Saturday, December 31, 2011

there are things i will remember of this year and things i shall try and forget.
but most importantly, i will remember this year as a year that taught me too many things, perhaps a little more than what i am even capable of learning.
one of the worst and the ugliest fallouts of my life happened this year over something so petty that i dont even remember details any more. what i learnt from it however is that some things are not meant to last, and it is better that way. but most importantly, i should never look back and call it a mistake because i loved the friendship while it lasted and will cherish the good things that came out of it.

losing people is like losing bits of you. so when amma left us this year i felt like a piece of me burnt with her and left behind a very deep scar.but then i figured that one lives with such scars and these scars are finally what you remember people by.i realised you never use "was" when talking of people because they always "are". at least, for sure, i know she is always with me.looking out for me- smiling when i do well, cringing when i eat beef but loving me all the same and still praying that i dont marry out of my religion.

a very long relationship came to a close but it has given me a friend who probably knows me better than anyone else-like the back of his hand. knows that i like postcards and fridge magnets more than chocolates and perfumes.
i met new people this year-people who crept in very quietly and settled themselves comfortably within the leaves of my books, the space between my fingers, the fold of my neck and the gaps within my head. they made up the bits of the year i'll try remembering when i talk of forts and palaces and autos in a desert town.

then there have been the people who i wish to keep with me forever-those faces that i see everyday, the habits i plan my days around, the favourites i have begun to love.these people are like the men in the studios who ask you to sit still, move your head from here to there and help you smile so that the picture doesnt get too blurry.
because too much movement always spoils the mise en scene.

if the coming year is to be an end, then it better be a beautiful one.
a very happy new year to each one of you.

Monday, December 19, 2011

i have always believed in the concept of comfort food. and it is never the same as one's favourite food.
i, for example, love my sugar. so my favourite food generally arrives at the end of every meal. but my comfort food almost never has sugar in it. one could say that comfort food is basically the food one craves for when one groans with fever.
or is too lazy to wake up on a winter morning.
so picture this.
december morning. you know you have overslept so it does not make sense to hurry up and get out of the loving embrace of your blanket.but your your stomach's groaning and you know you need food.and you happen to be living out of your city and may have a bad cold and a blocked nose to go with it.
now, if you could get a person and ask him/her to make you ONE (only one) kind of food. what would it be?
that food, ladies and gentlemen, would (under most circumstances) be your comfort food.of course the food might change depending on the situations you are in, but it is generally ONE food.

for me, generally, it is sheddho bhaat and/or a glass of cold milk with bournvita :)
(sheddho bhaat is basically rice boiled with potatoes and other vegetables) this is of course strange given that i hardly ever eat rice voluntarily. there are other times when it changes to a bar of 5 Star or a bowl or chicken "stew" (the way my ayah made it when i had measles). as you can tell, more often than not, comfort food has to be prepared very specifically- complete with minute details. for example, i will never settle for a 5 Star with nuts in it. it just cant be any stew but that one which she made and served in a plastic blue bowl.
my friends of course have a varied list. while one thinks it is buttered toast with sugar, another sticks to black coffee.
and then i have two friends who are characterised by their love for soggy food.they share their love for this thing they call makha, which is a very gooey and soggy mix of curd/milk with rice/ muri and (wait for it) bananas with lots of sugar.
as you can tell by now, comfort foods are extremely personal choices and often invite the disdain of your larger social circle.

if you still havent figured out what yours is, think about it now.
because they've been known to lend smiles to faces in the darkest times.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Booky Love

There are very few joys that surpass the joy of a new book.
And it has been years since I received a book wrapped in fancy paper and delivered.
Though Flipkart didnt really gift it to me or wrap it up with fancy heart printed paper, the joy of a new book remained unchanged.
Add to that, a cute blue bookmark, a generous discount and that ethereal moment when the nose touches the papery heart of the pages-the moment when you breathe in words and let them swim through the bloody canals of your heart and brain!
Sigh, I love days like these.

