Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Just as I was about to write that last year wasn't hot writing-wise, the cell beeped.

A Festival of Free Verse will formally be launched in A'bad on Saturday.

Reminder: Celebrate victories.

2014: Two important- to-me  essays saw light of day: Remembering Awe and Charcoal & glitter

Work on the mammoth tx and etc continues.

My heap of rejection slips grows larger.




Monday, December 29, 2014

Things I did this year; Continued to live frugally +



1.       Invested in select close ended micro caps funds.  Other than the inherited ELSS tax ones this is the first time I went closed ended.
2.       Invested in small caps watching volumes and rule of ten. Some worked, some didn’t. This is more for my brain rather than some path breaking return.
3.       Disconnected from pink n’papers. Put in more google alerts. Subscibed to some fantastic inv blogs.
4.       Continued to inv in large cap MF
5.        Continued to add to “what has worked” core stocks. Sometimes the price was right sometimes not. What has worked is based on 2008- 2014 CAGR on holdings.
6.       Reached a comfort level with a 5 figure price. At a 52 wk low, I’ll take it.
7.       Continued to look at div payout and ROCE as key factors. Micromanaged dividend payouts. Cash flow!
8.       Continued to inv in PPF. Taxfree, thanks to GOI.
9.       Continued to track costs. Now I have data from 2008 (minus the time I was away on parent duty)
10.   Last few years I was midcap fund heavy for new inv. I can live with that.
11.    Did the paperwork for junk owned. You never know when the land suddenly turns valuable. Or the Co is acquired.
12.   Need to begin to sell based on perf. Need to be able to sell a parent owned stock even though he was very good a picker. On the other hand these amounts were minimal so let it ride.
13.   For the first time bought back something sold if the perf justified it.

I took this off yday after looking aghast at the counter. Put it back today, who cares.




Friday, December 26, 2014

What a beautiful time of the year. 
All the homes decked with lights. 
Everyone smiling and wishing. Carols. 
Marzipans and plum cake!

Yesterdays a wish and tomorrows a dream...
~ Here's to an enriching, meaningful, wonderous 2015!




Tuesday, December 23, 2014

So DELIGHTED to see the Icestupa project on Indiegogo close ABOVE  target.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ice-stupa-artificial-glaciers-of-ladakh

Forces one to reevaluate one's perception of the world...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

What kind of scoundrel would kill innocent children at school?
So this is what a Rakshasa, an ogre is like. May they all burn in hell.
We have a saying-- if you feed a snake milk, he is still a snake, he will bite you one day for sure.


Monday, December 15, 2014

On FB, the page Bloggers of years past or some such has come alive, of course I joined up. And of course I stayed quiet. WHO the hell wants to be reminded of the person-that-one-once-was, naive and delightfully trusting. Very "look- ma- no-hands". Anyway, with the people who mattered one has kept in touch IRL. The rest? hmm....

This whole crowdfunding experiment has been tremendously interesting. More later.

Watching a not-bad movie on TV last night, believe it or not a light flickered on, bright and happy in my mind. A *batti* moment. Sure put the zest back in my mornings.


Monday, December 08, 2014

Usually I don't say no to work or ask for more time. (This is about non-work work.)
But today I did. 
With unexpected consequences. Which is surprising. 
Also opens a window to knowing another facet of a person.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

To be too busy at some work. And to not be busy at all. What a dichotomy. 
A different pace. The evenings come in sooner, the colors more pastel than you could imagine.
A time for all seasons....

Monday, November 24, 2014

Loop mobile ought to be sued to the skies for dumping users. No outgoing calls from 10/11, do wtf you want. I worried,  cussed, changed phones. Previously I'd always wondered why people needed two sim cards. Duly ported after pulling a few strings.

When you have GOT to extend a tale, everything's fodder, all is fair. Names, people, places, everything is game, pick and use. Yet.

Vulnerable? Cant think of the word without thinking of you. smoke and mirrors make good telling.  one does never forget. never. everything changes and nothing does. goosebumps-wary.







Monday, November 17, 2014

One step forward and ten back. You attempt something new. You stumble. Raw skin burns--burns more as the skin peels off-- you wince. You are aghast at how little you know. You wonder about the slope, the sharp edges, the precipices ahead.  You’re equipped poorly, winging it, just your gumption. You remind yourself of places you’ve come from and places you’ve been. You plod on. You put away the thought, regretfully, of this being do or die. You plod on, there is no other choice.

