Sunday, October 21, 2007

Baby Boo Has a Fight

Baby Boo was quite simply the sunniest girl around, full of giggles and smiles. Anyone who looked at her felt lightened by the experience, and went away a happier person. Baby Boo did not know this of course, but then, as her Mamma always said, what's the use being or doing good if you are always aware of it? Baby Boo did not know, and did not care to know.

When Daddy woke her up with a warm snuggle and hug, she'd give him one sleepy smile, blink a few times, realize it was day, and would jump up to kick start things. After all, days were hers, and she quite simply had to take charge of things. "Mammaaaa ..." she'd call out and dig her out from somewhere under the dishes that needed cleaning, or the clothes that needed ironing, and muzzle her nose into her tummy. Mmmmmammaaaa! Mamma would ruffle her hair and kiss her good morning, and Baby Boo knew there was no better way to get the day started.

But that's not what this is about, so let us leave Baby Boo and her family for a moment and look at the trouble brewing elsewhere ... in school, to be precise.

Now Baby Boo's school had just bought a new merry-go-round for the kids a few days ago, and every one was excited. The mechanic who was supposed to install it, however, had fallen ill, and hadn't installed it yet. But setbacks like these hardly made any difference to a child's enthusiasm! During break time, every single one of them would file into the garden and look admiringly at the freshly-painted plaything. They'd exchange excited looks and point out delightful details to each other. "Look look, there's Mickey painted on one seat ... and that one has Daffy Duck!" said one. But not everyone was all that impressed by Daffy and Mickey. "Humph," said a boy, "No transformers. Ridiculous!" "What is a transformer?" asked one of the smallest children, and was promptly rewarded by so many incredulous stares that he quietly subsided in the background. This was swell, and no doubt about that! But there were only six seats in the merry-go-round. Who'd go first?

But Baby Boo didn't have that problem. She was a good girl, and her Mamma had told her that good girls are patient and await their turn. So she contented herself by admiring the new darling of the school, and waited patiently for the day when it would be installed. And today, when she got off the bus, and saw the commotion in the garden, she knew that that day was today. Like a sparrow she took off, satchel and water bottle jiggling along, and was soon there. But so was everyone else!

What a to-do there was! Everyone wanted a ride, and no one could take more than six turns on the merry-go-round; there were too many in queue. But right now, Baby Boo was too preoccupied to bother about that. She was too busy admiring the beautiful merry-go-round. Red and yellow and green and orange, it was the most beautiful this she'd ever seen.

Gracefully, without a sound,
The merry-go-round flew round and round
The children yelled their glee aloud
This thing was great, without a doubt!

Finger in her mouth she stared, watching the kids spinning around, and she suddenly saw that one of them was Sparkle, her best friend.

"Yaaayayyayyyayyy, she yelled. Sparkle saw her and waved wildly. It was evident she was having the time of her life. She was clinging to the rod near her seat and was leaning out, her head lolling back, so. Her long hair flew about like it had a life of its own, and if her closed eyes were anything to go by, the merry-go-round was a godsend. She could hardly wait for Sparkle to get off, and squealed and ran to hug her. And they hugged and jumped together like little children do when they are happiest.

"Howwuzit howwuzit?" Baby Boo asked when their screams subsided.

"Ooooooh," Sparkle held her tightly. "It is the bestestEST thing I have ever seen. It goes so fast, Boo, and you feel dizzy and you feel the wind in your ears and you loll your head back and your head feels heavy and ... oh it is so much fun. You must give it a try."

And the merry-go-round
Went round and round
Shining and spinning
With the kids all a-screaming
And wasn't it fun
When the joyride was done!

"Sure I will," promised Baby Boo, and was about to join the queue of waiting, milling children, when the bell rang, and it was time for school.

On an average day, Baby Boo was always attentive in class, and listened carefully to what her teacher said. But today, she was elsewhere. Through the window, she could see the merry-go-round, all bright and colorful. And it was empty. What fun it would be if she could run out to it and go round and round without anyone disturbing her. But she knew that her teacher would have none of that. She let out a sigh, tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, and got on with the task assigned.

But the classes simply wouldn't end. Usually, classes were short, and were very quickly over. But today, each class was longer than the next, and it was all so boring and quiet that Baby Boo could actually hear the bee buzzing around outside somewhere near the window. Wouldn't break time come?

It took ages, but finally the bell rang, and Baby Boo ran out to the playground. Quickly, feet hardly touching the ground, she fled to the garden, her cute little pigtails swinging to and fro with every stride. She so wanted to get there before anyone else, so she'd be able to have the first go.

You know the thing with life? You want something, and almost always, there are thousands of other people who want it too, and there is nothing you can do about it. By the time baby Boo got to the garden, three boys were already clambering onto the merry-go-round, and a zillion other children were rushing in to grab the remaining three seats. Baby Boo pursed her lips. Her brows furrowed themselves into thin little lines of concentration, and she pressed harder, jumping over the shrubs that lay in her path. Two more seats were gone ohmygawd! Screams rang out all around as everybody rushed to get there first.

But she made it! Hers was definitely the first hand on the empty seat. And everybody knew it was hers and pushed back grudgingly to let her have the ride. Baby Boo pushed back a few strands of hair that had come off from their default position under her clip and began to get onto the merry-go-round when suddenly, a boy lunged over the seat and got in. Baby Boo didn't quite get it at first. "Wh-what are you doing?" she faltered; then "It's my seat. I got here first," she screamed. "Give it to me!"

The boy gave her one nasty push. "I got in first, didn't I?" he sneered. Get lost!

He was clearly a senior student, may be someone even as high up as a third-grader, and Baby Boo typically never disturbed third-graders, but this was simply not done. And he'd pushed her.

"Hell hath no fury ..." someone wrote somewhere, and you should have seen Baby Boo when she got up from her fall and violently shook the boy's arm and tried dragging him off the merry-go-round.

