Wednesday 29 October 2008

She who cannot write three decent sestets

Winter is in the twin city,
although you can only tell
by the slivers of white on your skin,
the embarrassing crackling of smile lines.
The sun still sizzles in the sky,
an old dog with an old habit.

Between Karkhana and Lingampalli,
sweaters sheepishly hang on roadsides
waiting to be bought,
while even old Hyderabadis laugh to see such ambition.

In the irrepressible smog of Diwali,
you realise the shortcomings with a start:
You are not a consumptive poet waiting to die by the sea.
You are a little bit of your parents,
a large question, round parantheses
surviving behind the refuse of Karkhana.

Surviving, in spite of yourself,
with a little October shiver, sparklers, someone else’s poetry
and asthma that is entirely your own.

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Not Jewel Box

At Rs. 16 a cup,
the coffee seems a bit steep.
Fish and chips at Rs. 150
seems grossly over-priced.
Especially for a place that looks like
maintenance involves
washing the floors every second Saturday,
and changing the furniture
once every century.

Of course, by that argument,
this city with its half-price roads,
trade-reject infrastructure,
power-cuts and barely-there footpaths,
should have been deserted years ago.
Bearing no resemblance
to abandoned towns in B-grade Westerns,
both city and coffee shop flourish.

The old furniture is not glamourous
as any one of the elderly tubelights will tell you.
Neither is the ground you walk on.
I wouldn't call it squalour,
but squalour's distant cousin
starts on the floor
and crawls all the way up to the ceiling.

The proof, they say, is in the pudding.

Those who breakfast here, eat heartily.
The lawyers and government officials at lunch
know best why their lunch break is interminable.
Come evening,
groups of pensioners get off buses,
college kids shriek into corners,
bruised and beaten office-goers
sink into comfortable shadows
of themselves.

Most do it for a lifetime,
and not without questioning themselves.
The answer?
Perhaps a little too trite
for a shop owned by a man named
Prem.

Love, then.

A cup of coffee after work,
a wholesome family dinner,
a tankful of pop-eyed fish,
beer with friends on a rainy afternoon,
barely audible fingers of jazz
touching you from fuzzy speakers,
sharing a cruel joke
with a brass-buttoned waiter,
regulars observing regulars.

A newcomer wondering
what the fuss is all about;
an old-timer throwing up his hands,
mystified.

Come as you are

For Kurush

You appear in my dreams
as characters other than yourself.
Last night, moving furniture
then lying heavily on my divan,
perhaps you were a character
from what I can only imagine
was a movie of questionable virtue.

Never, then,
the coffee-sharing friend
with a mind of fine balance
and nonchalant wit
while driving on the streets of Colaba.

Never, either,
the tousled lover
seductive of hand
and meditating in autos
on bylanes around Church Street.

Tonight in my dreams,
come as yourself.

I'd enjoy the warm fireplace
of your humour
and the prime real estate
of your shoulders,
in a third city.
Maybe we can joke about phone bills
in a smelly boat on Hussein Sagar Lake.

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Pint o'clock

For JVG


The minor miracles of perfect sentences.
The joy of punctuation excused of paying unwarranted rent.
The misery of the untold…
The Ghost of Errors Past.
The euphoria of a well-deserved semicolon.
The peaceful death of a story well told.
The execution of a much-hated grammatical hang-up.
The poisoning of a structural hiccup.
And, most of all,
the inexcusable ending of four-hundred words
with a cliché from the past.

Nothing makes up for the abject demise of
a time when time was well-spent
if time meant a verbally flattened pint
with you.

Wednesday 20 August 2008

Paper Money

For Shefali

In August, still broke from April,
each ceramic tile, each checkered bedsheet
is strewn with newspapers.

Five days in the city of my birth,
six days worth of crosswords,
one small vodka and apple juice.

I could cry.

In a conversation, she mentioned
that being alone built character.
She has a way with words; I was convinced.

