Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Only in Bby do you venture from work at 11pm, and are not scared out of your wits driving past almost empty industrial-area roads, only in Bby do you call and tell your vegetable vendor to leave your order with the security guard at the main gate of your complex, only in Bby do you eat s'wiches at midnight listening to songs over the radio, and no one gives quite a damn. 
Salaam Bby.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Vedic hymns
Rise to the skies
Fervent prayer

Marigold, ashoka leaves, jasmine
Festive crowds but no jostling
the red of the shamiana reflected on eager faces
Such is the power of the presence
What must happen when avatars visit?

Young boys enunciate in precise sanskit
Proud heritage
of limits, bounds and standards
Reciting from memory, perfection
I watch with envy.

Back home
the loafers, the idle, time pass
Mohawk cut and long tressed,
smoke weed, play cards,
begin every second line with the F word
These guys don’t even hobble to the starting line

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Amongst beautiful things encountered:
A perfect alphonso mango, an aaphus, from my friend V’s ancestral lands somewhere along the sloping hills of Ratnagiri; I wait for this one since it is the only mango I shall relish this season,
The glittering shimmering sea from the 19th flr at NP,
The wow factor of my first ever telepresence conference…astounding!

The brilliant look of Madame Tutli Putli : YT
those eyes!

Awe at this poem from Rasala

Monday, May 21, 2012

I crave the sun. I thirst for it, like a junkie needing his fix. Or his eyes go all wonky and his hands shake…or whatever it is that happens--but a fix all right, this walking in the scorching sun, walking as my skin warms and then sizzles and tans, and my brain makes whatever connections it does to energize my day like a shot of electricity. I thirst for it, like the green that lines the track, chlorophyll coming to life as sunlight seeps in, nourishing, validating a reason for its existence. I think of Karna, paying homage, arghya, to the Sun by the lazy waters of the Ganges. And then walking back, bronze-rippled even as the Sun coasted overhead, aloof but watching. I think of the wife of the Sun god who’d created a shadow personae, Chaya, because she couldn’t withstand his brilliance. And mostly I think of the play of light and dark, and the unending cycle of seasons, and lifetimes.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

the gulmohur are in bloom.
delicate and generous.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Today’s beautiful thing was the celebration this evening with my friend X.
She  celebrated her four walls becoming her own, her loan repaid in full. Now she and her son are secure for life.
The mandatory six-month wait for her divorce will be over next month.
Peace of mind, freedom from mental trauma is a truly beautiful thing.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

That line of mountain-valley
Hovers over my day
an invisible charm


deft line strokes
haiku masterpieces.
in translation:
The effrontery!
enchantment vanishes

lines on a map
hop, skip and jump
a ribbon to the horizon

today's beautiful thing: Google images for Valley of flowers + India

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Today’s beautiful thing: The art of Henry Darger

Discussing with my friend A, abt whether imagination limits what one writes, specially if you’re writing essays, CNF, and what happens once you’re done, you reach the limit?

She pointed me to Henry Darger.

What a story.

What amazing art--- what ABANDON… his figures fly off the plane of the page into the ether with a whistle

BUT to think of all this while plodding on at a day job? A lower level one, cleaning floors and rolling bandages?

To think and make such AMAZING art cloistered in a room, WITHOUT the pat on the back that you and I and every single one professing to be CREATIVE craves?


(If we must put Darger in a box labeled strange and borderline psychotic—a lot of artists belong in there, starting with Van Gogh, and I can live with that, damn and ptoee to the labeling.)

Google images for Henry Darger

Monday, May 14, 2012

Today’s beautiful thing:

Yesterday, thanks to my friend N, I watched some fantastic work: Motley’s presentation of One Act Plays by the redoubtable Mr. George Bernard Shaw. Prithvi does not tolerate the unprepared---with that perfect-acoustics amphitheater there’s no room for goof ups. GBS would have been proud of that perfect British diction, sharp accent and polished acting.
Three One Act Plays were featured: English Pronunciation, How he lied to her husband, and Village Wooin’ (see links)

English pronunciation was amusing and an eyeopener; I learned how much of the language I happily maul. But as long as I don’t have to present anemones to a Viscount in Islington, I should be all right.

Yes, the diction was so sharp it could slice a brick. Given our Indian propensity for rounding edges, bringing in a dash of local flavor from all the vernacular languages  we’re proud to know, and mumbling words-- I wonder how they did it.

Perhaps this is what professionalism is, delivering a flawless performance despite.

The cast deserved every single clap of that standing ovation.

English Pronunciation: http://seit.unsw.adfa.edu.au/staff/sites/hrp/useful/EnglishPronunciationGBShaw.html

How He Lied To Her Husband : http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3544/3544-h/3544-h.htm

Village Wooin’ : http://www.indianexpress.com/news/by-george-its-classic/823976/

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Today’s beautiful things

When I picked up yesterday’s images from my long-patient flickr account, I found these.

Stone work from a window at the Nizam’s Chowmahalla palace, Hyd.
Stone work from a pillar at Baroda Palace gate.