The boy had never expected a pre-KG student to go as far as touch him, let alone fight back. But this girl here was actually shaking him and pulling him off! And everyone was watching. He was stuck. If he hit the girl or pushed her again, she would definitely tell the teachers, and he knew that boys were not supposed to hit girls. The last time a boy had hit a girl, his parents were called, and the principal had scolded the boy right before his parents. Later it turned out that there was a nice dose administered to the boy back home too. So hitting her or pushing her again was out. But what to do? How would it look if he, a third-grader, were to allow a pre-KG baby to drag him off a brand-new merry-go-round? He would never ever hear the end of it. They would all laugh at him.

Baby Boo, in the meantime, was tugging and dragging away with all her strength. Very soon, the other children on the merry-go-round joined in. Some sided with Baby Boo; others with the boy. But one thing that they were all united in was the view that this fight should be taken elsewhere, so that the fun could begin. "Push her! Push her!" said one; "Go away Boo," said another. "No shame?" from somewhere in the crowd. "Come ON ... you're wasting time," said a little girl already in the merry-go-round, swinging her feet to and fro, hitting the merry-go-round bar with her fist. "Come OOOOOONN!"

"Let go, Baby Boo," said one from the crowd, "You can go the next time." "Yes, it's okay," said another. "We promise we will let you have a seat." "Enough is enough okay?" "Just a few minutes left for the bell!" And so on.

Gradually, Baby Boo began to feel that this was all getting too tedious, not to mention pointless. She was about to let go when she remembered what her mother always said. "Baby Boo," she said, "It is always better to let others play before you do. This is how good girls need to behave." But then, Baby Boo reasoned, she meant it to be followed only when the other asks decently. Rude boys shoving little girls around quite simply didn't qualify for exemption. "Nothing doing," she screamed to everyone around; "I got there first, and I won't let go."

The boy was now getting genuinely fluxommed, doubtless due to the fact that all his friends (read cohorts) were huddled quietly at the edge of the crowd, pointing quite politely at him, and sniggering. For a split second, all his pent-up pride and fury appeared to make a complete villain out of him, but then again, the presence of the crowd scared his villain away.

He made one valiant last-ditch attempt at salvaging some pride, however. "Aw come ON, it is only a few rounds okay?" But Baby Boo would have none of it. She simply shook her head, ponytails swinging from side to side, and held on grimly, pulling at the poor boy's shirt.

And then there was that tearing sound, and even in the midst of all that screaming and shouting, everyone heard it. You could almost see the sudden hush run through the crowd, and the sound of tearing cloth and ripping seams filled every nook and cranny of the school. Baby Boo stopped shaking and tugging, the boy stopped shouting and swearing, the little girl stopped swinging her feet, and they all stared at the boy's sleeve. It had almost come quite off the rest of the shirt, and hung limply, dangling and fluttering gently in the breeze blowing by.

But the best thing of all was his face. I wish I were a painter of something, so I could draw it out for you, for the expression on it was priceless. There was shock, of course; and anger, understandable, again; and there was shame, for he knew he'd lost; and there was acute embarrassment, for here he was, a third-grader boy, having his shirt sleeves ripped off by pre-KG girl, and that too for something he had no business doing.

The boy stared at the dangling piece of cloth that once belonged to his shirt; Baby Boo looked defiantly into the boy's eyes -- she was really really scared, of course, but she dared not show it -- as if daring him to try some more panga with her; and the crowd switched gazes: from the boy's picture of a face, to baby Boo's do-you-dare expression, to the little girl who had resumed swinging her legs as she sit on the merry-go-round, and then finally, to the white ragged piece of uniform dangling from the boy's shoulder. Initial silence, followed by gasps and ohs and ahs led to shocked silence, and the boy just stood there, wondering which reaction was the best suited for the occasion.

Finally, he could take it no more, and quickly got off the merry-go-round and rushed unceremoniously from the place.

Baby Boo stood there, astonished. She'd actually won, and only after the boy'd left did the magnitude of what she'd done hit her. She'd beaten a boy four years her elder and senior, and the boy'd run away, and the entire school was watching. But now she was confused. What to do now? What do winners do after a fight? Should she raise her arms in victory, or should she quietly get into the merry-go-round, or what. Her mind debated in dire earnest.

"Poor boy; his shirt got torn," said someone. "Yeah, that sleeve is gone." "Did you see the look on his face?" asked someone else. "I think he is worried his mother will beat him," said another. And silence, as the crowd visualized the sight of the third grader getting systematically thrashed by his mother, hopefully, with a nice broom.

And then, from somewhere at the back of the crowd came the sound of a little girl giggling. And that broke the dams of control. The little girl on the merry-go-round laughed, the children around howled in laughter, and the boy's friends laughed out as loudly as they possibly could. Baby Boo looked around uncertainly at the growing jollity, and slowly joined in. She had won fair and square, and she knew it. She was so happy that she actually let Sparkle ride the merry-go-round in her stead, and walked off to her classroom while the children around her laughed and clapped and patted her and let her pass. Even as Baby Boo walked off, wave on wave of laughter swept the garden as child after child described one juicy scene after another to each other.

It has been two months now, and no less, but even today, during break hours, you can hear the garden ring once more with laughter, as someone who was there related the story of Baby Boo's fight to another who wasn't.

As for Baby Boo, she doesn't think about it any more, of course, but last night she was heard praying before she went to bed, "Please God, please please PLEASE ask Mamma and Daddy to buy me my own little merry-go-round!"

I am sure God will answer her prayers. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Way It Ends

Last man on earth.
Runs from the last city leaving the last corpse…
Stepping over the last breast he will ever see.

He drags his crawling limbs to the slimy ocean;
Lets the waves envelop him of stinking death;
Rises, refreshed, to his feet;
Stands unsteadily on the balls of his ankle,
And, glaring at the clouds
That the heavens have raised to muffle their smle in,
He raises both arms as high as he can
And howls.
Yells mindlessly for revenge.

Then sinks back into the mire he rose from
And sobs.
Simmers with fear and loneliness.

The water covers him blanketwise
And pulls him gently into its clasp.
The wet wind heaves a sigh.
“Come that’s done,
And I’m glad it’s over.”

And it begins to rain.


I wrote this poem when in the pits of desperation ... no money, and no light in sight ... 2000-types.

Finally faced with his baseness,
Man thinks he understands.
Time spins years and attaches to age.
Life drags its pinkish-white wounded pulp along.
Bleeding the while of tears and sweat and blood.
All is salt.