In July's rain, I thought it was luxurious.
I'll tell you what it was. It was sound.
Rain, like a friend knocking on my windows.

I went to Bangalore,
met family, drank with friends,
watched overdressed Hindi cable TV with Ma.

Fell back into his arms beautifully.

Here again, in the nail-biting finish of my floors
I ignore yesterday's news,
trying to find a handful of clues.
9 Across chuckles at my inability,
it is 24 degrees Centigrade,
and I want summer again,
or rain, or anything more extreme,
that this semi-cold shoulder
of a twin city.

I sit here in the studied squalor of Secunderabad
wondering if, in any weather at all,
she feels like I do.

I wouldn't wish it on her worst enemy.

Wednesday 30 July 2008

Hiding books on Karkhana Road

I have hidden No Onions Nor Garlic
amongst a flock of Ruskin Bonds,
on the bottom row of the second shelf
of Indian Writers,
in a bookstore
on Karkhana Road,
for me.

I have hidden TS Eliot
on the third row of the first shelf
of Literature,
behind a consumptive poet,
and below Tolstoy's famous wench
(I wonder if they talked about Michelangelo),
for a friend.

I cannot hide Jeet Thayil anywhere;
he is everywhere.

If you find them,
please leave them there for me.
I am waiting for enough money.

When I grow up,
I want to be rich enough to buy
HBs and PBs and dog-eared second-hand Bs
as I please.
I will keep them
in my floor-to-ceiling heavy oak bookshelves,
in my elaborate study,
where I will pull each book down
and read and smell and dust
and put each one back,
every second Sunday,
reserving my section marked Poets
for rainy days,
to remind me of today.

Perhaps I will not have to stop
at a kirana shop
to buy day-old bread,
wading through the sludge
on the bylanes of the newly-wet karkhana,
its get-rich-quick puddles,
its faux rivulets with their pompous frogs,
ribbiting in conference
with all the creatures of the rain,
celebrating the much-delayed monsoon.

Then again,
will I trade my purple umbrella
with the iffy handle,
my Bata floaters
way past the prime of their tread,
this lonely water-retentive apartment
bloated like a hyper-thyroidal spinster
dripping fat complaints of July,
on a thin floor-mattress?

Will I trade
my paper-thin walls,
my typewriter,
the annoying girl next door,
and all the kirana shops
on all the bylanes
of all thye submerged localities of Secunderabad,
for a life less extraordinary?

Tuesday 17 June 2008

Paradise Found

Paradise Café & Stores, Persis Heights, M G Road, Secunderabad.

Of course, if you ask for Paradise Cafe and Stores, no one will know what you're talking about. The upside to this is before you can follow the word 'paradise' with any other word, half of Hyderabad will have already taken you to the only paradise that matters, which is the aforementioned. It's a problem that's it's own solution. As if this biryani-crazy city's Achilles Heel has just fallen into Getafix's cauldron and become Obelix-like.

It is perhaps for this reason that John Milton is just a name in Hyderabad. Have you read John Milton's Paradise...(rush of shuffling feet, screeches, horns, crash-boom-bang...GOOORRRGE). You get the picture. I suppose in that sense, Paradise Restaurant is as much about the Fall of Man.

Paradise Restaurant has a rags-to-riches story which we of the middle class find so endearing and infuriating. It started off as a tiny one-room eatery. Today, many decades later, it boasts of many floors of biryani-eaters. There is a take-away counter, a ground floor area watched over by bouncers, security guards and beeping sensors, a large first floor full of sweaty biryani-eaters, two air-conditioned rooms on the second floor where people dress up to dine, and god knows what kind of stately splendid opulence in the executive room. We don’t know and we don’t care. Ek biryani, double spice. It doesn’t matter where you eat it, although, as an incentive, the second floor rooms have big ugly furniture, glass and crystal baubles, other hanging things and garish upholstery.

