↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Saturday, May 20, 2006

good riddance, dee

inspired (and inspored and inspured) by the aritcle and responses at Co-existing With Unwanted Guests

good riddance, dee (a tongue-in-cheek heading)

some deep early sunday morning thoughts and
if you are being picky...fine make them
early Sunday afternoon musings on them
roaches, rodents, insects and creepy crawlies
and the well meaning advice that pours in
from formulae developed in shiny labs
the sprays, chemicals, powders, roach motels
to those passed bosom to bosom developed
by folks long dust and ashes, long, long gone
(while ironically, the pests survive)

[chorus--come on everyone, join me
oh what to do, oh what to do
oh what to do, oh what to do]

don't know what was i imbibing when i
suggested ghostbuster's magical wand
comes sujatha with the odorless dough
shantanu does a modi on them roaches
gentle dr politics reminds gently
of the world rat day on april 04
and i wonder if the rats were rodents
or the corporate whistle-blowers
saks and kishore join the welcome wagon
(secretly thinking if we can survive
so can you dear dee, so can you dear dee)
sami counsels playing el mariachi
while ray suggests egg shells as a cure all
as if dee hasn't spread enough of them
(wink wink--them egg shells that we walk on)

[chorus--come on everyone, join me
oh what to do, oh what to do
oh what to do, oh what to do]

hoping with earnest hope dear dee am sure
at some time you will come to peace with them
roaches, rodents, insects and creepy crawlies
but tell me what do we do, what do we do
about these word-pecking, word-blasting poets?

circle / diara

i walked
in one direction
passed by the banyan
searched jungles, deserts
rivers, mountains
rest stops
were left behind

seasons changed
years piled and
i arrived
at the same banyan tree
older, greyer, weaker
but not wiser
and still missed her

chalta raha maiN chalta raha
ik sim't musal'sal chalta raha
rah e safar maiN darakht aa'aye
jungal, sehra, darya, aur pahaR
bastiaN aa'eeN aur woh na mila

chalta raha maiN chalta raha
ik sim't musal'sal chalta raha
jungal, sehra, darya, pahaR
sub ko oo'boor karta gaya maiN

chalta raha maiN chalta raha
aur itni musafat karli te'h
kay woh darakht phir nazar aa'aye
aur daira hu'a mukammil
laikin haath kuch aaya nahiN
oos ko kahiN paya nahiN

eyes - aankhaiN

in the deep blue
of my eyes
can you gaze
into my soul
she wondered

did not drown
in that sea
submerged as i was
in beloved's embrace

poocha oos nay ankhiOn say
is neelgooN samandar maiN
rooh me'ri dekh sakhtay hO?

oos gehri neelgooN jheel maiN
doobay kaun kyuN kay
ghota zun jO youN thay hum
kisi ki bund ankhiON maiN

bird with wings

bird with broken wing
am tired
too tired to fly
or play along
lay me to rest
where love dwells
for a day or two
or for ever
today i don't
care, am hurting

bird with clipped wings
it is sought

mang'l sut'r
is but a chain
around the neck
that suffocates
till death does part

Desicritics Editors' Picks - May 22-28

Reservations/Quotas And The "Meaning of Merit" May 22, 2006- madhukar writes:
Does "merit" in modern educated urban India mean being totally oblivious and alienated from the current socio-political reality?... and remains confined to proactive action only under threats to "my job, my merit.... my lollipop!"? Or, in other words:
Is the anti-reservations sentiment among the educated urban Indians merely a morally justifiable "rang-de-basanti" peg on which one can hang one's sulking tantrums about the loss of monopoly on the traditional turf?

Writer's Notebook: Gettin' To Know You May 22, 2006 - Richard Marcus writes:
If you were to ask me if that were my intent when I set out, in truth, I don't know. Honesty forces me to admit that I had no stylistic plan at all; hell I didn't even have an outline. It was more along the lines of one long improvisation. I gave myself circumstances, a location, and developed characters as needed and created as I went.

Google Trends: The Great Desi Survey May 23, 2006 - Mayank 'Austen' writes:
Search engine Google recently launched Google Trends in which one can find out which city is searching most for which key word or phrase. This author sat down to trace some patterns. The results, based on the searches made in the year 2005, were unexpected.

So You Want To Be A Good Reviewer And Critic? May 25, 2006 - Mark Schannon writes:
Critics enjoy the work more because they understand how difficult it is to get all the elements to come together in a masterpiece, or they can see which elements failed which caused the piece to not be a masterpiece. Ask yourself, who would appreciate a jazz album more, Thelonius Monk or a five-year-old. (Note, I didn't say enjoy. Appreciate is an aesthetic experience, enjoy is a personal one.)

The Beggar and The Peanut Seller May 27, 2006 - The Hissing Saint writes:
The beggar looked up at him slowly and smiled...

"My dear friend we are both essentially doing the same thing...."

"We are both sellers ...albeit of different products."

"Look at the people who drop in their coins into my you really think they do it because of pity?"

"Most of them are thinking to themselves, "I have done a good deed...god is going to bless me today."

"Ask these very people if they would so much as lift a finger to help me were I dying of cold or soaking in the pouring rain. And you say I live off the pity of people?"