The air rasps salt into lungs
That burn in stinging cells of osmosis.
The throat is parched and no hand stirs to quench the raw.

To moan is a luxury.
Is to moan for an audience.
To moan for pathetic effect.
Death has no sound.

Dusty dirty salty faces toil in the gathering swirl of paper and broken hair.
The rickshaw puller burns his blood to beg for more.
The worker rips his hand that his progeny survive.
The banker stashes cash away and looks to God.
The unemployed soaks the scene and licks his lips,
And wishes he was elsewhere

All this amid the grind of wheels,
The mindless honks of horns
That wake my child that sleeps on slumped shoulders…
That wake him, scare him;
Remind him that he is hungry, festering, and dying,
And make him cry again.

Et Moi

I wrote this one quite a while ago ... still like it ... so.

Trapped within the spaces of dark between lights in the brightly illumined room full of brilliant mirrors glaring at each other
Each man is lonely.
To search for loneliness is to search for interstitial space.
To know in toto is to illumine dark.
Neither is possible.

The lantern shadow swings
And shapes change shapes.
Oscillations: how the bullocks surge.

Bright lights stun when from the dark
They hit the retina like merciless light can.

Between light and dark is what man knows.
Is hopscotch rabbit jump
Potholes –
Light is full of them.

The dark sleeps stuporfully.
Movie films hurl images on screens
And fill white with light and dark.
Colors and dark.
Red and blue and light green and dark.
Like ominous undertones in the laughter
Echoing in haunted bungalows.
It hurts.

Dark dank cold glaring searing blinding.

What tales? What meanings?
In the balls of painful light is dripping darkness.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


a wisp of smoke;
dark walls
under a cloudy sky.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Baby Boo's Adventure

The following is a story I wrote for my three-year old daughter. She could've very well been the protagonist of the story but for the fact that she never carries weird stuff like sandwiches and all. Nothing short of cakes and pastries work for the big lady. Sandwiches are for losers.


Baby Boo was a good baby. She would get up early in the morning; she would brush her teeth and have her bath without making noise. She would then run to the dining table and have her breakfast. And then, she would sit quietly in the drawing room and wait for her mother to drop her to her school bus. Baby Boo was a very gentle baby, and always listened to her mother.

If there was one thing Baby Boo loved most, it was her school. She loved the beautiful toys she had to play with in school, and she loved her friends. Boys she wasn't very fond of, but she spoke to everyone gently because that is the right thing to do. She loved her teachers, and her teachers loved her. Often, of bright sunny mornings, you could catch Baby Boo running in the school garden, playing catch with her friends.

One other thing that baby Boo was very fond of was riding to school in her school bus. When Mamma would open the door of the car, Baby Boo would run out, laughing happily, clamber into the school bus and onto her favorite window seat, and wave Mamma a happy good bye. She did not know it, but that quite simply made Mamma's day. Baby Boo didn't just live happily; she spread happiness wherever she went. Life was perfect.

But trouble was only round the corner. Usually, Baby Boo went off to sleep at nine. With Papa Bear tucked close to her chest, baby Boo would drop off to a sweet sleep, and dream of all the lovely things she'd done that day. One evening, however, Baby Boo stayed up late, watching TV and playing around with her new toy train. Mamma kept telling her, "Baby Boo, go to bed. All the babies are already asleep." But Baby Boo wanted to play some more, and she begged and pleaded to be allowed to stay up. Much against her better judgement, Mamma gave in. Baby Boo slept very late that night.

The next day, when baby Boo awoke, she didn't feel bright and sunny. Instead, she felt sleepy and dull and tired. She rubbed her eyes and asked Mamma if she could sleep some more. "But the school bus is almost due, Baby Boo," Mamma said. So there was nothing to be done but to get up and get ready. Baby Boo had a hurried breakfast and almost ran to the car. "Hurry up, Baby Boo, or you will be late," Mamma said.

When the school bus arrived, Baby Boo didn't have that bright smile that made her Mamma's day. But Mamma smiled through her worries and waved her good bye. Baby Boo waved back, but her heart wasn't in it. She wanted to sleep. She wanted to rest some more.

The bus pulled off, and Baby Boo began watching the trees walk by. Slowly, the trees began flying at top speed, and they looked all hazy and blurred. Baby Boo blinked at them once, twice, thrice, and went right off to sleep. The rocking bus lulled her gently into deep dreams filled with trains and the strange lands trains visit.

Suddenly the bus stopped. "School, at last," said Baby Boo, and got off the bus. Some other children got in too. "That's funny," thought baby Boo. "Nobody gets into buses when it reaches school in the morning." And then the bus snaked ahead, and was soon lost in traffic.

Only then did Baby Boo realize that she wasn't at school. This was somewhere on the way to school. But she didn't know where. One thing she knew: She was lost. Baby Boo took off her satchel from her back and sat down in the bus stop. May be another school bus would come this way, and she would get back to school. But no bus came. After she'd waited for a very long while (it was only ten minutes, but they seemed like ages to poor Baby Boo!), she realized that no more buses were coming. "The next time the school bus will come here will only be tomorrow in the morning! What shall I ever do now," Baby Boo wondered. Suddenly, the roads went all hazy and her face felt hot as though it were in a sauna. She simply sat down on the bus stop bench and cried.

When she'd cried her fill, Baby Boo realized that there was nothing to do but to find her way to school on her own. After all, she was a big girl now! She wiped them tears and put her finger to her head and thought. "The bus came that way. So school must be further down this road. Let's see." And Baby Boo wiped her face with her handkerchief, slung her satchel over her back, tighened her shoe straps, and walked off in the direction she'd seen the bus go.

After she'd gone on for a while, who should she see but a great big dog come bounding towards her. She'd seen the dog earlier on the street too, but he appeared much smaller then. She was about to scream, but she saw that the dog was wagging his tail. "That should be fine," thought Baby Boo, because she'd read in the children's encyclopedia in her school library that dogs wag their tails when they are happy. Baby Boo was a really smart baby.