I must also admit that Paradise is merely the second-best biryani place in the city, the first being Bawarchi. But Paradise wins because of its proximity to my house. My sister, brother-in-law (Potato and Pink, respectively) and I have made it a weekly affair. And I write this today in the hope that tomorrow will be another day in Paradise.*

*Oh no. Phil Collins.

Saturday 31 May 2008

The Elizabethans

About a week back, I had a house guest. Not one I particularly invited, so, perhaps, a house crasher. At first we openly hated each other, and since he was not paying my rent and I was not cooking his meals, it was okay for us to have this dysfunctional hate-hate relationship. But then I soon realised that since my sister and brother-in-law were out of town, the only other person I knew in the city who could speak English and Kannada was staying in my house, being actively hated by me.

So we changed tactics. I started treating him like a necessary evil and he limited himself to shuffling around my living room, particularly checking out the insects in the Tubelight Area. I even started calling him by his given name. Elizabeth and I shared a somewhat peaceful coexistence, although he did not take kindly to my mocking his love handles, seeing how, in his own words, i was a "Minute Maid swilling fat basket" myself. Not that I was particularly hurt. Nobody but nobody takes shit from a transvestite house lizard called Elizabeth.

I got back earlier this week from a lizard-free weekend in Bangalore, to find an absconding house guest. It's been six days, and there is still no sign of Elizabeth. Not that I miss him. Or anything. And he did leave behind the fruit of his fantasy pregnancy: I now have a small annoying giggly boy lizard with big black beady eyes, haunting the same Tubelight Area, mocking me in an an alarmingly Elizabethan manner, althought minus the love handles. His name is Shane. As in, you know, Warne. And he is definitely straight.

There is even less love lost between Shane and me. I am hoping he goes back to his father's soon enough. I prefer living alone, although I won't punctuate it in the manner of obviously single middle-aged fiction-literature icons by wearing a tattered wedding gown and stopping all the clocks.*




* Reference to Auden poem unintended.

Sunday 11 May 2008

The holy trinity at Lakdikapul

Last evening, my sister and I finally made that long-awaited trip to Best Books, the second-hand bookstore in Hyderabad. Having been an ardent devotee of Blossoms's in Bangalore for the longest time, I am acutely aware of how the concept of Time can take a backseat in certain bookstores. But this was something else! I have never seen a larger collection of poetry anthologies anywhere. Wait wait! Let me tell you what I found!

1. The New Poets- Selected and Introduced by A. Alvarez (Larkin, Hughes, Plath, Anne Sexton, and many more. Split into The Americans and The British for irony; there are 4 American poets and 24 British poets.)

2. The Complete Poetry of Henry Vaughn
3. Neruda, Walcott and Atwood: Poets of the Americas (eat that, Mr. Alvarez)
4. Fifteen Poets: An Oxford Anthology (In shocking pink)
5. All Across The Telegraph: A Bob Dylan Handbook (I did say poets. Bob Dylan will always always be a poet and not a singer. No matter how much drugs he took.)

And that's just the tip of the money-well-spent iceberg. It is only the realisation that the ceiling fans in Best Books are victims of disguised unemployment, that will urge you to reluctantly leave the establishment.

As we walked out with heavy bags and light hearts, I suddenly wanted to start paying attention to my second love, food. I decided to be hungry. My all-knowing sister led me in the general direction of a long window-wall, where people were looking out at us as they stood facing the road and eating. Yes! Food and inside-out-window-shopping! I sighed at this novel and heart-warming idea. This, boys, is the good life. Not only do they offer two things for the price of one, I realised as we ordered that this was also a Kannadiga joint. Sri Venkateshwara Coffee House is definitely where it's at. Although all of Hyderabad refers to Mangalore bajji as Mysore bajji, you don't let it alarm you in Sri Venkateshwara Coffee House. The chutney finally tastes like chutney, the coffee is heavenly South Indian Filter, there are books in bags and good in everything.

