Friday, December 26, 2008

Helplessness


A more profound winter had set in the late December air. She could feel the specks of an occasional chill on the dark bare of her skin as she stood anticipating at the window. She loved the way the subtleties of the wind broke through her fresh from the bath skin.
The congealed ends of her wet hair pricked her back with a sweet pain, forming small rivulets that threaded southwards in a lazy motion. She wanted to make herself a hot mug of coffee to complement the unusually cold December evening but the butterflies inside her bosom had begun to have a paralyzing effect.
She stood there a little more while, fleeting thoughts of childhood crossing her mind as she drew circles of water with her finger until they vanished in the dry of the chill. Subconsciously, she tried to remember every cold December evening of her life, some stored away for the right reasons, others for the wrong. They kept coming to her like the wind who’s provenance was full of uncertainty. A cold December of heartache, a cold December of triumphs.
It took a sudden eruption of goosebumps for her to realize her nakedness. The limpid half moon proposed an advancing evening. The whiteness of the air becoming evident with each passing batch of chill. The butterflies at the brim of her mouth now.
She loved to daub strawberry milk on her skin in the winters. The smell of strawberries prodded the memory of last winter’s song in her mind. She hummed it, smearing herself lovingly with the essence of bypassed memories. When she was done, she admired her body in the mirror, despite the million flaws she could have otherwise enumerated.
She pried upon the clock again, feeling uneasy this time, but making sure she hid it, like she always did. Like she were watched. She wondered how hard it would be to cry or how easy it would be to love. She always felt inept at both. Maybe that is why she could not contain a wait inside her. The armor she built all these years by meticulously denying her heart all those feelings that she saw in those maudlin movies (which she loved) was beginning to wear off at the sides. She wanted to count those years, but they seemed too many, more than the number of emotions she had successfully (?) deflected until this cold December evening.
She felt more naked now. She thought she will cry but she did’nt. She thought she will love but she did’nt. Maybe she could’nt. She clothed herself quickly in an attempt to cover her incapability, not her nakedness.
She carried on in the solitude of her vacuum, like she always had.

art title - naked woman, expressionism
artiste - Randall
url - http://www.webnetdesign.com/randallartgallery/images/others/woman.jpg

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My consorts (part I) - Manolo

This wasn’t the first time when Manolo, my pet dog, had attempted to eat my laptop. Just that this time, the laptop’s adapter had to succumb to it’s final mutilation.. Beyond repair, beyond recognition.
Manolo, for the sake of a concise & precise introduction, is a gold-colored mongrel pup, who in other cultures would be depicted as a demon, a demon that feeds on lithium.

She is a result of what can only be described as a ‘dangerous liaison’ between a Labrador retriever and a Pomeranian.
Manolo, in her 6 months of life, until now i.e, has been the deathbed to several wires, furniture items, shoes of any kinds & sizes or lets just say, anything that exists in spatial dimensions irrespective of the material it is made of. Sundry household objects silently bear testimony to the ravenous repertoire of Manolo's.. Edges of the coffee table mercilessly gnawed, pillows with cotton bleeding out of them, my cell phone looks more like Manolo’s teeth cast and none of the water pipes in the bathroom & the kitchen are tubular anymore.
The kittens lurk reluctantly under the constant threat of getting lodged in between Manolo’s teeth while Glitter (Manolo’s grandma) risks losing her long droopy ears to Manolo’s appetite because Manolo mistakes them (or does she?) for being chapattis.
Manolo’s face is an embodiment of the highest form of deception. Huge blackberry eyes with constantly dilated pupils, droopy ears that she got from her mother, a ceaselessly sniffy wet nose and a mouth that is trying to dismantle a wall unit as we speak. The face that masks all the annihilation that it’s bearer is capable of.
She has a way of sapping even the most formidable reverberation by wagging her tail at such a speed that it probably produces some sort of high frequency waves which render you incapable of any amount of harsh reaction.
I hold the mauled remnants of my laptop’s battery, my nostrils flaring to their rims, ready to charge at her (she is now trying to sink her teeth into the floor marble), but as soon as her droopy ears flap sideways to signal an approaching hostile march, she turns her head around in my direction, fixes those unusually large & unusually black eyes on me, wags her tail like a rocket engine, tilts her misleadingly cherubic face and watches me relinquish my anger...
“If Lucifer were a puppy.......”

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Holidays..yay!


That was the most forced ‘yay’ I ever said. It happened when I heard the radio after what seemed like 8 decades while traveling to my college for some official business; just to relive those days when I would religiously listen to the breakfast shows on radio while being invariably late for the first lecture.
After tuning my pod through jarring static and stretching the chord taut in every direction, I started hearing some differentiable sound and settled myself in the plank hard, tattered seat of the musty smelling state transport bus. I took a look around it and wondered to myself in disbelief how exactly I took this ramshackle to college every single day for a good 7 years of my life. Although now the bus has become less spat on, less falling apart and less bumpy too.
The song on the radio stopped to break into advertisements. “Special season’s discount”, “holiday discount”, “festival offer” flooded my ears while my mind was still recovering from the shadows of the past weeks and all that it had played on me. Business as usual, I told myself. The government is doing it’s best to deflect our attentions by providing an ‘economy stimulus package’ like an early (or late?) public Christmas present. The markets have begun to surge back.
And I thought maybe we needed an escape from those calamitous events that each of us were subjected to; the insecurities needed to go back in the closet, the apprehensions needed to bury inside the facade. A gust of wind waiting to sweep us back into patterns of routine. Soon the Christmas tree will be brought down from the terrace, cleaned and decorated. Soon the new years’ eve would be planned out, dinner and drinks.
And it will be the new year. Resolutions & revolutions too. We will make all of them. And we will try to smile. Heck! We WILL smile, no matter what.
The radio now played a holiday song - “Christmas, baby please come home”... and I listened.
Holidays... yay! I said, smiling.