Micro Opportunities in a Macro World May 27, 2006 - Soothsayer writes:
I have always been a proponent of empowering people through opportunity rather than charity, which makes their growth more organic rather than externally induced. The main avenue to reducing poverty in India in my opinion is a matter of providing incentives and opportunity rather than alms.

a drop of Truth: you and me

such kya hay
samundar ya qatra
tum ya hum?


sea or droplet
million or one
timeless tale

sun splashing on sea
cloud, a lazy float
paints peak white

sun mount-cavorting
synergetic drops
sojourn to coalesce

you a drop---i, another
landless, nationless, clueless
seeking symbiosis
in drop-seas

zia mohyeddin -- sounds of the heart

Zia Mohyeddin column - the news may 28/06
'Sounds of the heart'

I am sure it's known to many of you that the word 'admiral' has nothing to do with 'admire' or 'admiration'? as one of my students surmised -- but that it comes from the Arabic word 'amir-al-bahr', meaning 'commander (amir) of the (al) sea (bahr)', which was the title the Arabs created for the leader of their navy after he had conquered Spain and Sicily.

The phrase was adopted by the English (and the French as well) who apparently misunderstood the individual parts of the phrase and thought that the definite article 'al' meant 'sea'. They dropped the final word bahr because they didn't know it meant the sea and ended up with a rather eccentric official title, 'amiir-al', which literally meant 'commander of the'.

Lexicographers tell us that 'amiiral' was introduced to the English language around 1500 AD. The letter 'a' often stood for the Latin preposition 'ad' (e.g. 'admirable') so the 'a' changed to 'ad' and soon the title of the ruler of the Queen's Navy became 'admiral'.

Words have intrigued me for a long time. I am whole-heartedly in agreement with the old Chinese proverb that 'words are the sounds of the heart'. But, if, I were to be honest, I would say that I am interested in words largely for phonological reasons.

Wordsmiths, that is, people who live in a universe of words and are seriously obsessed by it, have often published lists of their most favoured words. The author, Williams Espy's list contained: 'gonorrhea', 'lullaby', 'meandering', 'mellifluous', 'murmuring', 'onomatopoeia', 'wisteria'... For me it was cornucopia. Roll these words round your tongue, they are sharp and silvery against the teeth; whisper them, speak them full- throatedly; these words delight your senses like a sip from a vintage Beaujolais.

In the last few decades there have been many competitions held in newspapers and Radio inviting people to send in their favourite English words. The results in the Sunday Times competition showed that 'parakeet', 'chrysalis', 'sycamore', 'antimacassar', 'chinchilla', and 'doppelganger' were among the top ten words. These words were obviously chosen for their sounds and not for their meaning.

It would seem that a word perceived to be beautiful has to have two or three syllables (this is not necessarily true of English words; in our language too, words of two or more syllables are, phonetically speaking, much more attractive: 'sansanhat', 'muzmahil'). There are, of course, other criteria: the vowel sounds varying from syllable to syllable, but this is the territory of my friend, Khalid Ahmed, and I do not wish to step into it.

Khalid Ahmed is a wordbuff, a wordaholic and a wordsmith; he is a polymath. He is a linguist and an etymologist and he can tell you, with great ease, how words can be pressed, squeezed and manipulated into all kinds of shapes when they travel from one country to another and from one culture to another. For years he has been showing us how an Amharic word finds its way through Slavic languages into Persian and how a Sanskirit word sneaks into Greek or vice versa. I wonder if he is as amused as I am that given the prominence of alcohol in British society, the word alcohol is not originally English, but another import from Arabia.

I must confess I don't know half as much as I would like to about the meaning of many words -- leave alone their origins -- despite my long-standing fascination with words and it depressed me no end when I took the vocabulary test devised by that distinguished Professor of linguistics, David Crystal.

Professor Crystal's method is simple. In order to estimate the size of your vocabulary, take a medium-sized dictionary, one between 1500 and 2000 pages. (Collins, Chambers or Oxford would do). Aim for a sample of pages. If the dictionary is 1500 pages pick only 30 pages, that is, 2% of the number of pages (forty if it has 2000 pages).

You then break the sample down into a series of selections from different parts of the dictionary. For a thirty page sample you have six choices of five pages each, or ten choices of three pages. A representative sample, he recommends, is to pick your pages beginning with CA, EX JA, OB, PL, SC, TO and UN.

You begin with the first full page, and go through all the words on each page of your sample. If you think you know a word or any of its meanings, put a tick against it. (It doesn't matter if you do not know the alternative meanings). For your active vocabulary, you only need to be certain that you can use the word often, occasionally or not at all. Do not ignore words which are clustered together just showing their endings as in nation-al-ize. You can also tick idioms and phrases such as call up and call the tune. Add up the ticks and jot the total down on a piece of paper. Then add up all the page totals and multiply by 50 -- and you will get (more or less) the size of your vocabulary.

I sat down with my Concise Oxford which has 1562 pages. I selected three sections of ten pages, and chose PL SC and UN. My vanity took a severe knocking as I totted up the figures. Of the 395 words spread over ten pages I only knew 165, not even fifty per cent. Gamely, I went on to the next section and my result was slightly worse, but I perked up when I got to the section beginning with the prefix 'UN'. Here I scored heavily (who wouldn't ?); the only words (in these ten pages) I did not know were; 'unaneled', 'uncial', 'unciform', 'uncinariasis', 'uncinate', 'unguiculate', 'unaxial'.

My vocabulary, judging by the Crystal test, would be a little over 34000 words. Pretty dismal, I thought, considering that most writers insert into their sentences the best part of half a million words. Never mind, I told myself. There are scrabble players who are familiar with thousands of words without knowing their meaning. But it was no consolation.

The Oxford English Dictionary had over 500,000 words in the edition which came out in 90's. Scholars and lexicographers are busy preparing a newer edition which will probably have 2 million entries. Even if I were to disregard a large number of entries from earlier periods in the history of the language, as well as names, places and acronyms, I will still be left with hundreds of thousands of words which I shall never know. Dictionaries are expanding by the hour. It is estimated that about 900 new words enter the language every year.