But that little bit of intangible adhesive that firmly latches on to your heart is definitely the train station at Lakdikapul. For a tiny station with two platforms, it is the most well-thought-out, well-planned and picturesque station I've seen here. Perhaps also the best spot for viewing a little bit of the wooden bridge that gave this place its name. (Lakdi-ka-pul having, over time, been bastardised and proper-nounised into one solid word. Never mind. All water under the bridge now.) I'm not entirely sure if any part of this bridge is wooden anymore, but even if the material is more durable now, this is definitely the geographic location best suited to an uninterrupted viewing of the bridge. You can even buy popcorn at this station, an unlikely item on the otherwise standard menu of railway station eatables.

I do remember deciding to go to Lakdikapul at least once a month, for the book-buying feast at Best Books. But the other temptations that this place has will definitely make it hard to make this a monthly affair only. Between the bookstore, the coffee shop and the holy bridge, I see the beginnings of a convert. I might actually like this city.

Saturday 3 May 2008

And in the trains, the women come and go

There are ten stations between Secunderabad and Lingampally, the former being where I live, and the latter being the stop that leads to my sister and it's husbandicoot, the only people I really know in this city.

The local trains in Hyd-Sec are a blessing, although they are not very well organised. On most occasions, you will only know the platform number a few seconds before the train arrives. At the Secunderabad station for instance, it's not an easy scamper from Platforms 7 to Platform 10, the only options for the MMTS trains to stop. So you pray and run.

MMTS. Multi-Modal Transport Service, for some reason. Don't be fooled; our trains don't turn into helicoptors when we hit the magical Nature Cure Hospital Stop, which, ironically, is the part of the city that smells most like a cesspool.

Sitting in the ladies compartment is an eye opener. For all the chest hair than Andhra men believe they own, they have no qualms about getting into the ladies compartment on trains. On an average, the ladies compartment has a 40-60 split of men and women. Andhra men in general are the lowest form of masculine life, next only to those living North of...the South. No offence to my father and (some aspects of) his family, but in Andhra, we are into the serious business of bust-lining.

Afternoons are the best time for train travel, if you're brave enough to leave home in the scorching heat. The newspapers advise us to stay indoors between 2pm and 4pm, but if you manage to miss the peak-heat-hours, take a train. Some of the stations, especially those closer to Secunderabad like James Street and Sanjeevaiah Park, are quite pretty. The train ride itself is pleasant: the men are conspicuous in their gawking absence and not much can be heard over the metallic din of the train's chugging, stopping and starting. Vendors selling peanuts, bits of coconut and colourful coconut mithai hang around the trains, not really in a hurry to do much business, since the peak hours are on their way.

There are ten stations between Secunderabad and Lingampally. Enough time to do the Guardian Quick and the Sudoku. Altogether too much time to think, to yearn and to be a stranger in a strange land.

Saturday 26 April 2008

The Secund Innings: An Introduction

It's unfortunate that I don't have a Rahul Dravid to write a foreword for me; he would've done such an excellent job.*

Thing is, I've moved. To Secunderabad. It's where it's at, these days. It's the fun side. No, really. Come and see! If you survive the journey from the airport to Secunderabad,you will notice that the reason you've been unable to breathe, is because it's about 39 degrees in the shade. Celsius, man.

I made the relatively minuscule step for mankind in order to concentrate more on my writing. I'll be working with a publishing house, and I'm here hoping that this will be the change of scene that will help me write more and write better. When I learn to breathe again, of course. Or stop sounding like Toni Braxton, whichever happens first.

So there is good news for the 4.5 people who read this blog- I'll be writing regularly! Yay! I'm so happy for you.

I have a pretty little house a little away from West Marredpally, a job to look forward to, two people I know in the city and lots of Minute Maid. Hopefully, I am adequately armed to take on life without all my friends, maternal and paternal influences, the three dogs I miss like a madness, a coffee shop, a tavern, music, radio of a certain colour, a small bespectacled man and another who isn't. Bespectacled.

