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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

idiots, idiots, everywhere

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adjusting the curtain in the marriot
i wonder who is an idiot?
why generously claim we're all idiots?
even if we are not zantiots, sciots
or if they forgive me, cypriots?
hey t, why bring in cypriots?
wait! i know we are all idiots -
some of the time - that'll make us tempidiots

what of those who qualify as certifidiots
them religio-nationalism oozing fundapatriots
the bush-bin-laden-bin-my-country... type copatriots
yes, they'd also qualify as deludiots
riding imbecile-harnessed chariots
and the multitudes whose vcr clocks
forever blink unadjusted - them vidiots
and the anaRi golfers, pace bowler's divot
that turns the sod on pivot
or the naive villager's heriot
that matches a cyber-malicious kiddiot
and those talkative, hoarding piots
it is such a waste all this talk of idiots
come, let's go visit t s eliot

Monday, August 30, 2010

who's on top?

who's on top:

on seeing a smiling man,

riding a tractor in his farm,

talking on his cell phone

who discovered
the joys of love-makingfirst?
is this a moot point
or is this speculative? and
who was on top first?
but wait, read on
for am not going there
(can poems be adorned with smiley icons?)

witness, the river of times
and machinations of machines
on men and women
is it wistfulness
or nostalgia, as i wonder
about plows?

plows, wells, oil lamps
clear days and bright stars
neolithic revolutionaries
tax-free life
no scanning for fat content
or mono sodium this or that
watching over the shoulder
worrying over an abandoned bag
avoiding interminable queues
horoscopes, forecasts, bulls and bears
polls, ratings, analysis

why this plowing
er...longing for plows
for this temporal nomad?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

gaia* plows

in her bosom
aaron's smiles
moses intercessions
growing stalks
decaying dreams

she used to smile
at stars in the yonder
but fret at satellites

she used to smile
at soaring eagles
but scorn at indulgent
little boy** and fat man***

she used to smile
at ribbing plows
but grumbles
at rumbling tractors

imperi(v)ous temporal
gruff, growling gaia*

* Gaia ("land" or "earth", from the Greek Γα�α; also Gaea or Ge (Greek {Γῆ) is a Greek goddess personifying the Earth.
** bomb dropped on hiroshima
*** bomb dropped on nagasaki

with grateful acknowledgment for tbs

Saturday, August 28, 2010

glass half full or...

the day is sultry
even after three showers in five hours
the mugginess crawls and permeates
the shirts, the air, the skin
all thirsts become one
and that sweating bottle
fetched from the fridge beckons
come hither, come hither...
(no enemy but heat and humidity!)

thoughts of M and the cabana by the sea
the ceaseless run of waves on the shore
that chalet an hour's hike from the road
with a view of the lake through the trees
me standing on the dadar* platform
and over-laden thought-trains cruising by
my son and his noncommittal girl friend
the other son and his budding friendships
my jaan's quest for meaning in a meaningful life
the glint of expectations in transient eyes
expected politeness from strangers
unexpected grimaces from intruders

have prided myself on half-full outlook
as i plod through fate's offerings
and in this stickiness as i temptingly
probe the trickling tears of(f) the bottle
am stumped to find no glass nearby

dedicated to nf - for losing the bet

*dadar is a local station in mumbai

Friday, August 27, 2010

Converfession: Heart to Heart

In Ashes to Ashes Jay wrote:

Some events are beyond comparison, without measure, some events cannot be understood by others, no matter how they try.

I agree that from an individual perspective we do have our personal interpretation. But wordsmiths paint pictures with words. They are blessed with the tools - insights and communication skills that enable them to decipher for themselves and their readers - convey the sentiment, the sensation, the feelings of happiness, despair and awe. Using their skills they grab the attention of the willing reader on this roller-coaster journey - from the the zenith of emotions to the nadir of despair and other stops on the way.

Hence when you argue so passionately and eloquently from your vantage point, please allow me to take a look from a different perch.


What is so elusive and furtive about an individual's love that others cannot understand? Along with death, love is one of the most discussed, analyzed and written about emotions: metaphors and examples abound. And past masters have used their communication skills to share with us this intense emotion in tales of Laila-MajnooN, Shirin-Farhad, and Romeo-Juliette. Don't think I can accuse those writers of 'imperfect metaphors, images or descriptions.' What is so unique about the fast heartbeats when lovers exchange glances that cannot be conveyed to others?

