Saturday 28 November 2009


Nature also makes
chameleons that contrast
with her butterflies.


When nature's angry
she makes storms, when she's bashful
she makes butterflies.


When nature needs a
canvas to paint, her instincts
lead to butterflies.


When flowers need to
say, "I love you" they send each
other butterflies.


A butterfly -
a postman for flowers,
a canvas for light
to paint irridiscent patterns,
a trigger for a storm
in Beijing,
food for a lurking lizard.


I stare at a candle
in the dark,
for hours in a trance,
fascinated from the soul -
the flame's slender fingers
singe part of me,
and seduce another.

Friday 27 November 2009


Change saps my walls with
ice and fire to drag me
out of status quo.


Change is a strange urge
that makes me break my cocoon
while lizards lurk by.


Change is cold water,
making inner fires smoulder

Thursday 26 November 2009


Change is a frustrated
male violating me -
to claim as his own.


What murderer lurks
within, I know not, but through
ink I shed his blood.

Wise man

Scorn but a wise man,
for he who claims to see all,
doth hide behind masks.


Scorn not an actor,
for he who wears masks knows well
to see right through them.


Neither water nor
fire touch now, of my shell
what is left to hurt?

Sunday 22 November 2009

Sunday is...

...a late morning,
a tumbler of degree coffee,
a birthday greeting to a friend
(thank God for Facebook),
another tumbler of coffee...

...a hot water bath,
catching up on weekly politics,
rice and bitter-gourd curry
with jeera rasam and pickle,
a long unhad siesta...

one murukku made from old rice,
ground by hand and made in coconut oil,
one piece of jangri - not too sweet -
washed down with hot degree coffee...

a walk with the dog
drongo-spotting in the garden,
and old family stories with mother
under the jamun tree...

...a little poem, a bit of light reading,
and an interesting online chat
on the Dhammapada...

...and finally an ascent to heaven
with curd rice and vadu-mangay,
before the fall to the netherworld
of Monday.

Friday 20 November 2009


When it is not spring
why do people put on shrouds,
and call themselves sane?


Spring exists because
even the high priests of sense
must know what life is.

مرکز حرم

مرکز حرم سے تو نفرت ہی کی جا سکتی ھے
وہاں پے ارمانوں کی کفن جو سلی جاتی ھے


Spring exists so that
sober propriety is not
allowed to kill joy.


Spring exists because
the world needs something that can
counter sanity.


Spring exists because
every year everyone must,
atleast once, go mad.

Traffic jam

Traffic jam: one crore's
Mercedes or two-rupee
bus ticket - we wait.

Old books and coffee

Can the archangels
of heaven match the pull of
old books and coffee?

A book of verse

Bless thee the poet
who to buy a book of verse
forgoes his dinner.


works its magic, bliss descends,
poems go to sleep.

Mahim Bay from Rangsharda, Bandra (revised)

Encased in concrete,
with a dying orange above,
and the silver turning grey below,
the waves crash futilely
against the Bandra fortress
-I suppose one might,
on careful listening,
hear steel versus steel again;

Boats bob by those
decayed ramparts,
signs of of an eternal poverty
dependent on
the wealth of the sea;

On open sea
a marvel of modern
engineering rises -
a some triumphant
half-finished proclamation
of victory over nature;
above the clouds thicken,
but loosen not
as in impudent demonstration
of whose writ truly runs;

In the shanties of Bandra,
in the towers of Worli, and
in the middle-classness of
lights come on one by one -
a dying day, a sleepless city.

I'm sorry, Ghatkopar

I'm sorry, Ghatkopar.

I'm sorry you don't have
the red sunsets and cool breeze
and palm fronds and soft,
babbling waves somebody else has.

I'm sorry, Ghatkopar.

I'm sorry that the British
did not find you Queen material,
and didn't build their
Grade III Heritage bungalows,
outside which teenage girls
faint after slitting wrists wanting
Dev Anand, Amitabh, Shahrukh, Salman
to marry them.

I'm sorry, Ghatkopar.

I'm sorry that all you have
is Somaiya Book Depot,
Bharti Jewellers and
Ratanshi Khimji Patel,
good people in their own right,
but no Gucci, Swarovski or
even Subway.