Yay.
Minute Maid.

* If you haven't already read Steve Waugh's autobiography 'Out Of My Comfort Zone', you should. Look out for a brilliant foreword by Rahul Dravid.

Monday 11 February 2008

Lost

Last evening
a poem came to me,
riding on the dark waves of my fourth drink
like a bright white ship.

Spotting you through the distortion of our cocktail glasses
I paused and thoughtfully rubbed my gin,
steering the ship in the approximate direction of where you were.

The rest of the evening was the same sea story:

You were a pirate, come to rob my ship.
And as I gazed at your convex dimple,
part eclipsed by an olive,
you stole all my metaphors
and a beautiful closing couplet,
leaving an empty bright white vessel.

This morning, there is a throbbing head in the glass
where an olive once was,
and I am left craving
a dead pirate's society.

Saturday 9 February 2008

A Message for Mr. Hughes

Ted Hughes has just sent a crow
to ask after me.
I send a message:
"I'm alright Ted,
but I'd be better
if every second line didn't rhyme obssessively,
and if I could stop cutting my fingers
on the sharp edges of hyphens.

I'm also thinking of starting
evening counselling sessions
for users of the ellipsis.
I've already cured a friend;
it's been over fifteen weeks
since he last used."

Crow sniggers.

Friday 8 February 2008

An evening with no policemen

It has been almost
many years
since an evening without policemen
or, for that matter,
a weekday beginning without
the Guardian Crossword.

Daybreak steps out of its rest,
shaking itself dry like a Labrador
and climbs, yawning, on his trek to the West.

Mid-morning, the bees hang out at the swamps
and are in the constant hum
of jazz musicians doing their scat exams.

The Labrador has lunched with the snails
with flies waiting by
to clear the remains.

Meanwhile, the frog who has worked all day
has built his villa in a trash can
since the soggy moss is here to stay.

The yellow dog hangs his yellow head
sending the birds to call in the moon,
he is about ready to go to bed.

In the balcony, I hear a cheer:
it’s the crickets sending out two men to the field
as a stadium of fireflies draws near.

It has been almost
many years
since an evening without policemen,
I don’t miss it now,
I didn’t request it then,
but I could do with the Guardian Crossword.

Tuesday 5 February 2008

The legend in our living room

His voice was like the sound of shoes dragged on cobblestones. It doesn’t sound pretty, but it is. I can’t remember if I like the sound of cobblestones because of him or vice versa. He used that warm raspy voice to call my name. Anoopa Rani. That was his special name for me. It is the clarity of detail with which I recall this name and that voice that surprises me.

Of course, there are hundreds of other things that I remember. But I can tell that with each passing year these memories are a little more faded. Perhaps a little more romanticized and hero-worshipped, but blurred; as if I’ve taken off my glasses and I have to squint just a little more.

The circumstances under which my sister and I got so close to my maternal grandfather, are a little off the beaten track. When a woman in my mother’s time got married, it was fairly common, unquestioned and a conclusion of the foregone variety, for the bride to move into the home of her husband’s family. My father, having been orphaned at a very young age and thenceforth having been raised by various older siblings, presented a new situation. And the two of them together were nudged by this history, to explore fairly uncharted territory in this tried-and-tested Indian topography of family life.

Amma and Appa lived alone in an ‘independent house’, and had two children zipping about on the well-worn red oxide floor, before circumstances forced another change. Amma’s parents were advancing in years, and my grandmother’s health was failing. It was a suggestion by my grandfather that led to our family moving in with my mother’s parents. I sometimes think it was a large-hearted gesture and sacrifice Appa made, to relinquish his place at the head of the table, however nominal it might have been. Nevertheless, ‘Anand Babu’ came to live with his wife’s family. And Thatha became the biggest part of all our lives.