PS - Happy Holidays to all.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Gateway of revolution


Thanks to the cancellation of some errands that were otherwise determined to squeeze me back into the routine, I could make it to the Gateway Of India for the protest for peace rally. We had been receiving the invitation to this event since the terror at the Taj was surmounted, through various media outlets. I reached there with a friend just before 6pm via VT station, crossing which, we both took a pregnant look around it, trying to imbibe and recreate the horror that unfolded there a week back (a chill rushed down the spine)
The traffic jam that our cab got stuck in on our way to The Gateway gave us a fair idea how large the scale of this event was. After waiting for some excruciatingly anticipatory minutes, we decided to leave the cab and walk it out till the Gateway. As we walked towards the venue, we saw many young folk walking in the same direction. The way only lead to The Gateway, the place where in Mumbai the land begins.
And then we reached the circle at Regal movie hall. The traffic was a standstill which I later realized were only hundreds of parked cars. The amber street lights watched a current pass by, coursing it's way to the Gateway.
This current was made of the youth of this city, whetted and charged, to voice their anger against terror. This current looked unstoppable, it could have walked on the Arabian waters. Aggregation of minds that wanted a change, that wanted to BE that change. Minds that wanted an answer, minds that said "Enough is enough".
Like fish on a mission, we joined the current. we held up our placards amidst a sea of placards and banners; some cursing, some questioning, some stating and some revolting. Not a single one pleading. A deja vu of the war of Independence.
It took us a good hour and half to traverse a distance of some 200m; a U-shaped cirtuit around the Gateway. With every step came slogans and chants, our rebellion leading us. The tricolor waved across the current while it moved towards the Gateway to witness the monument that bore the brunt of terror.
Over 1,00,000 Mumbaikars came to comfort The Taj.
The vigor of being a part of such an unprecedented activism has infected all of us. There were rallies across the country today. The war against terrorism was taken to it's apogee tonight and it will go on until peace prevails. This is our promise. A promise of a wronged Mumbaikar. A wronged Indian.
Jai Hind.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Candle in the wind

The one word - Overwhelming. It sums up the gamut of feelings that I am filled with, after the candle march that I was a part of at Marine Drive, the stretch of sea-adjunct land that starts from the Oberoi hotel and marks the shoreline of south Mumbai. No amount of TV images, living room debates and discussions or even the morose emotions that brew in my heart past days, could compare to that one moment when we lit up candles right in front of the Oberoi Trident in the memory of all that Mumbai has lost in her mayhem.
The March commenced at 7pm dot. A proud moment for the citizens of Mumbai, who despite their wry sense of punctuality, gathered and initiated a moment, so defining, at the time when it was supposed to be initiated. Glum faces incandescent with candle lights, some carrying placards that voiced their opinions (including me). Energies, rebellious and revolutionary, colliding with each other, charging the atmosphere with a sense of extreme passion.
Candles endured the wrath of the Arabian wind, probably suggesting a reflection of the hearts that carried them. Even if one blew out, a neighboring candle would come to the rescue, probably suggesting the (much abused but yet affable) spirit of the city. The march went on.
Slogans eulogizing the heroes of the horror - the cops, the soldiers, the hotel staff, the hostages - resonating across the air. “Jain Hind” ...“Bharat Mata Ki Jai”... “Vande Mataram”... leading us to the doomed Trident. There were occasional anathemas launched against the politicians and the terrorists. All aglow with a thousand flickers of light. The light paving way for insurgency of citizens' might. A citizens' movement about to begin. You could feel it in the air.
It had stopped being about mundane issues anymore. Approaching the Trident with every step gave the emotions a whole new crescendo. The shattered glasses were visible now, one can only imagine the ugliness that unfolded inside. It stood there dilapidated, forsaken, abandoned but certainly not decimated. It looked aglow, somehow (or was it a reflection?)
And a sudden rush of feelings took over. Flashes from the images seen on TV overlapping this monument that stood in front of me in flesh. Flames emerging out of that window, a hostage waving out from that window, a commando examining that window. Like it was still happening now.
A strong unison of voices and I was brought back to the present. The national anthem had started. “Jana Gana Mana Adhinayak Jaya Hai.. Bharat Bhagya Vidhata....”
Everyone stood still. Not because they were required to, but because they wanted to. The candles held up high in the air now, faces wistful, wishful even. A distant gaze at a future devoid of terror. A thousand lit minds. Hopes, optimism, drive, execution. A new found ability to question, to confront, to revolt too. To change. A congregation of minds that wanted change, that wanted to be the change. A cohesive force between us. A revolution underway. A movement as begun.
India’s own renaissance.
Birth place - Mumbai , 30th Nov’ 2008


image courtesy - yahoo/Assoc. Press

url - click here

Friday, November 28, 2008

40 demons, 50 hours, 165 lives

More than 50 hours since the nightmare began, leaving Mumbai in the worst grim, the worst gore, the worst gloom of terror she ever faced. It feels like an eon since the last pleasant thought. Endless blood stained, fire gutted and grief struck images of this madness in Mumbai. The final leg of the mopping up operation is in it’s swing. Some respite from the incessant gunshots and grenade blasts after 2 days of baneful darkness. The death doll at a 165 now. The PM has summoned the ISI chief as obvious Pakistani links where traced by the conversational intercepts and I.Ds of the terrorists. There is an influx of international aid, including America's FBI and UK's Scotland Yard.
All strata, the proletariats at the Victoria Terminus and the patricians at the Taj, are equally affected by the terror. Terrorists holed up the buildings, citizens holed up in their houses, there appears a heavy lull in the air. A chill has settled across the city and her hearts, and I don’t mean it figuratively. Disputed numbers of those still inside the hotels, of those dead and of the terrorists keep flashing on my TV screen. Some rumors are afloat about some terrorists being dispersed all throughout Mumbai. Friends and relatives of those taken hostage have come to terms with the obvious, some still pray, some still hope as the military mopping up happens in the hotels. An apparent sense that it’s coming to a stand still after what seemed like an eternal battle. Questions will keep surfacing, disquisitions will begin, the blame game will start, human rights will be discussed, world will watch... and this catastrophe will be remembered for a long long time.
But it’s time for the aftermath to begin now. Because soon the much dormant (and thankfully so) politicians will start pouring in with their accusatory and defamatory statements. The denouements and deconstructions, the debates and discussions have started to begin. Tales of survival and those who succumbed. In between explanations for the laxity in our securities at such a prime location in the city, one burning question remains unanswered - The failure of intelligence not withstanding, why was such an enormous attack unleashed on the city and sustained for more than 2 days?
Various words used to describe this crisis; some say “numbing” ;some say “surreal”.
But one thing is for sure, this is NOT the end. And this is NOT just one of those terror attacks that Mumbai will simply move on from. Optimism befits when terror destroys everything else. And as we face such a horrific attack, optimism isn’t ging to be about 'moving on'. It is now going to be about a radical change. A movement where all the citizens will come together in the wake of terrorism and fight back. Question the system, confront the system, rectify the system. And diplomacy just isn't the way to deal with anything.
I would like to reiterate Shobhaa De’s statement here that NO, we will not stay calm. A slogan will lead us into a citizen’s movement - “Enough is Enough”. A movement where all of us, who take pride in calling ourselves “Mumbaikars” stand together, defying any attack on our integrity as a society, as a city and as a nation. We stand, united and fortified.