"What are you doing here?" said the dog in a gentle growl. I see you in the school bus everyday, and you wave to me when you pass. What are doing here by yourself? "I was going to school, when I got off on the wrong stop," said Baby Boo, fighting back that lump in the throat that had almost begun to make the road swim again. "Do you know the way to my school?" And she sang:

Mamma told me not to play late into the night,
But I heeded not her words and played away alright.
And now I'm sleepy and I'm lost, and crying like a fool,
Can you help me, can you tell me how to get to school?

The great big dog cocked his head. "Ummm..." he said, "I do not know where your school is, but I do know that your school bus turns into the right corner at the end of this road.

"This road's my area," he said, "Till there I'll see you through,
"But where you go once you've got there, now that I'll leave to you."

"Fair enough," said Baby Boo. "Let's go."

"But I can't take you all the way," the big doggy said,
"I'm hungry, and I'm feeling weak. By chance, you got some bread?"

"Sure thing," said Baby Boo, and opened her lunch box and gave him a sandwich. The big dog wolfed it all down almost in a single bite.

"Thanks, Baby Boo," he said, "I needed that!" And he sang:

Now sit upon my back, my child, lemme help you out today,
Or you'll never get to school, my child, before the end of day.

And Baby Boo sat on the big doggy's back, and he set off gently, taking care that Baby Boo was not rocked off his great big back. When they reached the end of the road, the big doggy said, "Now go on right. That is the way towards your school, and fare you well."

Baby Boo thanked the doggy and bade him fare well. Then she stood at the edge of the road and looked to the left, and looked to the right, and looked to the left again. When she was sure the path was clear, she crossed the road, like all good children should.

And then she set off in the direction the dog had indicated. She walked on and on, and who should she see in the garden by the road but a nice big billy goat.

"Hello Mr. Goat," said Baby Boo. "Do you know where my school is? I have lost my way, and need to get to school quickly, or I will miss my classes." But the billy goat shook his head.

"I cannot talk," he said, "My throat is parched. If only I could find some water, may be I could help you."

"Oh that's easy," said baby Boo, and jumped up and took out her water bottle. "Here, have some water from my bottle."

The nice billy goat drank some of her water and bleated in delight.

"Thank you so much, Baby Boo, you're really sweet and kind.
I shall definitely help you, tell you how your school to find.

"But what happened? You always went to school in that nice yellow bus? What are you doing here?"

"I was going to school, when I got off on the wrong stop," said Baby Boo, fighting back that lump in the throat that had almost begun to make the road swim again. "Do you know the way to my school?" And she sang:

Mamma told me not to play late into the night,
But I heeded not her words and played away alright.
And now I'm sleepy and I'm lost, and crying like a fool,
Can you help me, can you tell me how to get to school?

"Sure thing," said Billy Goat. "I'll help you all I can. I've seen the school bus come this way now for months, and I know that it goes on straight until it reaches the ice cream shop. There it turns left. But where it goes from there -- the goat's face fell -- I do not know."

"But till that place, my little girl, I surely shall you carry,
Come quick, and hop upon my back. Come com, let us not tarry!"

"That's so sweet of you," said Baby Boo. The great billy goat got down on his knees, and Baby clambered onto his hairy back. "Now grasp my neck with all your might," the billy goat said, "We're off!"

And they hurtled through the traffic, dodging pedestrians and ugly boys cycling around idly, trying to get as late to school as possible.

Soon they reached an ice cream shop, and Baby Boo recognized it instantly. Almost every day she'd look at the shop through the bus window, and think of the cold, sweet ice lollies in the big ice box. But today, she had more important things on her mind.

"Thank you Mr. Goat," said Baby Boo as she got off his back. "I shall definitely come and see you again soon." And the great billy goat bleated his fond farewell and returned to his garden. Till his dying day he kept telling his children and grand children how all human beings are wicked and murderous, but how there is one baby among them all who is an angel, and how that angel helped him slake his thirst when he was dying for want of water.

But let's talk of Baby Boo. She turned left and ran up the road, huffing and puffing, for she had been walking and crying and running now for very long. When all of a sudden what should she see but the loverliest sight she ever saw: the sweetest prettiest thing ever made: a little yellow school bus gleaming and shining in the bright sun!

She ran to the bus and, as she came close, she could see the school gate, and the bright-green and light-yellow and orange garden. And she ran through the gate into the garden, and she saw her teachers sitting in the garden playing with the children. And when they saw her, they all ran to her and hugged her.

"We've been so worried Baby Boo, wherever have you been?
You got onto the bus we know, but since, you haven't been seen!

"Oh, it has been a very adventurous day," said Baby Boo, "but now it is over." I have seen so many things, and so many things have happened, and I must tell you all about it." Her classmates all came running and crowded around her:

"Do tell, do tell Baby Boo
In detail your adventures true!

"Sure I will," said Baby Boo, and she told them all about how the whole thing came about. "And," she ended:

"A lesson I've learnt today; and in my heart I'll keep
That when your Mamma tells you so, kids should go right to sleep."


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Samson temporaris

The fairer gender glares regardless, so that has always been that as far as I am concerned. It was when unknown guys started staring at me like one would at a chimp with three horns that I realized that 'nuff was 'nuff (as if it could ever have been otherwise.) But I am getting ahead of myself ...

To recapitulate, then .... After Hrithik decided to flaunt his tresses once upon a Dhoom, so did I. Decide, of course. When it all began I thought it was all a matter of deciding and not going to the barber next street. God moves in mysterious ways.

All my youth, I wasted my days wandering around like a banished subaltern in libraries and similar dingy edifices, when I ought to have been out in the wopen, gathering in all the sunshine I could for the dark days ahead; dark dark DARK days of joining and junking jobs, of teeth grinding and hair raising in the bright afternoon suns when the hot air roasted them crisp, and slouching over computer terminals in dimly-lit labs for tuppence ... tuppaise, actually (All Hail Commas and Semi-colons, those inveterate angels that spell death to brevity, the substance of shit!.)

Still there? Okay.

So I basically wasted my youth doing all the things I ought not to have done, like reading Eliot and Shakespeare and stuff. And all that while, I kept my hair firmly in check, prefering the austere cut of a close crop to the flowing flagrant denial of self-discipline.

So one day I decided to not go to my barber and all, and see which way hair grows when you leave it to its own black (for the moment) will.