My earliest memories of Thatha are the gravelly voice of shoes and cobblestones, and the softness of his khadi clothes: the proud heritage of his freedom fighter days. Of the strong whiff of Brylcreem when we sat in the living room, my father and he in solemn conversation about cricket. They always called each other ‘Sir’, except occasionally, when Thatha switched to ‘Anand Babu’. The only overt sign of affection between two gruff men in a household draped, tucked and perfumed with women. There was my grandmother, my mother, my aunt, my sister and me. The council in the living room with their coffee and cricket, knew they were fighting a losing battle, and clung to their well-formed habits, idiosyncrasies and most of all, each other.

I don’t think I ever thought of Thatha as proud- he was too down-to-earth for that- but I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone else with such a distinct air of sophistication and self-assurance. Thatha had fought for his country, been imprisoned with the Mahatma, married the woman he loved, raised three children, survived the loss of a son too young, started an educational institution, learnt and mastered many languages, traveled widely, built a house on land that was his...
He’d basically managed to pack in an astonishing number of achievements in his lifetime, and bore the everyday awe of people around him with grace and humour.

In the twilight of his life, he surrounded himself with the things and people he loved. His house with his wife, children, grandchildren, dogs, cats and oft-visiting friends, held together with his personal holy trinity of coffee, cricket and khadi.

I can’t clearly remember when exactly he changed, because I was too young when my grandmother passed away. But I know that he was weakened by her passing. I know that he often cried, and had lost some of his will to live. An atheist all his life, Thatha turned to religion with the kind of fervour I had only seen in his late wife. Within a year of her passing, we moved into the beautiful house that he built and named for her. Lalitha.

In spite of the changes that I was then almost oblivious to, Thatha managed to pick up the pieces of his life. He turned all his attention to his granddaughters, who were growing fast and proving to have alarmingly poor grasp of Hindi. The language he helped bring to the South, the now-failing metaphor of unity, when India was beginning to show the British what was what.

I remember the patience with which he took me through the same rules of Hindi grammar that sidestepped me time and again. A battle that I gave up fighting altogether when he died. He wrote all my essays for me. I especially remember how, in moments of deep concentration, he seemed to go through some mental tunnel, and suddenly start writing in Urdu. One line in Hindi, left to right, and the next line in his small clear Urdu script, right to left. I was fascinated even then, notwithstanding my run-of-the-mill teenage air-headedness.

It is important to mention that at an extremely rebellious time in our lives, my sister and I never sensed a generation gap in our separate relationships with Thatha. He bought us all our stationery. Rather, he bought her all the stationery that I ‘stole’ and ‘lost’. He bought us our first saris, and also all the pairs of jeans we owned, although he disliked the garment. His special name for denim was ‘Katthey Battey’: cloth of the donkey, for some reason. He admonished us the most for poor marks, but still drove us out of the house in the evenings, on cycles he bought us. I also get the sneaky feeling he gleefully encouraged our childhood crush on Boris Becker. (I had to like everything my sister liked.)

I remember the exact moment I realized Thatha was dying. He had recently been diagnosed with cancer and owing to his age and various other health issues, things didn’t look too good. While the rest of the family was trying to deal with it, I was busy avoiding it. I was sitting at the dining table watching television, as any good hard working 18-year-old should, and he walked from the living room to his room. As I watched him, I realized I’d never seen him walk so deliberately and with so much pain. It took him a couple of minutes. I think I cried. As Thatha got worse, he started drifting further and further away from us and, apparently, closer to his dead wife. He would talk to her often and tell her he was on his way. I was terrified.

I don’t want to talk about his death very much. I think the God he had implicitly put all his faith in, screwed up. And I’ve never seen so many people so lost. Gradually, we put away the everyday things that reminded us of him, in an attempt to regain a semblance of life as we knew it.

