Monthly Archives: August 2008


There is much work.
Subjected to the shirk,
Neglected for eternity,
It now threatens sanity.

See you in a ten days. Or eleven.
Who knows, it may just be seven.


Godawful poetry

In celebration of the Godawful Poetry Fortnight which originates here.

My heart leaps up when I view
  A rosogolla on the menu:
So it was when I became diabetic
  So it is now my self control is pathetic
So it be when I develop cardiac disease
  Or let me die!
The sweet is the bane of the tempted
And I could wish my artery wall
To be unclogged by cholesterol.

No apologies to anything or anyone 😉


You are an accident
on the pot-holed road
of my memory.

We pick ourselves up,
so suddenly thrown off
vehicles of lust, lies and longing.

We examine our mounts
for bends, dents and scratches;
compensation comes in kisses.

On that road of recall
I drive recklessly still
while scars from our collision
softly bleed.

And we are back!

Go on, ask them

He wanted to be an engine driver. Growing up in a house situated a stone’s throw away from the Palayamkottai station, he spent hour upon hour swinging slowly on the big, reluctant iron gates watching stately steam engines come and go. At fourteen, he mustered the courage to talk to one driver he had spent many years observing, and managed to blurt out his secret ambition. A few months and a wonderful friendship later, his boyhood dream came true – he rode with the driver in the engine room, watching in complete awe as the fireman fed and tamed the blaze.

He became a chartered accountant instead.


An elderly man returns home one evening with an impish look on his creased face. His wife has not seen that smile for a score and ten years. It worries her. He reaches into his bag, and pulls out a stethoscope.

“What is that?” asks his wife, convinced that this cannot be a good sign.

“A stethoscope. I’ve always wanted to hear what my heart and insides sound like. I bought it at Jayanthi Pharmacy today. Here, try it!”

Curiosity overcomes skepticism and she puts the instrument into her ears. A slow smile appears on her face. Soon, the two are listening to various parts of their aging anatomies and giggling deliriously.


A young girl wrestles with income tax sums in a numbingly boring maths textbook. Dull, insipid, unvaried, she thinks of strings of adjectives to divert her mind from the tedium of tax calculations. She simply cannot understand how her father could have wanted to be an accountant. When he comes home that evening, she asks him the question. And hears about a boy who dreamt of fiery coals and hissing vapours. But for whom life had other plans.


That generation had all manner of aspirations, but stuck to the well-trodden path. In the indignation of youth I thought they were chicken, not daring enough to be different. That they sought the solace of the familiar. Mellowed by age and my own failures I now know these weren’t surrenders, they were sacrifices. Very often made at the altar of dire financial and social straits.

That man who works in the bank knows a card trick. Or two. That shop lady’s house has the most gorgeous watercolours you ever saw. Go on, ask them to show you.

(Danke, Fraulein Mercury. We bow to your feed reader.)


Trying to embed a video unsuccessfully, one experiments with all manner of things and then deletes two posts by mistake. Full irritation and then hajaar sadness only.

Shut up.

I don’t know about Vir Sanghvi and TCA Srinivasa Ragahavan but there are dozens of others on mailing lists, blogs and everywhere I seem to (mis)step on the internet who have an opinion on a land they have never been to, on a people they have never met.

For once, can we all just shut up and hear what the Kashmiris have to say?

Update in response to philramble’s post: Of course it is an oversimplification. The valley has suffered enough – both from Pakistan and from India. Have you ever heard the disputed area being referred to as Azad Kashmir by anyone in India? That is what it is, really. They have elections and political parties and leaders. And a government. Just because they are Muslim does not mean they are Pakistani – PoK is a political term and a lie. Kashmiris I know say they just want to be left alone. Without food being smuggled out or drugs being smuggled in. Or their women being raped.

Yes, yes, there is a strategic problem with China being so close, etc. But isn’t it blindingly obvious that it would be better to let Kashmir go, to support the local people’s decisions and to win their trust as a way of ensuring that they back India rather than China during a crisis? Beating the hell of out them seems like a very stupid thing to do, if we really want to have on-ground support, in the event of a conflict with Pak/China.

I am all for separatist movements. The EU set up works best really – many countries but one economic region allowing free movement of goods and labour.

(And thus I disregard my own advice to SHUT UP.)

Promises to self

At sixteen (yes, how cliched!) I watched Charulata. And discovered the soft, gentle world of Bengali music I had only known in snatches until then, through the occasional performance during a school Annual Day. I also made a promise to myself – that The Boy would be one who knew and could sing this song:

A few years later, I fell in love. With a man whose films I wrote a dissertation on, simply so that I could lie in the magical light and shade of his movies, wallow in the searing lyrics of his songs, lose myself in the dark gaze of his eyes. And then I set down a new test, a harsher one. The Boy would know the lyrics and meaning to this song:

and be able to sing this one:

Boys came and went, few with any inkling that a man such as Guru Dutt Padukone once walked this earth. Those that did could not sing. One did attempt playing Chaudvin ka chaand on a jal tarang, but I will be kind to him and say no more.

Years later, I did find The Boy, but had forgotten all about my promise to myself. I think it may have been then the lilting Lalita he played or the haunting Sindhubhairavi or even the devout Kalyanavasantam that erased all memory of my strict conditions.

And then one day last week, I woke to a strangely familiar humming. The Boy had been up hours before me as always and was sitting at the desk, coffee in hand. He turned to me and asked, “Do you know the words to that Charulata song?”

A sweeter question has never been heard.