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Showing posts from 2006


More wood, more fire, More orgies! My power shall not stand Diminished in any way. The jewels in my crown, Those trophies of battle, That glory of being The Master of his men. The vile slavery of my serfs — shall I let go of it? More orgies, more food, More laurels to my power! Shall a mere tree come in my way? What shall I make my men do? Eat roots when they can have pheasant stew? That last tree shall give me wood, And they – those serving men – They shall chop it, and burn it. The cooking-men will stir the pots; The hunting-men shall find for me - Pheasants, and deer and turtles; The growing men shall bring me Wheat, and rice and cotton; The weaver-men, and the barber-men And the potter-men and other men, They shall all ply their trades. And I: I keep the peace among them, I throw them my table-scraps, And they shall be fed And be happy. They shall not murmur And swear oaths and secrets Or in any manner rise against me. No more wood be there to burn? What matter? We shall burn co


My parents - theirs are the hands that I hold to stand up. My school - what I am is because of my teachers. My doctor - he instills in me faith in human nature. My peers – they tell me what my place is. My friends - they are the sunshine that surrounds me. My dog - he has taught me compassion for all life. My city and community - they give me an identity. My country - its love of freedom gives me my voice. flowers and birds and butterflies - they fill my world with beauty. My creator – who gave me the gift of words. Words to sorrow in. Words to rejoice in. Words to say thanks in.

Adorned by Flames

Build me a city", said Al-Mansour, "One the world has never seen before, Greater than the spread of Al-Cairo, A city to rival Mecca's glow, Humble the might of Damascus, Tell the world that kings are us! Here where mighty rivers meet A thousand foes shall taste defeat; Constantinople, Rome and Greece Shall make with us ignoble peace! With stone and mortar wright a song Make me a city grand and strong" A thousand plans were made and torn; The king poured out unvarnished scorn. "The tortuous history of mankind With this place should be entwined When in their thousands fools will die Make this city the reason why!" The architect in his confusion Struggled to match his master's vision. In his eyes then shone a gleam In burning sands he saw a dream Three mighty walls; a golden dome For the greatest, it shall be home! "Plough me a circle three miles wide Fill it with charcoal, wood and hide. Furrow another outside it And then plough yet one more pit. Whe


आइए जनाब, बनारस में आपका स्वागत है। इसे अपना ही शहर समझिये, हम और आप ग़ैर थोडी हैं! गंगास्नान करियेगा, विश्वनाथजी के दर्शन करियेगा। अच्छा, आप यहां दहशत फैलाने आए हैं? लाखों की जानें लेने आए हैं? आप ही का तो शहर है, जो मन चाहे करें। हम कौन होते हैं रोकने वाले? आप बम डालेंगे? शौक से डालिये। बीसों मारे गए तो क्या हुआ? छोटे-बडे शहरों में ऐसी छोटी-मोटी बातें तो होती ही रहती हैं। आपने जो काम मुंबई और दिल्ली में किया, भला यहां क्यों करेंगे? अब बनारस और अयोध्या जैसी छोटी शहरों में आपको क्या नसीब होगा? फिर भी, यह हमारी ख़ुशकिस्मती है कि हम पर भी आपके नज़र पडे। आप कहते हैं कि काशी-अयोध्या हमारे देश की नीव हैं, हमारे देश के अस्तित्व का प्रतीक हैं? जी ज़रूर, सही कहते हैं आप। आप इस नीव को हिलाना चाहते हैं? जी, अब आप ग़लत बात कहते हैं। हज़ारों को मार लीजिये, क़ौमी दंगे करवाइए। जो चाहे करिएगा, यह सपना छोड दीजिये कि आप हमारी नीव हिला सकते हैं। सैंकडों सालों से सींचा हुआ नीव है यह। आपकी ही तरह बहुतों आए। तुर्की आए, मुग़ल आए, अंग्रेज़ आए। उनका भी हमने स्वागत ही किया। अतिथी देव जो ठहरा! उन्होंने भी यही को