Monday, November 10, 2014


Lovely, somber  temple ceremony for Bhagwati puja last week; reminder to self—learn Sri Suktam. The list grows longer. 
http://www.stephen-knapp.com/prayers_to_goddess_lakshmi.htm

For how long can one drive ahead using the reverse gear, while looking into the rear mirror? Painful + Horrible. Just realized how long- over 1 decade – I’ve been doing this. Sometimes it takes an outside nudge to remind one of one’s self worth.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

GK was matter-of-fact as he shared the news. Stoic as ever.  I tried staying on somewhat even keel remembering the story of the Buddha and the mustard seed. And the story of Yudhishthir at the gates of heaven, what is the greatest lie man hides from himself.  So be it.

So many memories. GK had helped Baba with the great subcontinental move, and setting up house. I still remember being taken for a dekko to Qutub Minar and the Red Fort after that historic class 4 visit, the rest of the home visitors had left and I was still taken there in regal style. So many times we’d be asked to visit them in their grand DK quarters, but that never happened, don’t know why. That hospital visit in 2010 when Baba was ill and all of us knew he wasn’t getting any better, that very real shock at the end.  He has been a bulwark. Part of my already-crumbling support system. And now this. The least one can do is stay somewhat as stoic.

Monday, November 03, 2014



Look beneath the surface and there’s always something. Always. That graceful silver-haired lady I complimented (this morning at the park) on having the gumption to dump hair color? Turned out she’s a backpacker, just a few years older than I am.  Back from Tawang. Off to Bhutan. And a survivor post-deep personal loss (We traded stories, this is my scab, what's yours?) Is the freedom to travel-- footloose, fancy free, pack on back and song on lip—a perk that has to be earned? Do we travel because we have to, or simply travel because we can?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

94 visits to this blessed blog! Almost fell off my chair.
So here goes:
This is the appeal I mass mailed few day ago. Putting up here too.



Hello!

I recently volunteered at an alternative institute, SECMOL in Ladakh for 3 weeks.

SECMOL is largely independent, a prime example of eco-friendly sustainable living, with self -sufficient solar energy, solar heating, own source of water, organic farming, etc.  The setting is beautiful—on a cliff above the Indus, surrounded by towering mountains.

I’d like to share a water conservation project, The Ice Stupa Project, that SECMOL is working on, along with the monks from the renowned Phyang monastery. HH Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpochey (one of the highest incarnate Lamas) is actively supporting this project. 

Towering Ice stupas, conical artificial glaciers of about 12 storey height, will be built to conserve water for the time when it is needed the most. Villagers will be able to take an extra crop. This field of glaciers will be created using gravity and school-level science, that water finds its own level.

This project is being funded using crowdfunding on Indiegogo, and I actively seek your support for this:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ice-stupa-artificial-glaciers-of-ladakh/x/8841831

Forwarding the text of a mail from SECMOL founder Sonam Wangchuk.

Regards


quote
I am writing this email to let you know that the much awaited "Ice Stupa Artificial Glacier" project is now launched on indiegogo.com. I hope you will like the idea and support it.

I hope you will like the idea and support it.

Please don't feel compelled if you are not in a position to contribute financially now, you can contribute by sharing this idea with your friends, relatives and the media. It's as much an Education Campaign as it is a Fund Raising Campaign. 

You can either forward this email to friends with a note of introduction or post it on social media sites, although studies show that email has the best success rate.

However if you do want to make a contribution then this is the right time. Studies also show that most successful projects on crowd-funding platforms collect up to 30% of the target in the first 3 days.  It is said that this attracts and encourages other unknown potential contributors and the media (which then helps in the snowballing effect) .It also raises the ranking of the project (called GoGo factor) on the Indiegogo site which helps a lot in promoting a project.  

Luckily we seem to be not too far away from this rate, since today, on the third day it has reached 11%.of the target amount.

So whether it is sharing the news or contribution... earlier the better.

Here is the link to the site that has a short film and all details:
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ice-stupa-artificial-glaciers-of-ladakh/x/8841831

Best wishes and many thanks for your support
Sonam Wangchuk
PS:  Kindly write emails related to the ice stupa project to the dedicated id  icestupa@gmail.com
unquote

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014






Signs of genius are aplenty at the campus. From the line of poplars and willows that line the drive (also work as a wind breaker) and the tumble of green of the farms and garden. Then you look around and see how the site has been chosen atop a cliff—so that was more than luck at work when the heavens opened up and poured in 2010, a meadow nearby became a rough gorge. The buildings are built  back-to mountains— solid protection  against the cold, gale-quality wind that begins every afternoon .What looks like building at different levels is smart thinking that has taken advantage of the difficult terrain… rooms have been set into a cliff, and mud construction used to make the rooms weather friendly. The larger buildings have glass facades, but the floors are stone set into mud, like mosaic, with wooded pillars and wood first floor built up patta-style. Not anti-plastic – plastic sheets used where sensible, in the stairwells for instance.

