Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Insomniac

He let
Cigarette stubs litter
Like petals from a withered flower.

Comrades in his surrender,
Waiting for sleep
To come and claim him.

Monday, December 05, 2011

The Raconteur

Here's my poem, published in the December issue of the magazine Spark. Their theme for the month was 'Time Machine'. I took a slightly different view of the time travel aspect - essentially making Time a companion, accompanying it in its travels, as it travels with me.

In deference to the request that the Spark team has, to ensure enough and more people see their magazine, here's a link to the poem. Please visit the link below to read it.

http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=2847

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Collateral Damage

The old gift became a martyr
In a lover’s tiff.
A mug, shattered to pieces,
That once shared, a message in ceramic,
“Love Endures”

Friday, November 25, 2011

Hum Intezaar Karenge

It was the late hours of the evening, where the professed time of sleep for my son had arrived. I was due to perform that duty, reading a set quota of books to him, written by authors I have never heard off. I fired up my trusty Windows smartphone to see what the score might be. On the other side of the world, near the shores of the Arabian Sea, a diminutive giant of a man was heading towards a statistical Everest. Flurries of boundaries as well as an upper cut over the ropes were showing up in the twitter-like commentary that the mobile version of the site was providing. In due deference to the moment that was to arrive, I asked my wife to drop whatever it she was doing and take over my task for the night.


I was an ‘I was there’ moment for me that would translate into an ‘I wasn’t there’ moment for my son; but I am sure he’ll understand when he grows up.

I rushed down to the hall downstairs, switched on my laptop, headed to my list of streaming sites that I trust to bring me the telecast, and cozied myself into my sofa seat, ready for the inevitable. Since updating my Facebook status while cricket goes on has become a regular habit since the World Cup, I posted the following: “I have nails to bite and I am biting them. He has 99 centuries and he is on 94. Hmm, 99.94 :)”

I have enough cricket-crazy friends on my Facebook list to not have to explain the significance of that number. I wrote that, clicked enter, and shifted to the window with the live feed. Ravi Rampaul, the one who produced a brute of a delivery to get Tendulkar’s wicket in the World Cup game, played a similar hand. Ball pitched just short of length, and bouncing just a tad more. Tendulkar, who had batted beautifully until then, decided to hit a trademark backfoot punch. Wrong choice of shot. The celebrations of Rampaul and Sammy would not have endeared them to Indian fans, but hey, they had every right to rejoice.

One mistake and the interminable wait extends. With Tendulkar out of the ODI series against the Windies, the onus shifts to MCG and the Boxing Day game. I know that Australia is one of Tendulkar’s favorite opponents, but a tour of Australia should not have had this landmark to contend with. More drama added to this tale.

I frequented some news articles on the missed opportunity, and as with any Tendulkar article, you realize that he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. People, who would scarcely score a run in gully cricket, call him selfish and playing for records and hogging place in the team; never mind that he still remains one of the top scorers in the team. People who don’t know in swing from out swing believe that he remains incapable of scoring another ton, never mind that he has scored 99 before this. 99! If your mind doesn’t jump everytime you read that statistic, it is simply because nothing Tendulkar does will ever be good enough. He sets a benchmark and keeps excelling it. That single-minded pursuit of greatness, without losing his humility is a very rare cocktail, one which has brought him thus far.

When will century no. 100 happen? I don’t know. At the start of the World Cup, I had posted on Facebook that my dream was that Tendulkar would score a century in the final at Wankhede; his 100th, and then India would lift the cup. That came very close; yesterday was very close, and perhaps there are a couple more heartaches along the way. Nonetheless, watching the man play is a blessing that we should enjoy, without getting lost in the absolute numbers. Sometimes, a straight drive hit right between the stumps and the bowler, is worth its weight in gold. Century no. 100 will happen. Until then, ‘hum intezaar karenge!’

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Look Back, As We Look Ahead

I spent a few hours watching the documentary series called ‘The Story of India’, by PBS. Those hours were worth it, because it was good to really reiterate what we already know, but mostly gleam upon – the rich history of India through the ages, the sinusoidal path that the country’s fortunes have followed through the millennia, the meaning and origins of what pervades life in India today. We often lack the ability to maintain a perspective beyond the short term. It is easy to see India as a growing democracy, book-ended by thriving IT sectors and Bollywood; a narrow minded view of the burgeoning global middle class. But people and places don’t just come about in a day. There is a long tail of events that leads to an explanation of who we are and why we are the way we are. How often do you think of the modern secular democracy as being based on the principles that Asoka espoused or the influence that India has had on the food in the Roman empire, and in turn, modern Italy? Where do the scientific prowess of the ancients fit in and how do we factor the influence that western invasions wield on our self-confidence as a nation?