Get out of that Cocoon

In all appearances, of course, I am a man full-grown. Then again, as they say appearances are deceptive. For in me there are at the same time: a child, a grown up and even an old man. The old man makes me think. Made old by the burden of experience and knowledge. (All still within the classroom yet). The grown up makes me he makes me survive. Compete, contest, strive, to use a cliche: run in the rat race. But it is the child I like the most. He is the one that makes me want to live. Really live. To enjoy the rain, the flowers, the smell of wet earth. To watch and wonder at the industrious ants, the caterpillar, the rat even. He goes around tying rakhis for raksha bandhan. He'll send you an eclair (or better, a rose) in that first burst of youthful love. He's the one that will be optimistic about giving his heart and getting another in exchange. He is the one inside me, that really does all the living. The old man's cynicism, the grown up's

Transcreating a Spanish hymn

Transcreating a piece from one language to another is not very easy, but it is a better thing to do than merely translate. The translator is but a linguist, loyal more to the medium than the message. It is the transcreator who adopts the spirit of the message, and moulds the new language of expression around it. Here's a Spanish hymn, and my attempt at a transcreation here:- No soy un visionario, No soy revolucionario. Pero soy un hombre simple, que espera un mejor mañana. Soño esperanza y canto este himno. Creo que el sol brillará y las tinieblas saldrán. Creo en rosas rojas y amor y de la paz. Soño esperanza y canto este himno. Creo que los humanos todos los seres humanos serán libres un día; libres, e iguales. Soño esperanza y canto este himno. I am not some big-hat thinker nor some eternal rebel. I'm just your regular guy wanting a better day tomorrow. I believe there'll be light again and the clouds will disperse. There will be red roses and love and all the

Last Tree Standing

It was the last tree standing On the prairie’s boundless ground Harassed by the winds and rain alike It stood alone, calm, strong Gently holding on to its last leaves. “More wood, more fire, More orgies! My power shall not stand Diminished in any way. The jewels in my crown, Those trophies of battle, That glory of being The Master of his men. The vile slavery of my serfs — shall I let go of it? More orgies, more food, More laurels to my power! “Shall a mere tree come in my way? What shall I make my men do? Eat roots when they can have pheasant stew? That last tree shall give me wood, And they – those serving men – They shall chop it, and burn it. The cooking-men will stir the pots; The hunting-men shall find for me - Pheasants, and deer and turtles; The growing men shall bring me Wheat, and rice and cotton; The weaver-men, and the barber-men And the potter-men and other men, They shall

To My Nephew Newborn

Ah! Little fellow, Welcome to the arms, Of a proud uncle. Welcome into this world of ours. We have many things for you. You shall have them As a young man. Books, Dogma, Music. Guns, And roses. Tell me, nephew, (Though I know you cannot tell) What will the world be like, In your time? Will there still be roses, And the time and tenderness, To give them to pretty girls? Will the child's laugh, The sparrow's twitter And the sunrise on the sea Still be beautiful? Will all men, Who the wise say Are born equal, Will they die equal And happy? Or would steel Still shed blood? Will the madness that has been The fate of all mankind, The plunder and plague, Still abound? I hope there will be roses, And the beauty of love Still prevail in the end. Nephew (how you sleep!) Someday you will be The father, and I the son And you will lead me by The hands that hold you now, Into a future unseen.

A Monsoon Sonnet

Hurrah! The rains are here! The dream that every tree has seen To dress in everlasting green; The hope of every sown seed, Of every herb and grass and weed, Of parched street and thirsting town, Of starving ryot and taxing crown: Is sated now, there is no fear. The drops of life fall sweet and clear! His time has come, he's waited long: The frog croaks forth his eager song! With joy does every little child, Frolic in mud, get wet, run wild! Hurrah! The rains are here!

