
Until every life you exhaust,
In search of suffering more,
Believe still in yon lover's lore.

Disclaimer: All the Hindi verses in this post are not my compositions. They are all touching and beautiful songs. They are here because they say what I wanted to say with more heart than what I can ever infuse into words.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

A week's tale

Hola, amigos!

The past week has been hectic. Moreover, it has been full. I shouldn't really be complaining, because it was a good week. It started with a Monday, which was usual. Monday's are all well, except that they jump out at you when you least expect them. Nevertheless, I managed to catch hold of it when it did, and got my ailing computer monitor repaired. I left the monitor at Pooh corner, and it was back to work on Tuesday. Tuesday's are wonderfully slow, but they begin with 8 a.m. meetings. After that meeting, I got the working bug. So I worked, all day.

You might be thinking that this is just some boring ordinary week, but you haven't seen anything until you have seen the Wednesday. Wednesday is, as of this week, Spanish class day. I went to class with Y. Now I can say, "Yo hablo Español." But just a little bit. Since everything in Spanish has a gender, `problem' it seems is male so `El Problema.' This seemed to prove it conclusively for Y that her Assamese fiancé would just increase problems in her life when she marries him later this year. But that doesn't seem to deter her from writing really long emails to him every now and then. The article in Spanish follows the noun in gender and quantity. So if it is a group of girls, you say "Las chicas." However, even if one male dares enter the group, the article takes the masculine form. One student had the cheek to remark, "Males must have higher priority, always." Oooh! If looks could have killed, the cute Spanish teach would have murdered him right then! Some people never learn.

Happy Thursday. That was just Pooh's way of saying he wanted a little something that day. So along came the letter. From a friend, from far far away. Being a bear of very less brain, he got it to me to read. Long words are a bit taxing on the brain, but the brown paper letter said things which made Pooh so happy that he forgot about his 15 jars of honey for a while. He is still struggling with words like fantalistic and expotition while writing back. I think I'll have to help him tonight, before he hurts himself doing it.

A had come down with a fever, and a tiff with the boss, so he took the day off. I had dinner plans with him; instead, I got to go with Y. Now Y is someone who can talk and eat almost as much as I can (in fact she can talk far more), so dinner with her is fun. A couple of plain naans and some kadai chicken later, and loads of chitchat, I walked her back to her place. Then I went back to work again.

I had been trying to finish a movie for the past few days. I was watching it in parts on the computer. "To Kill a Mocking Bird" is a wonderful book. It is a lovely movie as well. If Maycomb County had survived to this day, I am sure Scout Finch would have given many a sleepless nights to all the desperate housewives on Wisteria Lane. All that innocence trapped in black and white, made me spend a couple of hours on the roof of the office, gazing at the stars. It was sweaty, and a lot of mosquitoes, but there was a distinguished whiff of my childhood in the slight breeze that was blowing that night. I finally went to bed at 3a.m. Which was real stupid of me, because Friday had another 8 a.m. meeting. Obviously, I slept. Thankfully, my boss is not as bad as N's. He was thrown out of the room for dozing off in front of the boss.

Friday meant the trip home. So, I boarded the bus. Midway home, the chap selling toffees and other eatables boarded the bus. I bought a couple of packets of machhli wali toffees from him. These are fish-shaped toffees which have a sweet-spicy taste to them. It's a cousin of the jhaal-tok-mishti variety found on the Kolkata locals. They hard-boiled, and dark purple and have to be eaten accompanied with loud slurrrpy noises. My purchase, seemed to trigger a whole lot of sales for the chap. Feeling quite happy, I reached home in an hour and a half.

Today is Janmashtami, the birthday of Krishna. I remember when I was a kid; we used to recreate the scene of his escape, on the night of his birth, from prison, on a basket carried by his father, through the raging Yamuna in torrential rain. We made all that out of wet clay, building small figurines and mountains and prisons and rivers. It used to be a lot of fun, and lots of activity whole day. I was wandering around aimlessly on the neighbourhood streets, wondering if they still did that kind of thing, when a small kid called me and offered prasad from her puja. I saw she had made her very own Mathura in the porch of her house. I wondered how different was she from Scout Finch? Probably she would also see good in every Boo Radley, when she finally got to see them. Does "Te amo" sound any less enchanting, when said in Spanish? Do I sound decidedly clichéd? So what!

Well that was my week. I am going to the Delhi Book Fair tomorrow. I have been saving up for it *grin* Mmmmm... Books. New books at that. So until we meet again, adios amigos!

Saturday, August 20, 2005


Crowds, a market, incessant traffic,
Noise all around,
Yet, your voice comes through,
Without making a single sound.

Hands press to my ear,
Only a mobile phone, I know,
Yet, not from this earth I tread.
Are the images that my eyes show.

My languid skin breathes,
Air, thick with humid sweat,
My life says hello, to me,
An appetite does every laugh whet.

Speak of friends and growing up,
And walking down the road alone,
On the dark street, crying out loud,
A car's bright headlight shone.

Silent every now and then, wait,
For me to say, I speak,
Of things which prattle in my head,
Straight ahead, or twisted oblique.

Bells in the distance clang,
As you speak of prayers true,
The sidewalk ends on a mound of sand,
Tell me for sure, who are you?

Said and unsaid things remain,
Hanging in ether, left to dry,
Slowed time picks up life,
Happy faces begin to cry.

Friend, pal, and something more,
Impatient, impertinent, I, can't see,
Beyond what every word ever wanted to say,
Waiting for that call, eternally.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Listen, Talk! ; Talk, Listen?

"Why paint without colours?"
"Haven't you seen a painting of a single colour?"
"What is there to see in that?"
"See the waves of solitude washing over, mixing, to create a haloed form."
"It seems so devoid of life."
"Behold the chimera of the lifeless monochrome! It defies existence, and yet it exists."

"Why are you here, for whom, with whom?"
"If I knew the why I would be gone already. If I knew for whom I would be with the one, and then your third question would be irrelevant."
"Why one, and not many? What if there can be no one - always the many?"
"It does not matter - the one and the many converge beyond the infinity of reason's edge."
"Choose you must. You must choose one from the many. Without choice there is chaos."
"I choose each one from the many, one at a time, till I have chosen them all. The chaos lies in me. I choose to let the chaos stay."

"I want that. That is mine. Why is that not me?"
"It is not you because it is someone else. Want is the cause of misery. What you really want is to feel miserable."
"I will have what is mine. I will fight to get it."
"You shall perish."
"I do not care. I must have."
"What you have, you shall not want. What you want, you shall not have. Such is written the play in which you act your part."

"Talk to me."
"Go away."
"Heed my words, I beg you! Cry. The bedouin needs the oasis to quench his thirst."
"Laughter feels so good. It echoes inside. A desert of ice has no oases."
"Glass shatters on resonance. A tuning fork is made of steel."
"Glass can bend light. A tuning fork cannot."

"A trembling hand shall feel,
The cold of hard, bloody steel,
Piercing every vein and nerve,
Throbbing with a lifeless verve,
I cannot help but see the dark,
For the path of light is too stark,
Too far to find a touch of me,
Lie down and let it be."
"A steady hand shall hold,
Every blade wrought hot or cold,
From the cut of every sinew and skin,
Flowing blood of life shall win,
The battle cry of triumphant light,
Bent, dying, victorious over the dark might,
Shadows and whispers will fondle me,
Still lie inside and let it be."

Monday, August 15, 2005

A sneeze and voila!

Achooo! Sniffles... tchooo! Sho as you can see, I hab a bad cold, a bery stuphy nosh, and I am breathing with my mouth. I was wondering what to write for the 15th (and if you thought thinking with mucus filled nostrils is easy, you are in for a surprise sometime soon) when it struck me that the last week had been rather unusual. In fact it was made to order for this post. So here is my piece of India turning a glorious 58.

Monday saw me back at the hostel. I had packed in a pair of extra T's and trousers for a just-in-case outing, but the extra weight in the rucksack had me cursing my imaginative thinking, for thinking way too imaginatively. Whom will I go out with! The day passed quite ok for a Monday - I even got some work done. The night's menu at the mess was aloo parantha and chole. Sumptuous to say the least - God bless the cook. A tells me the cook has changed since I started eating there. I slept early that day, because I had an 8 o'clock meeting.

Next day the chap at shop where I have breakfast looked decidedly crestfallen upon seeing me. Looking quite guilty, he told me that he was out of milk packets (and there went my breakfast), so I had to make do with a packet of Parle G biscuits. Almost slept during the meeting and didn't get caught either. The day passed quickly, as did the evening. At midnight, I saw S peering into the monitor at a graph. He was upset. "This looks like an egg," he said pointing towards the graph. It really did, suddenly when AN suggested he was really feeling ravenous for an omelet. Impromptu decisions like this always catch me off guard, but I guess I had been primed by S's egg - and so we went at 12:30pm to hunt for the omelet-waale-bhaiyya, who AN informed us, had his stall under the nearby flyover. After trekking for 15 minutes, we found in a dark street with no sign of any omelets and were getting ready to beat up AN, when he pointed out a guy selling egg-paranthas. A Delhi police gypsy was parked nearby. We got four egg-paranthe, one paneer and one onion parantha back to the office, and made short work of our midnight snack.

I slept in the office that night, on a sleeping bag I keep in my cupboard. Early next day I got a call from Y. She wanted me to come to the bank to get a draft made. Over then last few weeks, she has been coaxing me to join Spanish classes. She wanted to learn German, but I have an inclination for the more passionate, and so it was I who managed to influence the senorita's choice. Now she was after my blood to register for the course before the last date. Where is the fun in that? After the pilgrimage to the bank, I came back and finished my project appraisal report. Just when I noticed the skin beneath my eyes had turned red. Upon inspection, I found that some insect had found my face and neck the right location to practice... ballet; and had chalked out its footsteps in itchy, red lacerations. I saw S look at me with a smug face, and point to his computer screen. He had been watching "A Bug's Life," just as I was discovering the silk route on my flawless skin.

Though no doctor will tell you this, having chicken curry for dinner will heal all wounds. Therefore, when Z asked me out for a movie on Thursday, I was ecstatic. I was searching for someone crazy enough to accompany me to "Madagascar," and I was almost sure I would have to go see it by myself. However, when "you gotta move it, move it" - it's always better if you find someone to move it with you. Therefore, I finished all work on Thursday, and braved the messy continental dinner at the hostel mess (trust me you do not want to know the menu). I made it in time for an early morning meeting next day, and then summoned enough courage to tell the boss I would be out till lunch, dressed up in my imaginatively-thought-out-spare-trouser and made for my rendezvous with Z. Madagascar was mad, and Z's smile was infectious. So, I returned back to work happy and very hungry for lunch. Even though I had just noticed the nasty black paint streaks on my t-shirt from the freshly painted, and left without a "wet-paint" notice, bar stool at McDonald's, when G called sounding decidedly furtive on the phone, I was all ears. A very giggly conversation followed, which had S quite puzzled as he was waiting for me to order lunch. I had postponed going home to Saturday morning, so I had Friday evening completely free. I offered a shop-for-books-and-eat-out to Y, who agreed immediately. We walked (and that I made Y walk for half-an-hour had her getting quite murderous) to a bookstore, which to our dismay we found was closing down. We rummaged through their clearance sale, and Y picked up some kiddy books for her nephew. Some CD's and a meal later, I dropped Y back at her place and walked back to mine.

Next morning I woke up to the bad cold. I had to go to my cousin sister's place that my parents were visiting. From where I was driven back home by the new driver my parents have appointed, as I am no longer around to drive the car. I felt strangely envious of the driver at the wheel, somehow as if he had snatched something that was very much mine. In spite of chicken stews and prawn curries, my cold became worse. When I told G about my cold, her solution was "Mint Tea and Eucalyptus," while A at work showed me a Yoga exercise to get rid of the cold. Sunday morning, cold still there, Dad was getting ready to go shop for the groceries, when he went into the kitchen and asked Mom, "Okay! Now tell me what all you don't need." I poured over the TV listings to find the repeat telecast timings of Desperate Housewives episode I missed on Friday. I saw a movie called "Sehar" on cable. Pirated obviously. The movie, however, had Pankaj Kapoor. Brilliant. The housewives were in line after the movie. Does a cold also bring down testosterone levels, or were the housewives a bit tamer today? I switched channels to find this old track, playing:

Tu hi meri aarzoo, Tu hi meri aabroo,
Tujpe dil kurbaan.

Tere daaman se jo aayen, un hawaaon ko salaam,
Choom loon mai us zubaan ko, jispe aaye tera naam,
Sabse pyaari subah teri, sabse rangee teri shaam,
Tujpe dil kurbaan.

I looked at the clock - it was 12am. Should I wish everybody a Happy Independence Day? Naah. I think this is more in order -

Jai Hind!

Monday, August 08, 2005

A bus ride home

6:30pm, Friday, Office.

I start out from my office. With a heavy backpack on my shoulders, I walk with S to the bus depot. We talk about the new computer S is about to purchase. Between GB's of hard disks and GHz of a Pentium or an Athlon, we walk past a girl's hostel, a park, couple of departmental stores and a milk booth. At the bus depot there is no bus. The only DTC official around tells me that the bus I want is scheduled at 7:15pm. Just then, another bus arrives, and asking the conductor gets me a gruff answer acknowledging that it will go almost 90% of the way to my house. So, I get on it.

