Parting is such sweet sorrow

It really is…….  Hidden somewhere in the bittersweet twang of forsaking the familiar and comforting, is a hint of pungent hope, mixed with the uncanny aftertaste of curiosity. It is difficult to catch – this apprehension that comes with leaving a city one has come to call home. It’s refreshing, even. It is not very different from the restless ecstasy of newfound love. But then again, many before me have written beautiful things about how a city is as distinctive and unique as a person. Berger comes to mind immediately –

“Every city has a sex and an age which have nothing to do with demography. Rome is feminine. So is Odessa. London is a teenager, an urchin, and in this hasn’t changed since the time of Dickens. Paris, I believe, is a man in his twenties in love with an older woman.”

I do not know, yet, who Delhi is. The first date was brief, but promising. Bombay, of course, defies definition. Feisty, vibrant, dreamy, romantic and tender, all at once. I believe she is old, mature; not a swaddling infant for sure, nor adolescent or naive. But then, describing Bombay would take several lifetimes. And I’m nowhere close to being a Berger, so I’ll focus my efforts on the present, and specifically, my immediate future.

As I was winding things up in the city I had come to love so much, I kept thinking about being alone. Something that I’m really, really looking forward to, in dilli, is my own space – physical, or otherwise.

Har koi chahata hain ek mutthi aasman

This move is my wager, for my own little fistful of sky. An autonomy of sorts. Freedom. I have over the years, saved little trinkets, gifts, even ideas, for when I will have a house I can call my own (for now rented, but eventually, I hope to have my own – still not sure where, though. I have an inkling it will be in south india). I’ve been searching for an answer to the incessant, annoying buzz – of people, parents particularly, other well meaning individuals, traffic, noise, congestion, and the general claustrophobic effect any space can have – lower parel, the crick in the neck of this impossible city, is the perfect example of this. I know this will not be that – because things seldom pan out the way we imagine they should. Truly, the idea that you have little or no control over anything, is a deeply liberating one. Students of the humanities, I believe, learn this very quickly – a certain comfort with uncertainty. It is liberating, because it allows you the gift of fearlessness.

From rupture is born beauty. Never from structure, or order.

That is what I hope to create, in this little moment of rupture. Beauty. and art.

Aloneness, and sometimes, loneliness, are close first cousins of art. I would go as far as to say as they are essential to the process. Pamuk put it beautifully in his nobel speech –

“A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is: when I speak of writing, what comes first to my mind is not a novel, a poem, or literary tradition, it is a person who shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and alone, turns inward; amid its shadows, he builds a new world with words……….To write is to turn this inward gaze into words, to study the world into which that person passes when he retires into himself, and to do so with patience, obstinacy, and joy. As I sit at my table, for days, months, years, slowly adding new words to the empty page, I feel as if I am creating a new world, as if I am bringing into being that other person inside me, in the same way someone might build a bridge or a dome, stone by stone. The stones we writers use are words.”

(read the complete speech here if you haven’t already –

I resonate completely with Pamuk. I enjoy playing with those stones. Maybe I differ with his final objective. He talks about building bridges or domes. I don’t really want to build though. I want to throw them back. With vengeance sometimes. Back into the sea, or the callous crowd that has come to watch the world explode before them. The best artists, deep in their hearts, are anarchists. Even Pamuk has a defiant strain of protest and critique in his work. It is, of course, the artists and creators who create the texts, monuments, cultural artefacts and memes that we call history. They do so, with a deep sense of the self*, sometimes, in isolation.

I feel that this is the first thing that children should be taught. Many of us learn it much later. We live in denial, or just pretending it is not true. But it’s there, as insistent as Poe’s beating, murderous heart.

In the final analysis, all said and done, we’re alone, deeply, irreparably so.

The internet, of course, and social media is one gigantic calculated attempt to remedy that.

At least here, we can be alone together.


A friend once told me that I become the people I love. That I am a combination of these people, and it is almost as if I bring them forward in my performance of self at different times – either unconsciously, or consciously.

This is true. I’ve said before that I am everyone I’ve ever met. Every piece of art I’ve ever admired. Every experience I’ve had. We are all. But I become like the people I love. I know this. And so it is that I’ve ended up filling up the spring from where beauty and meaning emerge, with those I love.

It is those people who have held me by the hand, sometimes even lifted me on their own frail shoulders, or reprimanded me for straying. They have led me to this promising new beginning.

It is of them that I think, standing before the gates of an unexplored promised land. As I breathe in the dusty air, and listen to the bells of cyclists interspersed with trafficsnarl, I cannot help but smile.

As the old Chinese boon/curse goes….

may you live in interesting times


*There is a moment when this becomes inseparable from the world. That is when art becomes religion. and that is the altar at which I place my faith. Until I see that goddess (she is evasive, like all unattainable muses), I am a happy pilgrim, making my way through the shrines of others who have been there.