Realized just how cold it was when I reached the airport which was bricks-and-cement built.

Thoreau would have been pleased. As also Emerson. Almost completely self sufficient. Solar power. Solar heating. Solar cooker. Tap water from harnessed from a glacier stream. Drinking water from a handpump, groundwater courtesy the Indus that zestfully flows by. Milk from their cows, Badol and Baskit (little Thoksar is too little to but moo).Abundant farms—on difficult terrain, yes they use IV-tube drip irrigation. Greenhouses set well into the ground, stocking up for those killer winter months.  All waste is recycled  into compost, or modified and reused.


SECMOL time is one hour ahead of India time, daylight saving time—you get up early enough to see the first orange glow outlining distant snow clad mountains. Awake to cardamom- cinnamon “Cha” in the friendly common room with its magazines and guitars and insistent cats! 
Trying to get back to “normalcy” after  three weeks of serene, tranquil unconnected living…not much more to do than peel potatoes or roll endless parathas or go for a walk down the winding road—or just try teach some Hindi or English… At the campus there were 34 students who were taking their 12th, and about 15 college students who were commuting to the Leh college every day. Amazing spirit. The campus is run by them, they allocate different duties.



After the minus 8 minimum or more like 15-18 deg day temp that the (solar heated, mud wall rammed earth structure, all nature friendly) campus was maintained at, getting back to Mumbai has been a bit of a drain… just feel so hot all the time! The campus was v interesting—solar power, solar heating, own food grown on the farm, milk from cows, own water from the Indus, great library—but no cell signals, poor internet (via satellite) and a 3.5 km walk through rough terrain short-cut to the highway if you want to reach Leh, 18 odd km away… but what quiet, just the roar of the Indus past the cliff and the roar of the wind down the mountains…

The work days were pretty easy with plenty of free time. Then the whole jingbang decided to go on annual long tour to Himachal—a bus was hired, and all the camping and cooking good piled on top and away they went… about 8 of us volunteers stayed behind not wanting any more adventures with the great roads and cold… their 5 day trip turned into a 9 day one… vacation within a vacation… read a lot of good books and went on long walks. Ruth Jhabvala and RK Narayan…And slept—must have caught up on years of sleep deficit and built up reserves for years ahead. Such stars and clear skies the likes of which I’ve never seen.
But what kind of place is this, no one locked up the rooms, or was afraid of anyone dropping in unannounced—other than the Dzo ( a cow +yak mix breed), perhaps who would meander in every night jumping over the makeshift gate and try and eat up the vegetables and green…


"All is well!"—the SECMOL founder was the inspiration for the 3 Idiots character Phuntshok Wangdu, did you know that??

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Back, but
holding in my veins
the quiet of the mountains
changing colors of the willow- poplar
and afoot
the dancing Indus

as yet, 
unruly, untamed.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

  A pre trip publication bonanza, though some of these did get published earlier, only I found them now....


  A poem here:

Two translated poems here:

A short story here:


http://www.bigpulp.com/#!store/c1r46/!/Child-of-Words-Issue-2/p/41351903/category=8768132

Monday, September 15, 2014


Leh. One more week to go. Less than a week. That hollow-gut feeling. Wondering what 16 deg C and 6 deg C (and lower) will feel like, after the salubrious climes one is used to.  Well, when it rains here it rains the hell out, but that’s it.  Since one had booked oneself way back in March, its not as if this is a surprise.  Even if flight no’s have changed, flights dropped without any notice --that got me scrambling for the workplace travel desk. Volunteering . This time the living is going to be different. No qualis, no hotel room, no chattering tour group “safety in numbers”. I have a sleeping bag meant for the Arctic. And I will find my way there. This season the air will be very thin and oxygen scarce. Last week I was worried about the weather there, but this part of the state seems to have been saved of the natural disaster that has finished Srinagar for now. The Chini do periodically threaten, but that is par for the course, in the army museum one gets the feeling that this particular war was not over, it was just put on hold a few decades.

For some reason it seems important to remember the rain in A’bad that afternoon. Where did the gentle rain I was familiar with back in the 80’s go? This was pelting, drench to the skin rain, wading required—though I compulsively carry rain gear wherever I go. The home situation was sobering. Hammers home the point—life is a privilege. Life is too short. Do what you must do.