Spectacular craftsmanship.
When I see good work, it pokes and prods me, what have I done recently? Anything chiselled?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Today’s top beautiful thing:
Have you seen THIS? Photos from the Raj, 1912-1914. What a gift!
Don’t miss the Sahib in sola topee and suit in sweltering Calcutta, and the tea party.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Compound interest is one of the more beautiful things on earth. As lovely as dividend income, preferably tax free. Compund interest pays the bills and school fees when you have to downsize your job to take care of your ill wife and young daughters. Some of my earliest memories are of depositing dividend cheques at the bank, at a time when perhaps the teller counters were higher than I was. That change from a driver-driven car in class 1, to class 3’s pushing into a crowded school bus , first weeping and then damn well learning how to. Art class- batik work, clay work... Hobby Center.. Music lessons on and off and on. Sleeping on the terrace-- silver on concrete,  the cool touch of bedsheets, that endless array of stars in the sky, feeling scared at an odd rustle in the night, and pretending to sleep. Those vacations spent reading all the books at Cinderella’s, the neighborhood library. Those vacations at tourist spots in the state, Tithal, and Chorwad and Saputara and Dandi.

Perhaps that  was mindful living.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

I returned slightly fuming from the park this morning—if such a thing is possible. Something’s off about this man playing so intensively with this child that’s not his, taking her on bike rides and all, does her grandmother not see?

Then on the other hand, my intuition has tracked way off radar in the past, so perhaps I should just shut the fug up.

Ma would never have allowed it. Never.

This—personal space, not letting someone touch you in certain places, walking away, even hitting if someone acted funny, telling her no matter what—this is one of the first things she’d taught me at seven.

Ma as in Mummy, my stepmom. As Lincoln said, his angel-mother.

My own mother (who’d been very ill for most of her life) died when I was five, and then for a year I was a vagabond, traipsing from house to house, bai trailing sometimes, sometimes not, hair uncombed, meals not eaten, homework undone. A skinny unkempt brat.

Just as I was about to be packed off to public school, a family friend introduced her once-classmate in distant A’bad, aka Mummy.

I just guess I was just very very lucky.

I still remember—now someone would tell me what time I could come back from play, someone would pack my lunchbox. Instead of vagabond avatar, I began going to art class and music class at Birla Academy. Ma made a wall calendar from my first painting. That year, I remember I got a prize for civil deportment. That was Class 1.

Class 2 and life tumbled all over again. The doctors who were taking Ma through childbirth in A'bad, goofed horribly, and while the princess was perfect, thanks to God’s grace; Ma was in coma for three months and paralysed completely when she miraculously awoke.

But she was a different person. The loving, sensitive, generous woman, a classical sitarist, had become a poor joke of herself, a parody—she couldn’t move a finger and boy was she going to let you know about it. So there were these tornado-like downtimes but there were genuinely caring and fantastic times too, you never knew which was coming next. She waited for me to come home from school, asked me about my day, she nursed me when I ran raging fevers of 104. Music lessons, art , how to talk how to walk, how to behave, how to speak, how not to, how to hit out—all of this she taught us. In time, the kid and I developed private code to identify the weather. Sudden dust storms, sudden cyclones and lightning were phenomenon you learned to live with and navigate, tip toe past and sure enough calm seas would ensue, Sometimes I think I adjust too much, give too trustingly and expect little in return on account of this conditioning. It is only now, at 47 that I have learned to watch myself and to demand and yes, stomp my foot hard, literally and figuratively, too bad if you don’t like it.

Ma was very bitter when she died after 22 years of illness, the princess’s death added to the toll. But she had her good moments too.

And if I walk with a straight spine and can converse equipoise with beggars as with kings, I know where the credit is due.

Monday, May 07, 2012

The laburnum are blooming, their color a match for the scorching sun. Last few nights the moon has been magnificent, a giant helium balloon riding the sky. Wonder what it must’ve been like in places where it spills silver on the ground. Wonder what Van Gogh would have done with a moon like this, as magnificent, as crazily generous.

In other stuff, that Tagore thing didn’t come thru, licked my wounds but I shall survive and recycle.

Satyamev jayate is piercing and cool but takes away 1.5 hours on a precious Sunday—I dusted and cleaned shelves during the ad breaks. Solid guts the man has, to make this. female foeticide is a tough one to tackle head on.

Was on thin ice, y’day morning my aunt had reminded me of all the vows and boons and beseechings the parents went thru to have me, and how I’d been dressed in second hand clothes for the first five years to keep a promise. Guess I’m lucky, superbly lucky to be born in a household where my birth was keenly awaited, where I had the freedom to step out and make my own way... But for the grace of God.

Lucky too, to be born on this side of the border, and despite myself am reading Tehmina Durrani’s My Feudal Lord, parts of the story remind me of a certain someone.Yes, the grace of the Lord.

Friday, May 04, 2012

The great Mughal Emperor, Jehangir, is believed to have said about Kashmir, “If there is Paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this.”

My very modest attempt to salute this enchantment, “These Secrets of Spring” is published in The Valley Scribe.

A poem, “May Morn in Mumbai”, is on page 10.


(page 8, 9,10)

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

These last few nights

I’ve been dreaming-- recurrent dreams
Of health emergencies
that you didn’t have
not on that last journey
never ever
Each worse than the one before
I awake thoughtful, perplexed.
Perhaps in a part of my mind
A space
still holds fast
still denies
Perhaps I still need to surrender
What I cradle in these thoughts
To the five elements;
Let you roam free where your spirit soars
and infinitesimal slivers of your soul,
finally free
dance with the sunlight
to rebirth