The masters have shown love in the escaping sigh: in the coquettish smile of the maiden: in the increasing dhuk dhuk of the heart: in the grim expectations of descending doom: in the 'U' turns in life: in the unexpected emergence of paths: in the ever so slight brushing of lover's fingers: in the furtive first kiss; in the last leave-taking kiss on the forehead, in the fluttering of birds. What gamut, what threshold, what sublimity, what facet of love has been left unexplored and hidden from these wordsmiths?

Pain, Sadness, Happiness

Yes I cannot feel the exact invisible pain that unleashes the river of tears in your eyes. But I can relate to that pain because in the past many have written excellent passages and essays depicting the sense of injustice, pain, neglect, hurt or loss of those who undergo similar experiences. Did you not share Rohan's pain?

To borrow from Jao Beta:


jana hay tou jao
yaadouN maiN qaid
khaabouN ki maanind
waq't ki lehrouN per
mooskurah-hatouN kay paimaanouN ka
mauj-e-beh'r-e shauq ka
dil maiN mehfooz lamhouN ka
sheeraza bikhair dou
jana hay tou jao
..........................chalay jao.

kitab-e-dil kay safha-e-aakhir pay
kiya raq'm hay, maa'loom hay humaiN
kuh'r-e-oodaasi maiN leh'r-e-gham
phir ik baar hum aaghosh hogi
chund sa'atouN kay liyay
ya a'bud kay liyay


leave, if you must
like fond dreams
imprisoned in memory cells
vanish with the waves,
---the promises of Smiles
---the waves from the Ocean of Love
melt away
---those moments ensconced in the heart
go, if you must

on the last page of Book of Heart
what is writ large we know,
pensive mist will embrace
the waves of sadness, yet again
for moments few
or forever

The shade of red is subjective I admit, but the murmur of thatheartbeat is a universally shared and narrated experience.

Death, Terror, Mayhem

Yes, we may not know the true depth of that father's anguish seeing the bloodied shoes of his son on the idiot box the next day. Or the parents on either side of the divide in Sarajevo who zoom in on the bodies of their children, in a final embrace, lying in the middle of the square separating the warring factions. Or the frozen look in the mother's eyes, in the crowded bazaar, who identifies the little hand clutching a doll as her daughter's.

Their pains, their sighs, platitudes, vows, their separation anxiety, their faith in meeting again, their last embrace - all have been written about and felt by the readers and viewers. So much has been written about the loss of near ones, that we can come very close to sharing those feelings universally.

Despair, Intensity, Hopelessness

Despair (sound of hope trickling away), emotive intensity (volume of tears), hopelessness (sensation of life collapsing) are rhetorical musings that have been eloquently shared for posterity in the past also.

The father you mentioned feels a vacuum. All of us have felt similar voids at some point. Writers have expressed it. They can relate to him and in turn so can we.

They come darn near close to experiencing your love, death, happiness, terror - about the only thing thing that eludes those wordsmiths is the shape of hope in the flutters of your heart beat.

Let me borrow from Beta Chala Gaya


humaiN rona hee tou
nahiN aata hay
qatra, aaNsoo ka ban'na
kis kad'r mushkil hay
ma'aloom na tha
qatra, gohar-e-miz'gaaN ka
lakh motiyouN say keemti
ban'na nahiN aata.

bun gaya woh qatra gar maiN
to wa'ada raha tap'kooN ga
---maaN ki palkouN say
---khaamoshi say dhalouN ga
teri bund aankhouN kay kinarouN say
---dostouN, azeezouN ki chasm-e-pur num
bun kar chamkouN ga
---ik bay awaaz aah kay saath
her chahti aank ko ashk-bar kardouN ga
yeh wa'ada raha...


wish i knew
how to cry.
do not know
how difficult it is
to create a droplet of tear.
droplet --- diamond delivered by eyelids
rare, precious, and so impossible
to create for me.
if i ever succeed
promise you, i will
---stream down mother's face
---roll down silently out of the corners
of your shut eyes
---will glisten on the moistened eyes
of friends, relatives
---with inaudible sighs
will caress all caring eyes
promise you, i will...