The documentary itself is as comprehensive as can be made when trying to describe a five thousand year history in six hours. It is over-romanticized at times and it is often amusing to see a westerner romanticize it thus. But I’ll take it - I’ll take his waxing over Chandragupta Maurya and Madurai, his gloating on the greatness of India’s past and relevance in the world. As India strives to seek its place at the top in this modern world, it is good to know where we came from and what really makes up our DNA. Our surge towards modernity and progress is simply building upon our rich foundations.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Fade Away

My poem, published in this month's issue of the Spark magazine. Their theme this month was the 'Culture of India'. The poem highlights the dichotomy of the country - a proud nation with a rich history that we admire, yet the past has to jostle for space with the present, often ending up on the losing side. Read on.

http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=2507

Monday, September 05, 2011

Yaksha Prashna

My poem, published in this month's issue of the literary magazine Spark. Their theme for their month was wealth/money. My work is inspired from an old tale from the Mahabharata.

Read on: http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=2393

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Poet

He sits with his
blue thumb
pressed to his forehead.

Those smudges of ink
are residue
from the act of creation.

Like dried clay
in a sculptor’s hand
once the wheel has stopped spinning.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Non-Resident India

My article, published in the August issue of the Spark Magazine. Their theme for this month was 'India Decoded'. I took it upon myself to decode the India that I am currently residing in - the non-resident one! Read on.

http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=2151

Thursday, August 04, 2011

The Seven Year Glitch

This space celebrates its seventh birthday today. Sometimes, little endeavors can surprise you in big ways with their longevity.

My tiny yet loyal group of readers; those who choose to be silent and those who let me know what they feel - thanks for sticking by! Onwards then!

Monday, August 01, 2011

You Are Not Alone

The sand longingly
Clings
To the soles of her feet

Her loneliness finds
Company
In little grains of silica

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Last Seduction

I can’t claim
That my left hand
Doesn’t know what my right hand
Is upto

I am not known to deceive myself
So easily
Instead, the two are working together
In a display of camaraderie

One holding your palm
And the other tracing those
Rivulets of fate running through them

My finger suddenly
Halts in its track
As I take my practiced cue
And look into your eyes
To tell you
“And this is where we met,
Never to part”

I wait for you to blush next
The reaction is known to me
I have met several before you
And never parted with them

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Witnesses

My poem, published in the July edition of the magazine Spark. Their theme for the month was weddings. I have tried to bring forth a slightly different perspective on the topic. Read on.

http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=1987

Friday, June 24, 2011

Spellbound

Your words remain
Well-spent at
Twenty rupees a letter

Shining on the board
In an unknown font
By an unknown artist

Don't blame the painter
He doesn't know enough
To know what is lost
In the games letters play

Don’t fret, we’ll understand
We are used to the quirks
As your shop proudly proclaims
‘India is Grate’

Friday, June 10, 2011

Dinner

They met each night
In honor of
Etiquette

Elbows off the table
Silverware in its right place
The food treated
With frosty reverence

Dysfunction was no excuse
To sacrifice
Civility

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Mere Paas CineMaa Hai

Please find a link to my article on the online magazine Spark. Their June issue was dedicated to the theme of cinema, so I wrote up this short essay on the influence of cinema on India. A thousand words is a small limit to work against, but I gave it an honest shot. Glad to have found this resource for online publication - they seem to be doing a very fine and sincere job with Spark.

http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=1847

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Resume. Reload.

And because the sun has finally shone
And the dark under the sky’s eyes
Has been obliterated by the
Golden energy of the yellow globe

It is time for the warriors to appear
To march on, to the posts of battle
Meeting head-on, the challenge of modernity
Without a shield till the sun retreats again

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Bit Too Much

Computer programs
Can generate
Poetry now

I doubt if they ever will
Do well at puns
After all, binary is too absolute
For double meaning

Friday, April 22, 2011

Deadbolts

What do I make off
The big bunch of keys
You carry around?

Do you have riches
You hide behind
Doors aplenty?

Or secrets you dread
Will spill over
Lest you lock them?