p.s: it is true that such a love inspires silly artwork :P

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

We become stories with every little thing we do.
With my walk to the Godavari bus stop, I begin with my cover photograph.
Girl in clothes put together in two minutes-crushed kurta with yesterday's perfume on it and churidars marked with ink stains.A hurried line of kohl in her eyes.
The Nilgiri is for the fancy dedication.
A lovely set of carefully chosen words manicured and pedicured to fit within the brackets of fancy calligraphy.
By the time I have crossed the Kaveri tank and taken the right from the Nehru statue, the roads lay littered with the string of words that my footsteps sing to the road I tread upon.
I turn back and cringe at the litter and heave a sigh of relief when the sweeper's broom brushes them all aside.
I see how all the words stick to the thin sticks of the broom-all held together with a light electrostatic force.
The kind that lets the comb touch the strands of hair for a few seconds more before parting.
I hear a stranger's radio sing,

"...Sheher sunsaan hai, kidhar jaye,
Khaq hokar kahi bikhar jaye..."

It is funny how every little thing we do becomes a story.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Post Writers' Block Post

Here I am.
These days have been good.
I have taken buses to places I had perhaps seen before but had no memory of.
I have seen whole cities built on sandstone and heard stories of the stones.
I have spent a day on a new toothpaste alone and no change of clothes.
And I have seen Gods become soggy lumps of clay on sticks.
Yet, I have lived. And I have loved.

Photo: Pushkar, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Don’t be scared of the forceps, child

Although the knives have been sharpened well.

The needle will only prick for a second,

And you will only bleed for a while.

The steel may pinch your unformed toes

And bring a soft cringe on your slimy forehead.

It’s only a few hours’ doing, child-

Don’t let all the blood scare you.

Your mother will probably heave a sigh

Because this was the way you had to die;

Only from the clanging of metal claws,

Cocooned in mists of injected anaesthetics-

Faraway from the wars we adults fight.

Don’t cry dear child, you’ll be alright.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I dont remember the last time summer was like this.
This reaching of emotional pits, dealing with losses and then going through magic as crazy as this.
There's magic in the flickering of lights at the dead of night, in filling the house with the smell of cakes on the verge of being baked. And then there is some more magic in seeing something for the hundredth time and yet not seeing enough of it.
This summer will always be a summer of ice creams, crazy early mornings, crazier late nights and nibbling at cornflakes and curd.


Thursday, July 28, 2011


there must be some joy in giving into a lie
and then some more in living it.
there must be some joy in telling yourself that it's the truth
and then in saying it till you believe it.
there must be some joy in laughing till your jaw hurts
and then in slow falling off a cliff.

the world has its own joys, we are just too busy counting tears.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Notes to someone I wouldnt have known

Some nine years back my knee shed some blood outside your window.

This was when the teenager had just realised how the world seemed a better place when the two wheels of her cycle moved so fast that one couldn’t figure out the spokes in it.

Don’t think you saw it though. I wouldn’t really know because I didn’t look up.

I don’t think you watched me walk down the road that your window opens out to, as I ran to school-always a few minutes late and came back from school, always with ink stains on my shirt.

The day I left this space you and I happen to co-habit, my taxi stopped below your window and I rolled down my glass.

Probably to take of this place all I could in one blink, or probably to let my fingers comb through this air you and I have breathed all our lives.

But not to look up, for sure.

Years later, my knee still has its nine year old scar.

