Monday, December 31, 2007

An enriching, meaningful new year!

May it bring much that is good and real in your life.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I shall put your lopsided smile in some story someday, the combat pilot’s sharp gaze that scans miles of empty desert, that completely shrewd infotech brain with a mass of equations and calculations, the smooth professional calm so essential in your current line of work; that, and the color of sunlight on straw bleached.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The old church is at the end of yet another winding lane past a row of spiffy office blocks and a valiant industrial estate for small scale units that hasn’t succumbed to the ever-increasing price of real estate. J says the altar features the same gold leaf design as it did two centuries ago. And you need special permission to reach the other church, now in complete ruins, in the hi tech IT export zone, but its supposed to be the oldest church in all Mumbai, from a time when it stood amongst verdant fields and rolling hills with tracks that meandered about. Some of the old village names exist, with lanes that are shortcuts that only old timers know, and you can find them if you look for them.
Strange how some signs remain even after so many years, and you can find them if you look close enough.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Joyous Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Of the paper lamps with intricate cutouts outside the shops that I tried to photograph-three were file errors, one or two are ok shots, nothing like the lanterns dancing daintily in the wind.

Stepping in at the Sacred Heart Church to photograph it, light-festooned trees, lights on the high wall and all, I felt like an intruder and quickly stepped back. Today, I shall try again.

Yesterday’s reception was all aglitter and quite okay, we sat all huddled and put the parade of bling and nice intricately embroidered sarees and glitter thread salwars and flowing shararas into two simple categories, “liked” and “naah”. Got home midnight, but the traffic on the highway was horrendous.

P’s news left me shocked, perhaps ought to think of something apt from the scriptures to quote, light and dark.

So did the BJP win back home, nothing can stop this juggernaut now, and history will repeat itself as liberals shut up. Sad.

NYT story: The US has been funding our esteemed western neighbour’s onslaughts on India.
Blunders and wonders, and the world is indeed a strange place, oh my!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Here is my sub!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

So over the last few days you dissect the database into three; for cards, chocolates and calendars, and you wonder, how many are still there, how many survived, so quick shifting and merciless this industry is. And you look at the subprime tally, 10.8 billion at one prestigious firm alone, TEN POINT EIGHT billion and how much is that in rupees or God forbid, the lira or the Turkish currency before they knocked off the swimming zeros? And you wonder what the suits were up to, why no questions were asked, the Emperor has no clothes but are you blind, and someone forced to move, homeless in this mad weather, and like dominoes stacked to collapse, where what next.

Tis the season, but much too much.

sorry but I'm seeing double. am good.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A page comes back littered with pov’s. I didn’t know so many existed.
Now I don’t know what to do. Toss a coin. Yes, I said thank you.

Trying to think from an antisocial viewpoint is so bloody tough.
Manic, childhood trauma, race, revenge, superiority. Recipe for a madman-loner.
Not if you’re the snook your nose and shrug-trot kind.

Terrific, the subs rate. Gush-write it, send it, forget it.

Maisel is so right.
That anchoring is addictive. Meaning- giving.

Like thirst.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bright lights on the trees, ‘tis the season; a wonderland and wishes-come-true feel to it all.

Fluffy clouds a light streak on a pink peach dawn, sultry seagulls and crows wheel overhead. Clarity.

Taught Aunty y’day how to use rediff bol so that she, too, could send forth a volley of sms’s for free. Mildly amused. Patterns and circles, ring a ring a roses.

And I chanced upon a superb shop, a Spencers’, a real lifesaver.

Abstract, yes?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

2 days of assertiveness training.
Maybe a better way of handling stuff than bottling it up, all pickled in brine, and then kaboom! one day with a well placed sock on the jaw.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Of course the words are dry as a stick, or like a photo, unidimensional; that’s because I am as well, and if you don’t like it you may as well lump it, I shall continue to write of bombs that blink at inopportune moments and casual rambles through century-old bazaars that become life-defining moments; for lissome lasses long-legged (but of course!), that cavort on sun-kissed beaches or sob away when you push a button, you may as well wait ‘nother lifetime. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Dilli shootout. A fourteen year old butchered in cold blood by his own classmates at fancy IB school. No more will we be able to scoff and say, “nah. Not in MY country.” What a licensed gun was doing stored around like chutta paisa I will never know, but then some ppl should have to take an exam to be parents.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Why is this happening?
Not my country. Not my faith. Yet.
The snow covered streets of Colorado are far from bustling Mumbai.
A schoolbus, for heaven’s sake a bus with kids, in the neighboring country to the west I refuse to call by name.
So completely random.
Tomorrow, my home state votes. No way must the genocide of 2002 be allowed again.

Slow down, the forecast says; slow down and listen to the earth move on its axis.
In peace.

She waits every Sunday evening, laptop on the ready. This is aunty, aka my ex-landlady.
Quick with questions, slow to get it.
Taking notes so that she remembers.
Photographs. Sepia. Color. Some thumbnail only.
Of her wedding. In all her finery, that fresh-as-mountain-dew look on her face.
Of the kids.
Of homes moved across the country, three kids in tow.
Of the son’s first birthday.
His graduation ceremony.
Of the son’s first frigate, and its not a toy.
Of the grandkids.
Day one, year one, scrawny baby.
Day one, year twenty-five, stethoscope in hand.
Quite a journey. So much to note.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The stream that flows past point A is not exactly the same that flows there five minutes hence. The current is different; the body of water is different, the ripples and eddies that the wind sketches on the glass-like surface is different. In the flowing, does the river bank change, whittled away bit by bit, deposits of silt, sand and grit carving its course?

Isn’t it strange how we need our little pats, that nice woozy rush of approval? In writing, or in any art, is there ever a dispassionate creator who works for himself alone? So, what does that make me- an exhibitionist? Would I like to write if I were never read? No, I don’t think so.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Damage control initiated back home, doors to be metal-welded shut.
Silver lining: No encroachments. Not as yet.

The translation contest results are out. Some other time, perhaps.
Any takers for a story?

So Omaha has another claim to fame in addition to Mr. Buffet.
What kind of rabid gun control law is this?

In the meanwhile, I stay calm and take it day by day.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

It is horrible, this feeling of helpless nasty.
I watch distanced.
Once again, the doors have been sprung open.
Once again, the lock hangs useless.
There is nothing much left inside.
Don’t you know?
There was nothing much anyway, don’t you know?
The people, laughter and fistfights have long gone.
Just old photographs, scraps of paper with an awry doll or tree, some music notations.
Two chairs, dust covered, in case someday we need them. Now gone.
Old photographs, a visit to the zoo in kindergarten, Heidi, Churchill.
That LP record, gloated over, Karen or Olivia or some such.
The tanpura is overturned, broken.
Glassware still there, the domit ovenware-gone,but its users left a long time back.
Books, some brown paper covered, are scattered
Perhaps in poems and philosophy, there is nothing to steal.
The double lock leading to the kitchen is useless now.
They’ve broken the attic door, the fence spikes that it took three grown men to lift
Gone now.
Storeroom emptied out.
My grandmother’s brass vessels, or her grandmother’s, who knows
It is horrible, this rage, and cussing the thieves to generations gone and hence.
A repaired door, but for how long?
Had I not chanced to visit, no one would have known.
Detachment, aloof is a coward’s fate.

Friday, November 30, 2007

What do you do when you get the words too late? That particular deadlines’ come and gone, but its only now that the words rush in a heady flurry, so you extricate them from their involved kaleidoscopic dance and string them into six lines or some such, ah this works, for me, it does, you tell yourself happily and pat yourself on the back.

For Monday’s return ticket, Air India in all its wisdom called, and offered to take me to Ahmedabad (2 hr drive, but in the opposite direction) in order to bring me to Mumbai (1 hr flt). Amazing.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I have a cold.
Pronounced gcholdachooo... ! if you please.
I speak and sing from a hoarse bass tone, interrupt every second word with a cough cough.