image - guests at the Taj use curtains to escape.
courtesy - The Telegraph/AFP
url - click here

Thursday, November 27, 2008

30 hours of a nightmare


Almost 30 hours into the more horrific terrorist event ever faced by Mumbai city now. Some label this as the most catastrophic crisis ever faced by independent India. The news by now has gained international momentum due to the magnitude of it, even because the hostages taken were of British, American and Israeli nationalities. 50 odd blasts heard from the Taj and Oberoi hotels. The number of deaths reported by now has reached 125. Each passing hour brings in sounds of fresh blasts from inside the buildings between eerie lulls.
The Mumbai Police and ATS (anti-terrorist squad) fought the initial level of this war sacrificing the lives of 14 officers, 3 of them top officers of the Mumbai combat team to terror. The NSG (national security guard), India’s topmost security body is now smoking out the holed up terrorists from the Taj and Oberoi as I write this. The world is watching as Mumbai fights for restoration of peace.
The deconstruction of the crisis is impending as thankfully most politicians and even news channels are refraining to make any politically inclined statements.
Meanwhile, as I stayed glued to the TV all day, I was so impressed by Shobhaa De's outburst on television (NDTV) while talking about the terror situation in Mumbai. She came across as a veritable Mumbaikar (bang on reflecting the angst the common Mumbaikar is going through right now) bluntly asking the politicians to "stay out of Mumbai" while we face this event.
She was very vocal about her stand and was, as she would herself put it, 'politically incorrect'; quite blatantly targeting the politicians for the security laxity while themselves being provided with Z level security when in fact, a city should be conferred with that.
The most defining moment of her agitated commentary was when she accused the PM of giving an "uninspiring, lack luster, robotic" speech asking the people to "stay calm" she almost yelled out "NO WE WILL NOT STAY CALM!"
Despite her obvious infuriation and distress, she rightly praised the army and the brave officers who laid down their lives while fighting terror.
It certainly worked for me, it stirred me, as a denizen of Mumbai, as a citizen of it...
we have us for eachother. And no, this blow wont be taken lying down because no one can take our spirit or our affability for granted. A citizen's movement is indeed needed. And will be born!

wayyyyy to go Shobhaa, wayyyyy to go Mumbaikar!!!!

watch the video on youtube here

The darkness lingers on...

16 hours since the first sounds of gunshots and grenades, Mumbai is still reeling under the black cloud of terror. The Taj remains captured although there is no ‘hostage-like’ situation. The Oberoi trident is still under evacuation operation and a new hostage location The Nariman House has emerged since I slept at 6am. Over a 100 reported killed since then. Casualties in many hundreds.
Many accounts of the crisis. Every news channel covering the situation. Responsibilities being doubted. Names being dropped. Origin unknown. Lashkar and fedayeen. Soldiers and civilians. Reporters and stories. Loopholes and strategies. Condolences and homage.
THEM and US.
Some few lucky ones escape, huddled behind barrages. Many still battling, looking fear in the face . Soldiers waiting in ambush outside the locations while the scene inside the buildings can only be imagined (actually not). International reactions pouring in. My friends expressing concern, disgust & trepidation. A carnage being conducted on the belly of Mumbai city. Disaster being managed. Rumors being spread, speculations being born. Hope being anticipated.
That this shall be over too. Hopefully soon. Amen.

courtesy - Indranil Mukherjee/Getty images/AFP
url - click here

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Dark Night

It’s been more than 6 hours now that the mayhem began. Mumbai, as I write, is ablaze. The Taj, Mumbai’s premier hotel, the postcard picture of Mumbai, the symbol of a centenarian Mumbai, was set on fire by grenades. Terrorists came in through the Arabian sea and disembarked on the southern Mumbai, India’s economic HQ, wrecking an unprecedented havoc. And it wasn’t just the Taj. The Hilton towers, Madam Cama hospital, Victoria Terminus along with 8 other prime locations in down town Mumbai have been targets of terror attacks with Indian, American & British hostages being held. A debutante attack of the Deccan Mujaheddin impaled Mumbai right through her heart.
Apocalyptic images are running across my TV screen. Shattered glass, sanguine streets and singed heritage. Mumbai’s very own holocaust. I am commentating on the situation with R.(who is in Bangalore) on the phone, discussing and deducing, canvassing and concluding. Divinities, Prophets, Idolatries & Pagans. Scrutinizing the roots of hatred while recurrent images of The Taj in flames flash on the TV. A terrorist’s face is shown. He looks high on gunpowder, his face smeared in blood and those eyes... like a cannibal’s.. I change the channel. The Taj in flames again. Some of the harbingers of death die. Martyrs are borne. 80 lives killed. 200 lives broken. A city shook.
This night will be bookmarked forever in this city while I close my eyes with a silent prayer. Amen.