The first month had nothing substantial to offer in terms of change and such, apart from the fact that inexorably, I found fitting my head into my helmet more and more difficult. You see, while God has blessed yours truly with as negligible a quantity of grey matter as can safely be doled out without impacting his binomial nomenclature, He has ensured that no one notices by supplying a most intensely cuticulated scalp. With time and Nature's changing course untrimm'd, the combined bulk of head and hair growingly refused to fit into the helmet built for one. This led to a preference, where possible, to biking sans helmet, leading, in turn, to wildly disheveled hair and a grossly grisly beard. Yes, that one is there too!

The second month led to excruciating minutes spent before the mirror, trying to figure out which way to comb / press / fold the heady mop such that it did not look like a hoover sack after a rather comprehensive cleaning operation. And yet, some lock somewhere or the other would spring right up ... embarrassing to the extreme, I tell you! This led to more and more sessions of combing / pressing / folding per diem, something completely alien to me. Suddenly I grew more and more conscious of the stares from the public. I tried on a swagger for effect, but that made me look more like a roadside romeo hoping to get picked up by some nymphomaniac who cheats on -- or cheats under -- her milkman, among other people...

And then i tried out oil, and the effects were disastrous, and i terminated the experience, as they say, with extreme prejudice. Rivers of godaloneknowswhat drooled down ... yeugh!

Some of my more evil friends began suggesting alternative ways of keeping my hair in place. Try gel, said one; go for a nice hair band, said another ... after all, Abhishek B has one. A guy with a hairband ... like a ... ummm ... never mind. No ways.

My less evil friends, of course, took to sniggering, at times, accompanied by pointing and all. Jerks.

And then one day, the staring began. Like I said when I began, the fairer sex has always thought me weird (Don't blame them really.) But the more hirsute version of our species has been more on the tolerant side, passing me by without even a glance. Normal types. Imagine my consternation when, one morning, i found them staring at me as i passed. Once could be rotten choice; twice could be coincidence; thrice was fatal. I slunk about in the darker corners of my office till the evening that day. There was only one thing left to do.

The barber welcomed me with open arms, of course, like a mother welcoming her errant offspring to the hearth. Twenty minutes of sleep later, I emerged, trimmed and cut down to size. I had learnt my lesson.

So now I know what it takes to grow those tresses. But I still don't, really. The difference, of course, is that I no longer care. Just to ensure i did the right thing, i caught up with one of my more long-haired friends, and asked him what he did to grow the hair, and how he keeps it in shape. He took a deep breath and proceeded to deliver a lecture on hair upkeep that is too indecently long and indecently populated with adverbs and expletives of a wide variety to print. So I shall resist the temptation to share the verbal and emotional feast with you.

You can get your own flavor ... grow your own hair, and tell some one else what you think of it. Once you get there, you do not need to search for words and all, I am told. They suggest themselves; ripe, juicy, and apt! A feast for the ear and delight for the imagination!

If, by some weird quirk for fate, you happen to have long hair, and are still reading it, my barber lives close by, and offers a discount if you promise to let him take off all the stuff on your head. He will sell them to make dog brushes, he says.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Coffee Vending Machines

These guys have it in for me. Period. There is no other conclusion I can draw, no other explanation i can offer for their randomly customized behavior when I stand before them. Whenever i place my mug before them, something must always go wrong. Either the powder won't mix, or the coffee dries up, or the machine quite simply loses its mind and dribbles milk gently down the sides of my cup, and i have to drink tepid coffee without any sugar or milk.

There are some people who like coffee without anything else but water, but I am not one of those, and somewhere down inside its machinery, the dispensing machine knows, and watches and waits patiently until I stand before it, quaking with the fear of the latest prank it's going to play on me. I can cultivate a few tastes, so I live down the coffee-with-water experience, but the milk powder floating on a cupful of water with no coffee in it somehow doesn't work for me. And, as I said above, the vending machine knows.

It all came to a head lately. I've joined this new company that has enough people on its rolls to populate a small country. For obvious reasons, therefore, they do not offer paper cups. You need to go get your mug from the company office. I kinda like coffee, so one of the first things I did once I joined the organization was get in the coffee-mug line, waiting like a parched blade of grass for life-giving rain.

"No mugs left," quoth the lord. "Come next week." And he swiveled his swivel chair on some more pressing task, for which he clearly had supplies.

"A w-what?" I managed to get out in spluttering grief. And then, "Can't something be done?" in more sanitary tones. "You can always get your own mug, you know," the mug-lord said, and resumed puttering on his comp.

That evening I got myself a nice big mug; one that holds two gallons when half full, you know? But I forgot to take the damn thing to work. This last for about a fortnight.

And then one tremendous day I did manage to remember, and I swaggered into the cafeteria. Lemme in, lemme in ... I have a cup.

The vending machine stood smach in the middle of the room, blinking its myriad lights capably. Invitingly? OK, inVItingly. I tried placing the cup below the ummm ... err ... orifice from which it secreted its stuff, but the damn thing wouldn't fit. Compatibility hassles. The mug was too large, or the slot for the mug was too small. But i found that, if I tilted the mug a bit, I coud align it right below the ummm ... source, ok?

Capuccino -- or something like it -- Cafe Frappe, Choco-Coffee, and so on. I gazed, finger in mouth. What do I feel like? Cappu... sounded most delectable. So OK. I pressed the button.

Something clicked deep within the impermeable depths of the little monster, and all sorts of grunting and churning noises began to emanate. Stunned, I looked up at the little monster, expecting it to be heaving and thudding around, emitting balls of fire. But it stood its ground stoically amidst all that sound, like a dedicated research scholar in a library full of fourth-grade students let off because the teacher is absent. I held my mug irresolutely, unsure of whether this was expected behavior. Apprarently it was. Nobody even looked up. At times, you know, there is nothing quite like being ignored.

Some powdery substance fell into my mug, and I heaved a sigh of relief. We were getting somewhere, finally! And then there began a trickle of something brown, and it was turning rapidly white, and it was dropping forth from another aperture, one I had not noticed, falling unerringly into its cute little personal drain. I shifted the mug just in time to capture the last fifteen drops of the coffeee / milk that the machined rationed out while at work.

