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 sixsentences.blogspot.com
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.