Friday, April 08, 2011

Heaven And Earth

The wind was gentle but persuasive. The curls of her hair gave up their obstinacy within moments of the breeze touching her face. They fluttered ever so slightly, parting away the gentle clouds covering her ears. The face in the window that the city now beheld was holding a smile beneath. From the second floor of her building, from a narrow window that overlooked a busy street, she surveyed a throbbing slice of the metropolis. The world was playing out its own agenda. Vendors were busy trying to sell their wares with a mind cast back to their hungry families. Kids were playing a game of cricket with a chair as a make shift stump, and with little license to hit on anywhere other than a straight line. The honking of cars was less indicative of an urge to move on, but more suggestive of carrying on a mild conversation in blaring tones.

She saw all this and smiled. She scanned the street with her eyes but took care not to tilt her head to the left. She did not want to let him know that she had seen him. He, of the wiry frame, the thick glasses, and the intense expression, was present as usual. The sun could have set its clock looking at him. Never once did he pick another place. Always seated at the base of the old tree that people did not allow to be cut due to quasi-religious sentiments, always sipping a cup of steaming tea from the chai-wallah he so thoroughly patronized, always sketching away furiously on a piece of paper, always the observer of life’s little accidents. He, on the other hand, did not shy away from a tryst. He knew that fifty feet away, his muse had shown her face. She, off the delicate expression and the large rounded ear-rings. For months now, this wordless exchange had continued. She would come and silently observe the world beneath her, ignoring her co-observer of worlds. He would ignore the rest of her world and set his sights on her. His hands would furiously animate his expression of admiration on paper. The collection of portraits he made of her were enough to publish a book.

He made no attempt to hide his love, but kept a respectful distance. An artist’s hardest quest is that for a muse, and nothing would be worse than handing over the reality back to an illusion. The delicate balance could not be disturbed. And so the fifty feet were never bridged by him, though he harbored a fleeting hope that some day she would turn around and see him, that some day she would descend from her private heaven and meet him.

She spent her routine thirty minutes at the window. She knew his rhythms, knew how much time he needed to draw a new version of her, and she gave him that time. She wondered what it would take for him to venture forth, to walk those fifty steps, to leave the world for a while and join her in her isolation. She dared to dream the dream and castigated herself immediately. Nothing would be worse than handing over the illusion to a reality. She turned back, scanned around her heaven, and with gentle arms, pushed her wheelchair back into the house.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Blade Of God

The fiend runs in
Thunderbolt in hand
Legs pumping
Arms extended

He hurls it at the
Stationary figure
Serene among the chaos
In a zone of his own

A billion hearts skipping
A collective beat
As the ball hurtles down
At lightning speed

When victory is de facto
And defeat is unacceptable
When a game ceases to be
“Just a game”
When matter of “life and death”
Isn’t just a phrase

In that fraction of a second
When all I said was true
The brute released
A torrent of questions

Then the feet moved
The toes went off the ground
The arms lifted the heavy bat
The cut unleashed on an
Unsuspecting ball

As it sailed into
A jubilant crowd
The ball carried with it
A message clear as day

Mortals won’t win today
For God has taken guard
Batting at number one
For India

P.S> In case it is not obvious, this is an ode to THAT upper cut that Tendulkar hit off Shoaib in the World Cup game in 2003

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chained

Was Houdini the greatest,
Or do we all surpass him,
as escape artists?

Is a five lever lock
any tougher to break
Than the vice-like grip
of tedium?

Friday, March 18, 2011

At Your Service

Madam, utterly respected
If you are even mildly discontented

And believe we roll in excess bureaucracy
Let me assure I mean no hypocrisy

To hear you, this grievance form I thus demarcate
Just make sure you do fill it up in triplicate

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hum Jawaab De Chuke Sanam

The quiz is done and dusted and it has gone rather well. Not as huge a turnout as last year, but from the feedback we received, everyone who came enjoyed it. I wonder if I can add QuizMaster to my skillset in a resume. Does that add to much? I definitely do enjoy being one, despite the time and energy that is required to set a quiz up. This year's highlight was a Kaun Banega Crorepati styled round, with theme music, revolving logo, lifelines et al. To add to the drama, it all came down to the last team needing to get all the questions right to win the quiz.

I have put up the files here for anyone wishing to attempt the quiz: http://cid-c3fa92574d313fc4.office.live.com/browse.aspx/Bollywood%20Quiz%202011?Bsrc=EMSHYH&Bpub=SN.Notifications

Friday, March 04, 2011

Jawaab Bhi Do Yaaron



In case you thought where I was - well, it is that time of the year. I am busy preparing a sequel to last year's Bollywood Quiz that I conducted.