I withdrew the cup and looked in like a foolish boy who sniffs his slippers to find out what he has stepped into. It looked, and smelt, like coffee, and I could see a few powdery sugar crystals there. I slowly moved away from the machine, wondering what to do with the stuff. I could add some cold water and have something cold that tastes like coffee, but isn't. Or I could simply wash the stuff down in the drain and try again.

And then the machine rumbled again, and clear milk dropped smoothly from it. Fifteen seconds after the coffee? I ran to collect the nectar, and I was kinda successful. I got five full drops.

I stood there, uncertain of the machine's next move. Was it done finally? Or was there more? Milk, in the meanwhile, meandered off the sides of the machine, creating a small puddle of sorts around the table. Damn. Now people were definitely looking at me. Some were smiling; some others stared for a while, gave an imperceptible sad shake of the head, and went back to whatever they were guzzling ... may their coffee turn into soup.

I was genuinely abashed. I daren't place that mug on the table, for, if someone were to amble past and look at that semi-solid mixture in my cup, wonder what he -- or worse, she -- would think. I held that mug in my hand and ran to get some napkins to clean up. I had deposited three napkins in the mess, and the milk showed no signs of drying up. Instead, it soaked up the napkins that now lay gleaming with milk, soaked to their respective gills.

Luckily for me, a maintenance person passed by, and scurried forth with a sponge and bucket. He gave me one filthy look that questioned in a split second my credibility within the office, my gall to use the vending machine, and the weird species from which I sprang forth. I gave him a curt thank you, and sauntered off to the sink. Without thinking, I quaffed off the stuff in my cup, and almost spat it out. It tasted horrid!! I washed my face, the mug, and the sink, in that order, and stalked out of the cafeteria, daring anyone to say a word.

No one did, but as I turned round the corner, i could have sworn I heard someone titter.

Jerks. Those machines, I tell you!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Benz Experience

Just been through the Mercedes Benz A-class-to-S-class experience, and I can only say I have seen nothing even remotely like it. Now that could be because I haven't seen much (which, incidentally is not completely untrue!) or simply because the thing really rocks. The link really deserves a separate line. So:

What blows my mind is the amount of thought that has gone into the work on each letter. Every single presentation is a perfect marketing pitch. Precise content focused on what the customer needs, and how the feature concerned offers the best in its line. The animation in the fore (assuming animation is a part of the "text") / back (assuming it isn't: work it your way!)ground contextualizes and enhances the message. And the best thing of all ... no technical stuff! My only crib ... I ain't no Sheikh. Or I'd have bought myself a fleet or two.

Another thing I find interesting is the element of surprise. Each presentation behaves differently, and I was like ... what's gonna happen now. And when it did happen, it was like Wow!!

On a slightly different note, the entire experience makes a very telling statement on how the nature of communication has changed for us. Text, design, animation and sound intermingle to create an experience that is as edifying as it is entertaining. The back-end: technology. Multidisciplinarity really getting into the groove now, ladies and gentlemen, look sharp now! Mark C Taylor had this book called Imagologies published a few years ago. When I read that book, it was more like yeah, that way lies the future. But the past few years have so revolutionized communication, I have very serious doubts. We live in an age of rapid evolution, and euphoria and wonder need to give way to innovative improvisation. What are we going to do with what we got?

How about novels that tell the story with the background animated and sound effects bolstering the tale. That could do wonders for Wuthering Heights, don't you think? But how would you sell them? This opens another pandora's box of copyright issues, illegal copying, etc. If we are to offer our new Wuthering Heights as an online thing, web access, software requirements, etc. open up another plethora of issues. Writers will no longer need to go for reading sessions; writers will no longer write their novels. They will need to have an extremely well-qualified team reading the manuscript, figuring out what each nuance means, deciding which nuance they want to go with, and the writer needs to sit in with the gang and watch his book explode in size, scope, and format; while his message shrinks to a movie that can only be told one way ... or can it? One could go on ... but there.

'Wonder what they paid the team that built that Merc thing though!!!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Excuse of a Post

I haven't posted anything here for very long now, and I had promised myself that I shall put in something at least once a week! This is simply not done. Ratting on promises made to others is what drives civilization; I am all for that. But ratting on one's promises own to oneself is something I frown on, like all civilized citizens of august mettle. Ergo, this excuse for a blog.

I hereby write in this blog that I haven't anything to write about, and have neither the wit, nor the patience to think up something new and churn out something even remotely palatable.

I wonder what people do when they want to write (or have to write), but can't for nuts think of anything worth writing about. What do you do then?

You lemme know!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Culinary Lament

The more I taste of curd and cheese,
And others of that ilk,
The more it grieves my heart to think
What man has made of milk.

Thursday, March 1, 2007


sleepy silky smooth and slow
turning slowly with the flow
winded intertwined and yet
long unwinded softly spread
under shadesun interplaying
wakasleep in spring noondaying
loning lie somnullent glow
waving breezes touch and go.

crystal blue the sparkle sky
cotton clouds and you and I
bumblebees that land or drone
while the peepuls creak and moan
crickets somewhere close at hand
birds a pecking on the land
rustling grasses leaves that fly
in the breeze that gentles by.

Friday, February 23, 2007

My First Blog

'Thought I'd begin by saying why I call my blog Digressions. I believe that language offers the human mind the tools and the space to create, or rather, to re-create himself. In the mill of the world, we do what we get to do. However, one is elsewhere. The heart longs for that space of ideas and glow that is uniquely its own. And thus, in a world dominated by practical whys and wherefores, one needs at times to veer off the line carved in stone, as it were, to claim that MomentSpot in TimeSpace as ones own.

This is just a moment, and, unless a miracle happens, shall not balloon into a new world; and yet, it exists. A digression for all its mite, yet more the digresser than the usual work of a lifetime!

This, then, is the drive behind this blog: to virtually register as a digresser and to say, "What I do is what I do, but this is what I am!"

I think of Robert Frost speaking of getting away from the matter-of-factness of existence, using a birch tree as a combined vehicle for "both going and coming back."

"May no fate wilfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again."