Posted in ananth, beauty, Bombay, City, community, I Quote, I want to ride my bicycle, It is written, kaha gaye woh din, nasha, nostalgia, picture abhi baaki hain mere dost, the apocalyptic real, traffic, vignettes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Palolem affair

The gathering night clutches
the folds of her robe
as she looks out into the moonless dark…

an impregnable roar echoes
the anguish,
the solitude of the sea


Solitary queen
In the high castle
she craves distraction

there is a practiced calm about him

a passive aggressive grunt
slips out
and breaks into

we sit and watch
them whisper

the sea
seasoned conquistador
charming raconteur
brings backs stories

and explodes into
sudden thundering guffaws


night blushes

coy, impressionable,

smitten by
his dark, mysterious,
vaguely majestic

her eyes
sparkling, wondrous


we sit there
and sip our drinks

unsure where
to look



Posted in ananth, beauty, Could be verse, epiphany, I want to ride my bicycle, Lou, nasha, nature, night, poetry, the beauty myth, vignettes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Darbaar Sahib




you have to peel off religion

one translucent skin after another

finding god

is drawing blood

the knife goes in slowly
black, viscous, slimy

faith oozes out

and then

it happens

as sudden as thought

or sleep

the knife turns

and seals the deal.

it’s done.

you’ve sold your soul
to an empty promise,
to nobody, to nothing

for everything

what’s more

it’s a one way street


I’m still searching;
a tired ploughman,
waiting for the rains,

the divine harvest

an archaeologist
in search
of the lost country of the mind,
or the mindless
or the godly

or the godless

I am not alone

in this archaeology

of desire


I sit and gaze around
taking a deep breath
befor plunging again

into myself


the marble floor
warms their soles,
the breeze whispers

sweet nothings to

the fish,
that patrol

the tank

chowkidars to

his darbaar,

the tank

is a fakir,

dance of in-breath,
out-breath in

unruffled repose

the ripples break into
an invisible, antique
smile on his


a face
that has suffered
the trudge
of millions of searching

feet, and awe-struck gazes.

peaceful at last
this monkey in a zoo,
this vate,
has settled

for the quiet life

the moon
is a sliver
cut out
of the black fabric

of this night

humble offering

to the radiant one

a voice 
carved with
the serrated breath
of a dying tree’s
withering bark

murmurs incantations.


without suffering

god doesn’t throw grass,

they say;

so the trudge continues

eyes peeled towards the glint

of ethereal gold

– a slice of moon
congealed at the heart

of the sacred pool


I dig deeper
back bent
mind burdened
with the impossibility
of my desire
for truth

for freedom

for affirmation
that my quest

is bigger than me


As the evening arati begins
everybody stands
I stand
with them

and wait

Some wash vessels
Some help clean
Some serve food that
Some eat at the Langar
Some sit by the pool
Some sit by the shrine
Some by the book as it is being read
Some take a dip in the pool
Some take selfies
Some sit and gossip
(it sruck me that the first level was
an absolutely divine place for an adda)
Some play with their phones
Some make faces at the fish

Some chant the words of god

Everybody goes back satiated

from his darbaar
nobody goes back

empty handed 


I sit by the side
of the corridoor
of his house
unable to see
or think

or know


the sacred pool beckons,
the lights reflecting off

the golden domes blink

at my



temples are beautiful places
until you bring religion into them
Posted in ananth, beauty, City, community, Could be verse, epiphany, hmmm, ilham, nasha, nature, night, poetry, sacredisprofane, the beauty myth, why? | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Protected: aranya #12: Rendezvous

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Protected: aranya #11: union

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Posted in aranya, beauty, Could be verse, epiphany, forest, night, Prosepoetry | Tagged , ,

A kind of home

What is a home? Where you can lay your thoughts to rest. One by one. Like folded clothes. Where you can smoothen out the edges of the day’s dog eared pages. And pretend like you are whole again. Where compassion is a fire you don’t have to start all by yourself.
Somebody calls it the place where all attempts to escape cease.
But it’s a decoy. Like a smell that you didn’t notice at first, because you are right at the centre of it. And when it starts to curdle around you, you cannot believe you didn’t smell it before. It’s been there all the time.
The forest hides in the shadows. The ocean spills out of a broken urn. Music slips out of the broken string. And the light of many betrayals illuminates the dust, through the crack of a broken soul. The machine is alive when it’s broken. The system, when there’s a glitch.
Kintsugi is the art of mending broken pottery with gold. But I don’t need gold. All I need is the mismatched, incomplete, artlessness of a journey without end; to know that, really, it’s an illusion.
As Hakim said, chaos never died.
The river has no centre
No real beginning, or end
Its stillness
Is in its movement
I could live with that
A kind of home
Posted in angryfix, Could be verse, One Bad Day, Prosepoetry, why? | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘I’ll tell you all the news

the ocean froths In the empty ghada

a Shrill whisper rises 

Like piss in the stream 
The fawda picks away at the clod
Darknesses converge 

Upon the decaying carcasses 

The dead stink 

Louder than blasphemies 

In the sacred chamber 

And time, 

she laughs
The fawda picks away at the clod
Barbed wire angels 

Guard the arena of the mind 

Left brain right brain 

Left wing right wing

The blind man sees 

What nobody can 

Because he has vision 
The fawda picks away at the clod  
A shadow has fallen over the sky 

The hungry earth is stifled into silence 

Above the beating heart of stone 

Rises the three faced creature of the night 

Yelping fire, bloodless eye 

The bells toll.
They toll for you 

They toll for you. 
The fawda picks away at the clod 


Posted in #poemaday, Atyachar, community, Could be verse, Gothamisation, hmmm, I want to ride my bicycle, It is written, middle class mithya, night, One Bad Day, picture abhi baaki hain mere dost, poetry, why? | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment