Thursday, December 24, 2009

Songs for You

I wonder if you'd understand
the irony hanging in the air
- as we sit talking of inconsequential things -
of the fact that all my songs for you
played one by one in the background
of their own accord,
in their own fashion,
even though they mean nothing,
not ever,
not now
not to you

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

विलायत में

विलायत में
some things went out of fashion a long time ago:
things like soap boxes, clothes brushes,
the kinds of mops you get down on your knees and use,
plain cotton handkerchiefs.
and ten penny ball point pens in blue.

I don't know what gadgets people invented in place of them,
but everyday tasks just aren't the same anymore.

When you can find these sentimental,
but entirely useful things in an English store,
they tend to cost the earth,
and I find myself longing for Santacruz station market
where I can always find a little ठेलावाला wedged
between the fruit vendors and cutpiece cloth shops,
plastic wares on loud display,
waiting to part (for a few rupees) with his rainbow bric-a-brac
and little objects that just make a lot of sense
in a silly, material, technological world.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Resurrecting a Phone Book

for Sneha and all the people we Green Teen-ed with

Second names, numbers, addresses:
they all sublimate rather quickly
when you lose a phone book,
and precipitate at the peripheries of your mind,
when the smell of patchouli incense
reminds you of the people you lost with it.

There is no way to call him or her -
the person you wished you could remember -
to say you miss them
or that you thought of them
in the intoxicating swirls of wet earth
that envelope you in the monsoon dance
you do in your head
as rain showers the city
and makes it white.

There is no certainty as to where they lived
in the days when you sent them hand drawn cards
and long letters at birthdays,
because maybe,
you've forgotten their birthday
as well as the pin codes on the envelopes.

It doesn't matter that it wasn't your fault:
that your phone book got left behind in the frenzy of packing.
There's nothing to be said for it now.

Maybe it's in some dusty corner of an old house you can't return to
and maybe someone found it
and tried to return it to you,
but that wouldn't mean so much anymore
because you've had to resurrect it
piece by piece,
and number by number,

It's almost complete again you think,
but then find a page left blank
for the fragment of your childhood self
that only the receiver of those cards used to know,
and write letters to,
all those years ago.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I'd forgotten the cacophony of this country
and the effort it takes to be still here:
to remain calm in the crests of the throbbing pulse
of a billion entangled lives

Maybe it's only me
and I've become too accustomed to the rustlings of red socks on blue carpet floors,
the cracklings of radiators
and the sound of sleepless commuter trains
far, far away

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ma's Letter lyric


I love it!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

In The Deep

after Bird York's In The Deep

I'll hear the melancholy loop of this song again;
float in the water of its melody,
sun sparkling nonchalantly through the notes on its surface
onto the dark pond bed of words below.

slowly into the depth of its aching beat,
life swirling around me
carrying echos into my skin
like bubbles into the open air
of a summer's day in May.


December always brings me home
to the smell of salt in the air
and the heartbeat of the sea;
to the thought that
a traveller's life is nothing
without the knowledge
that his home embraces his hardships
and forgives his trespasses
as soon as he has had his fill
and turns around to leave.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

स्कूल में पढ़ी कबीर की एक कविता

मोको कहाँ ढूंढें बन्दे, मैं तो तेरे पास में |

ना में देवल ना में मसजिद, ना काबे कैलास में |

ना तो कौने क्रिया-कर्म में, नहीं योग-बैराग में |

खोजी होए तो तुरतै मिलिहौं, पल भर की तलास में |

कहैं कबीर सुनो भाई साधो, सब स्वांसों की स्वांस में ||

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Planeta sin órbita

(for Jinx)

The thought of you standing in my doorway -
in need of a hug, hair in a tease -
came to me quite suddenly this morning,
and it made me want to reach out to you,
you little planeta sin órbita,
and give you a tight tight squeeze.

How many late nights we've spent together,
huddled around our kettle boiled teas
gossiping, plotting and planning revenge
on all the people that just never got us:
boys, professors and silly old hens.

Barely coherent the next morning,
after less than a few hours of sleep,
I'd try to wake you on my way to the showers,
and again on the way out,
but you'd always just keep on snoozing
until your alarm screeched its morning bells
and you'd have to get up and get out.

You asked me once why I gave you shelter
when you zipped through my city
on your whirlwind tours,
and I remember telling you,
you'd pay me back one day,
without knowing the whens or whys of giving
or even the hows and wherefores.

And so planeta sin órbita
as you travel at your lightning speed,
unbeknowest, you're returning me many favours
each one unique
in a different candy colour,
each as inexplicable
as the stockings you'd often wear in the summer.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Old Friends

"I'm heartbroken,"
I told him
because it was the only way to explain everything:
this sensation
that nothing could be mine,
that I couldn't know it all
and couldn't love it all
no matter
how hard
I tried
or how many of these hopeless laughs
I cried.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I like living a little more each day.

And that makes me less afraid of death.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

With the right music in your head, anything is possible!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Un Gris Día

Necesito los abrazos del sol
en este gris tierra:
un gesto de buen voluntad del universo
que me recordaría
el valor de paciencia

Thursday, November 05, 2009


I'll tie a twine to thee
and tie a twin to thine
into these two we'll wind the times
and twirl away the tides

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The weird and wonderful night time world around London Wall when there's nothing and no one but ghosts, goblins and tall glass buildings

Bouncing Light

The sun reflecting onto the pavement from a reflection off a building the day autumn blew up a pile of leaves

Thursday, October 29, 2009

अंदाज़ अपना अपना

I thought this line from the film was really funny until today: I'm having real trouble with my moong dal

Saving daylight and other things:

Autumn Arrived

सोते सोते मैंने सोचा

City In The Sea -II

(*) click on the image to see a larger version

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Waking and Sleeping

I wake up to the sound
of children laughing,
and sing-song chanting.

When I sleep however,
ambulances and police sirens
are always screaming
far into the dark night,
always shouting,
always lurking.

The sun robs the soundscape
of its innocence
and in its place,
all kinds of emergencies emerge.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Four Seasons at St-Martins-in-the-fields

I lived through a year in an hour
in a church in a square
where there used to be fields
and there used to be a figure
of a son of a god on a cross,
but where,
there is a circle of light
that welcomes the sun at the altar,
and candles in the windows
that tremor
at the mention of Vivaldi.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Barbican inspired brutalism

Faces on the Underground

On the Underground no one speaks.

No one talks to their neighbour
or looks over the shoulder of the nice lawyer lady
in an attempt to read her paper.
There are no women sitting by windows,
chatting, cutting vegetables
or discussing Salman's moves
in the latest Bollywood blockbuster.
There are no men playing cards perched on briefcases,
as they furiously debate the fate of the stock market.

There are no ladoos distributed
for the birth of a daughter's son
or the 90 percent score of a cousin's exam result;
nor any marzipan strawberries to celebrate Christmas.

there are people on the Underground
trying hard to read the London Lite
while plugged in to their selfish melodies,
white earphone wires disappearing into black coats
or black bags or black pockets in black pants.

There are faces that you meet-
brown faces on the Underground:
eyes looking for recognition,
wondering if you're a tourist
or a commuter,
trying to figure out which part of the subcontinent you come from
and if you might
to speak the same language.
There are glances on the Underground:
looks that say they've seen you,
and they know how you feel,
as you try your hardest to navigate a new city
from the inside out,
within this bubble you need for yourself
and with nothing
and no one without.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Looking for a Poem

Today was National Poetry Day -
not that I knew this of course,
when a couple of hours ago
I was searching for a poem:

a poem, a verse,
something to look at
to remind us that we've met
under a street lamp
over cola,
or coffee,
maybe in May;

looking for a prophecy
that would emerge
from flipping the pages
of a book by a man
from far away
and long ago,
who once sat
upon a dark island
and said to himself,
"I've travelled the ocean;
now where do I go,"

looking for a note
that you may have left me
in my travelling fray:
something to say that you missed me
in your awkward day,

but there isn't
and wasn't
a rambling rhyme,
just a moment and silence,
a bittersweet sourness

and the difference in time.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Mi Diccionario

Mi diccionario tiene todo el mundo
en sus hojas:
un universo del amor,
del odio,
del desgracia,
que se disolvió en siglos de impaciencia
cuando perdimos el camino de ser
en un desierto de estar.