I am reminded of the Emily Dickinson poem:

A word is dead

It is said,

Some say.

I say it just

Begins to live

That day.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Desicritics Editor's Picks - May 15-21

Q & A With the Bookologist - May 15, 2006. Mayank 'Austen' writes,
Q: I'm a 24-year-old single woman living with my parents. My problem is that I buy 6-7 books everyday. My parents have grown very upset and they have given me an ultimatum of one month to decide if I want them or the books in the house. I am very confused. Please advice.
A: What! 24 years of age and still living with parents! Of course, ask your parents to move out.

Indian Institute of Technology: Myths and Miseries - May 15, 2006. Vivek Sharma writes,
IIT degree is not a passport to success, and hence distributing it to people who don't deserve it on merit is meaningless. IITs suffer from the lack of world class facilities, depleting faculty standards and cash crunch: problems that need to be addressed before any more new schools are named as IITs. Perhaps the IITs need to come out of government control and then attract funding from everywhere to transform themselves into schools that really produce the best engineers and researchers. Lastly, as alumni we owe it to our alma mater to guide its policy changes, and help IITs become leaders in research and development of the world.

We Leech On Society - May 16, 2006. Richard Marcus writes,
How often to you hear the government or the pundits talking about all the income they lose from those people? Why is it only the poor and sick that are blamed and made to pay for the economic woes of society? If we are Mr. and Mrs. Leech because we receive a monthly stipend that barely lets us make ends meet, why are they referred to as Captains of Industry for avoiding their responsibilities as citizens?

Myopic Censor Board: Banned, Banned, Banned! - May 20, 2006. Nitin Karani writes,
The feckless hypocrites on the committee after all the 'tamasha' of interrogating Sridhar about the film didn't have the balls to pass the film. Says he, "They pretend they are broadminded, but when it comes to films with an alternate take, they cower. Basically, I have realized they wanted my characters to cry over their fate. They didn't take too kindly to the fact that I showed gays and drag queens happy with their lives and being unapologetic. They wanted a daily soap with buckets of tears!" If Ekta Kapoor was looking for 'chamchas', she would have found them there.

Kiranjit Ahluwalia: She Was Provoked - May 20, 2006. Sakshi Juneja writes,
Kiranjit suffered brutality in the hands of her husband, a man who had vowed to love and cherish her till the very end. A man who not only betrayed her trust but also gave her pain and agony that will remain with her forever. But there is always a saturation point; finally after suffering for nearly 10 years Kiranjit took a final stand - in May 1989, she set fire to her husband Deepak.

U.P. - Food, Corruption And Courts: Public Hearings on Food Distribution - May 21, 2006. Sanat Mohanty writes,
The public hearing was empowering. It was empowering for people who are beaten up and whose houses are burnt for even raising this issue, to come and present their stories. It was empowering for them to connect with others who were similarly affected. It was empowering for them to declare that they were willing to come to the streets if nothing happened soon - they did not have a choice. For that is where the hopes of the Indian democracy continues to live. Not in Kalam's speeches, in Manmohan Singh's policies or in Narayanmurthy's dollars. It was empowering for a nation. For a democracy. One that lives and breathes, not in the elite colonies of Bangalore or Delhi but in the heart of the nation's million farmers.

In the coming weeks i would like my fellow editors to send me their recommendations and suggestions.

And as Desicritics, you can also send in your suggestions. My email:

as the shadow parts/rukhsat e saaya

as the shadow parts
o ephemeral illusion, o shadow mine
inseparable and indistinguishable
were we since dawn, sharing every joy and sadness
the moment of truth is about to descend
where goes the vows of eternal allegiance

rukhsat e saaya
aye wahimay, aye meray humwajood
kay sada say raha hay saath t'ra
shareek e runj o khushi bay misaal
ab tO waq't e a'sal ki aamud hay
saath choRna kaisi rasm e wafa hay

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Desicritics Editor's Picks - May 08-14

Piracy - The Real Mantra Behind Indian Success, And What the Wall Street Journal Doesn't Get - May 09, 2006
spincycle says I would like to address the question of why this poorly researched article trumpeting fake achievements and rationale for India's success has made it to the Wall Street Journal. My guess is that this is a deliberate piece, produced after much 'deliberation' with the 'businesses'. It comes as no surprise that one of the authors of the article, Mr. Wilder is a lawyer representing the euphemistically named IP lobbying Association called the " Association for Competitive Technology".

Living in Two India(s) - May 10, 2006
madhukar writes This posting is an attempt to understand these two India(s). One may say that this is a sort of anthropological exploration of two continents/ paradigms/ realities - which co-exist, and yet do not (perhaps) understand the other side.

Spam, Constitution And Forums Aka Random Ramblings Of A spammed Victim - May 11, 2006
Lakshmikanth writes Forums are the next evolutionary step, where a group of individuals come together and form a community which follows its own rules. Is there a rule in that forum such as "Don't like it : Don't join it!". Well if there is then we have a controlled society which protects its citizens from the bots, the spammers and viruses of the external internet. If there is no rule like that then we have an open society which fails to protect its contributors from external attacks. The only choice it leaves to an individual is either leave the forum or fend for himself/herself.

The Plight of the Slum Dwellers: Thus Speaks... - May 11, 2006
Anouradha Bakshi writes A couple of years back, Gita Verma, who wrote Slumming India and who runs an activist forum had come to Project Why to share her views with the community. One of the things she said and which today rings so true, was that no one could legalise what was illegal and that one day the law would catch up. She went on to say that people should ask for legal housing and as a town planner she knew that there was sufficient land in Delhi to accommodate everyone provided the will was there.

