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Friday, February 23, 2007

The Crime of Obeying God: Free Kareem Amer

My friend tbs has written a thoughtful summary The Crime of Obeying God on the travesty visiting Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer.

The puppet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has pressurized and co-opted the Al Azhar honchos in condemning Kareem.

Please read the article and if you agree go to the petition and make yourself heard.

barbecue pits

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over thirteen million
travel every day
behind bars

no different
than the prisoner of landi kotal
incarcerated and
behind bars

mothers seeing off daughters
fathers bidding farewell
travelers heading for
the exotic destination
hoping to arrive in safety
behind bars

put up for their protection
not to hold them
in a cauldron
should the unexpected
behind bars

It's about time a class action suit was filed against the Indian Railways to add emergency exits. And more.

prisoner of landi kotal

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disheveled children
shouting joyfully
running, playing
with tiny pebbles
in their puny palms
aiming for the bars

townspeople, passers by
through rusted bars glance
at cobwebbed body-cells
at dreams and desires
incarcerated and
forgotten under some
moth-eaten, lost verdict

kindly souls pass food
or furtive smiles
desultory looks
unaware they are
in life's prison too

landi kotal is a small frontier town, near torkham, at the border of pakistan and afghanistan. at one time it had a single room prison in the town square above a store-front.

torn / khalish

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mid ocean
sans oar






wus't samund
bina patwar

The Faustus In Us

Reza Rumi put a Parveen Shakir poem up… I could not resist translating it:

The Faustus In Us

in (more than) a sense
we resemble Faustus
some sell their soul
for passion, circumstances
force others, some get away
pawning their eyes
to trade in visions
some offer their minds
as collateral
it's amusing to see
the purchasing power of money
surveying life's wall street, we find
self respect is the object d'art
most in demand today

crimson cobwebs / surkh dOray

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kohl prisoned eyes
crimson framed webs
hours spent star-ward
pondering green grass
sepia love, rusty smiles
gray bones
in crimson cobwebs
of serrated sighs

oo'n aankhON kay surkh dOray
maazi, haal aur mustaqbil
ki na-ummeediON ki katha
tehrir ki'aye hu'aye
sadiouN kay qar'b ki doori
jo daikhay tou ser nigooN
jo samjhay tou sharminda

on the bench, in the park

on the bench, in the park

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sit beside me
and look at me lovingly
as i swim in the deep ocean
of your eyes
till time dies and rekindle
from the first glance you cast
to that last teary one
the day you packed up
your smiles, your laughter
your touch, your kisses
come closer
that innocence we lost
was heaven's due
but if intentionally
or inadvertently
ever i hurt you
am sorry and wish
you'll forgive me
don't abandon me
and promise you i'll not
let you go away, ever
just sit here and look
smilingly and let me swim
deep in your eyes' ocean


(from across the road)

look at that madman
sitting at the bench
talking to himself

on the bench, in the park

maiN chahta hooN tum yaheen
baithi raho m'ray paas
aur in pyar bhari nazrON say
mujahy dekti raho aur maiN
tumhari neelgooN ankhiouN maiN
sadaa ghar'q rahooN sub bhool jaooN
aur jis roz pehli baar milay thay
oos pa'l say kal jub tum rooth ker
mujh say door chali gaeeN theeN
her beeta lamha, her beeta pa'l
yaadON kay chiraghON say
roshan karooN
aao, m'ri jaan aur qareeb aajao
woh jo khoee thee nannhi si jaan
woh to oos ki marzi thee
haaN jo mujh say pohanchay haiN dookh
daanista ya na-danista
mujhay yaqeen hay is baat ka
kay tum mujhay maaf kardogi
ik baar phir aur yaqeen karo m'ra
ab maiN tumhaiN youN do'or
na jaanay dooNga, na jaanay dooNga
bus tum youN hee pass baithi raho
aur dekthi raho mujhay pyar say


(from across the road)

yaro oos majzoob ko dekho
kitni daire say oos bench per baithay
khud apnay aap say baataiN ker raha hay

photocredit tobymutz

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

wingless dancing queries

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in minus 7, minus 17
with the wind-chill
i found this maple leaf
fresh and green in my path
gently perched
on fresh snow-bed
and wondered
from where
its wingless flight
brought it here

in the summer past
it must have adorned
a branch, but today
what was it doing
in my path?