Entretanto los vientos de acentos
forman montañas
de differentes significados,
el contiene un mar de actos
rodeado por vallas de palabras
que suscriben nombres
pero no describen cosas.

Colinas y valles
suben y bajan alrededor lagos de comas,
paretheses doblando como arcos iris.
Entre el cielo y la tierra
se encuentra suspendido el aire
de todo lo que se suena
y todo que se llama
La Lengua

Thursday, September 24, 2009


You can have hundreds of rupees jingling inside you pockets
and the English would never have a clue.

For every pound they return to you a penny
bright, shiny, coppery new.
"A penny for the your thoughts,"
you tell them,
but they never have any to spew.
So you collect the precious pennies,
fill them in jars and pouches and socks
hoping to get change for a quid or two,
but them fellows never take those pennies back
and they're just as useless to me
as to you:

sitting on the other side of this ocean
separated by spices and rani pink hues
If someone had told me how warm and fuzzy fresh laundry feels out of a dryer,
I would've tried my hand at it sooner
than when I did
just today


On why I see so many déjà vus

Sometimes I make up worst-case-scenarios
of unlikely situations:
unlikely moments that can,
nevertheless, seem quite grave
while I imagine how I'd respond in them
mustering up the courage to be brave.

I've seen fires and medical emergencies,
traffic, wars and tsunamis
sweeping over my beloved Bombay in waves;
I've been through trauma wards
and psychological examinations,
and LSD raves.

The truth is that life isn't as exciting,
as petrifying
or even as grey
as the bleak drought I've painted in my head
and the reason why I've lived it by proxy
is so that when the time comes to face it,
I'll know what to do then
or at least have a witty thing to say.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


We who suffer from disappointment
prepetrate it upon the rest of the world.

It feels like a cheap china vase
that comes wrapped in a a tacky box:
the thoughtful gift of an overbearing relative.
A vase,
a dust collector that no one wants
but one that gets passed on nevertheless
to the aunt's cousin's in-laws
at the next obscure wedding in a small mofussil suburb
of a large sprawling metropolis.
A metropolis
or a city
spread over damp hills and lakes,
squalid drains and super highways of human etiquette
social compliance,
and other ways to show you care.

But you don't.

And it doesn't matter,
'coz we'll pass the vase from table to gifting table
pretending it doesn't exist
and hope it ends up in the hands of someone
that thinks it's pretty enough to put up on the mantle shelf,
dust it every day,
arrange a few plastic flowers in it
and call it lovely.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Twenty Five Thirty

"All this drawing and painting will end,"
she remarked
when I showed her a new birthday card I'd made.
"By the time you are thirty,
these golden silver papers
and drawings and watercolourings
won't interest you anymore,"
she declared
with the knowingness of someone
well beyond the hedge that thirty seems to draw around people's minds.

said I
(horrified at the thought that silver things would no longer hold the promise of youth anymore)
"How old do you think I am now, eh?"
I asked her blankly,
half expecting another solemn statement,
a rebuke
or a slight.

"Well you're only twenty one,"
she replied,
to which I exclaimed
"Ha! I'm twenty five
and I haven't given up this drawing-painting,
middle of the night fiddling just yet!"

She smiled submissively,
as if twenty-five-year-olds
can't possibly be doodling and collecting
and collaging everything so rampantly
without thinking about thirty
and the trifles
that wouldn't matter by then.

But I smiled triumphantly
as if I'd never give up my magpie collecting and making and colouring sketch pens.


So there I was:
stuck in a traffic jam between the sea
and a heli-port
pondering over the books I'd bought in four different languages,
when I was caught unawares
between mortality
and impermanence.
Trapped on the one side
by a procession carrying death
towards ashes
and another carrying a god
towards a watery burial,
my thoughts were
going in opposite directions
when the signal turned to green.