courtesy - Reuters
url - click here

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Season of pains

6.50am in 1999. A murky weekday of July. The black & grey hybrid sky about to leak it’s saturation. The metallic aftertaste of half boiled milk in my mouth and highschool graduation presentiments in my mind. The temple bells have started clamoring, sandalwood incense effused in damp air. The other kids look half sleepy waiting for their over crowded lugubrious green school bus. The garbage lady forages for moist breakfast provisions in the garbage bin. The unseemly crow laboriously searches for straws while the pleasant nightingale gets ready to steal it. Life is up and about, ready to dispense.
My canvas shoes make podgy sounds that co-ordinate with my lazy heartbeat. Quanta of energies in my bag and pockets of sleep in my head. I get inside a rickshaw that teaches me how to share my space with peers. I am painfully awake. Painfully educated. Painfully cared. I settle myself to catch a wink amidst eruptions of my pains. I watch the girl on the pavement. My age. Fighting her tears, trying to sell a batch of clammy newspapers with stuck pages. Pain is relative. Tears are absolute. It starts to rain. Our hearts interpreted.



art title - rain drops, Canon 30D
artiste - Jon Bruschi
url - http://www.aphotojourney.com/jbphotos/rain-thumb.jpg

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Trajectory of a corporate interviewee


Merry looking corporate guard : Hi sir
I : (not sure whether to reply in english or hindi) err.. Hi.. I am here for an interview
MLCG : Bag. Check. sir
I give my bag for checking.
MLCG : (humming a merry tune) Yeh kya hai?
I : Yeh.. Sunblo..err.. Cream hai..
MLCG : (continues humming, continues rummaging) ok sir. Go shtrait, turn lepht, lasht room.
I keep repeating directions, yet I get lost in a maze of mysteriously named rooms with no obvious link - T3, T7, T16, T19.
Busy Looking Corporate Passerby passes by.
I : Hi.. I need to get to the HR.
BLCP : HR is that room (points to another series of rooms; leaves before I can falsely thank her)
I find the HR following a frightened looking corporate interviewee.
It’s a room called the ‘recruitment bay’ filled with jumpy looking corporate aspirants.
I go to the reception manned by an unamused looking corporate temp.
I : hi.. I am here for an interview
ULCT : anyone you want to see specifically?
I : yeah. Someone called Jhar..Khand.. I guess. I am not sure about the name (smiles sheepishly)
ULCT : (unamused) Jaakal.
I : oh yeah. Jaakoor.
ULCT : Jaakal. Thats me. Submit your resume and take a seat.
I take a seat between a perv and a dyke. Perv keeps looking at girls, boys, chairs, coffee machine, post-it’s perversely. Dyke keeps joyously smiling at girls but goes stone faced when spots a boy. Everyone is talking is whispers. Not being used to whispering, some choke, hawk and keep modulating their voices sometimes involuntarily producing sudden high-pitched sounds.
Pompous looking corporate employee walks in to announce something.
PLCE : (importantly) you guys will have to wait for another 15minutes. Our interviewers are (short pause) in a meeting.
We all get convinced.
Interviews start in 15minutes and an hour.
Interviewees come out smiling the ‘it-was-a-cake-walk’ smile, falling trap to the HR’s constant smiling faces.
Perv looking at an unsuspecting folder lustfully. Dyke getting ready to smile at a girl she spotted through the glass door.
I am waiting for my turn....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Braking bias


When I hear an old hindi song played on loud speakers a rush of despise takes over me. And then after several suppressed grunts, I realize that it was the same song my mom very intently made me listen to in the car when I was, I guess, 10years old, on one of our annual trips to Kulu Manali. But now I am programed to not display any amount of affiliation to hindi songs because of the percept that alternative is cool, popular is NOT.
We, in our quest for individualism, like to segregate ourselves from the herd. We have tendencies to deviate from the general consensus to prove the point of our aberrational behavior. We refrain from providing any sort of benefits of the doubt to popular forms of art and in the process, even develop a strong aversion to it without venturing into much reasoning. We like to hate Britney, Titanic and The Da Vinci Code even before we really scale them thoroughly. Our attention deficits only but help us achieve this.
Like Rachel, we all have movies that we say we like and movies that we actually like. We update our orkut and facebook profiles the way we want others to look at us, seldom the way we really are. Britney gets replaced with Bjork. Titanic with Citizen Kane and Da Vinci with The Fountainhead.
Pop becomes synonymous with pedestrian. And pedestrian with the proletarian. Proletarians aren’t the rebels. And this goes against the DNA of our young blood corpuscles.
So we forsake pop for alternative. And we keep refining ourselves. Keep specifying ourselves. Keep defining ourselves. Dictating our hearts to succumb to the impositions of our conditioned minds. Forgetting that the only dictatorship our choices are subject to is that of the heart’s.


art - blue shot Marilyn, of Marilyn Monroe Pop Art collection
artiste - Andy Warhol

url - http://fits.depauw.edu/aharris/Courses/Stolen/FinalProjects/RHARPER/_images/Marilyn.jpg
additional url - http://www.webexhibits.org/colorart/marilyns.html

Monday, November 17, 2008

Anticipation = hope squared


Anticipations serve as the momentum to the daily wheels of life which otherwise would have been at inertia with Expectations. Where expectations fluctuate from being low to being great (ref Dickens), anticipations remain constant. Constants in physics have a tremendous application in propelling equations and deducing formulae. Lets assume Anticipation being one such constants and apply this to the metaphysics of our lives.
You expect a salary, but you anticipate a perquisite. You expect a song to be good, but you anticipate a song to make you look at the sky. You expect food to satiate your hunger but you anticipate the food to satisfy your feelings. You expect happiness, but you anticipate bliss.

Expectations overshadow our anticipations because maybe our pessimisms only allow us so much. Expectations cause us to overlook the fact that the size of the hope derived from them is very limited. With anticipations, hopes become less fragile and more expansile, thus exponentially enhancing the possibility of a favorable outcome. As in business, where “anticipation” is a term used to offset losses against future/unrealized earnings or to pay a bill before the deadline, can we use our anticipations to impede the losses in..well.. life, as such?