I'm sorry, Ghatkopar.

I'm sorry that all you get
is navratri dandiya
and kitschy Ganesh pandals,
instead of self-styled poets
slamming about you.

I'm sorry, Ghatkopar.

Tuesday 17 November 2009


Saw you as a glimpse,
life's train seized, stuttered, stopped dead,
waiting for one more.


My memories have
erased you but these eyes still
see no one but you.


The river of thoughts
undammed by inhibition
will wash me away.


I refuse to swim
with the current - does that
make me an alien?


When your head's always
in the clouds, you learn to live
with bottomlessness.


Thoughts nag the mind, some
become stillborn poems, others
immortal groans.


Drops that make the ocean -

one from from the tears of a woman betrayed,
one from dew on a fresh-blossomed petal,
one from the blood of a fallen tyrant,
one from the drool of a child beholding sweets,
one from the labour of an unknown ryot,
one from the wrath of a vengeful storm.


In a drop one can
see a rainbow, can one do
that with the ocean?

Monday 16 November 2009


Sister calls me 'You Monster!'.
Don't know why.
All I do is pull her hair
and yank her dolls' heads off.
And sometimes spill ink on her
homework while playing with her pen.

Then I go running to mother
and press my face into her sari.
'Babloo' she calls me,
and wipes my tears,
and gives sister a scolding.
I point my tongue at sister
but mother doesn't notice.

Father is not like that.
He is nasty and unfair.
He likes sister more than me.
He makes me stand in the corner
for spilling ink and pulling hair.
And he calls me by my school name.
I don't like Daddy.

Hey auntie has come.
Get out of corner and run
screaming "Auntie, Auntie, Auntie".
She picks me up in her arms
and says "Babloo baba, cho chweet!".
She is not nice when she
pinches my cheeks and makes me
recite 'Baa baa black sheep'.
But she is nice when she
gives me a big chocolate
which I eat in front of my sister,
and don't give her anything.
Nasty sister.

Rohit is a nasty boy.
He insists on sharing everything
And he calls me 'Fighter'.
Sameer is not nasty. He is nice.
He lets me beat him
and snatch his things.
I like Sameer because
he calls me 'Boss'.
I don't like Sameer's mother.
She calls me 'That Naughty Boy'.

But I like granny best.
She tells me stories
and teaches me to draw.
She calls me 'My Chirag'
and always has sweets for me.

Father says I am a Bad Boy.
The Baddest Boy in the World.
Mother says I am a Good Boy.
Am I a good boy or a bad boy?

(Named after an apparently 'Bad' boy who is held up as an example for other children to 'behave'.)


நீ அழுதால் முத்தார் ஓடும்
நீ சிரித்தால் கல்யாணி ராகம்.
உன் மௌன முகம்
உரு சொல் இல்லாதப் பாட்டு,
உன் புன்னகையால்
வசந்தம் இனிக்கும்.
நீ எது செய்தாலும்,
அதில் நான்
ஒரு காவியம் படைப்பேன்.


Limited inbox:
I must choose between rare
poems and rarer praise.


Once, to entrap me she needed
grace sketched in ink
upon lavender-scented paper.
Six sheets folded neatly
in a card paper envelope
affixd with a pretty postage-stamp.
Or electromagnetic waves
which when decoded became the voice
of an amorous koel
jewelled with honeyed, enslaving words.
Now she does not need fetters
of a hundred and forty characters;
a colon and closing bracket will do.

Sunday 15 November 2009


Poems fight the night,
keeping the dam open while
eyes are shutting shop.


Smileys on the screen,
this heart enchants itself with
your imagined smile.


My memories have
erased you but these eyes still
see no one but you.


Saw you as a glimpse,
life's train seized, stuttered, stopped dead,
waiting for one more.