I'm learning new meanings of old values every day. A year or two ago, the reaction would have been "what??" shreiked, bold all caps underlined. This change, it is interesting to see.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Great Big Indian wedding.
Song, drama, tears (some), laughter (lots). Somber. Fun. By turns.
The bride (my niece), and groom were from different parts of the country, different customs, languages.
The bride, your typical Indian immigrant to the land of greenbacks, was radiant.
The groom, also the typical Indian immigrant also to the land of opportunity, was handsome.
The festivities were spread over three days. I was there for a day.
Things I’m not likely to forget in a hurry:
The choir like quality of the manglashtak, a poem that is specially written for the occasion, and sung out by all the women invitees. With no prior practice, how is it that it sounds like a hymn, not one word out of tune? Superb soaring notes.
The setting sun, the lush green of the lawns and the Sanskrit hymns rendered by the flames of the auspicious fire, set against the stillness of the countryside around.
Hunting for a blade of a special kind of grass, because that’s the requirement for a custom from the groom’s family, of course this is the first anyone on this side has heard of it.
Shivering in the cold, grimacing at an art deco-ish waterfall, too cold and too hungry to appreciate the glow of light on gleaming water.Family of course eats last, once the guests are done.
Realizing that the next lot of nieces, kindergarten level and nursery rhyme reciting tots not so long ago, have grown into sharp and very pretty young women, oh so confident.
Catching up, all ears, with M’s post retirement success story, and how anything can happen.
Finally touching the feet of the big man, and expressing gratitude for all that he has saved the family from, and how some debts will never be repaid.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Hope I didn’t look too daft, all smiles; but what a marvelous accent, I caught one in five words this Brit spoke.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A day of surprises.
Of laughter. And giggles.
And not knowing quite what to say. Aye.
And family insider-stuff; kidding, teasing.

To top it all, NSDL sent an alert . I almost fell off my chair
Thank you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Laughing over lunch why how a cycle rickshaw was the most appropriate mode of transport to get to work, and how one with a funny horn would be the best for me, gliding past the bmw's and cityz. This is the sillyness I want to remember even as I feel the moments trickle away, and does that make any sense.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What a nice man.
He’d come to take the rent cheques early morning because that’s the best time traffic-wise.
Now he could have just taken them, and said good day, thank you, but he didn’t.
He checked how we were doing, if we were happy, how many people ask you that?
“The place looks neat! Much brighter! What’s new?”
Nothing is new, perhaps the green curtains are, but I was all smiles.
Doesn’t take much, does it?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Delhi was ok, in a rushed way, which means I passed India Gate twice, looked on proudly at parliament house, enviously shrieked OMG the square footage! outside Lalu Prasad’s palatial mansion, and fretted over why or why not we ought to remain a democracy.

The flights were late. Both to and fro. I’m learning zen meditation, from three hours of idling on the tarmac waiting for takeoff. From waiting four odd hours amidst squabbling children, the CNBC newsfeed and announcements of delayed flights in two languages. Cussing silently till I meet the Tutsi from Rwanda who had his 18 person extended family decimated in an hour of carnage in 2002. It unsettles you completely.

(pics from the hotel where the conf. was held)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Am fine, all sunshine, bright and kicking just a little caught up.
Update in a while.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Two days away from my desk.
Delhi’s chill should be interesting.
I’ve forgotten what low temps feel like.
Today’s begun with a few unexpected boomerangs, like “oh, really?”
Part of the day.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I have a strange sense of disquiet about this year.
Not been able to trace the reason, though.
Spectator- quality distance.
Perhaps all one can do is to remain calm: physically, emotionally, spiritually.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

This is what I did all morning.
Over these lovely trees.
A green jade poem, in concrete Mumbai.
Cut, murdered brutally, for no fault of theirs.
I’ve run out of cuss words.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saal Mubaarak!

That’s the wish for the new year. Vikram Samvat 2064, which begins today.
Back home we’d buy rock salt pre-dawn, and shiver in the dark chill as we’d hand over Rs.1.50 for good luck.
May the Goddess of Wealth and Good Fortune light your way!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Voila! last evening, what did I find?
A huge garden with lovely trees and a paved walking track.
Purple orchid-like flowers, a GIANT aloe vera tree.
Lots of wild hibiscus. A jade bamboo grove.
Wild grass that bows to the gentle breeze.
Color. Laughter.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

From cream-silk covered hotel corridor walls, sepia portraits of kings and chieftains look down upon at the world at large.
Makes you stop a moment and wonder, about kings and the mad march of time.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Lights everywhere.
Pretty white and blue twinkling, lights. A magic carpet, glittering lights.
Gold and red strands of lights outside shops, homes, by roads.
Diyas with flickering flames, on doorsteps and parapets.
Lights that brighten up faces. Soften harsh contours.
Even the potholes and yesterday’s trash look pretty.
Why didn’t I see this before?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I wanted to write about the missing driver, the mad race to the airport in an auto, the almost-missed plane, and young child I saw by the flyover , propah school uniform and all, throwing up her arm in glee..
I wanted to write about the massive billboards with strange squiggly letters, not one hindi film, but all the diwali releases of telegu-dom, heroes and heroines one had never heard of, the poster design, quality was very very good…
About the innumerable gold shops (who ever buys so much jewelry?), with today’s price in blazing red, as if it were the stock market closing price
I wanted to write about the massive consruction, not one old building left standing on somajiguda circle, all chrome and glass, but they forgot to take the zig zag patterned wall down in places.
And lunch on a plantain left, with lots of tear-inspiring chutneys, at a place called just that, Chutneys.

And wheezing yellow buses jampacked, and how its impossible to cross the road.
And how lovely the city looks from the air, a carpet of bright lights on velvet.
But all I’ve been doing is chasing deadlines.
And signing cards for Diwali.
Tis the season.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Everytime I go to Hyderabad, I salute that ancestor in the 1800's who walked all the way from my distant dusty village to this strange city to make some kind of a living.
He was atleast spared the silly traffic, and humongous malls; walkers, beware!

A longer post later.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Quite thrilled! A friend taught me a new word today- ekphrastic!
What it is? A kind of poetry.Awesome, this take is, a kind of tangent, an interpretation of an interpretation, a leap into the blue!

Wheat field, Auvers, van Gogh

A salute, of sorts,
words mumbled, scatter, trail away
a wish, a sigh
captured for a bit, edgy
black on white.
my eye, distanced, views
past life filters and bills
azure blue, spring sunlight, a field of green

in a grim city night.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wheat field with crows, Auvers/ van Gogh.

This is so very beautiful.
If only they had the medication to administer. To shut the dark voices out.
All the lovely perazines and dols and the quetiapine and risperidone..
If only they had the insight.
Maybe he’d have been happier?
Maybe not.
Maybe the burnt sienna and awesome blues (just look at that sky!) jade greens and the generous mad shower of sunlight that dances through his work, wouldn’t have been seen, understood and mixed in the brain, for the transfer to canvas to happen.
Who knows!
“Here is an artist literally on the verge of taking his life and filled with a tremendous despondency yet he is still painting with lemon yellows, azure blues and emerald greens. We know that this is a man barely holding on to his will to live, yet he is able to separate his energy and focus on what he sees before him.”- Sotheby's official.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A friend on the writing list emailed me a book she'd written about recent Writing festivals in Australia.
Gratis, and lets forget about the dollars.
Sometimes unexpected kindness shakes me up.

These days I quick march home.
No, the autos wont go short distances.
So I quick march home.
Nice to get back into the pace. leff right leff right...
Better than shouting like a banshee and gesturing wildly.
Fun, high energy.

Monday, October 22, 2007

It is not that I have forgotten.
Looking around the mess strewn in the house the other day, I remembered your word for it, “pasara”, and sort of half smiled.
I still wake up early sometimes, see that still image, and then force-steer my mind to the science of it all, why the cells had to frenzy dance as they did.
I still look across to your cubicle with the Arabic-prayer-inscribed- corner, and wonder at the sigh like traces of consciousness we leave behind in places that have mattered.
Yesterday was a good day.
A marigold string across the doorstep.
Fantastic fabrics from fabindia, a different look for the sofa and dust covers, blue-green- rust, one light and one dark, that should last a decade.
Clothes for the season from Westside, should last me through a few more nieces’ weddings.
The evening arati at the garden, photographing the lights.
I think somewhere you would have understood.

Onward ho, and all that.
No, its not that I have forgotten.

There is another kind of spiritual courage as well, quieter and less celebrated, but just as remarkable: that of making each day, in its most conventional aspects -- cooking, eating, breathing -- an oblation to the absolute.-- Philip Zaleski, "A Buddhist From Dublin",
New York Times, July 24, 1994

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dussehra tomorrow.
Rows of marigold-garland sellers line the roads, rich green-orange.
Just awesome rangoli designs in the office.
Looks like the girls on the two floors have tried to out decorate.
Lovely patterns with colored chalk powder.

With salt.
With petals.Lights.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The festival of the Mother Goddess.
Nine nights of the garba.
With all the different steps, the three clap basic and the heench, the one and half step one, and then all the complex steps.
Never felt a connect to these days.
Maybe it was the two left feet factor.
Maybe because I was never allowed to go out, dancing all night, and return only pre-dawn.
Maybe the memories of not having enough, not the right clothes, rich flaring skirts in satin or silk with mirror work and embroidery, a new outfit for every one of the nine nights.
Lots of maybes.
So, I never felt a connect.
Returning from the old mill-lands (now reclaimed by glittering malls) the other day.
Past the strings of gleaming red and yellow lights strung on the roads for decoration.
Past the decorated stages, the pandals, with consecrated statues of the Mother Goddess.
Amusing to see how the city has modified the festival, so that what was a way of celebrating with origins in the neighboring state of Gujarat, has taken on big city colors.

In the city, they dance on modified Marathi numbers set to the garba beat.
In the suburbs, its disco- garba and disco dandiya all the way.
But as I said, its not me.
So I watch the lights that line long roads, and sometimes sing old garba songs that we learnt for school concerts.
Till yesterday.
Across the landing, the new neighbours are Mangloreans.
Last evening, I followed traces of a hymn in a strange language.
They had brought a statue of Mother Mary home, and were celebrating, and after a day, the statue would travel to another home.
Lights, candles, hymns, song, a clear voice straight to the skies.
Mother Goddess.
She has a strange way of getting to you.
I watched, bemused.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Walking into a completely empty home, realizing that the gutfeel “this is it!” when you saw it the first time, was not wrong. That yes, the palm fronds and the raintree that curves just so outside the window and tiny balcony look magical, as if you are sitting in a sea of green, a leaf curtain from the world outside.

More light. More space. More quiet. The sounds of kids playing cricket in the common garden, a swing squeaking as a kid waves to the skies. Suddenly you realize you miss the rattle of trucks, arbit horns and the wheeze of the buses on that concrete stretch outside your old home, and yes, that time you were almost run over, remember? That the peace is heavenly. That you can actually hear bird calls, fall asleep looking upon a single star in the sky out of windows you can keep open, are awoken by the first call to prayers that some muezzin sings far away, so crystal clear in the clean dawn air.

Unpacking. All that had been carefully packed a few short hours ago. Corrugated sheets, bubblewrap, newspapers, as the efficient packers went about their business. Amazing, but nothing’s broken.

Pictures on the walls, things in their place, more or less. Need an electrician, plumber, the phone fellow, and the tatasky fellow to do their part, I guess it will get done by and by.

I pray and keep my fingers crossed. I hope Papa will like this place as well, and not stay as withdrawn.

So much happened last week. Much too much. I just hope this one’s better.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I got them moving blues woes
The packers were in tday
The house is a mess. Tomrw the apt will be in a mess.
telephone, tatasky still to be sorted out.
Singing Ol Macdonald in a loop.

Dont feel Navratri-ish.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

the things I’ll always remember:

the tone of your voice when I asked “you’re getting better bit by bit, right?” and you said “I really don’t know”

the roza you taught me to keep, and how the dawn to dusk fast gets easier with the years

how you’d chase people twice your age and get work out of the most reluctant

praying at Haji Ali and Mahim dargah when your elder one got better from that illness, we would have gone this once too, all the shrines, all the religions, that’s what I’d told you.

that run-in with homeland security over your prayer book

the toss of your head, that power walk

how we went to pier 29 just because even if all you have is four days in SF, you SHOULD see some America, even if you’re completely jetlagged at nine in the night.

Taking that tram back to someplace which seemed close to Union Square, but wasn’t, with all those funny ppl on the street,and how we rushed into a taxi.

How you found it difficult to speak for long the last time we met

sugar coated biscuits from your village, Murud, and the great time we had there; the dhow-like boat we took to the ancient fort on the island

How you’d dress up for events, parties, inaugurations, anything was a good enough reason to celebrate


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I watch you wipe a stray tear.
You have your mother’s eyes
Curling eyelashes and brown
A scary calm, too calm for thirteen

I watch the droves, black veiled women
Their eyes bent with sorrow
A month of dawn to dusk fasts to purify
A month of pleas to bear His will

I sit by the shroud
white, the color of pain at rest
white the glee at first ever snow
white, the color of a cry to the skies

the mayyat: green-glitter, jasmine-lily bedecked
I yearn for that “let’s go!” echo
gray skies overcast
palm fronds standstill
watch this final goodbye

Monday, October 08, 2007

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou'art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy'or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

In peace, IE.
Killed this morning. Wrathful cancer, heart damage.
Sons aged two and thirteen.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

In peace, little one.
Sweet sunshine. Laughter gales.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

a sub on
Dharasana. Bardoli. Chauri- Chaura. Noakhali. Dandi.
I turn the yellowing pages, the leaves falling out of the binding at places, pages fragile and tear at touch. A word cloud rushes, overwhelms.
How did he do it? A simple man, not particularly charismatic unless you call that toothy smile charismatic, tone high pitched and insistence on frugality, how did he hold a country, so many diverse interests, tempers and egos together and charge it to seek the freedom that was rightly its? A sharp negotiator, a great reader of humans, tactful when he wished to be, blunt at times, only too human with his temper.
Such a simple path, “No, you can’t do this.”
Satyagrahis, people like you and I, filled up the jails at his call. Even if their lands were forfeited, jobs lost, years in their lives lost.
The best minds in the country prone to “ jailitis”, a horrible affliction where even the calmest and most placid of men flared up or turned irritable at a whim.
So many that the jails were overfull, so many that had to be divided up into three categories, class A, B, C.
And the elite A class prisoners gladly opted for the worst, C class food.
How did he do it? Tell an entire mass of people, to get up and go for what was rightly theirs. Without violence or untruth.
Who knew that the best way to stop riots was not tear gas and the police, but going out on the streets and lending a patient ear, a big heart.
Negotiating calmly with the British, empire builders and statesmen, on his terms. Even if it meant attending the Round table conference dressed in the poor man’s garb, as equals, on his terms.
How did he do it?
I guess we shall never know.
The strangest feeling in my throat. I guess I’ve been over-reading.
A salute to the Mahatma, on his 138th birthday.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Is it possible to scowl at the computer all day?
That’s what I did yesterday, fingers inches away from the delete key.
Feeling awful, inadequate, irritated, put-upon, by turns.
By evening things were somewhat better.

Italian sauce; the recipe said, but by the time the cutting out and adding to was done with, it was something else all together, not bad.

Palm leaves against gold, a stroll around the block, watching the changes that have crept in over the time we’ve been here, the morphing from ignored suburb to prime commercial space; a prelude.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A sub on

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Calypso beat.
Pulse staccato, steel.
some half-forgotten trait.
You rush to the door.
Bewitched. Stand still. Your blood sings.
They’re taking the idols for immersion
With due ceremony. Colors.
Deserting you like this to the waters? As the skies thunder? From dust to dust?
Tears. Grief.
The drumbeats fade.
I can never do that. Never.

(Y'day was Visarjan, the last day of the Ganpati festival when the idols are taken to the sea and immersed)

Monday, September 24, 2007


At six thirty in the morning, as the first birds begin to chirp and the rustic milkman makes his round with rattling cans.
Long winding lines, making their way past three suburbs. So if the line began in Lalbaug, it ended in Ferbunder, past Byculla and Chinchpokhli, and whoever knew where these places were till now?
Lines of the devout, waiting for a glimpse of the King of Lalbaug, a statue of Lord Ganpati, the one who grants boons. Looked like all the roads led to the suburb of Lower Parel yesterday pre-dawn.
I left for this distant suburb at 5.30 am, taking the 5. 42 slow (commuter) train, but not early enough, it looked like.
Winding lines, two and three strong in places, ran past old mills, now long shut. With names like “New Bombay cotton mills” and “ United India Mills”. Closed down, gray weathered concrete. Lush green where the natural vegetation has returned with a vengeance, taking back the land, lush overgrown and rich, half-close your eyes and you’d think you were in a forest. Some mills already reclaimed, tall towers with glass fronted penthouses and a clubhouse, gated security. Some in process, the land leveled, awaiting contruction, but the old walls still stand with padlocked steel doors to the ration shop. One mill valiantly struggling under govt management, a list of demands of the union on the wall outside. Whoever knew all this was here.Typical squat and slanting-tiled roof apartments of the mill workers, holding on to scare real estate, next door neighbors to luxury towers.
So you wait, making small talk with the strangers in the queue. It rains, and umbrellas spring open. Hordes walk past looking for the end of the queue. Did you look so surprised shocked when you walked past, on and on, you wonder.
After two and half hours, you’ve crossed one lane, step by step by step. Only to realize that the line has suddenly become longer from the middle. That it has become much longer than it logically should have, and changed directions so it winds twice over.
Sorry, Mr God.
I have an hour-long ride home.
I’d like to go and cook rotlis for lunch, if you’d excuse me.
Next year perhaps.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The stern, completely simple and blunt voice speaks out from closely typed, yellowing pages, in five volumes that document recent Indian history. Events that have been conveniently forgotten,”oh, is this what happened” you say; events tucked away under the bright lights of a shining mall and fifty sweeping flyovers. Life impacting. Am honored to be able to read, regardless of who works on the project.

Friday, September 21, 2007

the lease is done, one arm and a leg, but its done.. phew.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Strands of lights from the bus window, twinkling red-yellow-green against the dark. Reflected a million times in the lines of raindrops on the glass, that you watch with halfclosed eyes.
Gratitude for all there is, and isn’t. Hypnotic drum beat, cymbals and fireworks, the fifth day of Ganpati pujan, enroute to the sea for immersion. Do even the divine have goodbyes in their scripts?

Monday, September 17, 2007

The week had good parts and the bad. Sometimes they morphed, sometimes you sing Lucile, you know how the lines go, lucillllllllle?
Like missing the train on Monday last.
You watch fumbling, open mouthed as the last compartment vanishes into the distance, in despair wring your hands, scramble up and down several flights of stairs huffin puffin, queue up with five minutes to spare for the next train and emerge victorious with a ticket. A second class ticket, standing room only for two hours and some, in the corridor by the open door, watching the world go by.
*Vasai creek is a silver sheet early morning, dotted with fishing boats
*Sunshine showers generous on a field in green, a benevolent drenched yellow rain past jade black green
*Mist lifts off a hill dreamily, curling at the edges, this is the side the sunshine hasn’t reached as yet, and you can just about see the edges of the hill there.
*Watch a therapist with miraculously clean hands do emergency sujok on a co-passenger, and then she talks about sadhana and priorities, and you’re beginning just to understand.
*Being irresistibly drawn to a banyan tree on a back road, a track to nowhere, only to find a prehistoric site, fluttering flag and all, the silence of the fields and a distant bird-call.

Like missing the train on Monday last. And waiting for it endlessly on wednesday. And finishing off office stuff that needs to be done on the rest of the days, not to mention swirling dust storms in the margins that you try and duck, no, not my battle.
Am back.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

busy, but good.
As soon as I can.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I wanted to take the greens, all the shades, light dark almost yellowgreen and greedily drink them in, the sap running along my veins, feel the gritty texture of the earth on my skin and look up to a blue sky fluffy with clouds and count them, blow at them the way a child blows bubbles. The black road was surprisingly smooth, for a non-important back road joining two non-important places in the state, too good for a tar road, as it wound its way languidly past two-shop hamlets, a primary school in pale blue with its gates wide open, a translucent pond with lotus blooms and a white temple with a fluttering flag in the distance, fields with straight furrows, a donkey or two. I wanted to take the greens and drink them in, instead I went shutter happy. The road, the road through the windshield in focus out of focus offcentered, the roadside, tea stalls, a sundry buffalo or two, a kid by an oversized cycle who toothily waved goodbye.

It doesn’t need an announcement or crowds or followers, I notice, as I watch the ascetic blend with the people mass, a certain bearing, aloofness hints at a different order of priorities, a watchfulness that preempts any new karma from being created even as the backlog is dutifully, systematically, sorted and settled.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A train waits at a platform. A ride you’ve taken every weekend for a year, a decade ago, till you were brain-dead and confused coming and going. Bleary eyed, you walk to the end of the platform where the AC coaches ought to be, but they’re not there, promoted now to a better spot. Perhaps the movement of a compartment from its customary spot means something in the metaphysical interpretation of things.

Pleasantly surprised at the café coffee day outlets on the platform, surprised to encounter smart design that late in the night.
On my To-do list, one more: touring.
Oh well!
But I can blog, and sub and crit to my heart’s content, so there.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Logically, cinderella’s shoe can’t fit, the foot’s morphed, well not fractured you know, (fractured reminds me of 2003, and algorithmsyouwhatchacallit and that’s a totally different substory, and lets not get into branching substories like my mother would, she was SO good at meandering off, and then THAT one would have another branch and so on and you wouldn’t quite know, like the pied piper perhaps, what you began with); so yes, not fractured, not misshapen, not Chinese petite bound, not enormously large storytale giant-like either so there, but maybe dainty, I like dainty, it has a sweet lavender cut-glass and lace feel to it; so her foot has morphed the event (or nonevent, depends) was life altering ergo the foot, and she’s trying for size huffin puffin but it slips off and yet she tries, and of course it hurts, pooah dear and when will she ever learn to shrug and say humbugbobsaget logic.

Woke up with hangover quality blues y’day, energy drained, brain dead pathos. Ran into this group of hmm economically disadvantaged seven or something year olds, outsized hand me down clothes, lean, hair-slicked, some had no slippers, but they were all high energy, a smile-chatter, "salman khan dhishkaaon! this car JUMPED over the bus", never have I heard a movie scene being discussed with such passion; instant grin on my face.

No updates. You want the 1998 set of reader’s digest? No? How about ten years of navneet samarpan? September housecleaning on, and on.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

And as we take this misshapen thing; for want of a better word let’s call it that, shall we, and turn it around and throw it on the floor to see if it bucky-ball like bounces or breaks shatters with an eerie whistle into zillions of glistening shards, or what (it could well have been a “or what” for all you know!), and after all the to’s and fro’s and infinitesimal analysis, I guess that’s it, as we sit in a silence not entirely uncomfortable, and I realize you know things I’d never tell my mother, either of them.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Can you tell a story in just six lines?
Try! Not easy.

Also, that eternal day job versus the call of the muse debate, day job or writing all day. Just check the record six-hundred thousand plus comments. I’m still reading them.

No other updates till they're done.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It is not a language that I read aloud in, usually.
So the words jumble up in places, speed up at will, and come to a sudden halt.
Much like the train that runs to my village back home, stop, move, stop.
It is quite funny once it stops being irritating.
That was on the first day.
The second day is surprisingly smooth. Jet smooth.
A transference of the goodness and strength from the book? I’m still surprised.

The hill in the distance is covered in darkest green, veiled over with whiffs of cloud , you draw a sharp breath and remind yourself, yes, this is Mumbai.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Yesterday L, a colleague, handed me a book, memoirs with Vimala Thaker.
Profound, he said.
It was written in high caliber gujarati that had me asleep in ten minutes.

Totally profound.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Quite muddled about floor raises, square feet, carpet area, super built up, broker run-ins, and weird weird wayward cell counts, strange how everything has to happen together, but ok otherwise. I thought I was clueless, but seems like no one quite knows, not even the top man in India…These days I wake up super-early and fret.
Will catch my breath in a while.

But ok, am doing what can be done.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

It is better that he remain nameless, this Mr Shah from Parla W.
Read this morning in yesterday’s Mumbai Mirror (which is appropriate to read only in that mad morning rush), about a motorist samaritan. He commutes from Parle to town, yes all that distance, everyday.
And while he drives into town in the morning he hands traffic police constables on duty, chocolate bars.
When he returns home in the evening, he hands out snack packets.
Each signal, each man on the way. As a gesture for keeping the city safe, snarl free.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

It’s Raksha Bandhan on Tuesday.
I sent out letters wishing sundry cousins and cousin-brother-in laws, just in time.
Used to be a time we’d use hand made paper to make cards, and carefully trace out the words with a nib dipped in red paint, on uneven fibrous background in cream, deck it up with a border and a mirror-sequin or two.
Was tempted to send a cryptic typed note, refrained.
We’d wait for the celebratory lunch at my uncle’s, the family gettogether with everyone in their festive best, and all the talk and teasing. I still have some books I was gifted then. This used to be “entertainment”.
The best thing about sepia is the feel-good factor.
The shops are lovely, decorated with lights and strands of rakhis displayed on poles, in so many colors, designer rakhis with beads, decorations. A tree outside a shop is strung with lights, glamorous against the still black of the night, and you forget the jostling crowds and traffic.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Nothing remarkable happened yesterday. Words, Casablanca and a food experiment with palak paratha and mint coriander chutney.
Yes, the movie was from a flimsy street-bought CD someone had given me a long time back. I had not expected it to work at all, so it was a surprise. How the brain craves these “oh really!” upticks.

The sea glitters as you soar past the flyover that just touches marine lines when it ends.
A solitary boat bobs in the shimmering peach and blue waters off Haji Ali. A bird, perchance a seagull flies off the oriental pergola of sagar mahal, which stands sharply etched against the colored waves and the far horizon. Ah life!

For long, you’ve been uneasy, watching the weight whittle even as you ply him with simple, nutritious home cooked food and soups. For every drop in the levels, you’ve added on kilos, fretting. Should know one way or another by the weekend. Is knowing better? I don’t know. The doc is the absolute best in this area, about 60 people from distant towns were waiting in the consulting room. So many people, so many problems, one life!

Friday, August 17, 2007

The mail is addressed to Austere. Seeker.
(Another austere)
It has three tickets from Delta. Return tickets to the US.
Mumbai- NY- SF- NY-Mumbai.
Someone is all set for a three-month vacation.
I spend all evening trying to find out a person with my name in Bellaire, Tx.
End up finding 2 more Austere. Seekers. But not the right one, not yet.Suddenly makes you wonder about parallel universes and lifelines.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thank you, Portia!
* thinking up Oscar style speech*
This Writer's blog is where it all began.
Independence day

Beyond the jargon. Beyond the paper supplement. Beyond the expressway that is blissfully empty. Beyond the PM’s broadcast from the Red Fort. The colors saffron, white and green. What is it? Can’t answer.

Is a celebration. surprise at the flags and sweets distributed at work

Is hearing about Noakhali, about sacrifices, intrigue and betrayals so vivid they sound like they happened yesterday and not 60 years ago, hearing about how trains with the migrants were shunted off from the Pak,Punjab to Sindh, masterminded by the province CM, Sir Noon himself, avoiding future refugee issues.

Is suddenly standing to attention dinner time, mid morsel, as the Nightingale sisters render the national anthem.

Is singing along with S Balasubramaniam, and a sudden tear- no, not because you cannot hit the high notes

Is oohing and aahing at the property but stunned, putting your calculator away because there is just no way you can afford it, not on your salary, and anyway it is too big and too far away. Will keep looking, next please.

Is a day when you sit and think of the nation’s issues and problems, your issues and somewhat problems, the widening divide between the haves and the have-nots. The next day you get up and walk. We thrive in chaos, like this only we are.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Highly recommended: Dr Eric Maisel’s creativitynewsletter on
Read the archives.
I did. Spent an hour translating this morning, drawing an amazing sense of purpose from his words, even if they are a bit of a scold.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Every week start, I wonder why I load Sunday with so many things to do, way too many things.
A mental things to do list, to cross out.
And knowing this, I still do it, everytime.
Maybe I should pencil in some time to watch the world go by.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The kid we met this morning is totally enthusiastic, all charged about making a mark in this city, taking on this qualifying exam and that one, making a name in his line of work. Does me good to see such drive.
Envy that.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The last few weeks I have often idly thought about the need for structure and routine, its place in a day. Somewhat like a grid to hang the rest of your day on. A security blanket? A filler? Also to avoid having to do something else, which needs to be done. Or to avoid thinking. Which makes me wonder how people sit through ten days sitting still, of just watching their minds when they opt for vipassana meditation?

No, this post hasn't quite got written the way I wanted it to sound.

Monday, August 06, 2007

those red and blue lines, the markets...
And where will you go today m’love?
Last few months, I’ve watched you zip and zoom the blue line marching on, when, matter of fact, you ought to be dipping a tiny bit. Catching your breath a bit on every stratospheric increase. But on and on you went, adrenalin charged. A different beat.
A rumble in far away China, something to do with stamp paper? But no.
A trade built on a house of cards,energy whatchacallits, reminds me of playing with make-believe paper money as a kid, you print more as you go along. but no.
but subprime lending? Who in their right minds would lend on the back of nothing? Not the stodgy neighhourhood bank, not the flashy private one, the government wouldn’t allow it. Why didn’t they step in earlier? RBI would have, quick and early on, threatening blue murder and brimstone, so why didn’t the Fed? they were being nice because next year is election year? And for crying out aloud slicing debt into pieces like it was a salad you were making and marketing this to hedgies? Las Vegas, anyone? I scold myself- real men, good brains, real money. What the…
And a tanking $ that punishes performance. It was 46 to the dollar not so long ago, now it is 40. You do well internationally and it shows up as pathetic, just because you are now multiplying by a different number. Life’s not fair. Scott Peck said that first.
So where will you go today, m’love?

Friday, August 03, 2007

A recent Peopletech column in the Business Standard (last week, not so recent) speaks about the columnist’s utter confusion/ frustration/ irritation at having to wade through old-fashioned reading material, Proust, for a writing class. When he tries to read this later, at his own pace, he quite enjoys the work.
Now, Proust I haven’t read. Don’t think I shall, either. But couldn’t help free-thinking some of the likely reasons for this sudden change of heart:
-that the brain looks for patterns, and tries to fit new information within a preexisting grid, or linking however obtusely to existing nodes, if that takes longer than expected, impatience sets in.
-it was too late in the day to process new information even if you wanted to- fatigue
-a stage of life issue- you are not used to not learning things quickly and therefore have no patience with slowly unraveling something that’s different

What other reasons?

Monday, July 30, 2007

And humpty dumpty had a bit of a fall.
Slipped in the temple this morning right on my ahem lower back, hurt it.
Well. It has been raining and the circular path that one takes around the God of wisdom and the arts, Shri Ganeshji, had a sort of a jute carpet that was wet as well.
To cut a long story short, the adipose cushioned the bones, that fall was a direct hit all right.The hospital that I went to is run by missionaries with Spanish aid. The X ray is fine, shd be back at work in a day or so. No spinal injury.

They’ve prescribed painkillers and taking things easy for a while.
We have a saying in my part of the world- the blow of a sword was bypassed with that of a needle.

Am good. Now off to rest.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

My vehicles.

Quite cute, isn’t it? (can’t seem to load the image somehow, will try) Fixos. Thanks to ITC Sunfeast, given away with biscuits, pasta, suchlike. I thought I’d throw this away. But once I put them together, wasn’t able to. How the brain craves the novel, the unexpected. A little something to happy-up the gray matter, especially when one is expecting the mundane.
PORTIA gave me an AWARD.
A thinking blog ger award.
My first EVER. Am so proud.
Means tons.
*insert oscar acceptance speech here, I thank…*

Will return with a list of people to give the award to.
So many have dropped off the web, stopped writing, such powerful writers too, Suma, Annie, Puneet.

Had complained a day ago to Mago the magician about no rain.
NOW its raining again, yaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

And Toshi’s rendition of Tamaly Malak in the Voice of India show yesterday is the best I’ve heard, great treatment of the Arabic words. Superlative. Will put up the link in a while.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cash- title song. Superb beat. Lyrics work. Carribean, surf, hip-hop. Upbeat. It has that taut adrenalin pace, lucre passion that this city is all about.

Two years to the deluge of 26/7. The city cleaned up the ghastly mess, got up on its feet, walked on, so characteristic of this pearl by the sea. Infrastructure improvement? Not yet! Mantralaya ( the secretariat) should be shifted to the distant suburb of Virar and officials/ politis forced to commute then it would be sorted out in no time. One grins at memories of the walk home through waist high then chest high water singin; and skipping over a huge ditch with help from some stranger, “boss, lend me a hand please.” Salaam Moooooombai.

This is a MUST read. Absolute must.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007 (official site, not great) (words) (show clip, unofficial)

It’s supposed to be a sad song, ok? Alvida from "Life in a Metro".
A really sad, weepy distraught song.