I'd anticipate my day will make me wanna pray at the end of it and I wake up to see the sunrise tomorrow. I'd anticipate my winter to bring hibernal butterflies in my room and snow fakes outside it. I'd anticipate my life to turn into a song in the end and begin a new tune after the end.

I wont keep any expectations. My anticipations will nurture my hopes.

Recommended watch
: "Nights in Rodanthe" starring Diane Lane & Richard Gere, it tells a story about two emotionally distraught people who teach each other to anticipate. And it’s this anticipation that lets them disentangle themselves finding each other at the end of it. Adapted from a novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks, it takes place at a small village called Rodanthe, North Carolina with a picturesque inn adjoining the sea serving as the backdrop.


art title - anticipation, oil on canvas
artiste - Karen R. Fox
url - http://www.foxtalesstudio.com/images/anticipation.jpg

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Eyes filled holes


Window. You wake up half groggy from last night’s battled sleep and get drawn to catch a glimpse of the world through your window. There is a peevish housewife washing utensils on a sink who watches you through her window. An old hag who hates the noisy children in the neighborhood watches you. The skeptic bird at your window watches you. The nebulous portion of the sky through your window watches you..
And you watch back.
Like a custom, actually more like a reflex, that we have acquired living in the middle of these encompassing peep holes, there are various moments throughout our day when our private spaces overlap others'; and at these overlapping moments, both of us watch eachother, momentarily exchanging details (apparent and obvious) of our lives, touch and go, we become a part of eachother’s lives, intertwining them at that juncture, and then moving on. Like ants in a colony, sensing eachother as they jostle through their busy trails exchanging details.
A fraction of our lives get witnessed by strangers through these windows. Placed so closely to eachother, breaking through the fences we build around us, baring us, stripping us, peeling us. Hunting our vulnerabilities. Mapping us. Defining us. Judging us. The reality show of your very own life. Watched through innumerable windows.
And it will go on until you vanish in the true sense. They will watch until the last shards of your corporeal existence fades away. Interred or cremated. And then it will be your turn to watch.. without being watched.


art title - window, Canon EOS Digital Rebel
url - http://photos.soboring.org/images/Canon2/window-small.jpg
artiste - Anon


Friday, October 17, 2008

Pink hope


Asha aunty, being my mom’s best friend within a radius of an entire city (and a bit beyond that too) she usually visits our house for a quick gossip session which sometimes gets me tuned in too, not for the stories, but the way she narrates them without altering a single line across her countenance. Misgivings can harden a person inside out. She is pragmatic and never understands why my mom gushes over how lovely the gerberas are while arranging them in a vase to beautify the house.
Her resilience shines through despite losing her husband untimely to a car accident 5 years back. She is a physiotherapist by profession and raises 2 extremely talented children by herself. When my drastic career decision had mom in a convulsive state, it was Asha aunty who was so supportive and literally pacified mom, cajoling her to extend her support too. She would save the Education Times pages that carried articles which might be of some help to me.

One day mom came home looking misty and said Asha aunty has been diagnosed with breast cancer. The shock of it elicited a foolish laugh for the first few dizzying moments until I was leaped violently into gravity. The inequity of fate can only be an ugly mockery.

What followed were events of mental and bodily decrepitude. She had to undergo double mastectomy and chemotherapy cycles. She has lost all her hair after just one cycle of chemotherapy. She has severe gastritis and nausea meaning that her appetite has shrunk enormously. Chemotherapy can’t tell the healthy cells from the cancer cells so she has a constant feeling of her body being set on fire (I won’t even try to delve into the agony of her mind)

Now how do you empathize with someone who’s anguish you, try as much as you will, can’t even begin to fathom? And as for sympathies, they balk at the dead ends of pity. You sit there carefully avoiding the gaunt manifestation of a dilapidating life, the sore veins of her hands pricked numerous times and the ill placed wig. They say the eyes say it all. She says, puckering her ulcerated lips, “kya karna hai itna jeeke, I will live while I can”. And that, there, as sheer as a gossamer of an undeterred soul, sums up the instinct of a survivor. You don’t need anyone else (their support or words) to validate your own hope. The eyes gleam with the reflection of that unfaltered hope. Unfaltered asha.

Epilogue : 27th October is the world breast cancer day. Please visit www.nationalbreastcancer.org for more information on breast cancer - the detection, the shock, the stages, the survival, the myths and how you can help. If you are above 35yrs or have a family history of breast cancer, ask your gynecologist about a mammography. Wear a pink ribbon to show that you are aware and that you care.

And on a selfish note, please also pray for Asha aunty.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Crash and borne


Every time the bus that I took to college slowed down in a traffic commotion, discussion of an accident would erupt among the passengers. The route mainly being a national highway, seeing accidental events of varying degree, at its varying stages, from the gaping window was a routine sight. Some wreckage erode through time lying abandoned by the side of the road, taking the form a morose art and sometimes even a landmark. Kids from the nearby slum make it their adventure-laden playground. Stray dogs make it their easy urinals, labor rooms even. Seedlings dispersed by the friendly breeze make it their nidus. Life finds a way, even in a wreckage.
Sometimes you see broken bodies with scattered viscera. And sometimes just sparkling diamonds scattered to add an euphemistic effect. A spot on the road where an opera was conducted. That was the spot where time stopped for someone. The spot where someone crossed over to the other side. Someone stopped living. Someone started living. The spot will bring back scrapings of indented memories every time it is passed. A friend will look away ruefully every time he drives by there. A mother will wait there to feel the relics of her loss. The azure skies will witness the tides of survival and defeat.
The cars will keep passing. The friendly breeze will keep blowing.

Recommended watch :
Crash (academy award for movie of the year 2006) by Paul Haggis
parallel stories of people facing bigotry and the repercussions of racism in a multilingual society, their lives come crashing together at one common epicentre where they have a choice to either turn away or tolerate.