Heart to heart, I would say I understand your anguish. I understand the pain of losing loved ones in despicable acts of violence that are hard to fathom. And, with you and millions of others I do not understand the mind-set that inflicts such destruction. The misuse of ideology, religion, hurt, deprivation and disenfranchisement baffles - singly and collectively. My mind fails to relate to how a young kid of yesteryears can turn into a brainwashed adult of today, willing to part with that most unique of gifts - life. Even though a loss of any life is a loss of life, perhaps, I might reconcile it somehow if these brainwashed take only their own life. But when they cause innocent deaths it is extremely perplexing.

Am glad you gave me this opportunity to share my thoughts with you.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

edhi's dawn

as the lids gingerly parted
they ushered in the new light
and sounds - cooing and crowing
winds rustling leaves
children noisily playing
a wailing ambulance
stuck in traffic somewhere

baba had made tea and placed
yesterday's news beside it
both tasted the same
tea fresh and soothing
the news, stale and ominous
death, misery and destruction
mixed with pompous declarations
and righteous indignation
all eating into crying trees

baba does not read papers
nor does edhi
both have work to do
from sunrise to sunset
and when they are exhausted
(their work is never finished)
they sleep fitfully

while self-burdened with assumptions
we wonder about lambs and stars
as the skies turn crimson, dark
and then orange

if we cease reading and listening
to the half-baked convictions
and begin to clean and wash
- a clean utensil, a clean dead body
we may stumble upon a new threshold

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

israfil and yama smile

mental indigence
a punctuation mark
a perdition milepost

jelly fish gulped
eagle picked off prey
insect crushed
under blinded chappals
homage to nature, but when
angels singled and singed
in post-coitus after thoughts
israfil and yama
the gods of after-life
smile at allah and bhagwan

dizzy spirals
of prickly thoughts whirlpool
innocence murdered before
it could flash that angelic smile

- a swim to the dark
bottom of thirsty sea - men
and women so self-destructive
even israfil and yama smile
- forlornly

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

wade on

and i wade in
unchartered waters
(a deeply ingrained trait)
heading for that island
to build a dream-hut
with a well...

little fathoming
these dreams have been dreamt
zillion times by millions

those dreamers
with their dreams
now ashes, specs of dust
- floating debris in space

but in vacant moods
it is ordained
we muse, dream on

Monday, August 23, 2010

the pause button ii

in a zillion seconds
chund sa'atiaN, really
all this will be over
aap rahaiNgay, na hum
shikway, na shikayataiN

the complainant nor the complainee
will outlive the complains

haaN! yeh tO da'aimi such
ki woh kaRi jo da'anaouN kO
karti rahi hay paraishaaN her soo

yes, this is that eternal truth
that for ever eludes the wise

ba'jooz in baatouN kay

but, in spite of this
what stops us
from hitting that pause button
here, today, now?

--a child's innocent smile
the trepidation in touch
the quiver in voice
clouds, candles, music

--the fluttering birds
merrily seeking
seeds and straws
for the morrows

--the aching hearts
bounded muscles (really)
bidding their time
for a uncertain future

jisay dekhni hO jannat
meray saath saath aa'aye*

if you want to experience heaven
come with me

* maiN chala sharabkhanay jahaaN koi ghum nahiN hay / jisay dekhni hO jannat meray saath saath aa'aye* these lines are from an urdu sha'er most probably by jagan nath aazad.

Saturday, August 21, 2010



in the dark
had they
at high noon
it could have been
like the flicker
of smile
that i imagined
on your lips


sa'aye bhee
doob jatay haiN
andherON maiN
dO peh'r ki
dhoop maiN
saath choRhaiN
tou janaiN

labON per phailti
goom hoti
muskurahat ka
tasaw'wur bhee
meh'v e hairaaN
ker daita hay mujhay

