Sunday, December 26, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Monday, November 08, 2010
Toughest thing in the world? To make a disinterested grumpy immobile recalcitrant elder eat. And return to steel will. When cajole,charm, beguile, threaten, barter-- all fail.
Light on the lawn. What a sacred troth is life. And how callous are we.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Now, one may logically prepare to climb the said mountain, practice with trainer wheels, hear the cautionary tales of other trekkers, think of worst and best cases and etc., and put your head down and get on with it.
But then the said, metaphorical mountain can dramatically alter, morph, take on new shapes.
And so we begin anew.
So I’m learning.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
At that hour the sky is pitch dark, just the quiet and a dog or cat yodeling; but later, rich pinks flood the sky, usha arun ney kumkum pagaley.. those were the words I remember from a song learnt in class 4, and there has yet to be a better capture for this dawn parade, or the finery of gold spun over the frangipani.
Each day teaches me something new about human nature. Will polish and use in a story, not to worry.
Friday, October 08, 2010
When I walked this evening on the terrace it was later than usual, the sky a darker pastel dotted with a plane and helicopter or two, the billboards on the distant highway shone brighter than usual, twinkling lights and the faint beat of a disco garba heard in the air.
Navratri begins, and to me this is a season of resurgence, of renewal and faith.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Monday, October 04, 2010
Added: She is doing ok, touchwood.
Monday, September 27, 2010
The home city is different every time I visit. But it is as hot, reminding one of the wild swings in temperature the place is prone to, from a miminum of 6 degrees C to a max of 47 C plus. Yet the champa- frangipani-- was generous, laden with white blooms.The auditorium I went to for a meeting brought back so many memories of school concerts and endless rehearsals on this stage with the singing group—even though the audience was only parents. How we worked hard to make everything pitch perfect. Nostalgia also was prompted by the pharmacy class of 87 getting together on yahoo groups. Who’d have thought that the most reticent of the lot would be taking the initiative, and the one with the pictures that reminded one of how thin one was, once upon a time. It takes a chance meeting with a rather fancy couple on a train journey to make one realize how frenzied and compartmentalized a life one leads, but is that a bad thing? A story that first began in I think 2007—and was cut, recut, reframed, pared, cleaned up, rehashed to infinity, till everything in it changed except for a single visual shot, finally found a home. Else and elsewhere, life goes on. The market marches onward and away without a pause—or a sensible reason.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I can be happily weird sometimes.
The firecrackers, dholak- cymbals could be heard even as the sedate group chanted the Lord's names, like every week. But the jolt of energy that accompanied the palanquin past the threshold to the altar. Amazing.
AND it is good to get surprised at what life throws your way. Even if you lead a quiet, peaceful existence most times.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Watching sunlight flood the green past the trees in the morning.
Watching the wind ruffle through colored flags that line the street.
And the twinkling multicolored lights at night.
The adrenalin charged beats of the dholak.
I've travelled east west north south, visiting friends for darshan.
I've taken so many different modes of transport, met so many helpful strangers along the way.
In unusual places, a benevolent, all-giving calm.
Acres of green as far as the eye can see, in Orlem.
A jutting hilltop viewed from a friend's balcony in Thane as the mist rolls past.
A handkerchief-sized farm, stubborn, jaunty amidst tall buildings.
That blessing from the Lalbaug Cha Raja, even if it was via a forward.
His blessing suffuses through my days.
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Yesterday, on my way to the local station, I walked through two village clusters, gaothans, that this mega city has encompassed and swallowed whole in its obsessive growing, proper settlements with one-room homes, a main street and a place of worship. As I watched the lights for the festive season reflected in many puddles and joined the throng of commuters wending homewards, I realized sometimes we see only what we permit ourselves to, and that journey to the end of the world can begin with the next step one takes.
Monday, September 06, 2010
When I can scrounge the time, this is what I have been reading, savoring the stories and wondering how a people who are almost us, are not quite, you know, us; and as a matter of fact quite a little different, all said and done sixty-odd years isn’t much when edifices around span a few centuries.
In the few stories that I’ve read, something seems to happen to the women’s brains once they have a dominant male in their lives. What does being sharp and jabra (which I’ll politely translate as being self preserving, so sue me) have to do with being educated or being rustic? An instinct for this self preservation is inherent to the gender across the subcontinent, but the women in these stories seem positively addled, vacuous by the second half of the story, which almost always leaves them destitute and abandoned. My unlettered grandmother who ran a tight household with her temper and flying missile-tongs, would have laughed.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Showing Bombay of the 1940’s or thereabouts.
There’s the fountain at Fort, and the road divided into two by a central terminus for trams and taxis.
This looks just beautiful.
Maybe I’m in a sepia mood these days.
Maybe it’s the after-effect from reading about the music and films of the 1930’s. And following up on you tube.
Movies that have now been forgotten. Names that are no longer remembered.
But the parent still remembers.
The songs, the stories, the anecdotes about when he saw the movies and how many times did he see some. Even this spot near Fountain which he used to walk down to, to "pass time" as a penurious paying guest.