9000 full-grown , magnificent trees. That’s what BMC will massacre to widen one wandering lane (that was once a walking track) so as to join two suburbs better. I’d like to box their collective ears. For each full grown, few decade old tree they’ll plant 5 saplings and not one will survive past week 1. What rascals. The group ought to be airdropped on Khardungla and asked to breathe—that, gentlemen, is what low-oxygen  content air feels like. And yet we have people like Dr. Usha and Renee to honor and cherish the green we have left—the teak are in bloom.

How can this scoundrel carry this off so well?

http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/boyUkBCBuR0qJtc5pyTTMM/The-curious-case-of-a-Citibank-fraudster.html

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Today I've cancelled, booked and rebooked tickets. Maniac style.
How quickly bad goes to beyond worse. How quickly the big C takes its dues, wipes one out, no mercies, no quarter given.
Even if you've read someone's face month after month, seen the writing there.Yet.
Chilling.
I'm all right. This is not about me. Other than the much-ignored wake up call not to take life for granted.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


Cat-and-dog and the zoo rain where the heavens send sluices of water on hapless denizens. Just after I assured someone monsoon was over and done with.  Sneaky rain this, the gardener at the park had to lend me an umbrella. One minute sunshine, next rain. Like life!

Behadd was so GOOD. Why can’t we make TV programs half as good as theirs, considering we have almost the same gene pool etc etc? Had stopped watching Sat. night taken aback at what seemed like a standard storyline. So glad I caught up with the rest y’day.. superb storyline. Umera Ahmed is a stunning writer.


Model Town Andheri W Ganpati. That’s where these pictures are from. Beautifully crafted.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Space is a luxury in this city. Yet the 1970’s style institute by the sea, abundant with space, so empty,  their equipment very seventies too, should be interesting volunteering there—if they’ll have me, that is. Getting there and returning will be a challenge, took me about 2 hours and jumping in and out of multiple modes of transport one way. Phew.


Now some luxury I have seen, but nothing quite like this—marble lined parking lots, garages at Pali Hill. Old money speaks quietly.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014



From Ujjain you take a train to go to Maksi. From Maksi village you either take a tempo or call and ask to be picked up…a dirt track with tons of potholes and bumps leads to Luniyakhedi, to Padma Shri Prahlad Tippaniya’s home and institute set in the middle of nowhere amongst miles and miles of green fields…

Maksi station has a platform at ground level so you have to climb down the seedi or jump a bit…

This time it has not rained enough… the ponds were not full… but enough rain to give a gentle green cover and get a cool wind blowing…unlike Mumbai, Malwa rain is gentle rain, falling softly on the ground

We were about 18 people at the institute, though a few people left after 1-2 days… about 8 people stayed on for all five days. It was a motley mix—a few people had been there previously as well. Shabnam Virmani joined us for a few days—she’s a documentary movie maker and  was one of the pioneers of the Kabir festival. Linda Hess joined us too—she’s a  Prof at Stanford , now is in her seventies and VERY lively—has done a great deal of scholarly work on Kabir, living in Malwa for 12 years, going from village to village in a jampacked car for performances… Also met a young boy Vivek who is teaching at UCLA—he was living in the institute and documenting the work for his PhD thesis…superb dholak, tabla and harmonium player too…Ankit Chadha, the dastangoi—famous storyteller  in the Persian style was with us too…

Living arrangements were basic—simple poly-fiber matresses , grab a pillow, sheets—though I had taken my own. Many people preferred to sleep on the terrace. The mosquitos were powerful. But what a sky! So many stars… I saw jugnu—fireflies—for the first time ever..magical!

Most people would be up by 6-6.30, go for tea—with milk from the homestead’s buffaloes and cow – they actually bought a new buffalo for the workshop. J Then a bath, the bath water heated on a choolah—a few bathrooms on the first floor and also a row of nicely tiled bathrooms behind the institute…Then breakfast and then the singing lessons would begin about 9.30 AM or so…breaking for lunch around 1, reassembling around 2.30 PM and continuing till about 5 PM.. most people would go for a walk to lake or just roam around …dinner around 8, and then more singing or talking…someone would begin and the rest would just join in…Prahladji spent his entire day with us, and the women from his household cooked for us and looked after us, pampering us.

5 days of no internet, no newspapers , no TV…perfect!


As you can imagine, the goodbyes were quite emotional. The last  session was a feedback session and a few people cried…

Will share more memories as they come to mind. Right now, the music echoes.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Random observations
Almost empty trains rattle and sway, cutting through the night. trains that have passengers plod through, steadily.

At the park: Such a cascade of song from a  delicate bird. Droplets in a line trace a pine branch.