Friday, August 20, 2010

waltzing - a circle-in-a-square or a square-in-a-circle

rain of bewilderment on life's trapeze
she a prisoner in a circle, he incarcerated
in another fisher-price bubbly square

percussion of rain over the patched tin roof
reminder of steel drums attrini carnival
shallow poodles at their feet mirror forebodings

solitary prisoners - both - wet and cold
with time for hurling sharpened arrows
sans pause button for reflection
smiles camouflage wayward drift as
feet waltz on tarmac, destination a blur

children a post coitus inconsequence
unawares and uncaring of their morrows
splashing joyously in bacteria laden waters
the union of circle and square
shrouded in fate's mantra laden slogans
omnia vincit amor a mirage

Thursday, August 19, 2010

drifting fragrance/dabay qadmoN

drifting fragrance

in the solitude
of the cacophony
i dreamt of the quiet
of the rolling meadows
where the rustling
whispers of the wind
plays susurrant ragas
of your fragrance drifting

dabay qadmoN

yaad may ooski gharq
sar-sarata sukoon
jub hum aa ghosh hota hay
tou mudhoshi ki devi
hosh kho beth'ti hay
aur yaad t'ri
dabay qadmoN
phir chali aati hay

Wednesday, August 18, 2010



you needn't spell with dew drops
of eyes, i cherish your every beat
as we must bid adieu now
we prepare to meet once again

every second shared with you
is ensconced in memory-vale
these moments few have to - will come
to pass, He promised us, go
good bye and peace, my dear...
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ankhioun say kiya kehtay ho
bin kahay aapki her dharken
mehsoos ker sakhtay haiN hum
judai ka kis say shikwa
woh tou beh'r e mulaqaat hay

her beeta lamha teray saath
bahar e yaad e waadi hay
dharti ki yeh chund sa'ataiN
maanind e mauj e samundar
rawaaN dawaaN ra'haiNgee
Oos ka waada jo raha
jao, alwidah aur salaam

for y

wrath of water

Rau mein hai raksh-e-umar kahaan dekhiye thhamey
Nai haath baag par hai na pa hai rakaab mein

(Age travels at galloping pace; who knows where it will stop
We do not have the reins in our hands nor our feet in the stirrups).”
Asadullah Khan Ghalib - translated by Khushwant Singh

A man gathers up some of his belongings outside his flooded house in Nowshera in Northwest Pakistan

kis say gila karaiN, yeh kiya maajra hay
yeh roshinouN ka shehr, shehr e khamoshaan hay
sukoot buland minaroun ki sada say toot ta hay
aur zinda lashain, bay awaaz
bay maqsad, sarkaiN naapti haiN
oofak kay par matlaashi aankhaiN
fasurdagi aur naummeedi maiN gharq
siskioun aur shikwon kay bojh talay
ilzamoun ki aah o fugaan maiN
kisi madfun junnat ki talash may haiN

complain? bemoan? sigh?
the city of lights has turned taciturn
silence cascades from under the minarets
the walking dead, doleful and diffident
wander aimlessly
gazing at distant horizon
through prisms of regret and hopelessness
anchored by unreleased sighs, queries
and inaudible allegations
for a disappeared shangri-la

kub fitrat, ya qudrat nay suni hay
zinda laashouN ki faryad bataiyay

when has nature answered
the call of the living dead?

door say ik basti maiN
abhi kuch zinda log haiN shayayd
oonki sarsarati siskiyoun maiN
ab bhi kuch gila hay, kuch faryad si hay
hawa kay dosh jo idhar sunai daiti hay
aur aisa mehsoos hota hay
kay natwaaN ummeed ki devi maiN
abhi zindagi ki kasak baqi hay

in some far off town
some people are still alive
and their barely discernible sighs
reverberate with yearnings
carried over here by gusts of wind
their leaden hope
still flickers with signs of life

under the minaret II

it is official, it is six decades!
of mutilation, bomb, immolation
k(h)akistocracy rains with a vengeance
tenuous expectancy administered
by the somber men in black on the bench
hope, rising again in hopeless hopefuls
- of a uniform strip show in full glare
- of the return of the prodigal three
the new found vigilance of rip von judges
groggily whirling with born-again zeal
may yet turn fledgling hope into dismay
abandoning again the forlorn public

the schism dividing the citizens
- a sahara wide impregnable fissure
too many dogs exercising one bone
too many quacks exorcising ghosts

but in a flash appears that child
in rags, slightly disheveled
playing in the streets
with a tonka truck - three wheels missing
his smile spelled hope is alive and well