I use the kinder “courtesan” for some of the ladies when I take the lines to English.
What choice did they have, really?
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Udaan is a treat. Do not miss.
Joan Didion is a treasure.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
“With this change in the color of his eyes, he began to view the story of his life differently. If some parts of personal history were set aside, some other parts positioned appropriately, then he traced his lineage to a learned Brahmin.…”
I caught myself doing just this the past week. If the events of the past few years were thought of differently, juxtaposed and rearranged, parts snipped off and extended, one can pat oneself on the back for foresight and veracity and determination, of the unswerving sort, but of course. Waah boss, waah. When the truth is, it was part laziness, part a dread of the unknown, part life instances (what would we do without life instances to shoulder blame, I don’t quite know), and part lumpen inertia. I have not grinned so much to myself in ages.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
A writer’s identity is a fragile thing, but what happens when two writers living in the same city share the same name?There is a certain terseness in the original, an abruptness, that I've struggled to do justice to.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Poignant, lump-in-the-throat moment by the banyan tree y’day, singing the national anthem. Strange yearning to travel, to dissect the length and breath of the nation by train,second class, live the allure and grime-dust of the Gauhati- Hapa, Jammu- Trivandrum, such long distance runners. Fanciful, eh.
Shraavan, the holy month. Did my bit with prayers at the temple, reciting the vishnusahastranam with the motley group. Peace instilling, centering.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
At the end, that's all we condense to: fire, water, air, earth., sky
That young man with the million $ smile, and the brain tumor, the man who was on first name basis with the leading neurologists in the country- didn't make it.
Prayers for his family.
For his wife. For his young daughters who will grow up too quickly.
Prayers, for he suffered too much.
Sometimes I wonder how emotionless I am becoming.
Monday, August 09, 2010
Saturday, August 07, 2010
And I can only wonder at what, if anything , changes with the years, or in a bid to amuse ourselves, do we learn to find color in variations on the same theme?
Friday, July 30, 2010
But how to put on paper the relief-pride of pushing a tale to 3200 words, a tale that you’d despaired at ever attempting, and the feeling at being able to type “finish”. Phew. Done. Whether it makes the cut or not, does not matter—a personal victory.
How to put on paper that mixed sense of joy, quizzical unease at “we are considering”, either reject or accept, why keep me in limbo?
And that despair at seeing the walls of the palace grounds back home demolished, what has the city brought upon itself with this rash move?
So this is where I am.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Without fail a shower greets us every morning in the park, this morning I counted five kinds of green before I stopped counting, happy just to revel in the extravagant palette; the rain as regular as the line up of strays waiting for their biscuit treat, and I wonder how little they, and we, need to keep us going.
Minutes carved out of my Sunday, precious busiest day of the week, between the palak and methi that must be cleaned and the fridge and larder stocked and sorted, and I try and stretch and steal every moment I can spend with you, and it isn’t enough; it really never is.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Like I did. And rarely do.
Compassion, giving space is where I try to operate from—ordinarily.
But you set out to be thoughtless, picked a raw nerve and pulled it taut, just to be social?
So I made sure. Where the line is, not to be crossed.
You will not do this again.
Yes, this is the kind of week it has been. But not bad, otherwise.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
The last shot--the sound of drumbeat and the image of the middle aged, balding man in an incongruous suit playing a drum on an empty subway platform even as trains clatter by….Unnerving.
Unfortunately, I watched this in bits, the way I usually catch movies on telly—at dinner, after my walk, so bits and pieces really. Missed the entire beginning sequence.Yet.
A story about immigration, racism, political asylum. Good humans in a bad place. Yet simple, neat, no frayed edges.Matter of fact. If you’re an illegal resident, you can get thrown out for traveling ticketless, picked off the street and poof…No matter if your plea for political asylum has been turned down, or you’d be killed the moment you reach your land.
Not at a grand level, but at a you-and-me level.The other world infringing on a straight jacketed, standard-issue life. Not much of sound and fury about this one.
Brilliant acting by Richard Jenkins.
Friday, July 09, 2010
Bubbly, full of life, tall and pretty with her Julia Roberts cheekbones and slow smile.
I think back. To the way I was.
Not j, not the green monster.
But by this age I had written and crossed out quite a few life chapters.
Today, I like myself more.
The anticipation of a new book, the wonder, the delight...
Of a people so similar but not quite.
Mornings that are green drenched, the water trickling in tiny rivulets down my face, '
and the familiar takes on the mystery of a place unseen, and magical.
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
It is dark, past eight when I hail an auto.
And am shocked to see a child's foot suddenly in front of my face.
On the shelf meant for luggage..."Hey there's a child here!"
"That's my daughter, she travels with me."
The child, Anjali, is almost two. Her mother died when the baby was seven months old.
Since then, that shelf is her creche, day care center, whatever.
No, there is no one else. No one.
The child seems fine, we clap and play a game of sorts, now I see you now I don't.