The Courtship of a Fly

some point in their love-lives. Now those beautiful studies in miniature called Drosophila melanogaster , who provide me my daily bread, have no less an elaborate ritual of courtship, as they sing and dance and weather down their beloveds to consent to a union of hearts. Presenting the Fly Shakespeare:- Male:- Shall I compare thee to a summer’s eve? Thy brilliance is like a sun upon the firmament, And thy portment most tubby! Female: Hie! Thou yellow-bodied knave, Get thee away from me. Male:- Dismiss not my entreaties, bonnie lass, Thine wings most curled, and most brilliant Balanced are they in their beauty! Female:- Look upon thyself, thou love-lorn fool! Look upon the hazard tufts, That peasantly stubble That thou claimest to pass for bristles, Ha! Wooest thou me with such gain? And consider mine: What perfect form, slender curved, And tipt with gold! Male:- Am I so blemish’d, That my worth to thee is unkempt? Gaze into my eyes, fair maiden, Two whiten hemispheres Pure in th

The Message

The message is supreme; Born in the heart, and lilting itself from tongue to tongue, throwing its scent over wind and wave; travelling on dots or fingers when blindness or silence bar its way. It hews itself into stone or burns itself onto magnetic discs; it is the message that lives and I exist solely to pass it on.

Fashion Street

9:00 AM. Mumbai. Fashion Street. Officially Mahatma Gandhi Road. Curious juxtaposition of names. Empty hawker stalls. Unloaded hangers. Stark bamboo poles. Fading echoes of bargains. Echoes of a thriving economy. Echoes of a police van. Echoes of a city alive. Echoes of a man of his people. Echoes of his people. Curious juxtaposition of names? (Originally written as a flash essay on Saturday, September 03, 2005. I wonder whether transformation as blank verse would work.)

A Monsoon Idyll

The nectar-laden clouds; The earthen smell of newborn life the sea-spray upon my face, the green cloak that the trees have covered themselves in and the steadily pouring rain that feeds, nurtures, enlivens: they weave beauty into breath, The joy of being, The enchanted thrill And the bliss of minglement into the bounty of the earth!

Villanelle - Why am I a writer?

Why am I a writer? Why bother pentameter? Why must ink stain paper? Why have I nought better? Than be a story-teller; Why am I a writer? While men earn and prosper, I am just a word-monger; Why must ink stain paper? I may be a great master Or just a poetaster Why am I a writer? Why mess with rhyme and meter, With plotline and character? Why must ink stain paper? Why not live a quieter Life of peace that's better? Why must ink stain paper? Why am I a writer?

Tin Sheets

They've put tin sheets around my house. That house in the middle of the city, built so very long ago by grandpa, when I was not even born, shall they break it down? The grills on the window, with the big sill on which I sat, watching suburban trains go past; and that window that never opened, will they break them now? That attic in which I could play, and not be found for hours; and all the sundry stuff in it Among which I was general, king or slave In a perfect fancy world, will they break them now? The kitchen platform with the burners, one for sacred, god-offered meals, the other for cooking abhishtam things, when grandmother was not around; and the shelves with old wooden doors groaning with sterling heirlooms, will they break them now? The tall wardrobe in the room on which my cousin kept things which I should not read; or the iron cot in the corner that creaked under grandpa's weight; or that ancient blotted mirror, will they break them now? That ancient wood

A Riddle

Guess who I am:- I am the sunset's pleasing tone, I am the shipwreck's anguished moan. I seed the rain that nurtures all, I brew the anger of the squall. I am the atoll's turquoise green, I am the ice-floe's stark white sheen. From me stems every living breath, To me your dust comes after death.