We have become rectangles of yellow light we see going off and on, before the lights are put to sleep.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

that house does not stand anymore.
the house that smelt of water boiling over wood, that had a dark kitchen with very tall shelves.
i remember tall jars of papery, round sohan papdi stacked in a row and this woman who fed them to me. i remember her sari's end that went all over my face in order to wipe out the sticky threads of the sweet.
her sari smelt of the day's lunch. and a little bit of the breakfast.
her hair was bundled up in a tight bun and i, a girl of six or seven, stared at the amount of hair she had.
hardly shampooed, seldom oiled. washed, dried, tied up. sometimes combed.
the hair was cut to the shoulder by my mother one afternoon when she couldn't take its weight anymore. there was a newspaper spread across the floor that filled up with hair. thick strands of black hair.her hairline reached her shoulders and ended at her temples.
i began to miss the big smear of vermillion on her forehead, she did too. but never mentioned.
she missed my pishi, who died some ten years back and my jethu whose dead body she never saw through the bomb blast rubble.
she didnt cry for them. not in front of us.
there were these days recently when she did cry taking their names. and a few days after that she died talking, asking her attendant to call her sons and daughters. people noted how in her last years, she began to look like her brothers.
a fight that spanned over decades, across countries finally ended with that inexplicable, nauseatingly sweet smell of flowers mixed with that of incense, room freshener and ogoru.
Rest In Peace, Amma.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Megh peon er bag-er bhetor monkharaper deesta…

(The cloud postman’s bag is full of sad papers…)

This was what I was listening to when it finally rained today. Life loves a laugh.

Rains are very good storytellers.

They tell me very old stories of running around in uniform around the school field. I feel a weird tingle of joy rush up to my head that makes me want to keep turning in giddy circles. I feel the wetness of the thin white cloth on my back as the air fills up with screams of giggly, running school girls who were in too much of a hurry to grow up.

At times, they tell me of a boy and a girl sitting at a bus stop. The lanes in my head fill up with roadside puddles as the girl’s sandals get muddy with the muck reckless taxis splash on her feet. For those twenty minutes it doesn’t matter that her feet turn a dirty shade of brown, or that they don’t have money for a cab. The boy rummages through his pocket and takes out a soggy handkerchief and the girl smiles and refuses to wipe her feet with it. He probably decides that when he grows up he’d make sure that this girl never has to take a cab, or wait for buses with dirty wet feet. Water droplets run down their hair but for those twenty minutes, it didn’t matter that they’d catch a cold or that their bus had broken down somewhere in its route-far away from their muddy potholed bus stop.

I hear of a woman who remembered how her husband used to silently wipe a tear in movie halls, how he sniffed at some music. Maybe it rained one of those afternoons when the vinyl screen flickered and he sniffed silently so that she wouldn’t know, and when she stole a look at him sniffing and faintly smiled to herself. Maybe it got very difficult to get a cab back home that evening.

Rains always paint me a watercolour of a very old story-hurriedly scribbled and hidden away in some moth-eaten, dog eared diary. Rains make me wish that they weren’t in so much of a hurry to grow up.

Monday, May 23, 2011

First attempts at mush.

This thing has been getting too much to bear, really.
The way they looked at each other-from the tiniest corners of their eyes, across the road he walked down everyday.
The way she tucked a loose strand of hair behind her right ear trying to suppress a stupid grin each time she caught him looking.
This way how each of their silences was being packed with so many inexplicable little unnamed desires, was getting crazy. It was like you could touch the air between their faces and feel the vibrations of these weird waves hitting every molecule of space.
It was like the air- this thing.
This thing that was getting too hard to bear.
Each time she smiled, each time he ran his fingers through his new haircut.
It just got crazier this way. Crazier and Better.
Neither of them had the right word for it till he hit upon it that night while he sat trying to read a book.
The corners of his lips curled into a smile.
"I swear, man. It's always so electric.", he said to himself.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Here's looking at you, Kid.

When my one year and four months old niece bangs her tiny little head against the glass of my sister's car window, she doesn't cry anymore. Instead, she slaps the glass with her hands and leaves behind a tiny, wet imprint on the glass that reflects the pacing lights of the city traffic. Amidst the cacophony of blaring horns, I listen to her barely formed words giving vent to her nascent pool of anger.

That's a lesson learnt, my dear D.
That it is not one's fault when one gets hurt.
Thank you. Love you.

pic: Pratichi Basu, 2010.