Layers…  what you see is not what is… revelations you had never guessed at. Such sadness. Despair. In sharing, so much of the past comes to life. So much seeps through, shapes the present. And now it’s too late. Life is a privilege.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Now I’d gone to the bank for signature verification… didn't know I’d end up with a lesson in history and Indus valley civilization!

“So you’re from Surat, are you?” I asked the young bank manager out of politeness after we’d established that we were both from the same state. “No, actually from Harappa… you know, Mohenjodaro and all that…”  he said, and sketched the grid of homes on rough paper, narrating where the water and drainage lines were.

And then talked about how his community had fled what must have been Sindh, to settle somewhere in Kutch. And then he recounted the tale of Moomal and Mahendra… His extended family worships Rani Moomal as their deity. Her sacrifice and lifelong penance seemed as real as an event that happened a day ago.

http://www.rajputana.myewebsite.com/articles/rajput-love-story---mumal-mahindra.html



I was familiar with this story from my 2012 visit to Jaisalmer—I’d gone to Lodhruva as well.

All this seems like it has happened yesterday, not centuries ago.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Okay, confession time. Never quite thought I’d begin watching TV serials again. Until Zindagi, that is. Excellent story lines, solid acting, good sets—the poor look poor, the rich look glamorous but not garish. Add to that the curiosity about the “other”… people who are so very similar but not quite. What a relief to watch TV without cringing. 
Everything else has taken a backseat. Looks like I’m not the only one…


http://epaper.dnaindia.com/story.aspx?id=67879&boxid=72028&ed_date=2014-07-20&ed_code=820009&ed_page=10

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Yesterday I finally finished reading R K Narayan’s The Painter of Signs… what a brilliant story, what pacing and crafting… my copy dog-eared, yellowed pages, circa 1986, cost Rs. 17/ ! The book lives up to the accolades on the back cover. Well worth the trouble of reading in a shaking, moving train hurtling through the country at 100 kmph. Totally unexpected ending, this one. What terrific characterisation...Will track down and read the rest.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

There are so many different kinds of peace. I discovered a different peace during a short trip to Ajmer and Pushkar. At the dargah, we were blessed and had excellent prayers without jostling crowds. The place was serene and somber, minus the crowds on account of their religious month. Pushkar was peaceful too, minus the priest at the lake who wanted to assist, and whom I had to politely tell I didn’t need help. Pushkar—the first temple to Brahmaji that I’ve prayed to…That underground cave where Lord Shiva is prayed to… looked ancient, why is it underground, how old was it, who built the temple there and why? So many questions. Also insisted on visiting the Gorakhnath temple as a mark of respect to the evolved soul.








Thursday, July 03, 2014

Rain! Sheets of water hitting the ground. Enveloping the vehicle, drawing a furious water curtain close...like someone marooned on a mist-covered island...that was yesterday...

We desperately need the rain...June was v bad. More, please!

Monday, June 30, 2014



I had a very interesting experience the other day. Someone asked me for advice, and perhaps that person didn’t care for what I said, possibly that person’s mind was already made up and they were just looking for a reaffirmation. Which was the problem--I had quite the opposite view. In the end the person did as they pleased. Quite interesting, this whole episode—taught me that people have already made up their minds about what they want to do when they ask for advice. One shouldn’t view this advice as a thing to give serious time and thought to, not more than superficial thought at any rate.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Somedays back I cancelled one of the newspapers I used to read. Added google alerts for specific journalists I liked to read and companies Added email subscriptions for several newspapers. Added email subscriptions for several GOOD blogs like dividendmantra, dividendgrowthinvestor, mrmoneymoustache. Have been A Simple Dollar loyalist for very long. And Subramoney, freefincal, 5 minute wrapup, Jagoinvestor, Moneylife, Morningstar and Onemint… among others for India.

Why didn’t I do this any earlier? No clue.

May not make a difference but sure FEELS good.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


If this unwinding is the epilogue, the prologue was written in 2005. How prophetic that realization of what was to happen, would happen,  certainly come to pass in the next few years strike me right then-- that the sand under my feet was shifting and would leave me adrift—that occur right then in that historical trading room, the rotunda at the nation’s major s. exchange.

I will never doubt my gut feel ever again.

The indices inch higher. Only to fall someday I’m sure. But I am at peace.

I choose  the light… as the prayer goes, asamo ma sat gamaya… from untruth to truth, from death to light everlasting.


I want to get back to being what I was.

Monday, June 23, 2014


A peaceful  Sunday after long. A productive day, I get over a month/ fortnight? long translation block and feel elated at a page!

My sis-in-law visited, the first family guest  in this not-so-new house even if it was only for half an hour.  I feel blessed.