Spying for the Raj: The Pundits and Mapping the Himalayas - May 12, 2006
kamla bhatt qrites A primary reason that drove the British to undertake this task was to contain Russia's interest in this part of the world. Tsarist Russia in the mid-19th century was on a quest for a warm water port in this region (in what is today Pakistan area). Jules mentioned that at point the Russsians were literally at the gates of India. This need to contain Russia is what propelled the British administration to undertake this survey. It was against the back-drop of this "Great Game," that a small band of "pundits" went on a secret mission to map the Himalayas.

Fiction: Brokeback Mountain, Desi Version! - May 12, 2006
Mayank 'Austen' wrote Dear Harsh,

You are a very good friend of mine. But I'm not that kind of person. Let's be clear. I like girls. Whatever happened is a thing of the past. Whenever I did those things, I imagined it as if I'm doing it to a girl. Forget it like a bad dream. I will always be your friend.

The MBA GANG : Penultimate Chapter - May 13, 2006
Desi Train writes They will be watching you. At any given time there will be about 9 cameras watching you from different angles. Rehearse your dialogues. Recite them well. Act well. The guys in security will be watching your every movement, listening to your every word. Keeping quiet will make them suspicious. Talking too much will make them suspicious. Fidgeting hands or shuffling feet will get their attention. They will be looking at your eyes. Don't laugh for no reason. Don't forget to laugh if given a reason. These guys are some of the best in the world. They won't miss seeing that a strand of your hair has moved one sixteenth of an inch...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Desicritics Editor's Picks - May 01-07

In strict chronological order here are articles I liked. Caveat: To avoid conflict-of-interest I have not included any posts by the editors.

Stephen Colbert: Buried by Truthiness - May 01, 2006
Amrita Rajan writes: … even in America, in this bastion of people's power, actions such as Colbert's are all too rare and can end in punishment - even if it is delivered with kid gloves rather than the crudity that one is accustomed to in other parts of the world…. given an opportunity to exhibit truthiness, he took it and how. Thank you, Stephen Colbert and may your tribe increase... or at least outsource.

End Of The Raj (4): "The Legacy" And The Reality Check- May 01, 2006
madhukar writes. Perhaps the only way to reconcile these paradoxes is to believe that the history of a nation is not a fairy-tale (with clear-cut good-evil/right-wrong), but an epic across generations which unfolds in various shades of gray.

A Long Distance Call - May 02, 2006
Sakshi Juneja writes From that day on, life was never the same for a daughter who lost her dad at the age of 20. With whom she had her last meal just a week back. She never got to see her father's funeral, didn't get to touch his face for the very last time before it would turn to ashes.

Chicken Soup: Dreams And Delusions - May 02, 2006
The Hissing Saint writes "Small or large" he cried out to the customer.
The chicken didn't know what those words meant but she knew what they signified.
"Large" the customer shouted back
She closed her eyes...
...and darkness descended.

Living With The Sixth Sense - May 03, 2006
Asha Dhody writes I live from moment to moment and count my blessings for the beautiful moments in life, because what is life, but the sum total of a few moments and before you blink those moments are memories, like rainbows in the horizon, they fade but are etched in our minds forever and forever.

Luminous Till Drowning - May 04, 2006
Vivek Sharma writes I was I was
Why a fool I was
Ignored my receding hairline
in wait a decade I was
Gobbled envy with vodka lime
Devdas sans Chandramukhi I was
Oblivious to your deceit
Mirza without a pause
Floating diya of faith
luminous till drowning I was

Malleshwaram Railway Station: A Station of Mind and Memories - May 05, 2006
Sandeep writes This facilitator discriminates against none: today I see the same experiences but through the antics, behaviour of others. Believe me when I say the place has its own silent method of enforcing a quaint sort of discipline on its visitors. The said antics and behaviour in all my hallowed years is almost consistent: it never gets out of hand, the younger visitors never cross the line of public decency and older visitors who look at this nod their heads with the typical tut tut tilt while guys my age mentally delight in these and want to join, but cannot. So, carry on boys!

Maestro Naushad Ali: Awaaz Dey KahaaN Hay - May 06, 2006
Banjaara writes Naushad's greatest contribution to Indian film music is the introduction of Hindustani Classical music into the mainstream cinema music. Today, after sixty years, people of all ages and taste listen to Noor Jahan singing with pathos Awaaz de kahaN hai, duniya meri jawaN hai in PahaRi and marvel at the ethereal beauty of this song.

Fiction: When Mummy Made Karhi Chawal - May 07, 2006
Mayank 'Austen' writes The rest of the magic was left to the Karhi to execute. The steam hissed out. The sour perfume rose to the ceiling. The flavor continuously jiggled around in a Brownian movement all over the table till everyone managed to regain sanity by finally acclimatizing their senses to its texture. The entire dining room was uplifted by the aroma of the yellow curry. Gradually passions that were allowed to be released so imprudently settled back with a blush. Emotions were calmed. Excitement was tamed. Anxiousness was suspended. But the craving did not subside.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Bahia del Guantanamo Bay Resorts: The Ultimate All-Inclusive Experience

Bahia del Guantanamo Bay Resorts have acquired a reputation rivaling and excelling Sandals Resorts.

Here is the complete list of 'detainees' released by Dumbsfeld from the Five-Sided Building on the banks of the Potomac.

First things first. Your diligent correspondent skipped down the list to T.

There is one Abdallah Tabarak, one Mohammed Tahir, and believe me two Muhammed Tariqs. The Five-Sided honchos must believe in the more the merrier. And one Saddiq Turkestani.

What a relief--no temporal. I will call M when I return home and give her the good news. Even though she was my alibi, all along. You don't give credence to everything you read, do you?