Above the honking cars,
the vociferous chanting,
fervent singing
and dramatic drumming
all melted into one great hum,
as life celebrated death
celebrating life
while the poor souls caught between the two
hadn't yet come to terms
with all this street-side living,
and fighting,
and cussing,
and traffic-jamming
that never ended in anything but death
no matter how far they went
or tried to run away
any which way the road bent.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Midnight Ramble

Settling into another session of midnight sitcoms,
a bee sneaks into the cloud bombinating above my head
and I suddenly wish I were asleep,
dreaming up a blockbuster or two,
a racy thriller
or even a period drama
set in Venice.
It’s very rarely a romantic film that I dream through -
and come to think of it,
when it is,
I usually arrive too late to catch the beginning,
managing - somehow -
to stumble into deep sleep towards the end.
They're pretty fantastic films, I think,
the ones I see with my eyes closed
and if I could replicate the dramatic camera angles,
sharp shot editing
and deep Wagner-esque soundtrack
when I'm awake,
I'd definitely make a nominee list or a few.

Which makes me wonder
that without the popcorn,
the silly girls in New York,
with their hat and scrunchie discussions
really aren't worth the scratchy eyeballs.

So good night and I'll see you on the other side of the credit call


Thursday, August 13, 2009

तितली उड़ी

upon seeing the new butterflies, my Dadi reacted by singing an old poem she learned in school. How she remembers it 70 years later, I really wonder!

तितली उड़ी
उड़ के चली
बस में चढी
ड्राईवर ने कहा
"आजा मेरे पास"
तितली बोली
"मैं चली आकाश"


Monday, August 10, 2009

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Mascaporne Moon

While a pepper and mascaporne moon
hides behind monsoon plumes
like a teasing lover
behind a chardonnay veil,
we stand on the chapel steps
watching its game play out
between billowing clouds and windward winds
on an incandescent gamboge stage.

A few cars slow down in acknowledgment
of the Virgin's blessings
but around our island,
the sea crashes on.

We surmise that
it must be high tide
and so therefore, we ought to walk down
the old hill's side in order to breathe it in more fully.

The moment hasn't escaped us

and neither has the lady
whose prayer of thanks is interrupted
by her loud, ambulance-sounding phone.
She fumbles with it,
says Amen
and hurriedly drives away.

In the meanwhile we realise
that it's time to meet the ocean.
Someone finally stops the symphony
to say "let's go"

we walk away
leaving behind our prayers
burning bright in orange green and purple coloured candle glows

Thursday, August 06, 2009

the big 2 5

Al atardecer

साँझ होते ही यह नगरी एक नीली छाया में लिपट जाती है और ओढ़नी के तारे टिमटिमाते हुए जुगनू जैसे झाँकियों से झलकते हुए दिखाई देते हैं

Monday, August 03, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Afternoon. July 24

They said it was going to flood that day,
and flood pretty badly too.

Apart from the few half-hearted showers,
it didn't rain much
although we each overflowed and broke through our floodgates
one by one.

We stared far into our separate distances
expecting that if the rain didn't drown our sorrow,
that at least fairweather would dry our tears
but no sooner did the sun creep out every once in a while,
than it was indulgently engulfed by encroaching clouds.

forlorn laundry fluttered flippantly in the window grills of his neighbours' apartment block
as the whizzing fan ripped though our grief.

I didn't know what to say.
If he had said anything,
I wouldn't have known how to comfort him.

We lost many things that day
and to have tried to explain any of them
would have been meaningless.

We would never have found the words
to speak of such silence.

We would ask now of Death

Of late I have contemplated my mortality many times, but I didn't realise what it would take from me to have to come face to face with it. These last few days have not been easy and more than once I said to the void in my heart that "it's just not fair. What has happened is not fair."

Then I found the words I had been looking for: the answer I need right now. This is how I will choose to face death, and in facing the inevitable, face life:

From The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Then Almitra spoke, saying, “We would ask now of Death.”

And he said:

You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.

For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.

Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honor.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink form the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

The Passing of a Beloved Soul

Kanika, we will remember you for the love and joy and laughter you brought us all

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Waiting Inside, Hoping For The Rain To Abate

I love the monsoon
- don't get me wrong -
but waiting inside, hoping for the rain to abate,
I can't help but dread it sometimes.

I can't help but
stand still in fear and awe of its mighty force,
or sulk at its persistance
while simultaneously begrudging it the welcome
it so unnervingly well deserves.