In my land, there are no birches; virtual digressions of verbal diarrhoea need to suffice for the moment. Fortunately, it appears to work for me.

So this is the promise: There shall be digressions posted as regularly as they occur. Read them not as bits of gyaan spilled over by some over-aggressive bossy wiseguy, but as rambling bits of stuff that quintessentialize the need of the human mind to go swinging off to someplace he has no practical reason going... and yet must!

One could do worse than be a swinger of birches!

Why Does Man Need Literature?

Left to itself, our species is one that believes in survival at the cost of everything else. And this characteristic is not unique to us. Survival of the fittest is the rule of nature. Only the strongest, the fleetest, the smartest have survived. The rest have dwindled into oblivion, “by chance, or nature’s changing course untrimm’d.” The ecological circle demands it be so, and we comply.

The same drive for self-preservation, however, has led to the decimation of the jungle within which the entire exercise of violent defense was perpetrated, for lack of a better method of survival. Concrete jungles of soaring sky-scrapers have evolved, and in these impregnable dens, man sits and lives in redolent luxury. All the animals that ever posed a threat to the species have either been decimated or imprisoned in zoos and “wildlife parks”. But man still needs to reckon with other powerful animals around him: Others of his species.

Prizes have changed; the fight continues unabated. Better lives, prettier wives, more money, more property, higher designations…. man fights man more fiercely, more violently than ever before. The world has already witnessed two world wars… more are on the anvil. Stay with us… the worst is yet to come. Hell shall freeze over.

On the road, cars cut into cars; drivers curse loudly, buses refuse to give way and hog the entire road. Disease? No. Symptoms. There is violence in the air, and man is trapped in a gyre of increasing hatred, violence and sadistic pleasure. A simple accident leads to abnormally flared tempers and fist cuffs blossom into full-fledged blood baths. The heart itches for a fight; pines for it, and the soul craves the freedom it’s lost.And yet we survive. Man has not decimated his own species yet. Something holds him back; saves him from shooting like a comet into the sun of extinction that lures him constantly using the same drive that got him going. In thy beginning is thy end, Adam!

What preserves us? What mollifies our desire, our almost undeniable need – so strong it pains in the lungs – for self-annihilation that threatens to send us whirling into an abyss of contented death? It is a corpus of dicta, axioms that tell us what is on and what isn’t. “thou shalt not!” said the ‘Lord’. Palliatives of a wider variety than confronts a wide-eyed child at the candy store lie displayed around us, and we pick and choose. Syrupy messages in dulcet media to lull the senses, sweet savories and spice to make us want to persist in our folly of breathing… the world is charged with the wool that is pulled over our eyes. The biggest industry in the world? Enter-tainment! Sports, cinema, television, theatre, radio, computers with multimedia drivers, thousands of mp3s and online games, and the biggest abomination of them all: cell phones that offer all sorts of absurdities: cameras and games and variety of alerts and what not! We wrap ourselves in luxury to dull the grinding gnashing violence boiling over all around us.

Of all the palaver that traps us in our bodies, the root lies in what passes for literature. The day the first man thought “Now that my food is cooked, let me stretch my hand to the fire and garner some heat I don’t really need,” literature was born. Literature is the voice of leisure, the voice of the celebration of man’s victories over his opponents. Literature is the repository of what has happened. Literature is gyaan palatably packaged. “The right word in the right place,” quoth Robert Frost, one of its more celebrated perpetrators. To smite hardest when it is most necessary, methinks. Literature packages the wisdom of the ages, the insight of our forefathers and that of other’s forefathers, who still make us all want to live on despite hating each other by turning our minds towards abstractions and ideals and that killer concept: beauty!

Why write at all? Why create these masterpieces of deception? Milton, one of the most fluent liars of this class responds: To justify the ways of God to man. God needs justification? To Man? God wants him out of the way, so he can get on with the task of sending the planet another deluge. Long time no sea! God does not need justification. We do. Why have we not killed each other yet? Because my love needs to live, say the romantics. Because life is hell, howl the existentialists. Because that is all we’ve got, moan the realists. Because momma’s in purgatory, and until she’s able to find her way into the inferno that ought to be her inevitable telos, I cannot digest my soup. Bosh! I need to live because if I die, a better shall come to roost over the Earth. A better? On my Earth?! On your life, may be… not on mine! So fine… I shan’t kill you if you don’t kill me… come… we’ll both sit and read Shakespeare!

“The opium of the masses,” said Nietszche, referring to the pathetic concatenation of sauce and soup; shady: Hot like summer; cold like winter! What we need is not literature. We need Superman; we need Alladin’s gjinn; we need “a two fisted humdinger… a bona fide supraman!” Who needs that shady Swinburne crap anyways!!! Damn Swinburne; damn literature… and damn… errr… ummmm… Shall we read some Shakespeare? :D

Achilles and the Scooterist: A Tableau

Consider, gentle reader, the little weevil of a distracted scooterist you see at the forefront of the line of slaves, waiting for the light to turn green. Notice the spotlessly clean, creased and cuffed gear resplendent on his person. Take in, too, the well-groomed right hand revving restlessly at the accelerator, eagerly awaiting the signal like a horse at the races. He’ll slam through the traffic in a moment now, young, powerful, impetuous and throbbing, like his 150-cc minion. Two like-minded bodies, brothers-at-war against the rest of the pretenders on the road; rulers, both: warriors of the road, princes of their clans, unbeatable, indefatigable, completely, well and truly intrepid… or are we missing something? Where’s that not too well shod heel in this Achilles of a warrior that knows no fear, this intrepid Zeus of the gleaming tarmac, this slick, quick, fearless seeker of the bubble reputation even in the mouth of the redoubtable crossroads?

Glance at your watch, indulgent peruser, and you shall see that heel glaring and gleaming in all its but-of-course-ness. The sun’s begun peeping already from behind the tall building looming cheerfully in the background, full of glass windows and displays and offices crammed to the full with gentlefolk switching on their systems for the day. Isn’t it time Achilles got to his workstation too? We all think so, and so does Achilles. Shoot straight, shoot hard and shoot low, Paris, and suddenly, the Zeus of the road shows up from behind the glare of the godly for what he is: a mortal, alas, revving to meet the electronic doors before they slide shut with the boss man tapping his foot behind it.

