Friday, January 15, 2016

More on the Table

While I take some time to come up with more here, do check out another project I've been working on. Rustic Roaming catalogues my time in the villages of India, while I'm here as part of my rural stint for 2 months.
I update it a lot more frequently (promise).

Sunday, November 8, 2015


I woke up this morning, and realised,
the romance in me had died, sometime in the night.
It was a peaceful demise,
Like a death from starvation, disease, old age,
Just wasting away behind the scenes, without a fight.

I am no longer the ashes on my pillow,
Just memories moving through a murky past,
The sinews of my being move me to look away from the remains,
Afraid to know if it was an end he deserved,
But I think he would have liked that.

I move on with my being,
Taking pleasure from what is here and now,
A cold drop of water pleases more my shoulder,
Than the scribblings of a mind, fevered,
With visions beyond mankind,
With sweat on his brow.

The bed lies empty as I come back,
The room frozen in a wanton sigh,
I clasp the folds of the blanket, afraid,
Of a shroud debased by my existence,
To lay down my head, and cry.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


The alarm rings. My hand flails in the dark for the phone on the countertop, to turn it off. One eye opens crookedly, as if remembering the existence of light, and peeks across the bed to the edge of the screen. No messages.
The second alarm rings. This time, the hand knows where the sound comes from, and turns it off in a second. The erstwhile lazy eye betrays me though, and hoping against hope looks again at the screen. No messages. I get up, and get ready for the day.
The hand, smelling faintly of aftershave, grabs the shirt from the hangar. The shoes are scrubbed and worn, as the eyes look askance at where the phone is charging. No messages.
The tummy, quite full from breakfast, waddles merrily on its way to work. It flutters as the lady at the security check asks for the phone while it passes through the kiosk. It sinks when it reaches the other side. No messages.
The sound of a message. A camera couldn't tell if the hand reached out faster than the eye turned, but it was clear that disbursers of an instant pre-approved loan were the only ones who appreciated his existence.
Lunch passes. The lips faff to the boss, explaining why they're behind on work. And the phone beeps. "Not now", says the skin. "Not this moment when I mustn't", it tries to bargain. But a beeping phone must be read, and the angry boss shouts to the face, storms away, looking a distinct hue of purple, as the eyes cloud for a second, delete the message, and get back to work.
The sound of a call. Gingerly, the hands reach out and answer. The ears hear the sound of mother, asking again when I would be home.
I pass the bridge on the way back home. A movement catches a corner of the eyes. They look across over the rails, and find nothing. Probably a rat. They look at the phone. No messages.
They look back at the rails. The distance to the ground must be about 6 metres. About 2 seconds to hit the ground. About 5 to climb over the ledge. About 40 seconds to the train passing beneath the bridge when the ears first hear it approaching.
The legs want to go home, but the eyes holds them back. The hands reach out to the ledge. It is cold from the evening rain, like her body the last time they held her. The eyes close tight, shutting out the memory. The legs step closer. The train draws near.
The eyes look down. The legs find themselves on the way back home. The hands reach inside the pocket and take out the phone. No messages. The tear hits the screen where there should have been words.

Saturday, July 11, 2015


Don't act like you don't know me. I'm that man from the backalleys of your brain. Yes, that very same guy! The decrepit being who goes through the vicissitudes of life thinking a longer and more convoluted word, wrapped in a compound sentence filled with reactionary double-entendres is the only way to say it right. 

The one who thinks he deserves the woman he loves simply by virtue of being the only one not making any outright effort to get her, in a sea of men looking to make her feel special. The one who believes that every woman deserves to be fallen in love wih, and leads the crusade by example. The one who sees himself seek solace in the sound of a typewriter rather than in the company of her who he so desperately finds himself craving. Too classy to be vulnerable, and too timid to dominate; or so he tells himself.

Life becomes a lot easier to tolerate, once you get past this arbitrary concept of it being "fair". That the universe has nothing better to do than to operate at the scale of your existence, and for some sort of balance, so that you do "good" out of compulsion, or a cosmic sense of transaction, than for any reason other than to secure your own existence, and justify your lifestyle to the beggar in the backalley, hunting for alms, from your wallet, and your fortitude.

That man, meanwhile, has started to realise that all is not well. Pinned down, and unable to break free, he is enraged at his status, and dives for change. The weight of his personality bears down on him, but he does not acknowledge defeat; pleading with his existence to not give up, even offering his happiness in exchange. The elongated, moribund period ensues, where a desperate, clinging hope for that fate that your upright, non-threatening, comforting existence "deserves"; only until a realisation dawns, that deserving doesn't exist. And then there is peace.