* under the minaret i

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

white lines

humidity and pollution
shrouding the air
cars, buses, trucks,
scooters and motor cycles
crawl and jostle
while the pedestrians
play russian roulette

road curtsy on furlough
signals and cops furtive
patience fleeting, fleeing
white lines with a straight face
in no hurry to arrive anywhere
distraught at this onslaught
for god's acre

Monday, August 16, 2010


the bed-sheet is wrinkleless
and the pillow unhallowed
dreams a soul-twin vision
her laughter reverberating
and fragrance wafting still
enticing rain of memories

lums t’ra, mehak t’ri, her soo
rachi hay is kamray maiN
tasaw’wur t’ra her saaNs maiN
aur wajood t’ra hum aaghosh
m’gar kya kiji’aye yaad t’ri
taRpati hay shiddat say

her élan ardent
and bon mots fervid
her shadora* pullulating
spawns this wistpining**

*shadow + aura
**wistful pining

Sunday, August 15, 2010

SWOT: Love and the Single Woman Over Thirty

swot . -verb (used without object) 1. to study or work hard. -noun 2. a student who studies assiduously, esp. to the exclusion of other activities or interests; grind. 3. hard study or hard work; concentrated effort.

SWOT is also an acronym - Single Woman Over Thirty. I came across this in a fortnightly regular column by Sahar Ali.

In her latest column she writes:

At my ripe old SWOT age, am I clinging to a Utopian notion of marrying for love rather than companionship and security? Have all the romantic comedies I love to watch created 'great expectations' that are unlikely to be fulfilled? Will I remain Rapunzel-like in my tower, slumbering like Sleeping Beauty, or choked on a cursed and poisoned apple like Snow White waiting for a prince who will never arrive? In this age of supersonic jets and instant messaging, there really is no excuse for tardiness!
Marrying for love perhaps is an ideal that has long since shed its utility. True love is Dodo. Perhaps. I am overstating the obvious? The Ideal Love belongs to the same corner in the museum as the Ideal Man and the Ideal Woman.

So what is that bird called Love that we mistake for a Dodo?

Are we influencing our dreams based on classics, films or harlequin romances? Or are we conditioned by hearsay? Could it be infatuation camouflaged as love? Or is it infatuation that matures into an adjusted relationship? Does adjusted mean compromised? If yes, then how does that state fare in comparison with the mythical perception of Love in most minds?

Love is over stated and under fathomed. Even if begun under dubious circumstances - infatuation, liking, chemistry, a dimple or a charming smile it often flounders when it confronts unadjusted stereotypical expectations.

Legends and myths aside, Love is a continuous alignment of coexistence with another person whom one understands, respects and cares for.

Love is daily reinforcement of the reservoir of mutual trust. Love is forgiving and forgetting. Love is caring. Love is not taking for granted. Love appears impossible, but is not!

A dear friend who is thirty something, single and looking for a partner to share her life with asked, "Will I ever find a person I would love and marry?"

Over the past years she has shared her travails and misadventures in her search for a suitable desi male. She is an articulate, intelligent, good looking, considerate, working and highly educated woman.

I cautioned her against Love. Told her to forget about Love, and focus on compatibility, work ethics, and similarity of interests. Love might follow.

On the dilemmas of finding desi male who will treat his potential life partner with respect and understanding, perhaps after I collect the funny and the macabre experiences of my friends. If the readers would like to share them please email me. My address is

Saturday, August 14, 2010

under the minaret

(from archives - first posted aug 14, 2006)

nearly six decades have gone
and what do we have to show
a rusty bloated bomb
an occupying army
a bankrupt ideology
and abdul sattar edhi?

am not swayed by big buildings
roads, dams and bigger egos

the distraught mother is still
stirring the same darkened pot
and the hungry dazed children
w(e)arily dream of biryani

from the tall minarets
descends through chanting fog
praises of the bhagwaan

the vagrant and the vagabond

the beaded vagrant,
slovenly squalid, glazed eyes
gap toothed smile
odious, oblivious demeanor
banging rhythmic staff
a bowl around the neck
chances upon this vagabond

at dusk
retracing his steps back to the hill
where he rendezvous
with fellow mendicants
lighting lamps under the flag post
offering prayers to saints invoking gods
eating from day's offerings
smoking the clay pipe
and sleeping under indifferent stars
to replicate the wandering
next day

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Killer Smile Can Be So Disarming

You can go a long way with a smile. You can go a lot farther with a smile and a gun. Al Capone
To say that smiles fascinate me no end would be an understatement.