This is what is.
What was it that I was antsy about?
Waiting at the docs for a routine test.
Waiting in the queue is a girl- child, not more than 22, her head covered with a veil.
An older woman is escorting her.
"Seven months? You don't seem that..."
"The doc was worried too, says the girl frets too much."
"So lucky to be having a baby at the right time."
"That's what I keep telling her.So many women are desperate for a chance.."
"And how many children do you have?"
"Wed at fourteen, twenty years into my marriage, and none.. my younger sister-in-laws often remind me ...."
"And your husband?"
"Mandir or doctor.He refuses to accompany me. After twenty years of being married"
She looks away,trying to hide the moisture in her large eyes.
The lives people lead.
It was a routine paper requirement, but the respect the parent was accorded at the police stn was impressive.
Friday, July 02, 2010
Back home and here.
Cleanup operations set off fires, The fire brigade is called.TG for neighbors.
laborers use the grounds without permission.And are politely told off.
The house next door is being demolished, will an apt block come up?
The w@rk situation is a surprise@ day.
Yet, the focus on what next. Solutions. Damage control.Clarity.
Perhaps the NEED to document in this little white space was never greater.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
And it is good to be alive.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Perhaps not reading the book helped?
Perhaps the gritty authenticity of the storyline helped.
I liked this. A lot.
Some of the photography is beautiful. Specially the scenes with Karim.
And the sound is spot on, with all those neighborhood sounds in the background.
Inflation continues to raze
Saturday, June 26, 2010
" Billie Jean's not my love.." and "Pretty lady with the high heels on".
MJ, your MJ is now a year gone, and this was a tribute on primetime.
I exulted at every woo and riff, amazed I still remember, oh yeah, I know that one...
And can't help thinking someplace in the ether, you'll be dancing that moonwalk, and someplace in the ether teaching the man how to step nifty to a step and half dodhiyu.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Don’t miss the John Updike manuscript here:
So how do you reach a point called “Enough”? Is it abrupt, that move—here today, gone tomorrow; or is it by inches, slow and gradual, a mishmash of compromises, let-it-be’s, whittling away, making allowances till you don’t recognize your face in the mirror anymore, you don’t like what you see?
Just curious. I know how I get there. Do you?
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Wild, mad, energy-on-high rain. Rain that is just- well, Mumbai rain.
A sheet of water. Any resistance is futile.
Of course there is water logging, AND the possibility, always the possibility, of flooding.
You might as well sing a song. And carry on. Quick march. Find a way.
Specially if there is a transport strike, the way it was y'day.
DTC-R. That's the direct tax code, revised.
Still trying to come to grips with it.
Good, bad or ugly? Don't know.
Monday, June 21, 2010
The seasons have changed. There is a freshness in the air most mornings.
Sometimes a line of succinct prose leaves you envious, worthless and unsure of your own capability in ever being able to capture a mood:
“In my credulous years—he thought—they told me that evil was a sort of dirty hue, just as definite as a soiled collar, but it seems to me that evil is only a manner of hard lucky, or heredity-and-environment, or ‘being found out.’ “
-- from Dalyrimple Goes Wrong by F. Scott Fitzgerald. from http://www.everywritersresource.com/shortstories/
A story a day mailed to your inbox- go subscribe!
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
And Google’s dysfunctional, tizzy-as-a-dowager-with-a-knot-in-her tights response.
Which swept functional blogs and bloggers out with the spam.
Husha, hoosha, you all come down. Boom!
Eyebrow raised—they could still have asked, right?
This is still so very WRONG, my dear Google.
STOP PRESS: Leni's missing comment copied below:
Leni Qinan has left a new comment on your post "Dear Google, You are not my mother. Even my mothe...":
I hope Blogger doesn't remove this comment too, as it did with all my comments -all gone-.
I know you from Mago, who recommended me to visit and read your defence of freedom of speech.
Thank you very much for your support.
Today I learned an original lesson, one about decimal points.
If I can save on tax by merely using 7 decimal places instead of 2… .
So what did I learn? One: Look at the detail.
Two: learn to look at the obvious from another angle.
Strange where we get our insights.
Monday, June 14, 2010
You are not my mother. Even my mother would not throw half baked advice at me, or tell me what to do. You tread on thin ice.
Are you familiar with the term, friends of friends?
Well, you-- or your silly censorship system- hurt my fruends. mago- whom I follow- and Leni and MJ, whom I don't. You pulled blogs and blocked gmail, for the record.
Hurt mago, whom as you'd know, is a historian, fluent in five languages, and writes posts that offer content- meat. Is this the kind of person you want access to, or not?
When people are over 18, why would you tell them what to do? Why would you disable access to gmail? You think people are soliciting, selling pot or guns? On a blog?
Who gave you the moral authority to censor blogs? Just because you host them?
Get a life, go see a shrink.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
The Ind Express ran this story (again) this morn.
What a shot of pure energy!
Intent. Clean focus.
I walked taller. I'd whistle if I could.