Wednesday 11 November 2009

फयान / فیان

मैं सागर का मछवारा, तेरे सदा पर आऊँगा
तू मादर मेरी, तेरी हवाओं के गीत गाऊँगा
तुझी से हर बरकत है, और तुझ ही में ख़ात्मा
तेरे लहरों का बच्चा हूँ, इन्हीं में घुल जाऊँगा

میں ساگر کا مچھوارا ، تیرے سدہ پر آؤنگا
تو مادر میری ، تیرے ہواؤں کے گیت گاؤنگا
تجھی سے ہر برکت ، اور تجھ ہی میں ہے خآتمہ
تیرے لہروں کا بچّہ ھوں ، ینہیں میں گھل جاؤنگآ


ஒரு பூவை நட்டுவைத்தால்
பல கனவுகள் மலரும்

आप मुस्कुराकर / آپ مسکر

आप मुस्कुराकर मेरी साँसों को मत रोकियेगा
धड़कन तेज़ हो जाती है, इस तरफ़ मत देखियेगा
आपकी रौनक़ देखकर, यह चश्म कुछ और ना देख पाएँगे
पर मेरी ख़ुदग़र्ज़ी मानकर, परदा मत कीजियेगा

آپ مسکراکر میری سانسوں کو مت روکیےگا
دھڈڑکن تیز ھو جاتی ہے ، اس طرف مت دیخیےگا
آپکی رونق دیکھکر ، یہ چشم کچھ اور نا دیکھ پایےنگے
پر میری خود غرضی مانکر ، پردہ مت کیجیےگآ


Fifteen rupee rose
for a girl's bewitching smile.
Not a bad bargain.

[Published in Writing Love, ed. Ashmi Ahluwalia; Rupa 2010]


Fifteen rupee rose.
She gets a half-hour's pleasure.
I get a poem.

Tuesday 10 November 2009


Winter ends.
Flowers wake up.
Birds twitter.

Financial year ends.
Insurers wake up.
Hoardings glitter.

Saturday 7 November 2009

To a puppy

Playful innocence
set loose amongst lost causes:
Once more, I'm a child.

Thursday 5 November 2009

न तुमने जाना न मैंने

चमन के कोने में एक फूल मुर्झाई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने|
बनकर रह गयी महज़ एक परछाई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने||

उसकी ख़ुशबू जो मदहोश करती थी, क़तरा ब क़तरा सूखने लगी|
जलती तपती धूप में वह छटपटाई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने||

उसके रंग जिनसे महल सजते थे, फीके बेजान होने लगे हैं|
आँखों के दीदार के लिए तरसाई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने||

उसकी ताज़गी जिससे हर थकान मिट जाती थी, अब बिखरने लगी|
अब ख़ामोश है वह जो कभी इतराई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने||

वह जो किसी गुलदस्ते की शान बन सकती थी, गुमनाम बनी रही|
उसका तक़दीर - बस मुसलसल तन्हाई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने||

कोई ख़ानाबदोश उसे तोड़कर ज़मीन पर फैंककर चला गया
मालिन मलबे में डालकर चली आई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने

چمن کے کونے میں ایک پھول مرجھائ ، نا تمنے جانا نا مینے
بنکر رہ گیی محض ایک پرچھائ ، نا تمنے جانا نا مینے

اسکی خوشبو جو مدہوش کرتی تھی قطرہ بہ قطرہ سوکھنے لگی
جلتی تپتی دھوپ میں وہ چھٹپتائ ، نا تمنے جانا نا مینے

اسکے رنگ جنسے محل سجتے تھے ، پھکے بےجان ھہنے لگے ہیں
آنکھوں کے دیدار کے لیے ترسائ ، نا تمنے جانا نا مینے

اسکی تازگی جس سے ہر تھکان مٹ جاتی تھی ، اب بیکھرنے لگی
اب خاموسھ ہے وہ جو کبھی اتراٴی ، نا تمنے جانا نا مینے

وہ جو کسی گلدستے کی شان بن سکتی تھی ، گمنام بنی رہی
اسکا تقدیر بس مسلسل تنھاٴی ، نا تمنے جانا نا مینے

کوٴی خان بدوش اسے توڑکر زمین پر پھینک کر چلا گیا
مالن ملبے میں ڈالکر چلی آٴی ، نا تمنے جانا نا مینے

The Ballad Of Jean-Pierre Dominique

There was once a singer tall
Specialised in Greek technique
Who sang in Sydney Opera Hall
Called Jean-Pierre Dominique!

He sang tenor, he sang bass,
He rose to falsetto.
But not one note in its place
Oh no no no no no!

The audience was sorely tried
And they threw tomatoes
But his zeal did not subside
When faced with potatoes.