I’m waiting by the sea for someone to come. I see here and there. Everyone is waiting. For someone to come or someone to go (perhaps forever). Some for a signal from above that will guide their destiny; others merely a better job, or a spouse, or inheritance. The stones are waiting too for the tide to lash at them. the stranded crabs wander, waiting for the sea to come in and take them back. and the fish in the sea are waiting too for the crabs to come back. The limitless earth behind me is sowed with seeds that have been waiting for the heavenly water that will sow them with life. the squirrels and birds wait for that water and the blooming to rerun that eternal sequence of life again and again. We are all waiting for something or the other to happen and bring the change we dread to bring by our own hands. My little wait is over, She has come. But my big wait Still continues. I know not What I wait for. But I’m waiting. (The bit in italics may or may not be part of th

Happy Birthday Suniti

To the walker of dogs and hawker of art, the baker of cakes and maker of candles, the spreader of cheer, the forger of happiness, to the odd job woman, the dragon of glee, the caterpillar of hope: I wish you a harvest of stars a spring of flowers. Happy Birthday Suniti.


Your Gangu is ill? I'll write the medicines But I have no hopes. It is not my fault And I cannot help you. If you are poor And your children die, It is no one's fault. Why should anyone be blamed for that? You don't want to die? Go to the great Mumbai Sweep the streets or, Make chapatis for the rich. Atleast you will be alive. Ha! You want your dignity? Then be here in Nandurbar, And watch your children die. You will sicken and starve, But you'll have your dignity.

'Bargirl murdered in Chikpet'

A bargirl died. Found in her hovel; her throat cut, lying in a pool of blood. I read this, on the left margin in the crime section of my newspaper. A jilted paramour was suspected. Police was hunting for him, it said. Some days later, the culprit was found and charged for murder. Next day I forgot it. I don't know whether he was hung, or imprisoned for life. I don't even know he was tried. There were lurid details, of other murders in the papers. No boring court reports. How does it matter? Someone was murdered. She didn't concern me, Why should I care? There are murders everyday.

Gangu (in Marathi)

गंगू: "आई बघ पान्ढ्री कोंबडी! किति सुन्दर आहे| मी घेवू? मी खेलीन तिच्याशी|" गंगूची आई: "अग गंगू! का त्रास देतेस ग? शालते जायाचे नाही?" गंगू: "नाही आई| बाई ओरडतात तिकडे| मला कोंबडी बरोबर खेलायच आहे!" ***** गंगूची आई: "अहो डाँक्टर, माझ्या गंगू ला काय झाले? ती बोळत का नाही? ती फक्त पडून आहे|" डाँक्टर: "तिला बर्ड फ्लू झाल आहे| मी औशध लिहून देतो| (पण मला काही आशा वाटत नाही|)" ***** गंगूची आई: "माझी गंगू गेली रे| कानाचा अशोक गेला| वार्क्याची सुन्दरी गेली| आम्च्या मुला मुलींना काय झाला होता? त्यांनी कोणाचा काय केल?" डाँक्टर: "तुम्ही गरीब आहात| हीच तुम्ची चूक| तुम्हाला कोण विचारणार? हे नन्दुरबार आहे| प्रधानाचा दरबार नाही|" "जा! मुंबईला जा! तिकडे तुम्चे राजा गादीवर बसलेत| नाच तमाशा करताय्त|" "महाराष्ट्राची कोणाला फिकिर? सगळे खुर्चीचाच विचार करतात| तुझ्या बोर्या बान्ध आणी जा मुंबईला!" "न्याय मिळेल कि नाही मला माहित नाही| पण तिकडे कुणाच्या तरी घरात झाडू मार, पोळ्या बणाव|" "हेच तुझ्

Persian Prayer

Lord! I asked of you to give me paradise. Lord! You gave me the boon of heaven! Lord! I asked of you to give me strength. Lord! You gave me the boon of faith! Lord! I asked of you to give me wisdom. Lord! You gave me the boon of a teacher! Lord! I asked of you to give me peace. Lord! You gave me the boon of love! Lord! I asked of you to give me security. Lord! You gave me the boon of yourself! Lord! I asked of you to give me paradise. Lord! You gave me the boon of heaven!