A goodbye song. Heart rending.Violins wailing to peppy beat and all that.
Goodbye oh goodbye, what more do I have to say when goodbye is all you said”- that’s what the first line translated in hindi means.
It’s not supposed to have the few hundred strong audience on its feet and clapping wildly.
Voice of India show on Star Plus, July 21, 10 pm, the usual talent hunt show for the weekend slot.
This young lean kid sung it so well.
Stupendous. Great voice. Great pitch. Great control. Takes the difficult atrocious scale changes like he was saying hello. Could jumble your guts in knots of despair and wrench a tear out of a stone. With all the tune gyrations, jumbles and stretches, everything. Perfect.
Song end. The difficult as hell judges are clapping, on their feet. The audience is clapping hard, all smiles. I am clapping hard, cheering, and it’s only the television.
Thank you, Irfan.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A crazy kind of day at work.
The mind wanders under the pulls of just- in-time multiple tasking. Blogs I frequent are a pressure valve, a sanity check, a breath of life.

Read this review recently: (free login reqd.)

Destruction, chaos and a resurrection. How far can you apply the underpinnings of a myth/history/ belief to business cycles? For one I don’t like this man’s style, too much confetti, and I find him too simplistic, but I cannot base my thinking on one chapter alone.

Friday, July 20, 2007

For the writing group last week, Kathy wrote about a neighbour who sings sometimes at a nightclub, and is a successful professional by day.

Shimmer, sequins and the blues. The words have them; adrenalin, a shuffle and a steady backbeat. You follow the link (www. , and close your eyes. Listen to her voice as it floats soars past the words and you’re quickly transported far far away.

A dimly lit nightclub. Smoky. Spotlight on the center stage. Tuxedos, black dresses, the clink of glass. The voice is throaty, rich but not unduly so. Part Norah Jones part Olivia Newton-John. There is a different feel to it.

I think Kathy has the beginnings of a masterpiece on this one, and its only a writing exercise.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gibran, I think. Two sides of the same coin. What heals also cuts. What binds also disperses. The lifesaver that sweeps through the crisscrossing network in the blood stream, across miles of tiny arteriole and vein, flushing inch after inch of body tissue, cleaning healing, can, given a chance or a number amiss, turn around and corrode, destroy, leach and thin out. Buildup- destroy- buildup- destroy at the turn of a wheel, or just some fancy. Yes the cycle of life is ruled by the triumverate, Brahma- Vishnu- Mahesh, the creator- supporter- destroyer but on expects a modicum of sense in this judgement. But isn’t that is lazy thinking, applying man-made behavior rules to nature/ divine intervention/ a gamble?
After the monoclonals did their work cleaning up the faulty cells on a multiplication trip for my friend, after her body had shown all signs it was fighting fit, the medication side effects kicked in. In front of her one keeps a smiling face and talks of television stars. Even the span of the flyovers failed to thrill one on the trip back home.

added: Maybe it is another level of forbearance/patience that I am learning abt.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

From that entirely serendipitous meeting enroute, interesting how that translation is taking shape. Well only chapter 1 so far, and a kid’s story cant use too many hard words, but it is absorbing and different and challenging and nice to think in a structured word after word fashion.

History has little to do with glances exchanged across grand chandeliered ballrooms. Did the future of J&K change because of a fleeting distraught look in hazel eyes? Did or didn’t the last Viceroy hint just so gently to Lady Mountbatten, a word or a sign of displeasure could help move things his way ? For more, see today’s In the right hands, this would be a great story. Prince-like nationalist impassionate PM, the woman stately, peach and roses and dignified. What a setting.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The very early flight morning flight was already an hour late, grumpy faces in the crowded transit bus on a circuitous route leading to the plane parked at some far corner of the tarmac, but does the lill chile know this? The seventeen month old gabbles and laughs and prattles and smiles and laughs some more, the people around hide a smile and the day is brighter. Thank you, kid, have a good life.

So many yellow-greens in the just wet field by the whitewashed wall.

When a plane flies into clouds the rain streaks the windows sideways.

Too shocked abt N, but I can understand her choices. Or no choice. The fight has gone out of her.

Happens. Singlehood is tough to laugh away in closed gossip-rich Ahmedabad. But is that good reason to say ok to the first chap who comes along?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A blue umbrella, sudden rain and almost getting wet, all lush green and splashes.
Cut to the core, life is good.

My landlady’s apologetic about having to ask me to move, but there are major issues with the circa 1964 walls and flooring. They will also vacate their first floor home. She’s given me her dua (blessings) that I’ll find the right place, and as much time as I need.

Yesterday was the first anniv of the commuter train blasts.
Sat shocked. again.
In security terms, nothing much has changed.
Our esteemed neighbour to the west is now learning firsthand the disadvantages of allowing fanatics and terrorists to fester.

Suddenly, deadlines of all sorts.

Monday, July 09, 2007

So your CT scan is clean, Papa. Worth the four round trips to-ing and fro-ing on Saturday. Still doesn’t explain why you lose weight and why I worry about you, hassle you and gain weight.

Cheeni Kam is very good. May the tribe of door to door DVD libraries increase. Tabu is superlative, great dialogues and etc almost par for the course (how she manages to keep such long silky hair without tangles is something I’d really like to know, I have to keep mine, non-silky and scraggly,all braided up). Crisp dialogue, fast paced. AB is charming, believable in an exacting role which could easily have turned ludicrous. But was I glad some of the dialogue was too fast paced for you to follow.

I will need to begin looking for a good, decent, honest, dependable real estate agent for a place to rent- scary- in the next few months. Is there such a thing?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Page one, main lead of the TOI, Mumbai edition, features a photo of a woman marching, a gift of a washing bat and bangles in hand, dressed in what we politely call inner wear. In super-conservative Rajkot.

Why is she doing this?
To draw attention and force police action to her complaint of dowry harassment.
She is just 22, with a year-old baby
And no, the police just wouldn’t listen or take her complaint earlier.

Did it work?
Yes, so far. Her in-laws, presumably greedy and clawing as per stereotype, have been arrested.
The police, in all its infinite wisdom is now considering taking action for indecent exposure.

What action will it take for the commissioner’s dereliction of duty?

I spent most of day-before at airports, wondering at the weather God’s wisdom first in delaying a 7.20 am flight to 2 in the afternoon; and then a 2 pm international flight to 7.30 the next morning…how I wish NRI kids were a little more considerate about old, not-healthy parents traveling to the distant west coast US in atrocious weather compounded by terror threats in the UK. If they are so affectionate, why dont they pack their bags and come back?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Eight things
From mago at
I’m not tagging anyone.

I don’t drink. I get awfully gloomy when I do, so I don’t.

I hate liars and lies. And I don’t forgive. I shun. Have the &^^ to give me the truth no matter how horrible it is.

I can take a lot of nonsense, make allowances and give leeway, more than the norm perhaps. But I have a superb temper, when pushed beyond a point. You don’t want to try that.

Even if I trust you, one part of my brain is watchful; checking and comparing all the time.

I take refuge in food. Explains the extra kilos. And I’m not apologetic.

The one thing that really scares the hell out of me is my mind breaking apart.

I need to see the stock mkt numbers and my astrological forecast everyday. Pathological.

I vacillate between being very communicative and clamming up, wanting people around and wanting to be alone, sort of all’s right with the world, and blues.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Another deluge. Water in the house, about a foot, all the rooms.
At this rate I will perfect the art of singing oh la dee, oh lah da life goes on...
Which is what I sing at times like these.
We’re ok now.
Again, something told me to “move!” and I did.

Friday, June 29, 2007

That distant hill sheathed in rolling rain-mist is charcoal-white, a Japanese landscape. You rush for the cell, but it pours, a minute too late.
Now there is something to this but I forget what.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

No, I could not find it online.
Have been singing it in my mind these past few days; and this afternoon, aloud, surprised to get the high notes right. After so long- twenty seven years.
The school prayer?
Antara mam vikasit karo antara tar hay/ Gurudev Tagore

It has taken me so long to even guess-fathom what it means.

Maybe now the setting is right for comprehension.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Shredded green papaya sizzles in the wok.
Intrigues. The first time I’m ever making this. Not the usual “get-it-done-now” auto-mode.
How our minds crave something new. That sense uptick. The anticipation.
Even in micro doses from apparently unconnected sources.Interesting.

Noticed: Asopalav and gray sky mirrored in a glass-like puddle.
Yet an image is at best, an image.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Maybe I was kidding. Half joking.
Maybe not. Best if you don’t know.
But you almost choked on that morsel, Baba.
Startling reaction. Wow.

An almost saucer-shaped moon floated lazily in a milky halo past a starless-sky.
A rare sight for the city-sky. Rare, given the looming monsoon. Touched.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Yesterday was spent watching.
First, the rain and that step outside the gate, waiting for a noah-like deluge to rise to just-above-THAT- step level. After which it would rush into the house.
But thankfully it didn’t.