Yes, I did serve as an Inter Services Intelligence (ISI- Government of Pakistan's CIA-FBI rolled into one) mole once, before we had differences of opinion and I was grabbed by Research and Analysis Wing (RAW- Government of India's equivalent of ISI.) But then with kids in college and the van needing new tires and a tune up job, I decided to become a double agent. It worked fine for a while before both ISI and Raw became leery.

But by that time I...well, that is a story for some other time. Back to this list and my relief at not discovering temporal there.

The longest list is under Al. Sorry no Al Bandini there. There is a joke here.

There are more than 200 Als in this list: more than all Ahmeds, Mohammeds, Alis, Abduls combined. Reading the Als gave me a minor al-headache.


Bahia de Guantanamo Bay Resort is on the southeastern coast of Cuba on land leased in 1898 by the United States.

Guantanamo Bay Naval Base at the southeastern end of Cuba (19°54′N 75°9′W) has been used by the United States Navy for more than a century. The United States controls the land under a lease set up in the wake of the 1898 Spanish-American War.

The resort has four wings - Brisas del Delta, Bahia Echo, Oasis Iguana, and Melia X-ray.

Over the yearsBahia del Guantanamo Bay Resorts have acquired a reputation as one of the best all inclusive resorts in the world rivaling and some say excelling Sandals Resorts.

Their all-inclusive amenities offer greater variety than any other luxury resort. The food is excellent according to those who have been a guest there. The attendants hover over the guests. Their Arabic interpreters are the best that can be found anywhere this side of Rab al Khaali and Sharm el Sheikh.

This may account for the resort's popularity with its exclusive and well heeled Middle Eastern clientele.


As your very diligent correspondent scrutinized the list of guest at Bahia del Guantanamo Bay Resorts he was surprised not to find Al (the Dick) Cheney, Al (Permanent Frown) Bush, Al (Uncle Abdul) Zalmay Khalilzad, Al Donald (Not Duck) Rumsfeld, Al (Laundering) Paul Wolfowitz, Al (plumber) Daniel Pipes in the very exclusive list of guest who have recently visited the resort.

Perhaps with a slight over run over $280,903,096,870*---it is very likely that their credit cards have maxed out and they cannot afford the resort. Poor sods!

The resort is really excellent. Maybe we at Blogcritics/Desicritics can launch a drive to send these Als to taste the services of the resort?

* If you like, embed this link in your blogs

view from the top of the cross

arrhythmic clarity
suspended haze
sporadic effluvium

parched lips, scorched earth
hunger recessed and
pain anaesthetized
gardens float in
bread and wine aflicker
lazarus will not rise
______________again, soon

memories waft
ignite tactile urges

muscles torpid
vision atop the cross
unhindered, far and wide
and far and wider
cognizant of milleniums

elusive smile on the lips
as shadows beg leave

maan ko salaam


miss you today
more than ever

zaat ka diya
youN phoonkh phoonk ker
kaisi yeh aag
ki hay roshan
wajood maiN m'ray

tujh kO aye maaN
hazaar salaam

for M - saathi, lover, yaar, and mother
what's the harm
in loving her today
a little more
despite hallmark's
efforts to seize (the day)
here is to all Moms

the mime

smile pasted with dexterity
he stoically explores around
a crack, a broken brick
probes a door handle, a knob
examines the ceiling and walls
a new expression on his face
depicting each maneuver

in the on stage confinement
having done all he could to escape
face now ashen, drained, eyes wide
dismal, he looks around once more
stands still and folds to the floor

before the applause fades away
he gets up dusting and brushing
bows and casually opens
the door that had no handle
and momentarily looks back
mischievously waving farewell

a coin in harish's pocket

through a football-field gap in the cloud covered sky
sunrays kiss the ground, a blade midfield
swings in anticipated ecstasy

birds heading home pause,

the ground parched, love-torn
void in the sky
horizon to horizon
save a lonely football-field sized cloud
lazily floating

alternatively i trace its shadow on the ground
and look for lost lovers' faces on its sides

discreetly tiptoeing away time
sublimely assures thoughts and faces
conjectured and ensconced
float away into unpredictable morrow
scattering thirsty nightmares
and smiling dreams
in its un-repenting wake

as harish fidgets

an evening walk with father

macluhanesque truism
emblazoned all over
the spare tire bra
of my college Vespa --
Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out


my father
i love him
love him so...

unique he is
like his progeny
no wonder then...

we see and see not
eye to eye on all
issues and matters

all he and i stand for
unwittingly we accept
and grant each other
the space to grumble

(who said anythin' about open hearts?)

such crystal is our thinking
that out on our daily walks
should we ever accost
a rifle loaded
reflexively we'd
find ourselves
at its opposing ends
but the trigger, we shan't
pull--for we love to barb
our way out of forays

often we discuss childhood
not mine or my siblings
but of his grand children
loves them, covered for them
like he did not for us
for me! as i vainly
postulate and reassure

and when other topics
doze off in exhaustion
we discuss news and books
oh well, the Book of books
and his favourite expression
accusing me of writing
chapter thirty one
or aspiring to...

at that i feel
like dropping out...

but drop out, how can i
for cliches aside
i love you so, dad! despite...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

on charlie

posted this on sujatha's review


good write up...reminded me of my neighbour charlie

canada did not fare better than the US...the japanese were interned here too...but back to charlie...he is wiry, active, always smiling (sans a few teeth), and though the eyes have dulled somewhat they still gleam with deliberate in movement...

charlie is 91 years young!

