Thursday, November 13, 2014


"And it came to me then. That we were wonderful traveling companions but in the end no more than lonely lumps of metal in their own separate orbits. From far off they look like beautiful shooting stars, but in reality they're nothing more than prisons, where each of us is locked up alone, going nowhere. When the orbits of these two satellites of ours happened to cross paths, we could be together. Maybe even open our hearts to each other. But that was only for the briefest moment. In the next instant we'd be in absolute solitude. Until we burned up and became nothing." -

Haruki Murakami (Sputnik Sweetheart)

You stay inside your heated house, under a furry blanket with a cuppa in your hand, Ruby and the Romantics promising you your day will come. All that warmth does nothing for the ice in your soul, the frequent sips of scalding Oolong does not seep inside by the osmosis you hoped would happen.

 You step outside in the white cold and run till the wind stings your face like shards of ice, your breath ragged, your fingers frozen, the tips blue and all your blood drained from your body to pump somewhere about in your legs. You meet people on the streets to whom the cold means nothing. They like it, they glow. The cold envelops you, in a white misty bubble that comes out of your mouth and nose and at the same time seems to cover you entirely, cutting you off from the mundane, from the normal, from life in fact till all you have is your body, that thin layer of veined, bluish skin between the ice and your soul. And then it rips into your clothes, into that flimsy, black sweater that had been a gift on a warmer winter, many years ago, into your chest, ribcage, heart. The ice enters to meet your soul-ice like blood-brothers, intertwining into a glorious shapeless sculpture, diamond-like in its hardness and you run. To the cadence of the happy voices of blurry -faced passers-by in bright coats and boots hurrying to homes of fireplaces and Christmas lights and dogs and friends and lovers.

You realize the ice was meant to be there, that this was the natural state, that this was how it had been all along and how it would be and that any other state was an abnormality, that warmth was an anomaly and would soon be corrected.

Why did you get confused along the way? Did someone tell you otherwise and you, in a naive moment, believed it? Did your soul-ice melt in a fleeting moment of love, hearing the lilt and throb of a voice and you thought the thaw would last forever? That the soul ice-creature had finally turned to the soul-Samsa it was meant to be? Maybe.

You pass shops on the way, selling everything conceivable, necessities you had never realized were indeed necessary, the frosted glasses also reflecting beautiful people in their own orbits which would never collide with yours. Which, of course, sets you thinking of all the orbits which have collided with yours and the strangeness and spark and impact of the collisions. Memory thaws your soul-ice again and you start feeling the cold. You remember someone telling you the cold isn't good for you. And chocolates and wine and loud music and computer games and caffeine and sunshine and pavements. Someone else that they weren't good for you. Between the things that aren't meant for you and those that aren't good for you, you have, throughout your life-path, been giving up things that make you burn and giddy and heady and lovely and warm. Till you settle on your meant-to-be-reached, steady-state of soul-ice. And henceforth, you never feel cold, never unhappy, never unsatisfied unless of course some accidental collision with a rogue shooting star out of it's orbit and into yours burns the way through that ice and gives you memories warm enough to defrost that soul-ice long enough for you to enjoy your Oolong and ponder it's strength. And have some left over to feel a Thelonius Monk song.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

And in the Human Heart

Conrad Aiken writes

In the mazes of loitering people, the watchful and furtive,
The shadows of tree-trunks and shadows of leaves,
In the drowse of the sunlight, among the low voices,
I suddenly face you,

Your dark eyes return for a space from her who is with you,
They shine into mine with a sunlit desire,
They say an 'I love you, what star do you live on?'
They smile and then darken,

And silent, I answer 'You too-I have known you-I love you!-'
And the shadows of tree trunks and shadows of leaves
Interlace with low voices and footsteps and sunlight
To divide us forever-

And I wonder

Monday, September 30, 2013

Two Minds. Or Many.

I meant to love you
But got distracted by myself
And then the monkeys came along
And we just had to watch them play
By then we had both forgotten about love
And misery
And melancholy
And togetherness
And loneliness
I meant to tell you
You meant the world to me
But the world means so little
I took one day at a time
And tried years at a go
And nothing changed
We stand still like clowns at a circus
The last show over
The people gone
The pretty horses smoking rings of sawdust
The lights might have faded
But the stars still shine
Leave me be
I might get along with ghosts
But I don't want to 

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Commuter's Musings

'What you don't ever catch a glimpse of on your wedding day-because how could you?-is that some days you will hate your spouse, that you will look at him and regret ever exchanging a word with him, let alone a ring and bodily fluids. Nor is it possible to forsee the desperation and depression,the sense that your life is over, the occasional urge to hit your whining children, even though hitting them is something you knew for a fact you would never ever do. And of course you don't think about having affairs, and when you get to that stage in life when you do (and everyone gets there sooner or later), you don't think of the sick feeling you get in your stomach when you are conducting them, their inherent unhappiness. And nor do you think about your husband waking up in the morning and being someone you don't recognize. If anyone thought about any of these things , then no one would ever get married, of course they wouldn't ; in fact the impulse to get marry would come from the same place as the impulse to drink a bottle of bleach, and those are the kinds of impulses we try to ignore, rather than celebrate. So we can't afford to think these things because getting married-or finding a partner whom we will want to spend our lives with and have children by-is on our agenda. It's something we know we will do one day, and if you take that away from us then we are left with promotions at work and the possibility of winning a lottery ticket, and it's not enough, so we kid ourselves that it is possible to enter these partnerships and be faced only with the problems of mud removal, and then we become unhappy and take Prozac and then we get divorced and die alone.'