Gently engirdling his impeccably ironed collar, pray find a gleaming chain, golden in the sun, golden, actually under every species of light, and not gold still. The chain disappears inside his pocket, where a laminated card proclaims his identity to the electronically-secured security locks that jam with surprising uniformity the fragile glass doors in software firms all over the solar system. But you already know this, of course! Mortal chafes at the chain, utilizing its eminently handy location to scratch at that precise point where the shirt collar, in connivance with the pinstripe tie, grazes the neck real bad and causes an itch that no Achilles could ignore.

What polished heels are these that reduce Achilles to mortality! What gleaming leashes that make willing – and yet chafing -- pets of men “who once strode with gods”! The “prince of pets” hoots, mindless of these ponderous questions, shifts gear, and tears down the taunting tarmac, with the entire pack hurtling right behind him in panting pursuit.

Let us leave the race to its fate for the moment. He shall make it anyway. Signals or none, that slab of glass shall not close without Achilles sipping coffee behind it while his system boots up. Courtesy the company, of course.


When days drag their long hours through,
And nights are short, and sultry too,
When brains are set on fire by heat
Can think no more; the heart looks beat,
When 'Sagars dry and trees turn sere,
You can bet that summer's 'ere.

No lilies bloom among these parts,
No love strikes root in torrid hearts
And sweat and dust all ply their trade
And flowers bloom and quickly fade,
Give not then roses in the warm:
Show love with fruit juice, fleet is form.

Melons mast and mangoes ripe
Devour in dozens for your life!
And when you see the juice-cart pass,
Give of your change for a sherbet glass.
Fulfilling true and life preserving,
Of change and more so well deserving!

Forget the tale that pesticide
They say is used to make 'em ripe.
Ripe and sweet whene'er you find'em,
Bite or squeeze or suck or grind'em.
Taste, and their exquisite flavor
And their cooling power, savor.

Rains shall come when it is time,
Have your patience, sing your rhyme
In praise of summer and the juice
That beats the dryness with its ooze.
Come come, and crib not that the day
Is ruining your make-up for today.

Keep hairy brushes off your face,
And leave of fatty creams no trace;
And here's a tip for the fashion conscious
Go for smooth and shiny tonsures!
Give the sun as good as you get
And keep on giving till it set.
With growing numbers and reflection,
We'll get the Sun to change direction
Guide the starlet on its way
To Europe, or the USA!

So then we have the juice we need
While we have got rid of the heat
And then, let flowers bloom and grow,
And ladies let their makeup show
We'll import mangoes from the west
Where folks'll wear lungi and vest...
Now that was truly truly creepy
The heat has got my head -- I'm sleepy.
I'm done with what I had to say
(And that was "Nothing," by the way)
So you can now get back to work
And stop reading my rhymeless rhyme.
Senseless too, as an afterthought

Get off me, silly!


I still remember how, as a student at college, and later at the university, and even later, as a teacher at a school and again, later as a trainer, when I'd come back from work / class, I'd have only two or three things to divest myself of before i could say i was home. There was the hanky, the change in my pocket, my bus pass, and I was done. And now, when I get back home, there are at least ten things I deposit from my person on to the concerned shelf. Suddenly I realize that my life has got much more complicated than it had ever been earlier. I do not know if I am to rue the "development" or to celebrate the additional burden that my pockets get to carry. One thing, however, is for sure: I carry much more weight today, and I am not sure it is a good thing.

Tons of things I carry that I ought not to, or have no need for. I know, and yet I never leave home without 'em. Stuff them in their designated pockets and deposit them in their designated place once home. And then there are things that serve just about the same purpose. My right lower front pocket holds a cell phone that also tells me the time (whatever that means!), and yet, I have a watch. Convenience, I guess, but one organ's convenience is another organ's pain. And so it has ridden.

Ironically, the "guest equipment" in my list is one that once symbolized what I do: write. My pen finds a place either in my right back pocket or in my left shirt pocket if I see it on my shelf when I leave before it is too late to turn away. I almost never use it. Weird.

I am still the same, yet everything around me has changed so drastically that I am very much convinced that I have changed too. My friends no longer discuss music, films, and hair styles; they now discuss cars and home loans and such. Surely, if my peers have changed, and I do not find them staring at me as one would at a complete anachronism, I am positive I have changed too.

And then again, in some respects, I still am the same. I still find the topics for prevalent discussion either boring or completely irrelevant; I still do not like myself, and most of the folk I know, and still, as in the past, I tolerate them, and they are kind to me. Where's this going?

Acquired impediments mar my path in my own house, and slowly, my house has begun to look like a techno-museum, like a nightmare. And I don't use them all that too often either! And yet, there they are, clean, waiting for the power to be switched on so they can ply their trade.

People spot errors in my work, and I spot errors in their work, and together we generate a more advanced set of new errors. I sit on my workstation and correct the typos and solipsisms that mar my own work, fully realizing that notwithstanding all this labor, there'll still be at least a few thousand other errors and solipsisms staring open-mouthedly at me when I glance at the work next.

My bike farts at the world on the way home, and mingles with the thousands of other vehicles that fart their fume at the air. And in the circumambulant gaseous envelope we inhabit, their multifarious farts mingle and rise and cover the stars at night. Over and over and over. Yay baby!!

I wonder what should happen if trees ran. You know, stoop low, collect and clutch all its fruits from the ground into its branches and flee at the sight of a human being.

I ought to I ought to I ought to I ought to I ought.

The human back does not bend of itself; we bend it with the load of memories of thinking what could have been.


So Now What?

I wish I were a photographer,
So I could cup that fleetsecond away
Leaves falling in a silent wood wintry
Breathy nose pressing to clear glass a-dad-awaiting
Droplet leaping from drop dripped into crystal water
And I could cup that fleetsecond away.

But I have no machine for nowcapture
I have the past: photocopies of what hasn’t been
And vibrant cumhithers of what could have
I pervade my shoot,
And I hate capture
Of all things I hate.

Leaves fall, in the meantime
In a wood which has no me,
And the spidersweb glistens with accumulated dew
Elsewhere in the saffron glow of a distant morn.