The one that always reaches beyond the three walls in the hope of a kindred "spirit", for want of a better word.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


It's that festival again, and try as I might, my mind wanders back to this day two years ago, in a three-bedroom house in a nine-storied building, with the smell of rajma and sounds of laughter coming from within. It was a nicer time, with friends separated by walls, not time zones; estranged lovers come back to meet; an evening of shopping for kurtas and talks of mulmul pajamas; and no sign or warning that soon you would be celebrating this day alone, fevered, bereft of the happiness only the presence of almost everyone you love being around you can bring.

I've searched for the meaning of this love in many places; from the deepest of drug-induced psychoses to the desperate, lingering sensuality in the crumpled folds of a bedsheet. Nothing. It just seems to be one of those fundamental flaws of being born as this species: that no matter how much you try, some memories always remain, some to fondly remind and some to haunt you out of the merest shred of sleep for days.

Maybe it was a bad idea to leave. I would have felt better had I stayed and watched the schism till the end, instead of being the first to jump ship. How long can a need for affiliation stand in the way of ambition? I can only hope there will be several times and places where we'll all meet again, but maybe that fourth flaming shot of vodka in the living room at 4 AM, dragging a suitcase across a tiled floor littered with coffee mugs half-full of cheap wine, hastily-changed clothes and people passed out on bean bags was the last time it would ever be. How weird that I still think everyone in that house that night would be there at my funeral service, whenever that might be. Maybe as long as its in a convenient location that doesn't need them to take a day off from work. Or face too much traffic. I don't even know if anyone else even cared enough to spare a second thought about what was just another drunken night. Maybe it was right that tears were brimming as I got into the taxi that night. If the past is anything to go by though, I'll never know.

Bliss is ignorance, and the bane of a man whose only solace in himself is thought. Take my wretchedness away, and I'm just a bumbling buffoon satisfied with everything thrown my way. Ha. Try explaining that to the woman you've been in love with for the last five years, and couldn't hold a conversation with the only time you met. While you're at it, remind yourself why you can never be with her, or any other woman you love, if their very presence drives away the person that drew them to you in the first place.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Reel Life

Ever since I was a kid, a "good" movie always had a clear definition: one that made you think something you hadn't thought before, and one that made you want to be part of it; as the protagonist or one of the leads in some of them, or just a curious observer in others.

Growing up, try as I might, I still can't rid myself of that second definition. In fact, the only that has changed with the passage of time is the level of detail I can create around a world which, in the reel world, offers little information out of the ordinary. It's childish, and maybe the vicariousness of it all is slightly depraved, but it still keeps one of the nicer things about movie-watching intact: that there are people in this world who have a similar pattern of thought.

The latest flick to afflict me in such a way was The Perks of Being a Wallflower. A lazy evening with not much to look forward to the next day resulted in an uninterrupted watch, one of the more memorable ones lately. And even though I have never had quite as much to deal with, haven't been quite as thoughtful in falling in love for the first time, or been quite as good a writer, there was still that tiny corner that made you want to be part of that universe where there was unstated understanding among friends and an ability of everyone to contribute.

It's a good movie; one of those that makes you wonder what you're doing with your life in a world where people make so much of theirs.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

And when did you last go to Goa?

And when did you last go to Goa? When was the last time you decided to break off all connection with the rest of humanity and go wandering off among the waves; the sea and the sand your only refuge as you made your own lonely way to peace and salvation? When was it that you thought you had had enough of living your life through the lens of someone else's perception and decided you had to get back in touch with the only person in the world whose actions you wouldn't first be cynical about before accepting?

I last went to Goa when I had faith in myself. When, through some series of fortunate events, I had ended up having the confidence to believe in my existence and a rainbow across the promised land where I would have lived the way I always thought of myself as having envisioned to be.

When I had a basis of survival, and something had reminded me that no experience in the world is undergone in isolation; that there always have been and always will be people who have lived and lost and thought the way you have, at least in the context you're thinking now.

When I also realised that I was the only one who would feel the sum total of my existence, and there was possibly no one who would go through all that I have, in the exact same manner I would, and yet behave the same way I did. And I felt some solace in that.

It was when I realised there is no such thing as unrequited, or for that matter "pure" or "virtuous" love. That love was a consequence of loneliness and insecurity put together, and everyone in love was afraid of precisely those two things.

When I believed firmly that drinking alone was perhaps the only idea that in itself was "bad", and that decrepitude in itself was nothing to be proud of. Before I topped that cold water bottle off with Old Monk and realised that everything, including decrepitude, was what some people would expect you to sell to the world and that each time you felt you died a little inside was a moment to bask in the glory and adulation of those whose souls fetched a value they thought was slightly less.

When the world (or Goa) was my oyster, a tough shell to crack just waiting for experiences to happen, stories to tell, and people to meet and befriend for the rest of you life. And then some more stories to tell.
When I had self confidence. When I was sure what I wanted to say would come across the way I said it, and the way the person I was addressing wanted it heard.

When I believed in happiness.