Recommended listen :
The coda of the movie is illustrated with a stirring song “In The Deep” by Bird York

art title - wreckage, Canon D30
artiste - Chris Dodkin
url - http://www.d30-images.com/images/abstract/images/wreckage.jpg

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Regret


So I wish for these moments to blur
The regret of some unspoken words

While I dread another course of conversation

I will take refuge in silence, golden


So I wish for these hours to turn
The regret of a forgotten errand

While I spend another night for the day

It will never be the same again

So I wish for these days to fade

The regret of a touch undone

While I feel through a numbing vacuum

That peels my skin like a burn


So I wish for this life to end

The regret of wasting a friend

While I live a world of vultures

I will cherish us like an old treasure


P.S. This poem is an ode to one of my favorite movies "The Hours" which I think gloriously embodies the feeling of Regret, a feeling innate to every human.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Early slices of winter


The air is pregnant with an impending winter these days. The westerlies blow over the Arabian sea in a festive trance while I take a ritualistic post-dinner date walk along the Carter road promenade. Our hands contemplating with each other and minds contemplating with the idea of an early-October sex. The succulence of a fig sorbet spreading across the continent of our taste buds almost rolling out the red carpet for the crispy winter delight. Faces around have started to look less damp. Bodies have started to smell less sultry. And motions have started to seem less lethargic.
The remnants of a feeble autumn will scatter into a little more disparate winter (Sacrifice of the deciduous goes unnoticed here) We, the dwellers of Mumbai, have learned to segregate and bask in a much-needed and a much-elusive winter. Next coupla months are going to be marked with trials of season refining. Making the most of the minimalist drop in mercury. Letting our joyous anticipations overtake our wearisome moods induced by the virtue of undertaking a life in this city. Diwali will bring in the incandescence and Christmas will usher in a brand new year of unattempted resolutions, new habits, futile vacation plans and ofcourse a Santa’s bag full of trite daily routines.
Guess it’s time to bring out all those songs I have been saving for the winter.


Recommended listen :
Sarah McLachlan - Song for a winter’s night

“If I could know within my heart
That you were lonely too
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
Upon this winter night with you”

P.S. We should have let our hands loose. Emotional diffidence can cost you a season.

art title - autumn, oil on canvas
artiste - Tina Hellier
url - http://www.tinahellier.com/OilsAutumn.htm

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Belief files


I saw the movie X-Files over the weekend. And although I am not essentially an ‘X-phile’ (that's what the X-file fanatics are called.. cute I say!) But anyone who was feeding themself on television during the 90s knows about the iconic stature of X-files and the reminder of this knowledge made it essential to watch the movie. Here let me add the fact that X-files is single-handedly the reason for words like ‘paranormal’, ‘government-conspiracy’, ‘unexplained phenomenon’ etc becoming household.
Anyway, turned out it was nothing of a great movie. The suspense wasn’t earth-shattering since I guessed it a bit before the intermission. And what didn't help was the realization that Mulder and Scully had lost every shred of chemistry they ever had when they kissed (yes, final-fucking-ly) with the fine-lets-get-done-with-this look.
But the unperturbed optimist in me was craving for something to take home from the movie. Then I passed the movie's poster in the hallway - “X-files: I Want To Believe”
Belief eh?
So the mind actually sees what it wants to believe? Who vouches for the existence of an object suspended in the spatial dimensions around you?
Your belief?
All your senses join forces and send out confirmatory signals to your brain and that’s how you conclude the presence of an object. Ofcourse there are the people around you who corroborate the conclusions of your sensory perceptions. But what if they disprove of it? Does that object cease to exist in your mind because there aren’t others to support your belief system. Will you become an apostate if you are ridiculed or dismissed by others because your perceptions don’t correlate to their definitions? And who decides the norms? Maybe that’s why we have psychiatrists and mental asylums. To correct the perceptive deviations one might have, termed as ‘illusions’ or ‘delusions’ by the ones who claim to be cognitively correct. After all, mental disorders are layers of basic human nature but only in the excess.
But I guess it’s your loyalty to these benign beliefs that are deep indented in your minds, whether or not authenticated by the belief-police, overpowering your senses, that assures your own self that you are fine, or that you will be fine. Fine in the larger picture, that’s above any demarcations of intellect.
Just make sure your belief system respects the concordance of the system of life.

Scully : do you really believe in this?
Mulder : I want to believe.


P.S - I think if there ever should be an alien invasion, they should consider playing the theme score of X-files on the speakers of their spaceship to register a more believable arrival. Too..do..do..do...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Desultory thoughts


A situation involving impunctuality led me into walking aimlessly across the Victoria Terminus station. Walking amidst a sea of faces each of which have a story etched on them. It’s out there, naked on display like that, for you to decipher. And then a thought ambles through my mind .
A day in the life of someone else.

In the life of that street urchin you accidentally see outside the mall enthralled by the sight of your shopping bags.
In the life of that average looking timid girl with average sized breasts clad head to toe but has passersby undress her with their eyes.
In the life of that listless, apathetic working class middle aged man sitting opposite to you in the train who isn’t looking at anything or maybe looking at something but you cant tell.
In the life of that teenage boy in an ill-fitting, tattered scout uniform going back to his battered mother and drunken father after being abused at the camp.
In the life of the drunkard lying ignored and unattended by the side of a busy street in a pool of his vomitus.

In the life of that up-town snob who’s breath smells of last night's meth in the morning when she wakes up in her triplex with a swimming pool and doesn’t like her parents for not letting her swim in the sea.

In the life of that seemingly content housewife who drops her kids at the school and then sneaks her paramour home.
In the life of that corporate aspirant with a perfect anatomy of pecs and packs and tested positive for HIV yesterday.
In the life of that jilted lover who cries in the shower and breaks dishes while washing them.

In the life of that happy person who is going to die a painful and violent death.

In the life of that inherently sad person who is about to find his bliss.