still rides his bicycle everyday...snow or rain.... is very active and his front yard is a veritable junkyard where all day he always tinkers with something to keep busy...fixing a neighbour's lawnmower or sprinkler or creating an art-deco piece out of junk

charlie has a cottage up north...about 6 hours drive...and in the summer he drives (yes he drives!)...that in itself is a sight...takes him a few days to pile up his van with supplies and odd assortments he needs...(we bump into him most nights...our walk route takes us right past his garage...and we take a break to chat up)

he talks about the 'internment'...the difficulties his family faced...but one thing that stands out...(and this is where i return to your book review)...he does not harbour any resentment against the canadian government for their incarceration and loss of time in the prime of his life...

has a great sense of humour

last summer as we approached his house and saw him I asked 'how are you charlie?' pointing heaven-ward with a twinkle in his eyes he replied, 'still waiting for a call-up.'

the first time we met he was scribbling on the back of a flyer...i asked him what was he writing...oh am checking me things to do list...then he proudly shared it with me...

-water front lawn
-seed bald patch
-remove geranium to big pot
-take dog (poodle) for walk
-nail frame
-coffee and sandwich

the list was a long one...and he had scratched off most of the list...the ones not scratched he would add to the next day's list...M looked at me...her look said volumes...

on art as it reflects its time

A Reply to Meera

very interesting thoughts:)

we reflect our times

much as art reflects its times--today's art has relevance to today...which is not to say that yesterday's art has no relevance today...isn't art is for all times?... but 'relevance' in the sense of appreciation changes with times...returning to poetry...

in another discussion i mentioned rhyme-zone dictionary the other day...say you write a line:

..........makes no sense and want to rhyme it...all you have to do it to go to Rhyme-Zone write sense and hit the enter THIS is what you will see...

of course doing anything well is not has to read, read, read and familiarize oneself with iambic and non iambic meters, stressed and unstressed syllables, even a rudimentary count, rhymes (including inner) and so get the idea?

now, back to what you wrote......the modern quite different in terms of 'length/no. of words in a line', 'rhyme scheme'......

in the light of discussion thus far first a confession...i cringe at modern...the time-space allotted to it is an ever shrinking happier using relevance...and when we apply to this discussion of poetry...the scansion patterns and schemes of earlier era in sonnets, rhyming poetry, eulogies, elegies...(did you read up on those links i sent the other day?) is one more CLICK of any one period really...and read for yourself in terms of relevance will yield interesting observations (apologize for the convolution here)

the pace of life is different today...than it was in the days of chaucer, dickens even eliot...languages evolve we are told...which is another way of saying (language) speakers evolve...this evolution is as much dependent on circumstance as perhaps age...

in this day of instant-living where expectations are high and time short the tastes keep pace too...gone are the days when time mattered little...we are living a life of hurried expectations where seconds and minutes rule...not hours and days...and with this change in expectations and life styles our tastes changes

take ghazals for complete thought delivered in a structured metered couplet...a string of five or seven couplets...the beh'r a very intricate and rigid pattern...

60-70 years ago most poets wrote a majority writes naz'ms...

it is less structured…more free flowing…could be short as two lines or long as hundreds...and can encapsulate a complete thought...(of course it has its drawbacks)...

so there

hope have been able to contribute to the general confusion some:)

Rina Singh: Poet, Artist, Writer

RINA SINGH was born in India, and came to Canada in 1980. She has a Master's degree in Creative Writing from Concordia University, and a teaching degree from McGill University. Before moving from Montreal (where she lived for 10 years) to Toronto, she taught creative writing to gifted children at McGill University.

Rina's poems and short stories have appeared in several Canadian literary journals. Her poems were anthologized in The Court of Women (1995), published by Second Story Press. She has published a volume of poetry translations Silences (1994) with Rupa, Harper Collins, and a picture book for children entitled The Magic Braid (1995), with Sister Vision, The Foolish Men of Agra (1998) with Key Porter and Moon Tales (1999) with Bloomsbury, U.K.. She lives in Toronto with her restaurateur husband and two children, Amrita and Angad.

"Sunday at 2.30 for you," the voice mail message left by Munir Sami said.

Munir is the past President of the Writer's Forum. The Forum has a tradition of meeting on the last Sunday of every month, regularly since 1982. The current President is poet Nuzhat Siddiqui.

Rina Singh read from Silences - a translation of Gulzar's poems into English. This translation is into its tenth re-print: a rare feat for a book of translation.

Rina Singh spoke on the problems faced by a translator when internet was not universally available. Her passion to get just the right word to use in her translation efforts led her to seek out others by the slow and tortuous process of airmail. This process was long, slow and arduous but it paid for in Silences where she managed to capture the meaning and nuances of Gulzar's poetry.

She read from Silences first in Gulzar’s original Hindi/Urdu and then her own translation. The audience listened with rapt attention.

One of the poems she read from the collection was Deja vu:

I wonder what it was that
I wanted to say to you today!

I met you and I forget
what I said
what I had thought I'd say,
when I met you
I had this feeling
I have already said it to you.

There are things I've never said to you before
but somehow it feels
I must have;
what strange confusion!

I swear I'm not absent-minded
or inattentive;
I have become only
a little forgetful
in your love.