How does one wipe out the negativity that has been built over the years of making do, adjusting?  Gratitude for what one has…openness to the world around…and?  I’m working on it slowly, what a weight off my shoulders.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

VODAFONE, in its infinite wisdom, has blocked all Loop users.

WHY?
Because Loop didn't pay up. But I did. Loop's problem is not my problem.

This means I cannot call my doctor, or my lawyer. Or the Police, if I have to.

What if there is an EMERGENCY?

What &*(((%%#$-- must be the latest business practice in the UK. 

Nasty PIRATES!

Try doing this in the UK, VODAFONE!

PS: To their credit, they replied to my mail to the UK CEO. Even if that was the fifth assistant to the big man.

PSS: Now I know why phones have dual sims.

Monday, June 16, 2014


So what do you say to someone close.  Just as one had foreseen the illness has spread, and every medical intervention merely a short term band aid. Plus the weight of having to put on a happy face. Life is so short, so beautiful…Life just IS …and yet.

Everything else pales in comparison. Life takes you by the collar, demanding to be taken seriously.

This first stage of monsoons, when one is grateful for the skies opening up…may the Gods be kind, we need the water… later of course one shall crib about the incessant rain and dark skies


What brilliance and kindness… looking at you, I can only imagine what Lord Rama must have looked like. May your life treat you well.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Clear skies… humidity 66%... waiting for the clouds to roll in and thunder.

This morning I got an armful of flowers from the garden…hibiscus and kailashpati … a fitting offering for the Gods.


So you put all your guts together and walk up and say what has to be said. What a relief. 

Wednesday, June 04, 2014


Goodbye Amby. At peace,GJK 6280. Hindustan Motors is ceasing production of the good faithful. Finally.

Yes, a solid car… but with hidden ambitions of being a truck. How else can you explain a 1967 model functioning and taking on long road trips in the 1980’s? Taking unheard-of loads—at one count we were so many I and a cousin sat first in the luggage compartment and then on the roof… what fun, we still laugh about those days… and when she began to get really old and worn the battery was the first to go, and all of us would be busy pushing her to make her start… and inevitably she would, a few paces down the road. GJK… first a rich jade and then silver-grey…but solid metal none of your flimsy ABS or tinplate... I had tried to drive her too, after my first lessons on a tiny fiat… had driven into the gate, knocking down a pillar-- which so mortified me that I gave up driving all together until the second license in 2010 and driving in my suburb which is a life lesson in patience , fortitude, compassion for the other so keen for getting his way....The Wagon R is light on her feet, responds to a feather touch.. but no way she will last a decade, alas, and it is unlikely that one speeds down a highway singing songs with her.

Monday, June 02, 2014



So humpty dumpty had a fall… didn’t notice the ripe fruit of the umber/guler that had plonked neatly near the office gate, and I slipped, and fell…I think the sunlight I soak in every morning on my walks is the reason I stood up, dusted myself and limped away… And yesterday I walked for an hour in the evening…Much gratitude to the Gods…


One advantage of old places such as the one I live in, are shortcut walking-only lanes that twist and turn, remnants of times when these were tracks that crept uphill through tangled forests… now that the said forests have been replaced by concrete, the tracks survive and cut short a 1.5 hr walk by 45 min. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Ma would have said eyes and no eyes....what a ruckus I create sometimes, from oversight or sheer stupidity.. the new Sony WX80 wasn't charging, a charger wasn't available online... ordered a new battery instead... that's when I notice I have been inserting the battery incorrectly....so so silly...offers food for thought, how many challenges in our lives arise from such instantaneous reactions??

Thursday, May 29, 2014



Yesterday something good happened after a really really long time…a project got returned with corrections… relief—I had forgotten what that emotion felt like, what being on the right track again felt like. I know there's tons of work ahead, this is only the starter.. yet.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The young girl starts singing crystal clear, falters a bit.. stops almost in tears... asks the judges if she can begin again...The song is Begum Parveeen Sultana's Hamey tumsey pyaar kitna...

She is admonished go ahead, sing the next line but no restarting and what a voice... enough to pull scabs from long healed wounds-- WONDERFUL!

 Last night I chanced upon a ghazal reality show on DD National-- Main khayal hoon kisi aur ka, mujhe chahta koi aur hai-- very good, excellent singing and strong judges in Kavita Krishnamurthy, Devika Pandit and Prof. Brelvi.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/state-editions/bhopal/reality-show-on-classical-music-ghazal.html

Only DD National can offer such content for the soul.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Very difficult to put the experience of the last few days into words. One cannot.  I do not have the vocabulary, and the essence is so rich. But yes, I did feel blessed and I did feel connected to the greats from the ages past. Much gratitude, a life time debt. 