I find smiles intriguing.

Why would an infant smile? Is the infant unaware of global warming? Section 498A of the IPC? Bush bin Cheney bin Osama’s dreams of domination? (No, no leather strap jokes here). The abject poverty and worldwide pollution? The increase in hardening attitudes and the decrease in tolerance?

Why does a child playing in the street with discarded tins and boxes smile?

Do you see a smile playing on the face of a recently deceased?

Why did M smile? Would I have chased her if she did not have that smile? Are men suckers? (OK don’t answer this).

She said once, ‘I will kill you if you die before me.’ Then we both smiled.

Is that a smile or a smirk on Mona Lisa?

Why do some men of religion and politics go to great lengths at not smiling in public?

A killer smile can be so disarming.

A smile costs nothing and can disarm hate and suspicion with ease. It can be a great leveler.

How can we lose smile? It is right under our nose. As someone said to me once, it is the second best thing one can do with the lips.

Wrinkles around the eyes as one smiles tell a lot about that person.

A smile is the universal language that needs no interpreter.

A smile has no value until it is given away. And then it is priceless.

Am not sure who said, ‘It takes seventeen muscles to smile and forty-three to frown.’ But a frown is also a smile that took a wrong turn.

Other than your love interest or offspring, whose smile fascinates and intrigues you? And why?

Are you smiling? Why?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Respect: A Neglected Virtue

Respect is an individual's voluntary or involuntary expression of real or forced consideration for a person, institution or a situation. In this, I find Eldridge Cleaver's definition "Respect commands itself and it can neither be given nor withheld when it is due" constricting.

My friend Mehboob gave a surprise anniversary party for his wife. He made all the arrangements covertly, booked a place in Markham and informed all the guests.

Farah had no inkling. Just three hours before the party he called and asked if I could possibly pick up a Mrs. D visiting Toronto and bring her to the party.

I did some mental calculations and figured if I leave my home 30 minutes earlier than planned I could pick up the lady from the Mt. Pleasant address he gave me and make it to the restaurant in time. I took down Mrs. D's number and called her to verify the address and also mentioned the time I would pick her up.

I was at her doorstep at the appointed time. The person who answered the door bell told me she is in the bathroom.

This upset me somewhat.

I computed the driving time and wondered if we would be able to make it to the restaurant in time before Farah and Mehboob made their entrance. I declined the offer to go in and wait in the living room even though the temperature outside was below freezing.

About fifteen minutes later a diminutive lady clad in a saree and draped in a shawl emerged. I just opened the rear passenger door from inside and made no effort at any conversation. She exchanged some words with M.

I heard her mention that she was a teacher. She also named a school. My school! My ears pricked, and for the first time I looked in the rear mirror at her face.

I pulled over, turned back and said 'Miss M!' It was now her turn to be surprised.

At the restaurant I found a parking spot, jumped out of my seat, rushed to her side, opened her door, helped her get out and escorted her reverentially into the restaurant, completely forgetting about M.

From being upset and showing minimal respect I showered respect and attention all evening long.

Back to respect.

Respect has social paradigms and we cannot expect every individual to express it in the same manner. The forms and expression may differ but the intent overshadows it.

In South Asia, we genuinely respect elders and, family members and less genuinely offices, institutions and those below us on the economic or class totem pole.

In an interact Amrita wrote: Not only do we not have any respect for the law but we have precious little for the keepers as well.

(Yes Ams: that is the catalyst for this:))

I do not understand this South Asian dichotomy. We show scant respect for the law enforcement personnel in our home countries. Yet, when we find ourselves abroad, we instantly begin to respect them.

Is it because subconsciously we have been ingrained to see thepolicewalas as an extension of the Raj? Do we still perceive them as the Indian arm of the white man, doing their dirty work? Have we transferred our disdain for the Raj to our present governments? Is that why we perceive the policemen abroad as officers carrying out their law enforcement duties and grant them more respect?