Local trains Cutting chai BEST buses vada-pao pudhe sarka Marine drive Salty air kanda pohe T.I.F.R. Monsoon Lalbagcha Raja Saamna Autorickshaws - my forsaken homeland

Prayer (In Persian)

Khoda! Man az to dua-ye-ferdaus kardem, Khoda! To az man dua-ye-jannat dadi! Khoda! Man az to dua-ye-zor kardem, Khoda! To az man dua-ye-Iman dadi! Khoda! Man az to dua-ye-danesh kardem, Khoda! To az man dua-ye-moallem dadi! Khoda! Man az to dua-ye-saleh kardem, Khoda! To az man dua-ye-mehebet dadi! Khoda! Man az to dua-ye-hefazet kardem, Khoda! To az man dua-ye-shoma dadi! Khoda! Man az to dua-ye-ferdaus kardem, Khoda! To az man dua-ye-jannat dadi!

La Raçaillaise

Why do we humans bother to make nations and draw boundaries and have national identities? What ever happened to the Stone Age, when different hunter-gatherer bands roamed around, eating food, playing games and making love and war just the same as we do in a 'civilised' manner today? Do dogs do this? Do they were to constitute republics and elect leaders? Have they a national anthem? I asked my friend Puppysingh, and he told me in his language. When they collectively bay at the moon, they are in fact affirming their national solidarity. Here is the translation of the anthem of the Mangy Republic:- La Raçaillaise by Chiennoir deRues In streets and dingy alleys where Our fathers fought before us; Inder staris, in hollows where Our mothers had littered us; O'er rubbish bin and gutter filth A republic of dogs we build! We affirm a mongrel guild We claim a canine commonwealth! No collar, leash or metal chain Shall hence inhibit our will! Our freedoms o'er all terrain Is

For I.I.Sc.

You may still the breath of our lungs. The excitation of our nerves, Agonies of screwed-up gels, The somnolent labmeets, Sessions with boss, Journal club inanities, Cold hostel rooms, Bad mess cooking, Paper-rejection angsts, Debates over coffee, That nervous colloquium, That boring thesis-writing, The rising thrill of discovery, That hasn't changed. You failed Mister. (In response to the I.I.Sc. terror attack)

First day at school

Daughter went to school today. Her first day of education. A milestone – The ‘first time’ of everything. Not long ago, She had said her first word. Looked into my eyes, smiled, And said – Amma! And not long before that She took her first steps. She stood on her own legs, And walked to daddy. And daddy… Well daddy was crying. It is in tears That joy blossoms. And today baby went to school. Is she already so big? Will she soon be Fighting with boys? Competing with girls? And one day Tell me that so-and-so Will be her life-partner? That will take time, She just went to school today. All smiles for a new dress – Striped white blouse Kerchief tucked in neatly Navy blue pinafore And matching ribbons. Shining black shoes And socks to match. Mother’s proud daughter. Bright new school-bag, With gleaming buckles. In it a drawing-book, Pencils, crayons, Rubber and sharpener. Fancy pencil-case, With pop-up animals And the sounds of a piano. Tiffin-box With sandwiches Biscuits and chocolate.

Knight On A Black Stallion

"I love you! Marry me!" "Give me three reasons why." "I've a tragic history like your favourite fiction hero." "Like what?" "Well, I was bullied at school." "Give me a better reason!" "I saved your honour." "When?" "That party, when I had just the shade of nail-gloss you wanted?" "So?" "I'm a knight. Ain't I?" "You don't have an armour." "I got insurance." "No gleaming sword." "I got a plama-screen." "Where's your black stallion?" "I got a black limousine." "You're crude." "I love you." "Go away." "Be honest! I am your knight." "Er..." "Done. I'm going to ask your father, and we're marrying next week. It's not the same as a black horse, be we can still ride into the sunset in my car."