So much still to learn. Also how deceptive appearances can be, when someone looking so simple holds a doctorate in Sanskrit…

Also heard this OUTSTANDING traditional band- dhol tasha band-- that accompanied the procession:

Monday, May 19, 2014



EK Cup Chya. One more solidly good Marathi film watched, thanks to DD Sahyadri.  
A bus conductor  who lives in a village gets a light bill for 73,000… and fights back. (I got up and immediately switched off the fan.)The three fourths I saw was very good, the rest of it must be as well—but it was getting late. How is it that Marathi movies get made on sensible budget with a solid storyline?


Thursday, May 15, 2014

So tomorrow it is; the big day or the bad day or whatever, though the poll verdict seems to be clear. Sadly.

With massive chunks of people not being able to vote, how can this be the mandate of the people?

Now we have 5 years to get our names on the lists.

If its any consolation the markets have been hyper, stocks long asleep, the sleep of decades of a drugged Cinderella, have suddenly jolted awake.

I shall remember what they say about "Raja, vaja, vandra"-- Kings, harmoniums, monkeys, they work as long as they do, and then they don't.

Oh well.

Monday, May 12, 2014




What intense energy, how many dreams in that room… On Sat. I attended a Q&A with Lunchbox Director Ritesh Batra, organized by Dear Cinema. To say it was amazing does not do justice to either Mr. Batra’s generous, freewheeling responses or the range of questions. Few things have stayed with me—begin with the character… and writers block is sheer nonsense…the sheer fussiness involvement with the script...What also came across was the importance of being networked… somewhere I also noticed I was almost the oldest person in that room.. somehow a liberating feeling, nothing to prove… I can mess up as much as I like and it simply doesn’t matter
Some neat links
The new Nokia was on silent. Which means I missed or messed up the calls from the writer of the book I transl. He doesn't care for the tx, the treatment. AFTER I filled in one notebook in neat handwriting.... We shall see what happens… but over the weekend I read a book after ages, relishing the written word and the heft of the book, the luxury of looking outside at sunshine on green and doing nothing...








Monday, May 05, 2014



Three hours of the young girl’s first-ever dance recital. Four, the audience restless. What  adrenalin must be pushing her on, each step perfect? The performance includes a piece dedicated to her God, who is different than the Gods prayed to at this event, a  specially composed and choreographed number. Later I see her God too propitiated at the altar on stage.... Only in India…

At a meeting, people step up and share their lifechange stories. No Gods here, only chanting, some as much as ten TEN hours a day. Not my way, but to each his own... Only in India…


At the temple I go to every week, preparations are afoot for a 4 day-religious ceremony to commemorate 5 cr renditions of the 1000 names of Lord Vishnu… momentous… all mistakes we make will accrue to him, and all the punya ours to keep, Guruji says... I'm  speechless. Only in India…

Sunday with a religious OD.

Saturday, May 03, 2014




“Kaifi and I… “ watched this play at Prithvi on May 1. Packed audience, encore audience etc etc. Commemorating May day. Also 22 years at work here. Twenty two.  Something nudged me in the polished, flawless performance. Something itched, and throttled me by the collar. Once, there was personal honesty and personal integrity and personal values.Now there is bottomline. so where did "I" go?

Monday, April 28, 2014




Serendipity… how lucky can one get!  Stepping out early for a tree walk on Sunday morning, I’m one of the privileged few to chance upon TONS of books someone is just giving away… mostly spiritual, but some not. What a collection! Wonder who this person is, so well read, so evolved. But giving books away! Now I have enough material to keep me engrossed for the next decade… :)

Dharavi Nature Park, or DNP….Even though it was HOT, what lovely trees, shrubs, herbs… old friends Brahmi Ashwagandha Rauwolfia  nudged me on about long-forgotten pharmacognosy texts…but encroachment by the slums that line the park continues, unchecked.

Oh yes, we have a pigeon birdling on the window sill! What magic, to see the change from perfect oval egg to chirping trembling mass. Yesterday it/she was all quiet, having moved from the aloe vera pot that it had earlier claimed as home.. checked a few times, from a distance of course, to see it was still alive. I guess this will take time...




