Saturday, March 31, 2007

new Roughpad updated

Friday, March 30, 2007

March 31.
A fiscal year end. A time to take stock, to sum the columns.
To clean up, pare, throw.
To keep, too, what has worked, even if it is old and worn at the edges.
Is it such a tough choice?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Back story. A week ago, there was an article in the ToI tracing the epic battle of Kurukshetra in the Mahabharata to 3067 BC. Clearly early harappan, a rich period with urban centers, backed by numerous cross references, so it says. The closing chapter of City of Djinns (ok, absolutely the last ref to the book) traces bits of Hastinapur and Indraprastha that exist to this day in modern Delhi, the Nigambodh ghat for instance. And it quotes a scholar as to the manner in which a work than began as a few hundred verses is added to, with successive generations, embroidered with poetry, dreams, aspirations and voila!, till it bears little resemblance to the original.
My personal favorites are Mrityunjay and Yugantar, interpretations afterall, and I return to these pages when I’m confused, opening up a page at random, and finding a way out, a narrow winding lane, but yes. And when the morning shadows lengthen on gray stone, I wonder about a bronzed scholar-warrior striding home after his daily prayers to the sun, the waters and the sky, puzzled about his lineage and the incredible tangle that is his life, walking on, alone and determined. The epitome of a larger-than-life bravery and generosity. No, this can’t be a myth.
One reads and draws inferences, inferences based on today’s conditioning and frames of reference, wondering too if there were things known but not quite acknowledged, words said unsaid, a back story so to speak.

Monday, March 26, 2007

In these words, in the space between keyed letters and wavy white between lines, micro glimpses of a life slip out from the tight grasp of polished form and gleaming grammar. All the ironing. No heating, and a snow drift outside. Suddenly, something.
So will the present find its space; unbidden, someplace.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Somewhere between anger and helplessness and tears.
My aunt has cirrhosis , they now say.
Living forty years, on a year-worth of memories. Amidst charcoal gray portraits that adorn the empty walls.
Like the protagonist in Khamosh pani, why didn’t she fight for her life?
Did the decades of pining away cause liver disease, like some character spiraling to THE END in an Updike novel.
The botch up with the gall bladder, the elevated enzymes that the &*(# doc missed the first time around. After all the health issues she’s had, the hypothyroidism that see- sawed and the steroids she must take to manage, all patchwork .
Horrified, I look through Medline, wishing I didn’t know what all this meant.
Well. So be it.

Bhukri the momma stray with seven pups is doing very well, thank you. Strange how she ambles out of darkness at dinnertime, maybe she likes rotlis. I’m surprised at her reactions sometimes. She bit the maid, but is fine with the neighbourhood kids hitting her when they want to play with her pups. Animals are seriously smart., so I think

A closure worth a warhoop with Citibank cards. After threatening dire consequences. Brimstone and fire. Politely, of course.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

So it is the years and the silver streaks in my hair that make a difference?
Ten plus years ago, I had shouted at you.
Don’t talk to me. Ever. How can you do this.
What kind of a brother are you.
You were the perfect couple. Ideal. Roses and red wine, except it was a sham.
Then it ended, as publicly as can in that closed and conservative society. Nasty.
You hurt, personally. Professionally.
Then you went away and made a new life. From scratch.
I now respect your decision. Clean.
Is there something “nice” about it? No.
Atleast it was honest. And if she lasted ten years then she’s more than a trophy wife.
Maybe I was wrong.
new Roughpad updated

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The glittering sea at mid-morning, like a silver sheet from that high perch and you shade your eyes even as you watch the brilliant dancing gold of the sunlight on the distant horizon line ; you shade your eyes and watch the reflection in a mirror, and still its too brilliant and hurts your eyes. The sea in the evening has a silky sheen, a quiet pink, purple and blue, calmly soothing to the eyes. Both are awe inspiring, still you think.

The beacon-flashing convoy as it rolled in, was impressive. A minute ago, a team of black cat commandos had taken position, running by the side of the SUV, the hundred strong police contigent was in place for the last two days. So this is what zed plus security meant. The man was an impressive speaker, and enthralled his audience. Investments, water, electricity, roads, and now, education. Surely the common man benefits.Then you remind yourself that he has done as much damage to the fabric of the state as Mahmud Ghazni who’d plundered the temples of Somnath in the tenth century. On the system they play a fluid Vaishnav jan toh, Gandhiji’s favourite bhajan and you wonder what the pragmatic wise old man would have said. Newton’s third law, and there is always a payback; but always.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Hussain sagar lake, morning sunlight glitters off the surface, white gold
Hussain sagar lake, a quiet pink in the evening, reflects the lights that fringe the shore.
A day sandwiched between flights in and out.
A few moments of quiet, the next few days are busy too.
I HATE missing my sunday nap.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Time, please

The clash of steel on steel. Neighs of skittish horses. Dust storms and cries. Thundering hoofs, caprisioned elephants running in mad anger. An army in disarray. The front has given way. An emperor out to battle, backed by an army of peasants and a few knave noblemen. An emperor more familiar with the delicate phrasing of a line of poetry, and fine latticework than the stratagem of war. A battle that his cunning brother has long planned to win. You weep when he is finally cornered and put in chains, dragged through the wide avenues of his capital in filthy clothes. For the last few days I’ve told myself that the battle was over a long time ago, in the 17th century. That it is silly to mourn Dara Shikoh, dead so long. But what a superb account. Does reading aloud make the grief more real? The past is, afterall, the past, folded over and put away. I am sure to remember this account over the weekend when I watch from a distance, that retinue of jesters, sycophants and sundry hangers-on. Time extracts what it is due. I should finish this book quickly and move to something solidly real-life, like the stock market.

Holi? Cleaned the kitchen, remembered riotous past celebrations when one looked like a ghost by mid-morning, Sang all the hori and holi-related garbas I could remember. Since I could recall only two, on and on it went in a loop.

Monday, March 05, 2007

new Roughpad updated.

Friday, March 02, 2007


These days for about two hours in the evening I put on my best announcer voice, accent and all, and read aloud from The City of Djinns, by William Dalrymple (WD). Its been a day or so, but I haven't been able to get this scene out of my mind.

WD writes about literally stumbling on a taykhana, an underground cool chamber from the times of the mughals, early 17 th century. He writes about persistence and cutting through red tape to get permission to visit what used to be a residence used by the British deputy resident William Fraser. This complex is now the administrative office of the chief engineer of the Northern Railways. The official mentions in passing how horrible the seepage problem in the main block is because of the underground chamber. An attendant takes an excited WD down several steep flights of stairs, some crumbling, some broken, and after a number of turns he finds himself in a huge musty chamber, with torchlight illuminating what seemed to be remnants of frescos on the walls, tangled roots and webs and the sound of water trickling somewhere. The bricks that line this chamber are smaller and seem to belong to the mughal period. He determines later that the bungalow was built over a palace that once belonged to one of Shah Jahan's senior generals. Several tunnels that lead off this chamber have not been explored, but have been summarily sealed.

I want to go and see. I want to stumble down those stairs and explore the network of tunnels that lead off. I want to check if there is a catacomb-like network. I want to feel scared and excited, curious and strangely alive.

I am reminded too, of the tunnels, bypasses and hidden recesses deep in our minds. Something on the surface and something quite different deep, past the grey matter and and the tracing crisscrossing capillaries, and you watch yourself. One thing leads on to another, reactions, events and memories triggered by seemingly random stimuli. Unsettling, and I can't say why.