are leaves like us?
here today
recycled tomorrow

do they worry about wars
genocide, schooling
marriages, relationships
houses, cars, taxes
righteous indignation?

what do they have
in common with us?
- oh yes, here today.....

will we ever learn
from cosmic justice?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Wanted: Keen Eyes, Sharp Intellect, Thick Skin

If you think you have keen eyes, sharp intellect and thick skin and more, we need you. There is no pay involved, as these are voluntary positions.

We are one year old and are attracting more and more readers and writers.

What does it take to be a good editor?

A knowledge of English is a must, along with keen eyes to spot mistakes. An awareness of current affairs, literature, names, places and an ability to check and verify helps. And you must own a dog-eared copy of Fowler.

You must also be willing to work with the writer. This is where thick skin enters.

If you have submitted any article to Desicritcs for publication you will know what it entails

Before you put it in draft you have to enter the main body of your article, enter a headline, assign sub categories, ASIN or ISBN numbers, a short header of twenty words or less. Hopefully, the writer has already spell checked the article carefully.

Editing and publishing such an article would involve minimal efforts for the editors. They would fine-tune the heading, tweak a phrase or two, run a quick spell check and bingo it is ready to go.

But this is where reality takes a bounce.

And you come into the picture. Initially, many would-be writers have to be walked through the process. The first step to learn is to communicate effectively with the writer.

Since blogging is a requisite to be a Desicritic, all our writers have a blog. It will become your job to break to them the difference between writing for one’s own blog and writing for an e-zine that has much wider readership with a higher standard than that of a personal blog.

You will learn what sandwiching means. And no it is not a Kama-Sutra position.

You will also quickly learn that each writer has a big ego. You will learn to be patient. And you will earn to ignore. This voluntary position will hold you in good stead in your real life – be it rearing children, managing adults in a corporate environment or plain dealing with others in every day life.

So if you have the keen eyes, sharp intellect, thick skin and have the time (minimum of two hours a day) to volunteer please contact me, Aaman or Sujhata. Send us an email at with a brief introduction and CV.

We need editors (read willing slaves) in different time zones.

Monday, February 12, 2007

love orphan/ish'q yateem

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love - blind

ish'q na'beena
andharay maiN

love - august

ish'q khud'dar
bay zaar

love- juiceless

ish'q piyaasa
tishna lubb

love - delusion

ish'q faraib
khud faraib

love - heritage
in denial

ish'q virsa
la waaris

love - solitary

ish'q tanha
hum, tum
tanha, tanha

Friday, February 09, 2007


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passing through the crowded bazaar
heard this shout - buy fresh dreams
dreams for sale - dreams for sale

stopped by and bought some dreams
all of them came true and wish now
had purchased a few more of them
for world peace and tranquility


bharay bazaar say jo guzray
tou kaan maiN aaee yeh sada
khaab la lo saab! khaab la lo saab!
hum nay bhee foran chunn li'aye
oos dhaire say chund khaab daaman maiN
jeewan to youN achcha hee guzra
haaN ik khalish rahi kay kaash
khaab kuch aur bhee lay laitay hum
duniya maiN a'munn shaanti kay

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Word Play : Bantustising Reality

What are words? In a sense, they are mere shortcuts to express elaborate feelings, phenomenon, concepts etc. Instead of saying "linguistic units with phonetic content and used in speech to convey certain meaning" we simply say "word"

Etymology and philology are not only veritable a journey into the human past but are also indicators of the present psyche.

Words depict evolution - from gestures and grunts to paens of praise to Emersonian eloquence to incantations to go forth and produce - with another being's help or at worst - unilaterally: as if that were possible.

While words, my young son used to parrot back to me, are used to communicate effectively. It need not always be so. There are occasions, where words should not be uttered, nor written. There is also the magic of silence: words un-uttered. Silence is worth Kodak moments when:

- lovers lock eyes
- hold each other and look
- mothers hug babies
- long lost friends meet
- the sun/moon rises/sets over the ocean/desert/horizon
- flock of birds heads home over the inland waterways
- a chick breaks open the shell and breathes

To the list above I will add one more: when one reads a passage that transports the reader to another world.