Go, Pruthvi Shaw, GO!
Technology as a change agent.
Tons has been written about that.
But how technology can change lives. Incremental technology, nothing pathbreaking, mind it.
Except that the application, the USE-- is pathbreaking.
Women aloud videoblogging for empowerment. WAVE.
Quite a mouthful.
A 2 member initiative.Sapna Shahani and Angana Jhaveri.
They train women from semi-urban, mostly lower income groups from across the country,
to make short video clips based on what is happening around them.
Open your eyes and you can see.
Train them as in every aspect- story boarding, scripting, shooting.
AND they pay them for their work.
The videoblogs exhibited ran the gamut from documentary type, art and craft and culture, to breaking news, citizen journalism.
More so because of what it can do, in terms of change. And open up new worlds.
"Weaving Dreams -- Padma, a lady of the Bodo community in Assam, changes her community for the better when she started a weaving society, turning away from their previous occupations of liquor-making. Created by Usha Dewani (4 minutes)."
The audience was mostly NGO types or arty types.
But possibly the best saturday evening I've spent in a long time, watching these clips.
There is so much one can do.
Starting with not too much.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
The deep carpets and hushed voices. Esoteric flowers. Luxury on the tap. Views to die for.
Work, and the numbers that the suits talk of are in millions and billions-- the zeros confound me.
But that's not reality, is it?
The autofella is coughing badly as we turn the corner to work.I'm surprised he took on a short fare.
I ask him how he is, and he weeps.
A grown bear of a man, clearly sixty plus, and he weeps.
His daughter is getting married month end. No dowry, but he has to think of the groom's social status. Hence a 1.5 lac debt.
Yes, a boy from the village in UP--one from Mumbai would be too expensive.
His son is useless, nalayak, hence the need for him to earn. Jimmevari.
This is life, too.
As is a Bhopal suddenly come to life after 25 years.
What are you going to do now? And how many more Bhopals are waiting to happen?
And bus-plane-train crashes, explosions we must not forget. Never forget. Where are those answers?
Past the media deluge on the new news.
The dissonance and the dichotomy, and a quiet space within,that perhaps is life.
I put my head down and work.
Sunday, June 06, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
From the T. Land's end, the sea is a glittering, dancing carpet, tripping over the horizon.
And the concrete and steel sealink, as it swooshes into the distance-a conqueror, valiant.
"Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour."
Monday, May 24, 2010
So write that letter. Pay all your bills.
Keep your will updated, and cross that T.
Last week was busy season at work.
And then the horrible news on the crash.
Managed to shut myself from the rabble rousers on tv, limited n’paper reading to a quick headline scan.
Until I visited my old landlady last night and saw the grieving crowds and media vans—the co-pilot was a neighbor, apparently.
And in the unending celestial balance, the solidly good- a friend held a puja for her new home, a lovely apartment up high, flooded with light and air, every square foot and plastered wall paid with the sweat off her brow…some dreams come true, and some dreams tell you to walk tall.
antariksh shantihi... vayu devo shantihi..pruthvihi shantihi..
be calm the universe... calm the air gods... calm the earth
to the witness of the Lord Ganesha and Goddess of wealth Lakshmiji,
the witness of the nine grahas- the nine planets, the mother goddesses, and Lord Visnu in his many forms, her house was sanctified.
I take a deep breath. And try remember sunlight.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
you learn a life lesson. Something important that you would not have learned otherwise.
A pause moment. Where you step away from yourself and see.
Resulting in a change in behavior that prevents you from a larger debacle, blunder, mistake.
And I don't even have a problem.
In a thoughtful mood rather than an upbeat one.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
All you need is one chance, right?
One person earning and then the family can latch on and then the momentum takes them to another place.
Umeed, a short non-free program that retrains people from the slums for jobs in malls, shops, the new economy. Seriously smart.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Is this a baobab? Not?
For the past several months now I’ve admired this tree, watched the sheen on its almost-silver bark, envied its insistence on standing tall, leafless or not, been respectful of the sap that surges and ebbs in its upright wooden frame, branches held out, bare, stubby twig-like and none the worse for it; even as the many trees around put on their finest greens for spring, then pirouetted and clad for summer.
Drumroll- Leaves! Tender leaves, unfolding. See? Just a day old.
Difficult to say who’s happier, the tree or I.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
"Suhana safar aur ye mausam haseen.."
Madhumati. circa 1958.
What is it about the lines that resonate?
Specially the chorus, that sort of echoes?
Or "sa sa ni ni reni pa ni, ma ma ni ma ni pa pa ni" from the Dil Se title track.
I sing this when I'm walking back home.
Prayers for my ill friend, pls.
Saturday, May 08, 2010
Without any message or covering letter.
Like the message that comes from unknown directions?
I can only guess this is for a bhasha anuvaad.
No, the essays are not long- a page, two pages.
But a different kind of writing. Poetic.In taking to English, I’d have to chop. Mercilessly.
At the risk otherwise, of looking horrendously overwritten.