It didn’t work; we never forgot. I can still smell the Brylcreem. I remember the sandpaper-coloured ‘medicine tray’ peppered with Glyciphage and Sorbitrate. On his mirror, right by the hair cream, was a neatly written list of his daily medication. Every night, at 11.30 pm, his clothes for the next day, on a hanger, everyday, the same as the last one: khadi pajamas, khadi vest, khadi kurta and detachable brass buttons. The beautifully carved walking stick. The rocking chair- his chair- in the living room, in front of the television. Rows and rows of VHS tapes, of Ramayana and the Mahabharatha, which we had watched Sunday after Sunday for years. In the corner, a neat wooden roll-top desk. Pens. Paper. Books. Below the glass surface of the table, a neat hand-written document of the most recent cricket match schedule. Each day marked off with the team that won.

Thatha should be so proud. What a legacy he left behind! A school full of thousands of children. A family capable of unconditional love and unremitting sacrifice. A house filled with such magnificent echoes of cricket-match-screaming.

I moved out of my grandfather’s house a year and a half back. But not without taking a part of him with me. His rocking chair is in my living room, facing the television. On my bookshelf is a picture of him, sitting on this chair, a dog on each lap. This is my favourite picture because right there in the left bottom corner, is a bit of my leg and the shadow of my arm. It reminds me of where I come from. And that there was once a legend in our living room.

Monday 4 February 2008

Ordinary Morning

The sun rises, yawning,
from the same white-curtained window,
stretching through the tear
that the cat’s claw made
so many years ago.

Ordinary morning:
orange screaming birds in flight;
thank God mornings are not
depressingly clinical white light.

Daybreak tests its groggy voice.
Suprabhatam inspiring a King’s breakfast,
Ian Anderson drags me out of bed.
Elsewhere Ms. Fitzgerald and the Azaan
and the Grateful Dead.

Ordinary morning:
everywhere rushing up and down scales.
There is no intolerance
in the melodies of morning-time tales.

Over the weekend, I met someone who actually reads my blog. It made me realise how infrequently I write, and how much about cricket. Mayura, hope this is more agreeable!

Friday 1 February 2008

Proudest Monkey

Why do we still call it a sport? This is the biggest most obnoxious soap-opera-meets-reality-show. All the field is a stage, and all the men in white, mere players. A series that bubbled over with some brilliant cricketing moments, fabulous showmanship and records galore, turned into a schoolboy playground rife with he-said-he-said and astoundingly immature levels of name calling and blame-gaming.

Sachin’s centuries, Kumble’s moments of proud reckoning, Brett Lee’s fast bowling brilliance all faded into some anti-climactic busking side show. Let’s not forget, this series was also the swan song of Australia’s only claim to fame in the Gentlemen Department, Adam Gillie. More like the imploring chirps of the last sparrows that ever nested in Bangalore. Not a single man was allowed to leave that field with his head daring even a half-mast.

I suppose we must at least try to see the good in all the evil. Because no one will remember the poise and elegance with which Kumble dealt with the mêlée. Or Gillie’s valiant, if lone, fight for sportsmanly sobriety, and the fact that we won’t be seeing any of that from anyone on the Australian team, in the matches to come. We sure as hell won’t remember that it was in this series that Yuvraj failed to prove himself as a reliable test player, perhaps because of, you know, his experiments with the many splendoured thing.

But look what we've got! A glossary full of new metaphors. We’ll never get ‘majorly screwed’ anymore. Just ‘Bucknored bigtime’. ‘Monkey’ is unfortunately a word that will now be synonymous with ‘Symonds’. Forever. ‘Get the Symonds off my back!’ (Never mind that Bhajji actually said something far worse, directing his wrath at Symonds’s mother who wasn’t even there to defend herself.) The final word on truth, as it turns out, is Ricky Ponting. So we’ve got ourselves a Fourth Umpire. If Ponting be told, I think it’s a great idea. In fact, I think we should blind-fold Ponting and make him stand in cricket’s High Court of Justice, wherever that is. We’ll get one soon enough, anyway.