She also read some of her original poems. The first one she read was:

The Poetics of Desire

Throw away your papers tonight
put aside your pen
let your fingers
write on my body,
an empty page
a word,
a sentence,
write a poem
if your syntax hurts my skin
if I sigh, if I moan
just tighten your embrace
if your fingers stammer
dip them in darkness
and start again
fill up my margins
suffocate me with your grammar
proofread the madness
you have created
erase with your lips
any mistakes
your fingers make
read to me
what you have written
see the pages of my life
come alive
in your fingers


I look at the gift
you gave me
a Wiltshire knife
on my birthday
and think of all the things
I can do with it
I can slice
the head
of a lettuce
I can carve
a smile
on a pumpkin
I can clip
the wings
of a chicken
I can thrust it
in the heart
of a celery
I can peel
the skin
of a potato
I can slash
the stomach
of an eggplant
I can behead a mushroom
I can hurt a tomato
I can hurt as many tomatoes
as I want
the possibilities are endless
Be nice to me
down the years
your gift
with a lifetime guarantee

A Morning Walk

This morning
I took a poem for a walk
the long night
of unwritten darkness
had made it restless
to stretch.
At first,
the eager beast
dragged me
till I jerked it
back on the leash.
Then having settled
into a rhythm
I let it frolic a bit
I let it sniff the metaphors
I let it bark
at some passing adjectives
snapped at it to heel
on seeing some run on sentences
till we came to an open space.
With no noun in sight
I unleashed it on the green
and set it free
to run
in lines,
in phrases,
in clauses.
It ran without commas,
it ran without pauses
till I caught a glimpse
of another poem
a high bred
handsome looking poem
behind its poet.
I abruptly beckoned mine
to come back.
On the way home
I found myself
on the leash
looking for something
to sink my teeth into.

After her reading a break was announced by Munir Sami so that the audience can purchase copies of Silences and interact with her.

Another time I hope to do a more in depth profile of Rina Singh.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Developing The Sixth Sense

Started off writing a response to Living With The Sixth Sense and it took a life of its own

This ability to sense events could be a gift or a curse!

Personally I never go to psychic readings. And consider astrology, palmistry, face reading, and handwriting analysis with a dose of healthy skepticism.

Heck, even I can tell from my handwriting that the guy is forever in a hurry where his thoughts do not keep pace with words, has had perhaps uncaring teachers (illegible writing,) and has difficulty reading his own words – in other words thanks for the keyboard to enforce a semblance of sanity!

Our brains emit signals. (In another era my girl friends, almost without exception, had this uncanny ability to spot the bulge -- er -- I mean without seeing -- or feeling it.) It puzzled me then. How could they know? Was there a neon sign on my forehead? It was around then I gave up lying. I kid you not. I told myself there is no way a man can keep secrets from women. It has kept me in good stead. Not lying -- I mean. Plus, am blessed with a lousy memory. To be a good liar an excellent memory is a must. So, yeah I made my peace and compromised with the geo-political-physical realities. So back to this post...

Our brains emit signals. And some folks have developed this ability to read minds. They can receive those transmitted signals. Some of them could be gifted while others have trained themselves to develop this sixth sense.


Digression from a book i read years ago. Now this is a recollection: not plagiarism! Besides, no body gave me a six figure advance!

This book was written by a Royal Navy officer on board the Queen Mary. During WWII the luxury Cunard liner was converted to carry troops across the Atlantic. This officer was on bridge-duty during the night.

The Queen Mary had just sailed from South Hampton on its way to New York.

Into the second night of the voyage, he and a midshipman were the only two souls on the bridge. During the course of the night the midshipman paced the bridge and was discernibly in some sort of pain or agony. When the officer inquired, the midshipman did not mention any sickness.

On the third night the pair were together on the bridge again. This time the midshipman appeared to be in greater pain and was sweating profusely. The officer asked him if he wanted to be relieved but the midshipman declined the offer.

At close to 2.30 a.m. his breathing became heavy and he sweated more profusely and was visibly agitated. The officer made a note of the time and the ship's position in mid Atlantic in the Captain's logbook.

At around 3.30 the midshipman heaved a sigh of relief and became serene and peaceful. The officer asked him if he was okay. And the midshipman replied in the affirmative. And then casually confided in the officer that his wife (midshipman's) had given birth to a baby boy weighing 10 lbs. in a hospital in South Hampton. The officer also recorded this in the captain's log book.

The ship berthed in New York Port, discharged the returning and wounded troops, put on fresh supplies and fresh troops for the European front. When the ship berthed back in South Hampton this officer went ashore to the hospital and was amazed to learn that the midshipman's wife had given berth to a baby boy at the exact time the midshipman had mentioned to him in mid Atlantic


The explanation proffered was that the mind acts as a radio transmitter and gives off signals. The recipient has to tune in to be able to receivethose signals.

Think of it as a walkman or short-wave radio, miles removed the original transmitter. Only if you can tune in will you be able to hear the transmission.

As an infant we all learn to crawl, stand up, walk. And run. And only with dedicated perseverance can some of us run a 100 meters in under ten seconds or do a mile in under four minutes.

By conjecture, if one were to focus on enriching themselves of this sixth sense, they can develop it to a degree where they can read or see things.

In small measure all of us do this all the time. How often can you tell when the phone rings who will be at the other end?

Excuse me, got to go. Have a feeling am in trouble. No, I cannot read M's mind. Call it a hunch

gathering laughter

high noon lethargy on a quiet sunday
clothes -- an strewn sartorial necklace
all around the bed
timorous light cascading through the shades
a do-not-disturb smile on her face

torpor soaked in sluggish languor

with a heavy head and lumbering limbs
stealthily eased out of her embrace
to quench the thirst, dragged the clumsy feet
to the kitchen - glasses, dinner and
quarter plates, cups and cutlery
all over the counter, sink and table

thirst unabated, glasses galore
but nary a clean one, finally
a in a mug quenched thirst
surreptitiously started gathering
remnants of last eve's
dormant mirth and laughter
anaesthetized by the piercing sunrays

in the rear view mirror at the bottom of the lake

abyss--profundity and resilience
shallow--trifling and trivial

in the void
memories are the shadow

memories--a lifetime collage
preserving, prolonging, propagating

sub aagaaz o anjaam
sub sajday, mulaqaataiN
rai'gaaN, fuzool

aai, rukay, chalay
aur paya kya

fasana e zindagi maiN
nahiN mila Woh kahiN

the light fades s l o w l y
it gets cooler, aphotic

the shadows float away
smile abandoned, again

In The Court Of Desicritics: The Case of Humour vs Satire

Plaintiff: temporal, star gazer, Toronto, Ontario
Defendant: Aaman Lamba, Publisher, No Fixed Address
Courtroom: 498A
Presiding Judge: The Hon. D. C. Hritic