I had picked up Hornby's How To Be Good from a Sunday market in Delhi I think, a couple of years back and promptly forgotten about it until last week when I found it, Nick Hornby carved out in bright, bold, banana-yellow on the dusty jacket, during one of my very infrequent clean-up fits. I put it in my to-go-to-work bag, to colourize my long commutes to and from work. It's a circus act, these commutes. You wait till the vehicle you are supposed to get arrives. And like most things in life, it doesn't. Then you wait for anything that will arrive and take you anywhere remotely close to where you are supposed to be. You spot the thing, wave madly and if you are lucky, you hop on and if it's a normal day, you just manage to squeeze in. Manipulating your body through a human jungle, you find just enough space to stand on one leg, which you then proceed to do for an hour or so. There are jolts and jerks and all sorts of vehement, violent movements you subject your body to. Sometimes you are flailing about awkwardly, sometimes grabbing just about anything solid and if you have a hand left over, you reach in and pull out a ringing phone. Or a book.

How to Be Good. Well, it's Hornby, so of course there must be no such thing as steps to being good or even any valid reason to be good, provided of course, you can define doing this,this,this is also known as being good. Hornby does not disappoint. It's a rant and while the Angriest Man in Holloway might have actually written a newspaper column, you realize the Angriest Woman in Holloway is writing the book. Having an affair doesn't help. Career doesn't help. Getting faith doesn't help. Children don't help. Friends and family, ditto. Religion doesn't help. Ha! Like Hornby was going to make it that easy. There is no ideal man, there is no ideal marriage, there is no ideal life. But that you already knew. If you get out trying, good for you. If you stop trying, well, just as well since it really does not matter either way.

Someone mistakes you for a handle. Reading time over.

Come evening and you head back. Yet another long commute but there is something lovely about the evening. Something very mellow about the tones of the sky. All those blues and greys and smattering of stars above the traffic signal seems almost romantic. And that beautiful juxtaposition of those birds sitting calmly on the telephone wires, above all the craziness and rush that is the prime-time traffic. You take your book out and read again. And now it's not a rant. All Hornby is saying is that people are unhappy and people are human and there are different ways of dealing with life and sometimes actions aren't meaningful while non-actions mean the world and you can do what you want to and do what you need to but be prepared to accept that often neither is going to be enough. You look up and take in the people around you. There are people waiting to get back to the comfort of home. There are other people really, really not looking forward to that, and clearly wanting to spend more time with the present company. And there is the slightly creepy co-worker who you've begun to suspect follows you home.

It's such a mixed bag, life. One day you are waxing sentimental about your old college days, the next being horrified by front page news of some boy attempting to kill a girl who rejected his advances and then killing himself in the very same college. Then there is love and hate and their interchangeability. You think of some beautiful lines you had read-

Oh yes, I have known love, and again love,
and many other kinds of love;
but of that tenderness I felt then,
is there nothing I can say?

 If one person knew of this tenderness, then by induction, so did others. Given that in parts at least, we are commutative.

Hornby ends with

'And then, I can do this. I can live this life. I can, I can. It's a spark I want to cherish, a splutter of life in the flat battery; but just at that wrong moment I catch a glimpse of the night sky behind David, and I can see that there is nothing out there at all.'

But that's just it. There is. Maybe not as annoyingly magical as THAT friend claims it is. Maybe it's a moment, a person, a time-point.

There are the hills. Always. Surely anyone would find the spark on the hills!

The evening deepens. So does the cacophony of car horns. And then suddenly, you spot the vehicle of your choice. It's not crowded either. Perhaps poetry is not dead after all.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul

I decided I was a lemon for a couple of weeks. I kept myself amused all the time jumping in and out of a gin and tonic.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Come and See

Well, it's official. The heat has forced me towards a movie binge where I am going to do nothing but imitate the lifestyle of a cocktail downing couch potato.....okay maybe just tomato juice with a celery stick thrown in.

Movies I am going to devour are:

  • Natural Born Killers 
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  • Naked Lunch
  • It's all Gone
  • In Bruges
  • Lord of War (just because of Jared Leto)
  • Blow (Depp, Cruz!)
  • Point Break (because I miss Swayze)
  • Pineapple Express
  • Enter the Void
  • Conversation
  • Baraka
  • The Butterfly Effect
  • Hard Candy
  • A Tale of Two sisters
  • Following
  • Kill Bill
Because I am in a trippy mood, not unprepared to be scared and lastly need some gore!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Early Morning Rain

It's the kind of morning which makes you think of an autumn evening. That somber, dulled blue-grey sky which comes right after a brilliant sunset. A stealthy sunrise and the rain clouds roll in immediately. A wayward gust of wind brings the smell of rain. A second gust later, it starts raining. For five glorious, glorious minutes, it's a green, cool, wet world right outside my window. The lawns outside stretch like a field and the man sitting right in the middle of the lawns is doing exactly what I would be if the world was ending and I knew it-sitting and reading in the rain. I close my eyes and at that very, very specific moment, I feel like I am home, on the hills, deep in the middle of a forest. It is, for a second, the kind of morning that gives you all at once an ache in your heart, a taste of sand and salt and a sense of endless time. The kind of morning you won't remember off-hand but unknowingly set as some measure of perfection-saying, to the utter irritation of everyone, I don't remember where but I've seen better.