I will never know. Or maybe I will. One of these days.
Or one of these lives.

art title - mumbai by day
artiste - Accueil
url - http://www.worldwale.com/system/files/images/crowd_mumbia_train_station.jpg

Monday, September 22, 2008

Splendor sketches of a weekend


A weekend is like a trip you take, hoping all you can, for it to go well but not really being too sure about it. And when it turns out to be flawless or even minus the usually expected misfortunes, it can give rise to insufferable blues later. Reminiscing the good times can either mean reliving them or yearning for a rerun. The smell of the brandy-soaked weekend haunts your olfactories a good into the mid week. Medleys of the events flash before your eyes while you stare at the email explaining a deadline to you. The merriment of inventing cocktails and naming them after the initials of your names has its aftereffect that doesn’t go away even with the most disheveling occupations.
You wake up on a humdrum Thursday and wonder while taking a crap how there aren’t any songs made about Thursdays. And then how you couldn’t crap the entire last Sunday not because you didn’t want to, but because it just never occurred to your otherwise well tuned bowels amidst watching a unanimously chosen bad yet relatable movie with your friends. Your hunger had surged again and your idiopathic headaches had ceased last Sunday. Thoughts about dying alone and having your nearly decomposed body discovered, half eaten by your pet cat had ceased too. Saturday you had laughed without being aware of it. And slept without counting sheep.
It is going to be another weeks, months maybe, of synchronizing schedules and zeroing in on one weekend when all our disseminated lives can converge for old times’ sake. Funny how old times are always the better times. So you draw yourself back into the blanket of longing for the new times so you can hark back upon the old times. That that weekend will come soon.

art - splendid evening, serigraph on canvas
artiste - Hessam Abrishami
url - http://www.visionsfineart.com/abrishami/images/splendid_evening.jpg

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sweet release


Beep beep. Everytime the pager beeped, an alarm system went off in my head suggesting impending events of emergency. You become conditioned to the beep in such a way that after sometime, you can almost tell when it is going to beep. It beeps, and you run. That’s how it works. Run to answer a call of distress.
I was on one of my routine rounds checking up on patients with my well-rehearsed “Hi’s” when my pager beeped. It was from the neurology ward. Which would mean an incapacitated person with lifeless limbs, immobile eyes or even comatose. As was the reflex, I ran. Reaching the neurology ward, I heard disconcerted beeping on the machines indicating a crisis of the vitals. I saw the patient gasping and the nurses scuffling around her. I was told her BP was dropping at an alarming rate. Her respiratory rate was high. Her pulse was feeble and her eyes were fixed. She needed resuscitation to be saved.
I called the resuscitation team. They came promptly. The team leader asked me for the file and while handing over the file I kept reconstructing the history of the patient. Beep beep went the machines in the back, faster now. I saw he wasn’t listening to me. Before I could finish he showed me what was written in block letters on the file. Like a red sign post that warns you. DNR. Do Not Resuscitate.

We watched her fade into a chilling silence. The beeping had stopped. Time of death 9.54am.

Her daughter presided over the silence outside. Soon she would be told (although she might have guessed by now) that her mother is “no more”. But she was probably ready for this moment when she consented on the DNR form. Or was she hoping for one of those movie miracles to happen? When did she come to terms with this inevitable loss? Or will she ever?

Time of letting go, cant really tell.

art title - hospital bed, acrylic on canvas
artiste - Mikey Welsh
url - http://www.mikeywelsh.com/images/hospitalbed_400.JPG

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hued again


We were always enamored by rainbows. Beaming my child eyes at pictures of the vibgyor in my primary school story books is a vivid memory. A band of harmonious colors strewn across the sky with perfectly contoured clouds at its tail and a gleeful sun by it’s side. Ahh. Innocent interpretation of a spotless mind.
The mind has a way of assuming perfection to be equivalent of fantasy. Rainbows were surreal to me. Until one day when my mother showed me this spectral vision from the terrace of our house just after a thunderous spell of shower. She told me the sun marries the rain and makes 7 babies. I jumped with joy for having spotted, in glorious flesh, a picture long painted inside my mind.
Years have gone by and the mind has been manipulated. Blue is for sorrow and Red is for anguish. Orange is for the communalists and Violet for the dalits. We disregard the Green. There is too much of Yellow. The 7 babies have all gone bad.
Until one drippy August morning when I spotted a multitude of colors flowing across the street. Flamboyance at its personified best. Grace at its existential best. And beauty at its unconventional best. Asking for love. The 7 babies were now in unison again asking to be loved.
Ahh. Benevolent congregation of the spotless minds.

art title - rainbow, acrylic on canvas (bubble photography)
artiste - John Searles
url - http://www.searlesart.com/AW-Rainbow-16_small.jpg

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rapture Cycles


I am having my chocolate milk in the morning. Don’t you want it to be of a certain temperature? This one is too hot so I let it cool. After overseeing the cup constantly, its finally of the right temperature now but it has developed a cream cake layer over its surface. How much I hate it. I carefully flick it off the cup only to find the sugar inadequate. I am too despaired now to add sugar in it. I grumpily drink the compromised chocolate milk like an imposition.
He is having his chocolate milk in the morning. It is cold. It has a strand of hair floating on its surface. He casually removes it and savors every drop of it. It is without any sugar.

I am stuck in a job I wanna break out of. Weekdays are times of unending clock watching. Weekends are times of discontent retrospecting. I have no friends at work. I make sure I don’t make any. I don’t want anyone to look through my facade of resilience. I smoke and cry silently sitting on the toilet seat. I want to gossip about the new girl but I pretend to be working.
He loves his job so much that he hates holidays. Weekdays are weekends. His friends at work advise him not to smoke. Vulnerability has garnered him strength.

I come home to have my dog pounce with excitement on my exhausted body. I am smiling inspite of me. I have found my sugar today.
He comes home to find four damp walls waiting to infuse him with a sad feeling. He will find his hope tomorrow.

art title - jewelled navigator (rapture series), acrylic on canvas
artiste - Henry Harvey
url - http://www.wishihadthat.com/ProductImages/panels/JeweledNavigatormed.jpg

Handicaps of heart


Stealing some more time under the blissful hot water shower and watching the water trickle down my nakedness had almost become a daily ritual these days.
Two threads of water join between my chest. I notice the grains of hair growing back after a merciless waxing session 2 days back. Then it flows a little lower. I pincer grasp the protrusion of my navel, wince and regret having the blueberry muffin yesterday. Then the little rivers spiral around my calves evoking depression of having the most pathetic legs of the world.