Today has been spent watching.
First the skies.
For the gale that the met dept promised but hasn’t happened as yet.
No high speed winds. No pelting rain. Just standard-issue clouds.
I could use some drama.
Some fireworks and thunder.
Been such a weird, strange, awesome day.
Goddamn strange.
“Oh really??!” Wild-eyed quality strange
In that karmic cycle that governs your life and mine, I owe you majorly.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

If there were no dust on the mirror, there would be no driving need for it to be.

Something reminded me of that eventful year in class 4 when I went away to hostel, cajoled wheedled pleaded, but in a sense ran away. In the years after I’ve learnt that other skill- taking it, not answering back and staying quiet and staying the course. Both have their uses. Trick is to know when to use which particular trait. Half my life done and I still haven’t figured that out

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Stupendous thunder. First you think proud of the utilities and aircon at the beautiful plant building, the anthem-rumble of rough industry. But no. huge drops of rain. In the distance a temple on a lone mountain-like hill, lit afire by thunder, its flag flutter, the proud temple town of champaner. Or so you think you see, and surely it must be there, for one sees what one wishes to.Exhilarating lightening rips apart the sky. Lights up the expressway. Rolls of thunder. Just beautiful. Silver quick, too smart for the camera. Taillights and wet crs are all that’s captured. But what an exciting ride. Charged!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Below: the squalor of the 60 ft road, Dharavi.
Above: a peepal glitters over a rain- wet tin shack.
A canopy of madhumalti, red and white and green interspersed.
Cobalt blue sky. Freshly cleaned. Cloud streaks like a kid’s finger painting.

Dharavi. Asia’s largest slum, under redevelopment; luxury towers and bare flats for the slumdwellers will coexist on precious real estate a few years down the line. A black billboard says: Strike on the 18th. Fight for your rights. A 400 sq ft flat a must! Can’t help wondering, a year or two down the line, the slumdwellers will return, and the laws of Darwin will play out, and some will own several flats, some none.

The prayer meeting. Silent. Except for the drone of the rotating fan.
Dignified. Outside, a gentle rain glistens on the road and you walk skipping past puddles as you make your way home. Thoughtfully.

Jasmine strands for sale. White and orange, in heaps on green plantain. Starkly beautiful. Heady perfume. Why does it seem cloying, stale, fit for the dustbin the next morning?

Friday, June 15, 2007

First the dust storm, fine dust swirls brushed off the trees and buildings, the chandni and the lemon tree by the corner. Somewhere, a window slams. Sundry pieces of paper race on uneven concrete. A change in the air, a different smell, the smell of first rain. Thunder. Great big plops of rain splatter on gray, an art deco pattern. And then the downpour. Everyone rushes out to splash and get wet. Fine spray held with wonder on palm and face.

Continue with the thought thread on word-tags, meaning.

Monday, June 11, 2007

I watch her hobble.
The walking stick makes a ratatat sound on polished marble.
I watch her bent form stop-go and shuffle across the room.
I watch him by her side. Gray-haired, worried. Alert to every move she makes.
They’ve been together since 1945.
Ups and downs. Almost rags to, well, good.
No, the doctors don’t know why she’s ill as yet.
From one corner of the window, a golden temple spire is visible. Siddhi vinayak.
On the far horizon, the bandra-worli sealink cuts a lazy line across silver.
What will be will be.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

My angel-mother’s b’day today.
She taught me how to smile. How to walk.
Thank you, A. mummy.

S. gave the group a treat y’day. Vada pao.
His niece cleared the 12th boards with 80%.
College, dreams. A fighting chance.
Kuch bhi ho sakta hai.
S stays in a slum.
India Shining!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Not the connecting of disparate clues for an out-of-the-box conclusion.

Nope. Not the Eureka! sort.
Simple stuff, you know?
Like not having to think about the way you take to work everyday.
Or what a word means without having to force- think.
Not rocket science.
And that child with a learning disability is taken on a merry ride all over the suburbs, a normal Rs. 40 fare ballooning to Rs. 150.
Because he can’t.
Much to be grateful to the skies about.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

You talk about randomness, Chinese philosophy and life events, but it is intrinsic in the brain wiring to look for congruence, patterns; a forced alertness is futile. Stupid too.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Overhead a storm breaks.
A mist washes over a distant hill. Lush wet.
One grimaces at unit processes. Like one did, long ago.
Drying, milling, blending, crushing.
Life processes?

Friday, June 01, 2007

A deadline looms.
Then it compresses.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Pehli baarish!
Bareek bareek see. mehek sondhi ki
Bijli ke gambhir kadake- ghoshnaa ke saath.

oon oon kar aaiyee badariya....


Silvernano technology” he says, “ frost free double door, sparkling silver”.
I glare at him.“The power bill will shoot up”
“ Not really. 463 units a year” he says, and rattles off features quicker than any fridge salesman.
Trust him to get tech savvy in his old age.
I sure hope this one lasts ten years as well.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The word switch in my brain changed. To Hindi.
For now, that is.

new Roughpad updated.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Scan the blue skies.
Clouds with just a tinge. Grey edge to the silver.
Its clammy. Irritating. Hot.
Not too long now.
The heavens will open up, bestow the first gentle drops of rain.
Awakening a parched earth.
Week one or two of June, that’s the question.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Hymns. Conch shells. Bells chime.
A distant palm frond nods to the skies.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Dark evening, like the day. The black sedan turns too quickly, brakes.
About an inch away. That was almost the end of austere. Almost.

Friday, May 25, 2007

3110 redux
Nokia, in its infinite wisdom, has christened the bells and whistles version of its basic model *drumroll* the classic 3110.
The basic model for Asia, 3110, circa 2000, that one?
The one I finally relented and bought in 2003 (after that fall and forced stay at home).
The one I’ve finally relented and bought now.
3110. classic 3110 .
Same thing. Almost. Any color, as long as its black.
Some things changed. I have.
You? You’d be amused, maybe, not surprised.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

She’s off for haj now, a thanksgiving to the skies for that grasp at life.
She comes in to work in a hijab.
More out of necessity than faith.
In time, that curly mane, jet black like the midnight sky, will return.
Lymphoma trounced. Stoic.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

It is my Grandfather’s birthday today. He would have been a hundred and seven.
He dreamt big. He pushed his sons hard. He changed the life story, the scale, for all of us. Breaking free of the village. A fighting chance. A chance. Any chance, go!
Can still see the old man, all ebony and toothless grin, sitting on his swing in that tiny dark living room plus kitchen plus everything, beaming at yet another accomplishment from a grandchild.
A debt I will not repay, not in a million years.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Shalom. That's the only Hebrew word I know.
Good enough to start with.

(Work related.)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Chandramohan saga makes it to page 1, NYT.
The gulmohars are in bloom.
A red lush richness, watching over the traffic snarl grime and construction rubble.
Red. Like alta on a shy girl’s feet.
Like hinting blatant in a flamenco dancer’s hibiscus on sleek black.
Also shining red like, well, shining double-decker red.
At times a tree at ease, with space and more, festive rich.
Sometimes nudged in squeezed between two blocks of flats, window-green-window but singing red.
Startle red. Because it wasn’t supposed to be there.
Like a sudden shared thought or a swift turn in a stranger’s conversation, which wasn’t supposed to be there.
A hugged-tight secret not supposed to be known, and so it startles, and sends you ascatter, flee-mode, alert.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Don’t tell me what to do. Please. Don’t even think of it.
This is the first cut reaction as I watch the fracas unfold at the Fine Arts faculty, MSU.
Dirty politics and the sanctimonious saffron brigade. Tridents and all.
Art is interpretation. Nothing is sacred.
I may not like what Chandramohan sketched. I can sue him.
Not break his bones, along with sundry walls, windowpanes and rabid, howling mob fury destined to scare the wits out of ghosts.
Next, the culture police will want to expunge chunks of Shakuntal and Meghdoot.
Or paint over Khajurao.
Looks like a nice way to take the attention from Vanzara on rampage, the strange case of vigilante police and encounters.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Parts I want to remember. Random.

Good to be back at my desk. Reports, newspaper stacks, result season and all. The suits continue to be as sweet, asking one thing and meaning another, interesting.

Recovery is slow and gradual, though his RBC is worrisome, his spirits have lifted skyhigh with the return home.