Thursday, April 24, 2014



It takes someone's loss, impending loss to show you how minimal, how insignificant your own trouble is, even if it aint going away someplace. Impending loss that, but of course one will battle, one will use up all the tools, with all that modern science etc etc offers, knowing, knowing the science, knowing the odds yet…Life…and life is so beautiful…sunlight,  a radiant halo around a sprig of buds and blooms, and you stop and stare and wonder why you never saw this before. And you wonder about loss, and the cost one pays incrementally over the years with cumulative loss, this one and that one, and that one, quite different but quite the same, and after a time one can react, feel no longer but just shrink, bow in  stunned silence.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

PQ asked for photos of the park, so here we go...


orange copper pod sandwiched by bakuls

magnificent raintree... blooms too fine to be seen

fresh leaves on the kailashpati

kailashpati... what a heavenly scent

apta... bauhinia leaves

stylo! HK orchid , Bauhinia


tivar... a carpet of fine blooms underfoot

glorious gold


sita ashoka


the first amaltas or laburnum



persian lilac... delictate and poisonous as hell

amla!


the first gulmohur


Friday, April 11, 2014

our own problems shrink to insignificant.
in the park where i walk, angelika  walks too. sort of.
she's five.
she walks few hesitant steps.
and plops down, all tears.
her father and grandfather are coaxing her to walk. 
everyone tries to help. make her stand waist deep in sand at the beach.massage her legs. do this, do that.
now it is everyone's problem. a grandmother holds her hand and runs with her.
today she walked a great deal, fifteen steps, all alone.
everyone's happy.
yes, I can put foot in front of foot and walk. I can do that.

the Tivar are in bloom now, a fine carpet of red blooms beneath your feet.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014



Yet.
the copper pod trees have flared into bloom. All at once. As if someone put on a giant switch.
Despite all.
My grief claws about for a language.

Friday, April 04, 2014

I've just called off plans to go trekking  the next week.
Sorry GHNP, some other time -- if the fates will it. Else my backpack was packed and raring to go.
Given current exigencies, this decision was called for. Why handover someone a stick to beat you with?
Each day brings in new surprises. I could use a few good ones.
The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Monday, March 31, 2014

My warm, lively friend Guilie—who I first “met” on Practice group at IWW where all good things happen-- well, Guilie tagged me on her blog. 

These are questions re my writing process, and I’m being as honest as I can.  To begin with, the word “process” makes me squirm…I don’t think I have a process per se. Writing for me is like whittling away at the words, revision after revision, a chip there, a  bit of sandpapering there…

What are you working on?

Two things, actually.  Or maybe three. I put writing in two boxes—translation and “own”

Box One currently has the longer term stuff, the translation of an important memoir, a tome in two parts, where I’ve finished the rough, handwritten word by word draft of HALF the book. I need to finish this as quickly as I can, but typing it out, making changes as I go along, is going to take what it takes. Meticulous, laborious WORK—but it chronicles an important decade in my country’s history AND I quite enjoy the challenge of a personal narrative as versus the fiction I’ve translated before. Plus this is a paid assignment, and cash appeals to the Gujarati in me. I also need to revisit Bharat Trivedi’s verse and translate the ones left out from the book—Since that’s the only way we can reach poetry journals.

Box Two, labeled OWN, has three things primarily. One is the PRACTICE group stubs.  This is something I MUST do, maybe two times a year I allow myself a pass. Most of these are “inspired” from the newspaper. The second is working and reworking (after rejections) longer stories built from these practice stubs. The third, which I should do more of, is writing poems and CNF.
As you can guess, I’m  perpetually trying to balance out Box ONE and Box TWO.  That I write Indian English, that I write sentence fragments and have the attention span of a frisky sparrow, doesn’t really help.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Box One: Not too many people work on translations from Gujarati. For translations I prefer to work on one author, one poet … instead of flitting about from one masterpiece to another. This gives me a certain comfort with style and nuances, a sixth sense of sorts that lets me go beyond the printed word.

Box Two is mostly newspaper-inspired and Mumbai-inspired. Not sure how it is too different, other than the form—mine are short stories, even the murders are crisp and elegant.

Why do I write what I do?

Box One: Because I can. Also because the next generation cannot or will not read Gujarati, perhaps this is the only way to preserve our heritage.  Most of this work has been gratis—only now bits of it are paying off.

Box Two: I don’t know. Sometimes stories nag you, itch till they’re out in B&W. Also, because as I invest time in BOX ONE, this tiny voice prods me—so what did you do for YOU?

How does my writing process work?

Box One: Translate by hand, word by word.  Type out, changing, whittling as you go. Print and revise. Incorporate Author comments and revise. For a book, send final version to ALICE, get her comments, revise.

Box Two: Read newspapers, keep a radar scan watch for anything that seems unusual. Cut pages that seem interesting. Save news from online city papers. WRITE a PRACTICE stub with suitable story. Extend stub. Polish, sub, rework, sub… endless cycle.