Marketers and Advertisers are also obsessed with words. What took Coke decades to establish world wide was achieved in a span of less than a year following the WTC. Al Quaida - a word unfamiliar even to most scholars of international affairs became an ugly household world known all over the world in less than a year.

Words also imprison and restrain us. Take two words - Nazi and Semite.

While Nazizeit (1933-1945) is over, the clones of Nazism are alive and well in Israel. But the moment one points out tunnel-visioned Israeli Zionists and their coterie of supporter jump up to accuse one of being anti-Semite. While those who use the terms Femi-Nazis and Islamo-Nazis are spared this branding.

Israel's official policy of Bantustising the occupied territories and segregating and ghettoizing the Palestinian Arabs is what else but the acts of a one time persecuted turning into persecutors.

The underlined are interesting words too. The readers must be familiar with the flak Jimmy Carter is receiving over his Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid by the 'friends' of Israel.

My friend Ruvy (in Jerusalem) would rather call himself a settler while in the eyes of the world he is just an usurper and an occupier. Even settler is not entirely free of colonialist hang-overs.

Alan Dershowitz and company label any body critical of Israeli occupation with the label anti-Semite without abandon.

Most of the time their tactics work in the same way as when a person is publicly asked 'Did you abuse your wife yesterday?' The risk of responding to such queries is obvious.

Sometimes they go overboard and even hurl this 'anti-Semite' grenade at the Arabs!

Today there is a near monopolisation of the Nazi Holocaust. This is not underplaying the sufferings of Jews under Hitler. But that is not the only holocaust witnessed in the last two centuries.

Go ask the Iraqi families and they may claim to be victims of genocide, and question the attempts to copyright holocaust for the Jews only.

Words and their legacy: we can use them to express our views, conceal our thoughts, deflect criticism, direct praise, envy or anguish.

Remember pigs and cows that set off the war of Independence?

phoenix's quill

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Rastay mein aik bhooli huvvi shak'l dekh kar
Aawaz di tau lub pay koi naam bhi na tha'
- Munir Niazi (1936-2007)

On coming upon a forgotten face one day on the road
I called out, no name would come to my lips
translation - khalid hasan


a broom, a quill, leaves
and capricious swings
of shamal-chubasco

[aao chai peelo, kuch kha lo, youN kiyouN badaloN ko taktay rehtay ho, you kiyouN her aahat per kaan dhartay ho, kis paighaam ka shiddat se intizaar hay tumhaiN

have a drink, grab a bite, why do you stare at the floating clouds, why do your ears prick at every tap, what is that message you intensely wait for]

in the tusnami nano seconds
of cycle's aggregate
hitting from shumal-uttar
snow and cold democracy
flooding junoob-dashin
desert and heat tribalism

a broom, a quill and winds
can remove all leaves
so ensconced
if allowed to

existence and
can be so fickle


a tribute to munir niazi


Friday, February 02, 2007

dean was not the monk who went up in flames in saigon

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he was six-two, lean, handsome, outgoing
she was six, lithe and both popular
theirs was a storybook romance
and the envy of everyone in high school
then one day horsing around
he fell off the tree and severed his spine
denial, anger, agony, pain and
long periods of therapy and treatment
followed, but acceptance eluded him

he moved into his own apartment
and slowly re-learned to live in his prison
watched movies and listened to music
all day long and even chatted on yahoo
laboriously tapping out alphabets
---he had plenty of time on hand
but the doctors and therapists
could not teach him to live within his body

his fondness of movies wore off and
he developed an interest in current affairs
learned of a world beyond his window
that would never be his and the more
he learned the more agitated he became
of politicians and generals and
kings and emirs and their imbecility
how could they live in halo isolation
and care not for the teeming hungry
and the billions under privileged
then one day.........


at the funeral parlour viewing
he had a smile playing on his face
almost angel-like and at peace
his mother came over and said
'my dean is free now'

for dean c and thich quang duc (1897-1963)