It's been pouring and raining
and falling buckets of water -
as if the lady upstairs were washing out her window grills with a vengance
(she tends to do that every morning
even when it's already raining and pouring outside)
and the verandahs are so full of water by now,
that I wonder what the inundation must look like
on the tracks at Dadar station or
down at the local subway.

People must be cursing the rain, I think,
because these fair-weather folk
are like fish out of water in a flood.

You would imagine that they could be better equipped for a downpour
(seeing as it rains like this every year)
and would be carrying the latest trenchcoat fashions in their briefcases
or even wearing neat wellingtons Made in China,
but the truth is,
that even in July,
the poor souls manage to survive water cuts on their kitchen taps,
only to be swept away by the tide around their compound walls outside their modest homes.

It's an ironic, evil, adorable little jester this torrential rain,
and it's already made a fool of most of us today,
although waiting inside, hoping for it to abate,
I can't help but wish that it would let me stay in
just a little longer.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Expressway Watercolours

I've picked up my watercolours again.
These are from the weekend in Khandala

11:47 am/pm

Friday, July 03, 2009


the monsoon makes a certain habit of me.
like a sunflower that follows the likely daily path of a star,
the rain in july
resounding in the music that crawls into my digital player
around this time of year
is incredibly light,
entirely frail
and when it finds its strength,
beats down a sloshy track to the door of my wood-panelled room
which, in between the pensive prints i've collected over time
and the neat grids of calendar art,
looks like its been through a lot.

I've such relics jammed into the corners of this space
that, swelling in the humid moisture of the month,
they fall out of place
and tumble into a neat file standing on the edge of my softboard,
trying to dry off and dust away the flakes i've let them accumulate
as punishment for giving me so much grief
and so much more silence to anticipate.

july is always like this:
a shaking, twisting, awakening mass of memory
that comes out of hibernation just to remind me
of everyone I used to know
and everything I couldn't be.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


My dad whistles,
so I whistle.

I whistle when I'm home,
just arrived, freshly exhausted,
spent -
after a day's labour or emotional dive
into the depths of some dark,
awkward place
infected by the shadows of adolescent beings
that have never been my friends.

I whistle as much as to exhale,
as to inhale the scent of an embrace,
of this place called Here
standing on the welcome rug,
in a smile or a kiss or a hug,
in a space without fear.

I whistle
to shout out where I am -
in this corner
or up those stairs.
I whistle
to say I'm alone,
and you've caught me unawares.

I whistle
to say I'm on my drawing mat
so why don't you come in
and we'll have a picture or two to share

Monday, May 25, 2009

roomful of water
if i break through the surface,
will you hear me shout?


So then I gave 'em all the finger

An Old Sunday Afternoon

Mi Casa del Mar

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Auguries of Innocence

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour. William Blake

Friday, May 01, 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I carry the weight of the world in my bag:
the keys to different locks,
rooms, doors, armarios, hearts -
all jangling inside the pockets
of my camel leather satchel
protesting at what I've become:
this shadow of a person who used to be open
before the world decided
that she needed to be put away
for fear of tainting the others,
for giving everything freely anyway.

In memory of a certain lotus who died unecessarily

Across the verandah

Thursday, March 26, 2009

pictures of me drawing

Since everyone liked the illustration so much, here's a lomograph of the process :)

appreciate the comments people. Keep 'em comin'

Sunday, March 22, 2009

writing scribbling drawing


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Se me olvidó

Se me olvidó tu cara
como las mareas que han borrado mis dibujos de las arenas secas

Se me olvidó tu nombre
en la tormenta que ahogó la melodía de mis campañitas diarias

Si yo no nunca vuelvo a verte,
se me olvidará tu toque también
como una fragancia se le pierde en los aires de un gran desierto,
un gran vació, abierto

I've forgotten your face
like the tides that erased all my sand drawings

I've forgotten your name
in the storm that drowned the meoldy of my morning bells

If I never see you again
I will forget your touch as well,
like a fragrance loses itself in the open air of a desert,
of a great yawning void

doorways and pathways

Feeling Blue



Friday, February 27, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

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