This year again, our quiz club is collaborating with Ekal Vidyalaya, an NGO, to host this quiz in Seattle on the 13th of March. I get to set the quiz (which is something I love) and the NGO benefits from it (which is something they'll love). Last year was a big success and a lot of people enjoyed the event. We are hoping to do better this year.

If you are in and around Seattle, please do attend (and please register on this site before that). If you are not from Seattle, but know someone who is, please encourage them to participate.
Come support a good cause.
Come support the QuizMaster :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

In Absentia

He brought out a perfectly clean handkerchief out of his pocket and ran it gently over the image, hoping that fine linen could do the trick that his bare hands could not. But the picture did not get any clearer. The face in the picture did not reveal any new secrets to him. It remained as inscrutable as before. Time had done its trick on the photograph – the sepia tint was uneven, the dog ears were predominant and someone had really done a good job of inducing creases on the photograph by crushing it. The cold stern visage was unrevealing. No particular emotion, no particular trait, no particular bias leapt out from it. He had spent the first forty years of his life wondering what his father looked like, what he was like, why he had abandoned him, what life would have been growing up with one. After the serendipitous discovery of his photograph, his quest remained unsolved.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Paperback

Someone has your number
And I don't mean it
As a metaphorical
Smart-ass comment


Someone really does have it.

I suppose I should have
Torn your letter
Before I tossed it out

It must be hard to pass up
On an expectant love story
Neatly crafted in
Cursive handwriting

Monday, January 31, 2011

Across Universes

She hated the sound
Of her own voice
The way she spoke
In raspy whispers
Like a snake sliding
Over a rusty pipe

He loved the sound
Of her written word
She liberated him
By her fluent prose
From the clawing solitude
Of his prison cell

Prisoners both
One with a tube in her neck
One with his freedom confined
Meeting in that free universe
Of ideas

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Win it for Sachin!!

The big event is almost upon us. After years of talking and years of waiting, the World Cup is so close you could almost smell it and touch it. Well, only metaphorically. Actually, teams will have to climb over other competitors, conditions, injuries, bad luck, bad karma and sentiment to touch it and hold it. World Cup no. 6 beckons for the best batsman of all time, certainly in the ODI arena. Although it might be too premature to say anything about a man whose longevity surprises everyone, this very well might be his last outing in colored clothing in a World Cup. He holds all the key records in World Cup history - all except having the World Cup itself. He has done everything one man can do to get his team close to the goal. However, it is a team event and this time round, the rest of the team will have to step up to win this. The team is not completely stable, and I feel unsure about our bowling and middle order batting. Once more, the onus will be on Tendulkar to give good starts to India and guide the middle order through the innings; letting them show their aggression as he holds one end. The competition is tough, with a resurgent England and South Africa, not to count out the dangerous Sri Lanka. Australia for once is not the favorite, and that might work in their favour as well. I see India making it to the semis, but beyond that, it just depends upon the day. Although traditionally home teams have never done at the World Cup, I am hoping that the home supports helps. Dhoni though, gets a good share of luck as a captain and hopefully, he can extract good performances from the resources he has. I for one, am looking forward to watching the games live (or as much as is possible) and watch history being made. For years, the maxim has been: Sachin, win it for India. Now, it should really be: India, win it for Sachin. After years of tireless service to the game and the nation, we owe him that.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Friction

The little merry-go-round was in its tenth revolution. Around him, the kaleidoscope of images whirled in rapid succession, yet in a paradoxical instance, he could see his heartbeat and the world slow down around him. It is in this moment that he noticed the details he would normally have skipped. Four pine trees, all arranged in increasing height, like a stairway to heaven. Three women in the distance, one with her mouth covered with her hands and eyes staring in disbelief. Two mountains, snow-capped, disinterested and grand, watching down with authority. One man in his car, hands on the steering wheel, with an expression of abject helplessness, serene in the mild realization of what he was witnessing, trying hard to conjure a lifetime of memories as the swish of snow obeyed the laws of physics and promptly gave way. The driver’s dumbstruck, soulless eyes stared back at him through the collapsed rearview mirror. The slight disappointment in his look was hard to miss. He had been duped into believing that the moment of reckoning would be a grand revisiting of his life before. It was anything but that. His parting thought was about deceptions, as he thought about the icy road he was on, and the ravine he would fly into.