Or is it because we consider our policemen lowly paid scum forever looking for bribes?

It may also have deeper roots.

We have not developed a genuine and abiding respect for our national institutions. And this lack of respect surfaces in our dealings with state functionaries. Yes, governments are prone to bungling issues and corruption ridden and do not treat ordinary citizens with respect, you may say.

But is (our) respect conditional and so arbitrary?

Laurence Sterne said: "Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners."

For me respect, like politeness costs nothing but perhaps a seat on a crowded bus. It is a great enabler. It is so easy to give respect to others and get it back in return. Like in smiling. OK, that was plug. Wonder if it will get past the editor.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

probing elephants

wrinkled sighs, folded dreams
myopic ideals, imperceptive idealism
lips clenched, feelings parched
imagination wingless, words in flight
orphaned good, indifferent goodness

belief probing elephant in the dark
empathy waltzing with one-armed faith
to the orchestra of antipathy
delusion and betrayal penta-armed goddess
with spine of malevolence

insouciant hope hibernating
in black hole of slippery ideals
rancor masquerading as ordained wisdom
abnormal the new norm

assurances of all's well
cascading from pinnacles
at ungodly hours
god of all gods smiling, somewhere

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Encounter on Mooker Nallamuthu Street

Worpswede, near Bremen

July 16, 1903

But everything that may someday be possible for many people, the solitary man can now, already, prepare and build with his own hands, which make fewer mistakes. Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away, you write, and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast. And if what is near you is far away, then your vastness is already among the stars and is very great; be happy about your growth, in which of course you can't take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don't torment them with your doubts and don't frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn't be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn't necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust. Avoid providing material for the drama, that is always stretched tight between parent and children; it uses up much of the children's strength and wastes the love of the elders, which acts and warms even if it doesn't comprehend Don't ask for any advice from them and don't expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.
Excerpt from the fourth letter.

Letters To A Young Poet

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Encounter on Mooker Nallamuthu Street
in that narrow street
bustling with bazaar vagaries
oppressive mugginess and heat
odours of trampled, strewn garbage
compositing with aromatic grime
emanating from cafes
with the grit from shops
godowns, offices, flats
i walked carefully
not to humiliate the garbage
when abruptly came face to face
with a girl barely six
black as a moonless sunderban night
wearing a handed down frock
with a deep neck
her hair knotted, skin lustrous
wearing a pseudo pearl white necklace
the contrast between it and her dark skin
overwhelmed her youthful smile
she looked up at me
with vibrant gleam
and coyly let me pass

Monday, August 09, 2010

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

Sunday, August 08, 2010

torn / khalish

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mid ocean
sans oar






wus't samund
bina patwar

Saturday, August 07, 2010

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.

Friday, August 06, 2010

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

Thursday, August 05, 2010

oscar moments - tales of slore splore

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the lure of the lore
as it struggles to the fore

if saddam is lore
can jesus george
be deplore'

remember global-warming-gore
who in florida was gored
by the neoconzix blore

little do they know
the clones of gore
would glare and glore

today at the oscars he implore'
to reduce our dependency
not to explore
non-renewable allure

if we reuse, recycle, reduce
we'd be awash in galore
be it in alore, banglore, cuddalore
kudangallore, manglore, nellore
or 'ver in nilore, lahore

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

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?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Word Play: Bantustising Reality

What are words? In a sense, they are mere shortcuts to expressing elaborate feelings, phenomena, 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 a veritable 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 unuttered. Silence is worthKodak 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
  • a 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 Qaeda - a word unfamiliar even to most scholars of international affairs became an ugly household word 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 termsFemi-Nazis and Islamo-Nazis are spared this branding.

Israel's official policy of Bantustising the occupied territories andsegregating 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 hisPalestine: Peace Not Apartheid by the 'friends' of Israel.

Some Israelis would rather call themselves settlers while in the eyes of the world they are just usurpers and occupiers. Evensettler is not entirely free of colonialist hang-overs.

Alan Dershowitz and company label any body critical of Israelioccupation with the label anti-Semite with 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 copyrightholocaust 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?

Monday, August 02, 2010

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'd 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

Sunday, August 01, 2010


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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