Stump mic par haath rakhke kaho. Mein jo kuch kahoonga, Ponting kahoonga.

Australia sure as Bucknor turned the tables on the whole issue of racism and racist abuse in cricket. I'm just wondering if they're damn sure they picked the right team. Hopefully someday, in retrospect, everyone will realise how entirely foolish it was to accuse the pot of calling the kettle an indeterminate brown.

-----

Oh, and here's a brilliant piece. Thanks for sharing, Appu.

Wednesday 16 January 2008

Between the idea and the reality, falls the shadow

With sincere apologies to TS Eliot

You can be a writer,
but of what good is your ink to me,
if I am nothing more
than a voluptuous body of work,
a passionate figure of speech?

Neither can I be
a code you crack,
a server you hack,
so that when you come to bed,
I turn into another zesty programme,
an agile hyper text.

I'm not your crash test dummy,
or a designer clothes horse,
or the heel you reinvent,
or your latest Big Bang Theory.
And I cannot play the Dinner Bell
to your Pavlov's Dog.

Take your interpretations and notions
and misgivings and texts and theories.
Burn a nice big effigy
of your picture of me.
Then maybe we can discuss
what this is going to be.

Thursday 3 January 2008

Bombay Stories

I spent last week in my favourite city, mostly on account of Meera's wedding. The Potato and I made it for the mehendi, which involved mehendi, wine, custom-made bangles, Meera, Sufiya and, of course, plenty of food.

The reception was lovely, what with the immensely entertaining salad bar, where various vegetables and fruits went into the making of ducks, faces, rural scenery and, more mysteriously, a dinosaur created entirely out of karela. I am certain Mr. Pink took fabulous pictures of these creations, but I was too busy figuring out how to remove the lens on my camera. So till I bribe Mr. Pink to allow me to use his pictures, here are the few that I miraculously managed to take. Other noteworthy features include The Bride's Hair, The Constant Photographer and Mr. Pink's Range of Expressions.


A thousand splendid Kanjeevarams. At a North Indian wedding.


Beautiful bride


Suf and Potato checking someone out


This was the official photographer at the wedding, who clearly had a personal agenda against me. The Mirchi Wedding Album will have simply thousands of photos of me shovelling food into my mouth, thanks to this man.


Potato and Pink- my sister and its husbandicoot


Pink's intense look


Pink's mean look. Spot the difference.


The Mirchies


Every hairdresser has her day. Meera poses to show the intricate work of art that is her hair.


I think this is the exact moment when I discovered there was more food on the other side.


A monument of charm and sophistication.

Wednesday 2 January 2008

The blogger who won't

I know, I know.
Two months.
Wretched.

Will write in greater detail, maybe tomorrow, with photographs for proof wherever possible. Meanwhile, here are some key words to keep you in the loop with what's been going on in my head.

Dhoni x Ms. Padukone x Yuvraj= the triangle that never was (OR, PythagorARSE); aaanyhooo, where's the cricket boys?; ducks, ducks, ducks; Rahul!; Sehwag??; pitch bitch

Bombay; Biladi wedding; the reception with the karela dinosaur; is 'biladi' masculine or feminine?; The Saab and how much I love her; Bombay people, places, trains, old friends, why am I here???; A dog called Fucker in Andheri; hot buttered apple tea; Vinay Aravind and the Lost Scripts for Encyclopaedia Titanica; and also, Richard Clayderboy

Steve, out of his comfort zone; remarkable words by The Wall; grabbed greedily at Strand for Mr. Pink; the Strand book sale

Bhutto; schoolboys and guns; cyber dares-real deaths; who started the fire?

New Year's Eve; Farida Khanum; twenty-six candles; how to heal a man's broken heart; mental turmoil- where do we go from here (Mumbai, meri jaan); Kiran, who I love

That's all.
How're you? Tell me.