Monday, May 9, 2011

You know how microcosm-macrocosm works, right?
So today when I took out my clothes and folded them and stacked them in my naphthalene scented suitcase, I thought that maybe life will figure itself out too-in neat folds, in crisp pleats, lined with smells of last winter.
When I combed my hair today, holding the ends tightly while letting the comb scuffle through the knots, I thought that maybe life was sorting itself out somewhere.
In jumps and falls.
In tsk-s and sighs.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I sometimes wonder if all this will actually turn out the way we've been told.
Is it not possible that these colours that we've painted are meant to turn gray, and these roads we've walked will all be dust one day?
All our pages will be ashes, all our words- hollow syllables mouthed by some alien tongue.
Does it not make sense then to start on that run now?
To come out in the t-shirt and shorts you've slept in and take the next bus to that sleepy, foggy little town?
To start spinning in circles till we get too dizzy to even stand straight up?

Friday, March 25, 2011


- I thought you didn't take sugar in your tea.
-Well, you never wore funny golfer caps either.
-Are we here to fight?
-I am here for the sugar bowl.
-Wow, isn't that sweet of you!
-I'd smile at that, but Diabetes at this age could be fatal for you.

Occasionally punctuated by soft sips of tea and the whirring of the cappuccino machine.
Somewhere across the window, street lights make love to the rain water.
Somewhere on that table, a sugar bowl lies untouched.
Traffic lights turn red on the threads of a golf cap.
And the radio plays songs of love.

Pic: Bombay, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

all i could hear were your thin fingers strumming at your guitar when i knew of your death. the same song you sang for us three years back.
no, i could not tell blue skies from pain then and still cant.
when the world danced infront of my eyes to a mad drunken frenzy, all i could see was that long corridor of red and you sitting at the end of it. and that face that passed a smile at times, the voice that spoke a few times in class.
i knew of your pain that afternoon we sat cutting marigold petals from their stalks, even when you sat in the front lawns staring at the sun for hours and even when they told me that you decided to end it all with that last step.
i knew and did nothing. we werent friends, and i dont know if i could help if i tried. it's just this silence over these questions that disturbs. questions thought too late, not asked at all.
rest in peace.
i hope you find that happiness you forever wished for, looked for.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rains either make me feel very happy or extremely sad, never anything in between. And it has been raining in Delhi for two days now- the kind that always accompany the winter on its way back home. There's something comforting that I find in winters. Something very personal, probably because I am a winter born. Something soothing, something very freeing. These days have not given me much chance to do anything with them-they have been coming and going without leaving behind too many footprints. It's like walking on a drawn line- you have no choice but to walk, you dont know where you are headed but you know you're moving, getting somewhere. I dont remember the last time I was this unsure. It's like being thirteen again- underconfident, confused and zero willpower. I guess there are always those issues that never go away irrespective whether one is thirteen or one hundred and thirteen.

On good days, I enjoy my active the day I did up the room, or went gift shopping for a very close friend, or roamed around the streets of Bombay doing nothing. On some bad days, I feel I cant do a thing and on others i feel that I can do a lot but do nothing about it.

I am hoping this is only a phase or if it isnt, that it behaves like one.

And that summers never come.

P.S: the pictures are of one of the walls of my room. The part which lies empty in the middle will soon have an original DDLJ poster I picked up from Chor Bazaar :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sometimes when I lie awake on my hostel bed, I look out of my little window and think whether you think of me the way I think of you.
I wonder if you ever picture me walking down the street below your window, or see me bending over a book in our seven storeyed library.
I wonder if you ever think of the way I look when I run my fingers through my hair.
Sometimes I think if your songs speak of me the way my dances speak of you.
I wonder if you imagine the roads I walk up and down everyday, the way I see you stuck in traffic jams in a city faraway from where I stay.
Sometimes I wonder if you are lying awake on your bed, looking out of your little window and thinking of me.