The bus fills in - a group of office goers returning home, a bunch of college students giggling away to merriment, a doodhwala with two huge cans of milk, and couple with a new born baby. They accompany me as the first passengers on the trip. Soon the Goliath moves, and crawls to a halt at the first red light.

Zindagi me kabhi koi aaye na rabba,
Aaye jo kabhi to phir jaaye na rabba

The driver has turned on the radio. The gray-white cow on the road looks towards the bus with no interest whatsoever, all the while chewing something. Rows of bikes, trying to outrun auto rickshaws, who are trying to maneuver past small Marutis and Santros, who are getting the better of the Honda City and a Lancer. Since nobody dares question the authority of a DTC bus, it is the first vehicle to cross the red light, when it turns green. First stop, and people clamber in for seats. Someone comes and sits beside me, as I gaze outside the window. Apartment blocks, neatly line the sidewalk. Thoughts of owning a house here swim in my head, as I see shops with signs - Tag Heuer, Sony, Rathi Tor Steel, Samsonite, Dabur, Nerolac. The bus swims in a river of traffic with the grace of an elephant. A huge hospital, with its ever increasing chaos and never ending crowd of patients, comes into view. I see a red Maruti Swift parked on the wrong side of the road, with the driver looking searchingly across the road. A young, cute looking doctor, in her white coat, is trying desperately to cross the road. She succeeds, just as a traffic policeman hauls up an errant bus driver for some reason.

Meri angrayi, na toote, tu aajaa...
Kajrare, Kajrare!

A flyover guides the mad rush of Delhi's car crazy population across a jumbled up crossing. As my bus goes past the handicraft and handloom shops, and a fish and vegetable market, the rain starts pouring. The soft drops fall on my face, caressing it, like in flirty foreplay. The water feels cool and defiant, as the bus meanders through posh Delhi at her snobbiest best. I can hear tit bits of conversation from my co-passengers: "I left home at 7:30 today morning," "Who will pay the bill for this purchase?," "I know... But.. Please try to understand," "Arre India phir haar gayi!," "Abe woh kya chaat professor hai, yaar. Kal mai class bunk maar rahi hoon. Pickchar dekhne chalegi?"

Teriya, Meriya bhul gaya; bhul gaya haar te jeet,
Ki karna main jeet nu, hove na jo meet

A big office complex slides away, and I vaguely remember the only time I was there, was for an entrance exam. I had fallen asleep during the paper. A landmark. Delhi is full of them. Wet, and brilliantly lit history frozen in stone. The bus turns, around a gol-chakkar and strangely I think what if Delhi was flooded like Mumbai? Dark ramparts of the majestic ruins of one the seven cities of Delhi, seem to silently acknowledge my fears. Though I know Delhi has more chances of being hit by an earthquake, rather than a flood. Every single civil engineer and architect in Delhi knows, that one Richter 7 earthquake and Delhi will crumble like a pack of cards. Yet, day upon day, more and more buildings come up, mocking nature. I remember a geology practical viva question. About which place in Delhi would probably be the worst hit. The answer - where my home stands now! As I gaze far away, the rain has dried up and the satin blue sky looks benign, I pray to God to show mercy.

Dur, dur tum rahe; pukarte hum rahe, aaj ki raat tum jao na

Street lights play of the top of the wet car tops in mad dazzling streaks. The bus turns into unfamiliar places. I ask the person beside me where should I get off. He says, "Aap baithe rahiye. Main bata doonga jab stop aa jaayega." I fidget in my seat. The view from the bus window changes from a main road, to a dark alley lined with cycle rickshaws, a paan shop, a police station, a Delhi Jal Board water tanker. He tells me "Abhi paanch stop aur hain." I am busy counting how many stops pass since he tells me that. Five stops go by and still he says nothing. I am getting suspicious. Of what? I do not know. Finally, he tells me, "Aage cinema hai, wahan utar kar left jaana, do minute lagenge rickshaw par apke ghar tak." I am off my seat in a flash, and I fight my way through the crowded bus, pushing away at everybody. I reach the gate, as the bus screeches to a halt. I get down, and breathe a sigh of relief. I manage to alight a minibus whose conductor is hollering the name of my colony at the top of his voice. Two minutes and I am home. I feel a bit ashamed of myself for being suspicious of a man who was genuinely trying to help me. Good people and bad, this city has them all. Among all the headline hungry vandals, rapists, dacoits, and road rage criminals, I guess a good Samaritan slips in every now and then to keep this city rolling.

8:30pm, Friday, Home.