All rise, all rise, the court is in session.
(shuffling feet, rustling sounds, people rise and sit)

Bailiff: In the matter of Humour Vs. Satire, case number 420-10, will the Plaintiff come forward.

t: Your Honour, the Defendant is highly unreasonable, high strung and high handed in his decision not to allow a separate main category for Humour. We will show you why his decision should be over ruled.

A: Objection.

J: Objection over ruled. Mr. t please continue.

t: Thank you Your Honour We call our first witness – Mr. Mushtaque Ahmed Yusufi.

(A wry, wiry man in his late 70s, with thick lenses, shuffles across to take his seat in the witness box.)

B: Mr Yusufi place left hand on the English-Urdu dictionary, raise your right hand and repeat after me, " I Mushtaque Ahmed Yusufi hereby declare that what I say here will only include words in this dictionary and nothing but." Yusufi raises his left hand, holding the dictionary in his right hand, takes the oath and sits down.

t: Mr. Yusufi will you tell the court your views on Humour?

Y: Humor is a great aide to breathing. It is not a way to make a living. Unless starvation diet is your preference. While it does not replace drugs used to alleviate blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol etc. humour is a soothing warmth that flows everywhere and is felt unseen. This fire can neither cremate nor lit a fire. It is not a reform tool. For that we have Haliburton, Ayatollah Bush, Hojjat el Islam Cheyney and the Patriot Act.

A: Objection my lord!

J: Objection sustained. Mr. t counsel your witness to stick to relevancy and keep the present administration out of it.

Y: Humour is freedom, humour is sixth sense, humour is Teflon, humour is fun, humour is humour.

J: ( looks quizzically at t)

Y: I can laugh at my miseries and afflictions anytime, and I can indulge you in it also. And then I can laugh at your robe and the open fly Sir, and then you will laugh along with me as you pull the zip up.

J: (nods gravely, smiles and nonchalantly feels his zip relieved to find it up)

A: Objection. This is hear-say observation not a defense of Humour, Your Honour.

J: (slamming the gravel) Over ruled. There was no hostility in his words. Please sit down Mr. Lamba. Continue Mr. Yusufi.

Y: Freedom of Laughter, in my opinion is a greater freedom than Freedom of Speech. It is my firm belief that if a nation can laugh freely (at itself) it can never be enslaved. In religion, alcohol and humor everything is easily soluble; all the more in Urdu literature. Or any literature.

t: Thank you Mr. Yusufi. Your witness.

A: Mr. Yusufi, you said , "But humor has its own sets of priorities and unique demands. It should be free of angst, bitterness and disillusionment. Or else the boomerang (of humor) will turn around and claim the humorist as its first victim." Is this your quote?

Y: Yes, it feels like I could have said it.

A: Then you believe satirists are victimizers and victims too?

Y: When a satirist bites it bleeds: when a humorist jabs you laugh with him.

A: You mean their bark is without a bite?

Y: I play with words, Sir. Am not a dog breeder.

A: Mr. Yusufi your wife claimed once that you bit the legs of your labrador.

Y: I never bit our dog. That would have been news. My wife? Perhaps. But if I did it would be a crime of passion and under article 498 section 4, sub-section 2, clause O it is permissible between consenting adults.

t: Objection! This is irrelevant. Please have it stricken off.

J: Sustained. Mr. Yusufi, please stay focused. This court will not tolerate bedroom humour.

A: Mr. Yusufi you have also written, “If you come across a poisonous snake and a satirist, first get rid of…."

t: Objection! Objection!

J: Objection sustained. Leading witness. Third strike and it is contempt of court Mr. Lamba. Am I clear?

A: Yes, Sir.

J: Proceed

A: At Desicritics we cater to one and all. Everyone is free to come and have their say as long as it is within decorum. We allow everyone an opportunity to express themselves. We have a zero tolerance towards personal attacks. I have written there, "If you can write lucidly and are opinionated, then you will fit right in with our 'sinister cabal'. We are looking for reviews, news, interviews, commentary and opinion. You can be as eccentric, bizarre, creative, opinionated, specific, or broad-based as you like." Being critical and satirical is encouraged.

J: (impatiently) What does that have to do with creating a category for Humour?

A: I am the Publisher

J: And I the judge! Do you have anything further to add? Can you tell the court what does what you have said has anything to do with adding a main category for Humor?

A: Yes Sir. I drew the charter for Desicritics. I decide what goes. I decided that Humour should be a sub category and not a main category. I am only answerable to Eric and Deepti.

J: Do you have anything more to say?

A: No, Sir.

J: The Court is adjourned till Monday. I will deliver my verdict on Monday at 10 a.m. sharp.

all rise

smile to smile

veins in word webs (we) weave

crib to cribbing
journey short

relations and relationships
to bridge and fathom

comfort to thorn
some prick more

washed down with
aged words
stored in celestial casks

mother first
mothering last

cobwebs of copernican copulation
in terror and travesty

veins in word webs (we) weave
the new
umbilical cord of present
and past
from smile to smile