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.