“On Golden Pond” is beautiful, shimmering gold. Velvet greens. Blue violet waters with the mist rolling in. Katherine Hepburn is amazing. A darlin.

Chatting with the niece. SO smart at eighteen. What about? Crushes and boys, and Money. Seriously smart kid, at mindboggling 12th board percent. I see stars in the daylight when I hear the cut off. Biology is much better anyday, and quicker too than medicine. Hello S’pore, GO girl, go!

Walking through Alkapuri with the stash from Crossword. Sukhbodhanandji. Sudha Murty. That’s for Papa. Celebrations in Silence/ Sri Sri Ravishankar. More. Splurged. BUT another Amrita Pritam Autobiography, Aksharon ke saye. And Gulzarji/ Raavipaar. Lovely, I’m rich! Are there times when its right, as in apt or fitting to read a particular author? The earlier once with Rasidi Ticket,the background to that reading, and now this book and the background to this.So reassuring to read through, like a smiling touch on the shoulder.

Read the story behind “ ye kahani nahi”, everything IS grist to the mill. What a terrific sense of gratitude and end-of- the- road futility she’s conveyed with so little said.

Some stories you will never touch to translate. Sir’s “Vandevtaa”,and Amrita pritam’s “ye kahani nahi”. Adding ones own little slant , shading the words as one if forced to do, prone to do, would be a sacrilege. Best to leave be.

The houses in Alkapuri, Kunj and Arunodaya in particular, are any day better than any JVPD bungalow. With gardens that are proportionate, green creepers over the trellis, and a sense of history. This city will always be the center of my universe.

That soles burn when you step to the terrace in the harsh afternoon sun, there is a strange bravery in withstanding this, even a frisson of pleasure.

Swaad panipuri, now with a new name, is still right there at Racecourse, with the white capped ninety-one year old Chachaji still watching over his customers. His grandson’s a chartered accountant, he tells me proudly. Was nice talking about the vast properties that lined this road, now a busy mall lined city hub with lousy traffic.

Completely random.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Early this morning, temple bells rang out in the distance, a special arati to the God seated in his seven horse- drawn chariot that traverses the vast heavens. In the distance the canopy of a young banyan glistened, swayed and opened up to the touch of morning light.

You zoom in and out, trying to focus so as to get the arch of the curve over the entrance just right, the afternoon light like a warm golden carpet upon the granite steps. You overhear a young boy on a bike advising a young earnest girl on her first job, do’s, don’ts and musts, its all you can do to keep from grinning like a fool. You visit the dept after two decades, and a senior now on the faculty recognizes you, “ austere!”, she instantly says.

Friday, May 04, 2007

In the afternoon glare the leaves of the solitary labernum look white, its excess of yellow blooms at repose, nodding to the heat haze.
How would this prayer offering of yellow-white- green rush to greet the first rays of a peach tinted dawn?
For then the streets would be at rest, and the heritage red brick of the domed university in the background almost other worldly, like something out of arabian nights, and that faded wall too, would seem all right. One fumbles, trying to put this into words past a strange catch in the throat.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Sprawled on the cold tile floor in the hospital room, you watch the changing colors on the triangular panel on the AC through almost-shut eyelids, colors that change with the temperature. That rush of red in the darkness is a monarch’s room rich in drapes , ornate gold bordering on the classic and a step away from ostentatious. The beam slowly changes to a quiet lilac, the Eiffel lit against a velvet black sky for new years, no doubt. The room gets gradually colder and one draws the sheet closer. In time a purple glow descends, quiet and serene, like a bronze Buddha worshipped with candles and somber chants at a far away monastery in the distant snow clad mountains. You are closer to sleep now, and just about notice the green from the edges of a memory lined consciousness, a vast field in a hundred shades of green with tiny yellow blooms, stretching as far as the eye can see, with sunshine playing hide and seek… sleep descends, and you drift off, only to awaken in the middle of the night, a questioning disquiet, and you remind yourself of his will, and surrender.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

So I visit them again, the lanes and bylanes around the tech department, the lanes of my earnest youth. So I wander, drinking in and reveling in the ten degree difference in temperature and feeling lightheaded and free, oh why it must be the searing heat. That red brick building with a sloping roof and fine stone lattice, remnant of a long ago time, now no doubt a local government office or an archive for dusty old files, long forgotten. The neem tree that is strangely bereft of leaves with its crooked branches, how rich it looks against the brick and the fine work on the awning, but why didn’t I see this before? For the four and half years, so long ago, when I trudged to the other bus stop which had a better bus frequency, why didn’t I revel in the structure and the solidity, the space and freedom of proportion that these have been laid out with? The old walls around the collectorate have since been rebuilt but the pillars still stand strong, unmoving but witness to another time, why didn’t I see this before? As I try to separate the branches of the casurina and the tamarind that have intertwined over the years, I realize that sometimes you have to go away to come back.
You have to go away to be able to see.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The operation was done this morning.
He seems to be recovering fine, though it is going to take a while.
The cricket finals should hold his attention a while, and he does have a sleep deficit of sorts to catch up with.
Thanks, everyone.
Magnanimous, the colossal raintree stands secure at the corner, extending its huge green canopy like a benediction. It just is, no regrets and no explanations, past the time and the weather which it marches to, putting on a new garb or letting a leaf gently float by; it just is, like an elder humoring a child as the tree bears witness to the caprices of time. Around it the ebb and flow of life are enacted, day turns into night, the vendors set store, ply their wares and shut shop, children go to school and return,and in due course the streets empty. Down the road, the rubble heap by the tea vendor was once “ Nargis ka bangla”, vast and majestic no doubt, must be all white with an arched portico. The raintree stays rooted to its spot by the tar road, this living link of rich sap between earth and vast sky, nodding at the night breeze and drinking in the sunshine that showers upon it of a morning. At peace.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I am not thinking things through.
Overreacting. Jumpy.
Taking time out for a week.
Will be back.
I just need to be by myself for some time.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The karma we attract in our life is our own doing.
“Neither thy piety nor thy wit…”
So be it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Surely it should be more difficult to buy arms than a tube of toothpaste?
(For the Arms Act 1959, and Arms Rules 1962,

In peace, Minal Panchal.
In peace, those poor children.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The surgeon in my home town has a tic over his right eye, intense manner and great diagnostic skills, much better than the jokers we’ve been shuttling to and from in this big city. I will now recite the names of higher generation cephalosporins like a prayer and try to stop being petrified of post op infections in the very old. Date not set as yet.
Outside the plane window, great fluffy clouds with silver linings greet the crisp morning; wispy fluffy clouds where you can just about see through the edges, like words half spoken, said unsaid, but understood and replied to with an imperceptible nod.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The voice over the phone has an unfamiliar drawl. Then shifts into the vernac.“ Who am I?” he asks. Faint memories from another time, when one was as daft, less cynical, more hardworking. Of a much smaller company; less systems and more heart. Of events where everyone pitched in and crazy deadlines. You tell me its better to live in Ottawa’s chill than dodge stray bullets in Johannesburg. I know you’ll do all right, find, make or wheedle a way out, and of course I’ll write you a glowing reference.
Green leaves on the white peepal shimmer like a thousand Tibetan prayer flags singing in the wind, a secret it shares in shy traces with the sunshine it basks in.

Monday, April 16, 2007

As I wait for the carry out at the Udupi across the road from Shoppers Stop, I spot them, a group of elders escorting the two young ones, all seriousness, handshakes and hidden smiles. Yes, a girl sees boy session with the full approval and sanction of the elders. As I watch the brisk nod the boy gives the girl when goodbyes are being said, I turn away with a smile, ah yes, this one’s done.

Green silk and white for the bud and tendrils. So right this shrub seems for chikan work, that elaborate shadow embroidery, tiny stitches on the wrong side of the cloth so that only minimal design is seen on the right side, that stiffness like embossing, working its magic, and hinting at the fine work that lies beneath. Not on cotton cloth as its normally done, but on the lightest raw silk, a pista green raw silk, every fold spinning a different shade as it reflects light. Fitting.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

For the last six months, every Sunday whenever I collected ironed clothes from the dhobi, I’d mock-chide Munna, “haan, you lost that blue salwaar kameez with the hakoba work. You don’t listen to me at all, eh!” And Munna would dutifully reply, “haan”. Then he would laugh and I would laugh, so completely useless my scolding.
Voila! The suit is back.
Will have to find something else to nag him about.