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.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

A Play of Words

Act 1:
Words, pour down a parched throat, like cool lemonade,
Dancing, prancing, in a casual banter, refreshed,
Opening new alleys of thought and cheer,
In new found voices, galloping freely, enmeshed.

Act 2:
Words, smeared on lips, like chocolate syrup,
Rolling off a wet tongue, slowly in a lingering flow,
Rising up every porous sense,
An overflowing, overwhelming, enticing, slow.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Absolutely Lost

I thought I knew all the ways which went,
Into my head and heart, every turn, every descent.

I thought I knew when to feel happy and when sad,
When manners were really good, and when they were just a fad,

I thought I could give answers and earnestly inquire,
When I felt too hot, just perspire.

I thought the lines on a beautiful face traced out art,
The best thing in the confectionery was a lemon tart.

I thought in a crowd I was free, and busy when left to myself,
While diamonds have to be mined, corals grow on a shelf.

I thought the moon was night's cohort, as the sun was for day,
It was okay to shiver in December, and get a heat stroke in May.

I thought that I could think a solitary thought at a time,
Dialogue was the overburdened cousin of the neglected mime.

I thought I could sleep, and dream the dream of an eternal quest,
Everything done needs to be done just a wee bit better than the best.

I thought I could live without the voice of any reasonable lust,
Accept every association without outrage or disgust.

I thought I alone should fill the world, and overflow still,
Be confidant absolute, and earn every form of trust and goodwill.

Instead I seem to be floundering in the dark, star-crossed,
Stranded midway between a life and a half, absolutely lost.