Next comes the excruciating process of selecting something appropriate to wear. Something to co-ordinate with what I am feeling today. Sometimes I feel aubergine and sometimes peachy. Then violate my hair with liberal amounts of gel to suppress their revolt. Sunblock to not only block the sun but also to block the lungs of my skin. Socks to match, shoes to match. Deo and perfume to emit another million molecules of CFCs into the atmosphere.

My mind is dysfunctional from all the travails of vanity even before my day begins. So much to make me look good and ergo, feel good. Every time I set my Prada shoes on the dirty ground, a part of me dies. I watch my gait every now and then. I don’t sit by the window lest the wind will fuck up my hair. On my way, I curse the sun for making me sweat. I curse the country for the crumbling infrastructure. I curse the people for dressing up in off-whites and eating Big Macs.

And just when I am almost reaching my limit of damnation for the day I see her walking. Not walking like most of us do. Walking with the help of crutches. Dressed in a school uniform and carrying a backpack stacked with books. Balancing on the lopsided crutches, on the lopsided road with her lopsided body. Gracefully. They passed by her scornfully. I would have too. Maybe even pushed her aside, not because she was in my way. But because she isn’t like us. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Thick glasses with magnified irises, 2 pigtails folded and ribboned, crooked nose aren't exactly the things that hold your gaze, are they?

It was the smile.
I cant tell for what or for who. What reason would she have? The mystery of it was annoying. But the sight of it equally balming.
I moved ahead into the world full of reasons to hate.

She moved the other way.

art title - pure love, mixed media
artiste - Gayle Curry
url - http://www.gaylecurry.com/100paintings/gaylecurry/images/34_pure_love_s.jpg

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Lifed and Dismembered


Being caught up in one of those sudden downpours of rain while walking back home after dealing with a downpour of chaos at work was the last thing i needed that day. After sprinting for a while, splashing fast-filling puddles, I sought shelter inside a huge, unused tube made for water pipelines. How ironic I thought and laughed to myself despite being vulnerable to 'weather blues'. AAARRGH. Weather blues! Little things like this and that affect me so much. I cursed the weather some more and shriveled back inside the giant tube wheel only to find myself in company.
She was seeking shelter too. But only she didnt look like she was hiding from just the rain. It was more than that. One of her hoofs kept tapping on the iron of the pipe. I noticed she was tethered to a post. It didnt take me long to realize what was that she was hiding from. A knife with powdered red residual from its last use lay closeby. Her eyes (those dove-eyes were unmistakably of feminine order) seemed to look at it every now and then. And every now and then the tapping of her hoof increased.
She must have witnessed her companion, probably her lover, being broken into pieces of savories last Sunday. It should be her turn tomorrow. She sought shelter from tomorrow. There was grass fodder lying next to her, untouched. I reached out to touch her spine but it shivered my hand away even before any contact. She had lost faith in nobilities. She was wronged and soon she will be motionless. To even convey her silent protest.
I walked into the rain.
Little things like this and that didnt affect me now.
My friends would have reasoned; "Such is the way of life". I ate leaves and roots. But J.C.Bose told us they have a heart that bleeds too.

Life begets life.And lives. Life takes life. To live.
I had the choice of being a cynic or Mr.Brightside.

The sun came up with a subtle suggestion.

Little things like this and that make life.

art title - sonnenfresser, acrylics on canvas
artiste - Inge Schlaile
url -
http://www.ingeschlaile.com/Sonnenfresserpic1240.jpg

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Makings of a day


I just had another non-productive day. A day full of cruel mundanity and incapacitating banality. So much so that I watched the re-run of the most inconsequential episode of Sex And The City for the xth time.
I did try to watch a good movie. Good movies feed a dying day. By "good" movie I mean those adequately gauged by the critical standards and not mine. It turned out that the movie wasnt good enough to make me feel good about my unfructuous day. So a little after halfway through the unending and silent scene depicting human nature at it's most dramatic, I thought of taking a walk.
Here to emphasize on my desperation to break my routine, I'd must add that I hate the act of 'walking', aimless or otherwise.
But yet I decided to walk. Brave the poisonous levels of oxides in the air, the lack of a pedestrian pavement (which means even risking being run over) and the casual filth that surprisingly I still hadnt got used to despite having lived in this city all my life.
But i walked.
I did not carry my beloved i-pod, so it felt like I was suffering from a strange kind of hearing impairment. Just walking there by myself was an uncomfortable new feeling. At first you hear a deranged orchestra of traffic sounds. Just that. Then you walk some more. Like you have to get somewhere (only ofcourse you dont know where) and then the sounds start fading away and this blanket of reverie takes over.
A medley of thoughts that might seem unlinked at first but as you keep walking it starts to take a definite shape. You try all you can to figure. You sweat on your forehead. Now it's just your feet walking not you. You are floating. Floating around this spiral (it looked like a spiral to me) of thoughts, trying to understand it's course, its purpose even. And then, just like that, all in one fractional moment, you have a brainstorm.
It could be anything. Retrieval of a forgotten memory, formation of an ambition, birth of a new dream or maim of a myth. Learning of a lesson, closing of a chapter, clearance of a dilemma, growth of a hope, strike of a chord or just a simple breach of monotony. Anything. Anything at all. But it happens. As sure as that chirpy feeling you wake up with even on the lousiest sunday morning.
I had mine. I stopped like i had been stopped. And i spiraled back to finding connection with my feet. I looked at them. And right next to my feet, lying in torn abandonment on the swampy, pavementless street, splattered with numerous stamps of a busy weekday, was a piece of paper that i could identify was from the obituary column.
It read "..you were taken before your time..."
Thats all I could read.
I turned back and set towards my lonely abode. Towards the confinement i had for long inflicted myself with. But now I was a changed person.
A changed person who just had a great day.

art title - spiral gateway
artiste - Scott Bragg
url - http://www.dreamlandvisions.com/abstract/spiral_gateway.html