Tuesday 31 July 2007

Bit by bit

I was reminded today, of that feeling associated with young/new romance; that thing we somewhat inaccurately refer to as butterflies in the stomach. I remember that feeling. It's nothing like butterflies in the stomach. It's more like a large chrysanthemum has planted itself on your liver, and now intends to breed a little colony there, till there is a fair-sized bouquet on the aforementioned gland. Probably explains why some people are so bilious when in love.

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Sharmaji was found dead this morning, in the office. It was horribly unpleasant. Between the cops and the press and the actual task of identifying "the body", I think all of us were drained of mental and physical strength of any sort. Somewhere in all this, I couldn't help but think about how there was no one there to sit by him in his last hours. No one, yet, many hours later, when he was being probed and looked at and identified and photographed. Family was informed, and they showed up by noon.

Meanwhile, people milled around cleaning up, calling other people, cancelling meetings, answering the sneering cops, trying not to admit to themselves who it was that they were actually looking at. The man who, a little over 12 hours ago, stood at the door and waved to them as they left the office for home. No one could or would cry.

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The point of all this seemingly unconnected rambling, is that it got me thinking about death and loved ones. Just one very simple thought, actually: When I die, I'd like to be in the company of loved ones. And ideally, among these loved ones will be someone who served as a catalyst to that super-multiplying chrysanthemum.

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Sharmaji, I hope you will ignore the ostensibly heartless boss who wanted us to take meetings and who cracked really really weird jokes about death, ten minutes after. He means well. It's probably one of those bizarre defence mechanism things.

But I hope you know that a lot of people really care. Not so surprising and a little bit sad that we only discovered this while we were slowly piecing together our knowledge of you and yours.

Rest in peace.

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Tuesday 17 July 2007

I grow old, I grow old, I wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled

Birthday beer and biriyani at Boomsa's. Seventy bottles and fifteen people. Here's the evidence.


On the occasion of its birthday. New, improved and older than ever.


Twisting by the beer


Sharmon shows off his...creation


The legend and the bathroom singer. Sharmon and me.


Bonzo Anand Haji wakes up and decides to join the party


Bonzo and Sandesh exchange top secret information.


Bonzo entertains Devika


DJ makes big eyes at unsuspecting unidentified male. Sigh.


Chitra Raghavan trying to come in the way of an already rocky relationship.


Is there someone else in Sabbah's life? Who is the other woman? Is it Chitra? Is it...


Oh my God! Before my VERY eyes. Sabbah and the other woman, Shro.


Left to right: Saher taking drinks, Rolf talking to Zu, Zu talking to Rolf's beer, me talking to my beer


Left to right: Sandesh, Benny, Tina Moo, Ahmed and his phone

Sunday 8 July 2007

Alien Café

'Tribute' is such a pretentious word. But I suppose its intentions are honest enough. Here's ours. Thousands of diners and drinkers of average coffee and guzzlers of beer, for all the conversations and experiences that we'll probably never remember.


A self-taught lawyer, a lifetime lost in land dispute,
claims the real estate of his corner table,
land locking his captive audience
as he hitches his pants up, punctuating another grand declaration.

A young Alfred Tennyson balances his teacup,
pinky at right angles to his thumb,
waist-coated and suited to the tea,
he stands and bows when introduced to (sneering) women.

Over by the curry-speckled mirror,
in endless conversation about watching birds,
watching women, he emphasizes his passion
for birds, watching a sari slip through the center of his eye.


An afternoon full of lawyers and government officials
leave the café as unchanged,
as the city that stagnated
in their interminable lunch break.

In the center of the hall, like a raucous shopping mall,
ten thousand theatre persons talk and laugh too loudly,
after a night of having had restricted whiskey
and sexual intercourse with everyone else at the table.

Middle aged and by the door, Salvador dreams
about his first famous (unfinished) painting.
Meanwhile, his life is forever in the moment when the clock melts,
when sunflowers bloom, where a smile is made mysterious.


By the kitchen door, he gazes past the murky surface
of his black coffee. When the clock strikes 8.30 this Friday evening,
Cinderella’s coffee will turn into a rum and c,
his solitude, into a checkered tablecloth full of old friends.

A closet singer tries desperately to capture the verbal context
of the twelve-bar blues stretching its fingers from a hidden radio,
amidst cacophonous talk of Dylan (Who Bob? Oui, Bob!)
and how he changed the lives of artists everywhere. We remain the same.

Nearby, the proprietor with a 24x7 smile
(and 45 second turn around time) backs into a waiter,
momentarily misdirecting his mirth
at an ashtray full of college students.


When I die, this table will be mine in love,
that one in a moment of truth, a third lost in deep thought.
A fourth filled with worry, I must leave this city,
I must leave this country, I must
come back here tomorrow and sit at that table,
where I read, where I stared, where I broke up,
that one marking the most I’ve ever laughed,
where I wished you eternal life, where I observed the aquarium,
swearing never to eat a fish.
Where Beethoven roamed in and out of a conversation
initially about Eliot,
Where the painting of the horse looks most
like a shimmer-clad socialite I know.
That table where, if this were school,
we would have all etched our names in the wood,
waiting for some eternal desultory lunch bell that never rings.


Words: Anoopa Anand
Images: Ryan Lobo
Thanks to Ryan Lobo for planting the idea of this poem in my head, last afternoon.

Tuesday 3 July 2007

Picture postcards

I've been gone so long. I feel like I owe you an explanation. But I'm also (mostly) the only person who reads this blog, so I suppose I could take myself out for coffee and do some explaining. Anyway, here's a bunch of unconnected things. I hope your little hearts fill with large dollops of joy.

I permed my hair

Ever since, I've been called Tiger Prabhakaran, Macy Gray, Diana Ross and Jimi Hendrix. I can't say that I mind.

I will eventually have Buns Of Steel

I've started taking lessons in Kalarippayattu. Maybe someday I will truly be walking on air.


I've been revisiting Mr Dahl!

Esio Trot. A mildly creepy story of a man and his mid-life crisis. Actually, no. It's supposed to be a love story. But I really wish Mr. Hoppy hadn't cheated Mrs. Silver into falling in love.


James and the Giant Peach. Yay!


The Twits. Good overcomes evil! At least in the case of the Muggle-Wumps and the Roly Poly Bird. I wish real life could imitate art.

I'm about to read

Maximum City- Suketu Mehta
Long overdue, but it always helps to have a colleague who will buy a book you've been skeptical about, and lend it to you. Thanks, Apoo.


Rant- Chuck Palahniuk
I've read almost everything else this man has written. Except for Fight Club. I'm saving it for after he stops writing. Meanwhile, Rant seems every bit as eerie, bizarre, exciting and altogether nauseating. Whee.


I have grown accustomed to


Amul Masti. Spiced buttermilk. When you are in advertising, unabashed promotion- among many many other things- stops bothering you.

I miss

My friend. Come back, ra.