Maybe emotions are different in different tongues? In some language a sigh, in some a drum beat?
Will the cutting not be equal to rewriting?
How correct is that? Fair?
No, I’ve not replied as yet.
Thursday, May 06, 2010
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
time to learn something new and good, and cease to be whirled around.
But then thou must also avoid being carried about the other way. For
those too are triflers who have wearied themselves in life by their
activity, and yet have no object to which to direct every movement,
and, in a word, all their thoughts.
-Book 2, Meditations, Marcus Aurelius.
Marcus Aurelius. As in Emperor, yes?
What brilliance. Sigh.
If only it were easy to determine what is a trifle, and what indeed, an object worthy of attention.
I resolve to limit my twitter time.
No more trivia or breaking news.
Monday, May 03, 2010
Frisky. That’s what I called the affectionately mad pup at the end of the road, not that you could call him a stray, for he adopted the road, the chaiwallah and all who walked on the road. Every morning, beady eyed and tail a-wag, he would rush to greet Baba, rush and try to get close, Baba would step back arms akimbo, and I would scold the pup away in the simplest Gujarati. (Dogs like Baba, but he doesn’t like them.) Frisky went the way of all strays last week, maybe he is as curious, and energetic, and joyous, those bright eyes gamboling, hunting, sniffing and playing in some dog heaven. But even the birds were silent that morning.
Perhaps this is in the rightness of things. That unanswered call, that for-always lost part of my history, the over-late news and grieving over the death of the only person, my long lost Aunt, who could possibly have filled in the blanks in my lineage. Did Ma have a temper? Did she swear? Sweet all the time? Now I shall never know. So be it.
Work, and most of life is like a conveyor belt right now. Next, please.
I withdraw to the silence.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
"The Final Chapter", a translation of the original story in Gujarati by Pravinsinh Chavda titled "Antim Adhyay", is online at 91st Meridian.
Also: An essay, "looking for a patli gali, an urban footpath"
91st Meridian is the journal of the international writing program at the University of Iowa.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Brown, tough and no-nonsense skin—NEVER thought that’s one more thing to be thankful for.
Watched bits and pieces of two movies over the last two evenings:
“Miss Pettigrew lives for a day” which has a feel good and nice storyline, all happiness and “anything can happen”; until you watch “ I’ll Cry tomorrow”, a true story which is probably a close look at showbiz the way it is, despair, alcoholism, eight husbands and bankruptcy.
I guess I liked the gritty, realistic movie from 1955 much more.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Yet again the earth shrugged elsewhere, unconcerned.
Have been watching the ongoing drama about cricket and grease and sleaze.
Reaffirms my intent to remain reclusive. Apart.
Somewhere in the last week and odd of watching twitter, shameless pretties and slander, I’ve regressed well into the 16th C-my home has high walls.
What priorities do we care about as a nation? Is it even one nation?
So one more ambush is ok, one more blast or two – we are too many people anyway-- Malthus was a good man.
Forget Eyja-what’s its name, we have a million upheavals waiting to happen.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Yet there is a part of me that is cautious, wary.
Like on edge, right?
A part that watches you breathe when you’re asleep, and frets in the deep of the night.
The same part that relishes your wit and sharp mind…
So we shall let it, the day and all it signifies, pass.
And I shall watch your words for any imminent signs of a slip, a slur or a misplaced word or tone change.
Because there is a part of me that is cautious, wary.
Because I’d be kinder to myself, I think, if I were not me.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Hence was terribly surprised to make the Karadi tales contest shortlist.
Shortlist only, mind it.
Maybe I should, like, think kidstuff, yes? Just maybe, yes?
Extremely surprised, yep.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
How else to explain the fascination with saving 100 bucks.
By shopping at Sahakari Bhandar versus More.
(After netting the transport cost, that’s just about 60.)
But I know I will return next weekend. To pick the choicest tomatoes, touch the smooth velver of slender bottlegourd, and indulge in the freshest greens.
Is there any logic to this?
Is it genetic, a salute to frugal Gujju genes?
A validation of a frugal philosophy that one believes in? Or a subtle brownie point, “I’m holier”?
Because the repeat delight at this idea, the serotonin surge from revisiting it every few hours, far surpasses any notional saving.
Most nights I sit with paperwork, trying to unscramble numbers.
To the company of the ARR number from Zubeida, “mehki mehki hain raahen”
And that adrenalin charge from Monsoon W. “ rabba rabba mee barsa”.
A close friend rushes to Cal to be with her aged father who is in the ICU.
The suddenness of it all.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
A profusion of bougainvillea on the wall, and overhead a branch with yellow blooms tumbling over, looking like what I think grape on a wine would look like.
Every season has its charms. or so I told myself, when it was inordinately hot this morning.
Excellent essay on practice, sharpening one's craft:
And I go back to the blank page.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
And how more or less, people tend to be predictable.
Follow a trend line, like a stock.
Over time, you learn how a friend will likely use any information she comes by—so then you tend to watch what you share
But if your work was to write, would you or would you not use this knowledge?
What if your work area was non fiction? What if it were a shared experience?
Where would you draw the line, what would be ethical and what would not be ok?
Two solid articles, from NYT: Be sure to read the comments.
On self defeating behavior--
Monday, April 05, 2010
An amazing friend’s birthday. Knowing her has been a blessing—that a human could be as good, as pure and strong, despite her fragile and beyond-help health. Sometimes it is good to get one’s cynicism good and shaken.
Roads explored as a shortcut take a surprising turn, lead to complete East Indian villages, crumbling mansions, village square, cross and church, bargaining aunties, in the middle of bustling upmarket suburbs. Leaves you wondering, so often we pass by on the main thoroughfare, unaware and uncaring of the meandering lanes that lie beyond.
Karthik calling Karthik was brilliant. So bright it feels like a knife cut through your brain. Forces you to dispassionately look at your behavior. Yes, I must confess I ditched a tall stack of newspapers post the movie. Obsessive hoarding behavior, that.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Zindagi khwab hai… khwab mein sach hai kya aur bhala jhooth hai kya..
Another fiscal over. Another fiscal begins.
The pattern of my mornings, unchanging.
Offering stability to the day, anchoring it
That easy-paced walk, that chulha- chauka rush, the perfect round rotli, the rai- marchu seasoning.
This I will do, no matter what.
So that I can contemplate - Greece, GDP, Portugal, non existent global cues.
That hour and some of contemplation and deft moves is my fee, so as to be able to say “The emperor has no clothes.”
Yesterday, my morning was peppy and serotonin rich. Didn’t know a metformin dose increase could make your day go 3D and all smiles.
And every time I see the dawn sun I am reminded of a honed and copper hued Karna, striding home from the Ganges, beset by questions of identity and ethics. Questions that remain as yet unsolved.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Earlier this week I received my copy of Indian Literature (Nov- Dec issue).
With a tribute to the giant, Dilip Chitre. RIP.
Now, poetry and I keep each other at a safe, respectful distance, occasionally nodding.
But this is mind blowing; you know the sort that gives the nerve endings in some dull part of the brain a good shaking and hot water scrubbing, yes, add the bleach.
For once nothing matters. I can only sit up straight and agree wholeheartedly, salute and sigh, wring hands at the hundreds of sins of missed meaning and made-up line, after reading “The Translator”
(if you’re reading this, language warnings apply.)
Dreaming in four different languages
And of the continents of silence
A man is f*cked up by the nagging problem of meaning
And cannot rest.
Translations are possible only when one is fully awake.
But at night, when one is a cave man who has lost his tribe,
Who can be a Renaissance Man?
The nameless painters of Altamira
Have been able to dream up
The Museum of Modern Art.
But who were the poets and translators of the cave?
Who crafted the first words out of wild corn
And the bones of animals?
Who told the first lies
Upon which our profession is based?
On waking, he soothes himself by asking difficult questions.
But once he goes to sleep,
His own ambivalence disturbs him,
Out of the savage silence of four different languages.
© Dilip Chitre
Friday, March 26, 2010
And then time moved on.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
So I was a finalist for an international translation anthology but didn’t make the final cut. Whatever. It cuts.
Abhinav Bindra, the shooter and Olympic gold medalist, in today’s Mint offers an interesting read, specially that part about being positive as versus realistic.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The intent, the scale- you have to admire them for their guts.
No one who needs medical attention should be turned away, no matter what,
Perhaps this is what access to health care means, not some meaningless slogan made for a conference and forgotten.
Health insurance for the poorest of the poor. Penalty if you don't buy insurance.
How will they pay for this?
Taxes on investment income at the individual level.
Arm twisting big pharma.
Negotiating with big insurance companies.
Robin Hood? Perhaps.
But if they get it to work...
Nothing short of amazing.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
2150 and done, to be precise.
Like me, my characters tend to summarize a para in a single "yes/no"
So this is big for me.
At the eyedoc's this morning, I came close to hyperventilating.
The parent couldn't get the washroom door to open after he'd locked himself in.
Friday, March 19, 2010
I like to walk.
To feel the stretch of muscle and sinew.
And the answering press of the earth, as it moulds the contours of your foot.
In time, you set a pace, heel-toe-heel.
A rhythm as real as the periodic bursts of chattering birdsong.
Or the cuckoo’s single, clean note.
Such is the lure of the earth, black and dew-fragrant.
About the orange orb beyond the march of trees;
Or the many many hues of generous green, I have yet to begin.
If you miss this connect with the earth, if you sit aloof and ac’ed, I think you miss big-time.
You lose sight of what is real.
It is much more than aatey-daal ka bhav.
For a reason I cannot completely explain, it seems critical to be able to navigate crowds, to tiptoe past traffic snarls.
To keep time with the throb of the earth.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
For all the philosophy, pit-in-the-gut worry about a close friend’s illness woke me up in the middle of the night with a sudden jolt. Diverticulitis is not your common stomach bug, and thoughts of the very worst case persist, given her poor immunity and gazillion complications.
I wait. So far ok.
A 1950’s era Dodge in mint perfect condition, spotted last night.
Realizing more than ever the need for focus, for compartmentalization.
And for a calm start to the day.
No more morning mail check with tea. Lesser twitter.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
And in due course taking a gift box from him, one at a time, and back to the table.
So blissfully unaware. So happy.
Ho ha for form and protocol and seniors.
And B, with his 27 years in the mailroom, but two accomplished daughters he's put through professional courses. Life changing.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Open your eyes and see.
Such stunning colors.
Every morning the generous greens- fluorescent,dark, so many shades, an extravaganza.
Dew trembles on the tip of a bamboo leaf.
A completely bare tree, devoid of even a single leaf.
Dewdrops shimmer, outline stretched silver branches.
Open your eyes and see.
And last night on my usual walk, from the basti behind the colony, the tremendous, riotous beat of a dholak - kartal and voices rising skywards.
I stood, mesmerized.
Here is a brilliant article on the craft of translation.
Just for this single line “translation is not done with tracing paper” I could cook her a week’s worth of Gujju meals.
Last night, Anwesha sang a classical piece in Amul Music ka maha muqaabala
Standing ovation. Goosebumps. Yes, tears.
From another lifetime, the words echo.
Monday, March 08, 2010
Yet, on a plain sheet stuck on the wall, the words read “I shall not surrender. I shall not give up.”
Or some such.
Yet he laughs and talks of the Bhagwat Geeta.
What will be, will indeed be. Neither thy piety nor thy wit.
Yet he laughs about fighting the good fight.
Even though as a quasi medical person handling neuro-psych all his life he knows exactly what this dirty tangle of neurons means.
I remind him about a field call to the top neuro in Madras almost twenty years ago.
He laughs, recalling anecdotes from long ago.
The top neuro from down south just spent three hours with him. A Christian discussing Chapter and verse of the Geeta.
Life is so weird.
Last week was sobering. Just one working day, the rest in meetings.
Meals precooked and frozen.
If there were a Refrigerator God, I’d pray at this shrine.
My desk, my home and my mailboxes are a mess.
From the air, the bright line dividing day and night looks just as stunning.
In Delhi, the kesu were in bloom, a fresh suit of blossoms transforming ordinary-looking trees.
And on landing, Bombay’s carpet of lights on velvet still looked like a living, pulsating being, drawing one in.
L’s home--when I reach it in the meandering bylanes of that farflung suburb-- that home is beautiful.
More so for what it stands for. Human will and a dream, beyond textbk hype.
A courage I am blessed to witness. Perhaps I will learn some.
I will pray for you, Sister said.
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
So I watched the day carefully today to see if it would be any different, if it showed any sign of being your special day; but the sunrise was just as powerful, golden dust dancing in the air, and the day had the same sort of busy-ness as it usually does, demanding an account of each moment; and in the evening the hill in the distance seemed as serene, covered with a peach mist; and I often think of timezones, your being here and being in another sphere another lifetime, and realized despite the lack and lacking a limb and comfortable in the hard shell, it is still a celebration.
Friday, February 19, 2010
An anthology allows you to taste fleetingly, sample and move on if you will, nice knowing-you, no commitment and no hard feelings. Sometimes the words strike a chord and resonate, sometimes the words cleanse your neurons of the gunk accumulated and force you to sit up straight.
Like Salinger, and well, Bananafish.
Like Ruth Praver Jhabvala and that incredibly intricate abstract in Mirrorwork.
Links to a Jhabvala story from the New Yorker archives here:http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/features/2008/07/28/080728fi_fiction_jhabvala?currentPage=all#ixzz0fyou6x2M
Sunrises on clear morning continue to enthrall. Pink and white and a tinge of orange, a dash of clouds overhead; and the eucalyptus tall and proud, each individual leaf outlined like a mughal miniature. Dew trembling at the edge of bamboo leaves and the bougainvillea rushing mad in its generosity.
Amit, thanks for the Beautiful blog award, and I shall do this tag in bite sized pieces, for to write an entire post would be completely too much.
Baroda? The warmth of home and the sadness of old places past their prime. Kalyan shabby and faded, resigned to its fate; empty and without a chaat counter, no bhel, what a sacrilege for a spot once famous for this comfort food. The ASE premises now rubble on a vacant corner lot, once upon a time the country’s best, most modern, shining steel and technology-proud pharma plant occupied these vast lands. The malls that line the corner seem a mockery. Once upon a time I’d interned here.
Monday, February 15, 2010
The contrast with backstory (via wikipedia) is shocking; a tale peppered with grief and failure, rich in texture and layers, something Faulkner would have written. I read about this particular nun’s decision to leave the order, try and establish a career with music and fail, try and build a poorhouse, and then be hounded by the government for back taxes so much so that she and her partner take their lives. The story hasn’t left me, though its been a few days since.
And in miracles, suddenly at five past six this morning the CD drive on my comp, for long given up as dead and a traitor, certified as such by technician—well, it began to hum and function again. Of its own will and fancy, and wonders will never cease.
And the 9 kids who died in Pune's terrorist blast. RIP.
I wont let myself think of the parents. Not yet.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
A sufi singer listens to a flute recital and touches something in the air, gesticulating as if he is meeting an old friend or spots a thing of much wonder, amazed, as if he is picking up something only he can see. Such is the delight of special sunrises, and bougainvillea in overflowing pinks.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Watched y’day a fragment of The White Balloon. So simple and so stunning.
Also began Mirrorwork with a story by Manto titled Toba Tek Singh. Beautiful, to make the reader laugh and cry at will.
Thinking about the wild turns- crazy loops- that destiny takes.
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
That lucid lucent enormous moon, with that halo around. And how HUGE and red it looked past the dark of neem branch + leaves the next dawn.
That ice water/scathing shock of one’s first-ever Salinger.
A perfect day for bananafish. Read.
Could I reassemble a watch by myself? A simple, rustic old fashioned watch? Stunned. Yet I, my mind will question. Why will it not accept?
The curve of the beach from that vantage point, the peach and blue like crayon color on the horizon. Leaving footsteps in the wet sand. A runaway for ten minutes pre-meetings. The hiss of the wash and the sand-designs of crabs. The advancing high tide. The barking strays that turned happy once I inched closer.
Listening to CB even if for ten min. He speaks from the heart. Even if he mumbles a little. Still reading. A would have majorly run her red pencil across most pages.How impressive what M has done, dividing time so he can do what he wants to do, repaying a debt to life.
The random leaf patterns in that concrete path- smart idea.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Shubha Mudgal, a salaam.
Its the way her voice surges, conquers all three scales.
Nothing delicate or tinny about this.Robust, rich and soaring to the skies.
Ooncha balamji ka des...
These words have been echoing all day.
The manner in which the beat sounds.
Perhaps its the blend of passion and mysticism in the verse. That's what the reviews say.
Anyway, I don't understand any of that.
Something good came from that RIP Worldspace.
I took the dust covers off the music system.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Perhaps it was the b & w photography, that play of shadow and light with an ethereal Nargis.
Perhaps it was the music, melodious, lilting Shankar Jaikishan. And some of that background score, specially the shivranjani which made the leap to a full number in Mera Naam Joker two decades later.
The locations, with luxurious homes that look like homes. The beauty of the outdoors in b&w, light streaming past trees.
Perhaps it was the simplicity of the storyline.Linear and unlayered.
Perhaps because it reminds me of simpler values and times.
Added: I must not forget the vintage furniture, lovely retro cupboards and that settee with an inbuilt bookshelf- smart.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Which is why when someone goes completely silent without any reason, I tremble and go for a toss.
To me, where I'm coming from, based on my history, it is a slight, a personal rejection.
I don't do rejections too well. I thrive on acceptance, assurance. Gimme my security blanket.
Crazy? You bet it is.
So it was marvelous to sit by your side, hear your story, the dribbles, fragments and pieces you chose to share.
While knowing all the time, very likely you'll clam up, pack and move once again, home as you know it.
It was worth the hour long walk looking for an auto, and worth that plea to the cabbie, and the late hour.
Life lesson for me-- take people as they are.
As is, where is.
I'll try. Irrespective of the jagged edges.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
I don’t do the close-up.
By the time I get to zoom in, the word count is done, khatam and its time to close shop.
And I write Indian. Which means I expect a reader to know backstories, cultural stuff like honor killings and the caste system.
I have a thick skin for “no’s” and getting thicker.
That, or write about the familiar, write for the firang reader-- which seems such a sell out.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
For this basic courtesy and decency, as a proud Gujarati- thank you.
I am quite fed up of the spate of vicious attacks on the state. One nasty but obvious reason is the preponderance of people from other states in the media, paired with the less than perfect economic plight of their home states.
While 2002 was a tragedy and chaos of the worst order, which state in the country has been free of a law and order machinery breakdown? What happened cannot and should not be excused. And this stands true for several cringe-worthy events in the country.
High time the country as a whole get its act in order- stop picking on Gujarat, stop sneering every time the name of the state is taken.
I was dazed at the close.
She brings her reader to a place that is unsettling, strange and yet known, and leaves them there, letting them draw their own conclusions, so much said unsaid. Perhaps that is the best way, a quicksilver shorthand that the clued-in reader grasps, and for the rest it does not matter.
Amazing mastery of the craft.
Monday, January 18, 2010
On the to-read list: Mirrorwork. An anthology of Indian writing.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Brings back memories of Kutch-Amdavad, Latur.
Also that catastrophe with our western neighbor. Also China, when entire buildings collapsed, that school building, remember?
Why does the earth get so angry, so often.
Why this indifference and disgust?
Or does periodic anguish serve to tie the world together.
A reminder of our common fate?