Once upon an ANZAC Day
Gathered on Taylor Square
The orchestra began to play
Advance Australia Fair!

Now our Maestro Dominique
Who was then passing by
Saw fit to use his Greek technique
And took the tune on high!

“Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
With golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea…”

He thought it fit to raise his pitch
To mezzo-soprano!
He thought it was the method which
Was right for piano!

The audience was knocked-out flat -
“A storm of gale-force ten!”
The veterans feared they’d landed at
Gallipoli again!

They stopped his song, they dragged him down,
They beat him black and blue.
“Never show up in this town
Or we shall murder you!”

He went purple, he went red,
“What cheek, what bilious gall!”
And his sensitive heart bled
“You have no art at all!”

Damning them he did scoff,
In angry righteous pique
And majestically set off
To bonny Mozambique!


“Listen one, and listen all
A star has just arrived!
He sings at Maputo Town Hall
The Tale of Christ Revived!”

The lights were dimmed, the spotlights on
A hush fell on the crowd
And then the maestro came on
And started singing loud!

They panicked and ran amuck,
It was too much to bear.
It was too much bang for buck
That was very unfair!

They threatened him with machetes
They screamed blood-curdling cries!
They said his talents were but a
Bundle of horrid lies!

He went purple, he went red,
“What cheek, what bilious gall!”
And his sensitive heart bled
“You have no art at all!”

“The Australians are very bad,
They know not Greek technique.
Now to know it makes me sad
Unfair is Mozambique!”

He bought a ticket to Brazil
Where he would be a thrill.
He counted on his sex appeal
And perfect tenor trill.


They came from all over the land
From distant Amazon,
São Paulo and the Rio Grande
From Belem and Viamão.

The maestro stepped on the stage
And quietened the throng.
The hurricane began to rage
Jean-Pierre burst into song!

Now some had wisely Googled him
And therefore plugged their ears,
The others’ fate was very grim
They were reduced to tears!

“You are like a pudding’s plums
But we don’t like such stuff!
Leave us to our pipes and drums
Our Samba’s good enough!”

He went purple, he went red,
“What cheek, what bilious gall!”
And his sensitive heart bled
“You have no art at all!”

“The Australians are very bad,
And also Mozambique!
Now you Brazilians make me sad
Your taste is so antique!”

I shall go to India,
Where music is divine
And meet Himesh Reshammiya
Whose soul is kin to mine.


They sang a duet so unique,
It held all in its thrall:
Dominique with Greek technique,
Himesh with none at all!

His single topped every chart
On every street it played
The critics moaned the death of art,
And for his blood they bayed.

But the people, noble souls
They did not give a damn.
They said it touched their humble souls,
Like a battering ram.

And yet more hits, then hit on hit,
Jean-Pierre made history,
The government then saw it fit,
A prize for him decree!

“For introducing Greek Technique,
Thus indebted are we,
We thank Jean-Pierre Dominique,
For setting music free.”

“The tyranny of rhythm and beat
The vice of key and note
No one shall ever repeat
A song he learnt by rote.

Every man's a singer now,
every woman and child,
No master shall teach one how,
all can sing, free and wild!

The Old Woman of Chembur

There was an Old Woman of Chembur
Who had migrated there from Singur.
With her aggressive tongue
Many Marxists were stung -
That shrewish Old Woman of Chembur.

The Young Lady of Mankhurd

There was a Young Lady of Mankhurd
Who subsisted on yoghurt and curd.
She preferred it mixed up
With blood that she'd sucked up -
That anopheline Young Lady of Mankhurd.

The Gentleman of Vashi

There was a Gentleman of Vashi
Whose tatses were ludicrously flashy.
He had teeth like tusks
And fed upon rusks -
That boarsih Gentleman of Vashi.

The Old Man of Sanpada

There was an Old Man of Sanpada
Who set out to learn the lambada.
But he was not nimble
And did rather rumble -
Tha bubaline man of Sanpada.

The Man of Tilak Nagar

There was a Man of Tilak Nagar
Who was employed as a truck-tugger.
On his hump he'd carry
A thirty-tonne lorry -
That camelid Man of Tilak Nagar.

منتظر / मुन्तज़िर

دو دن منتظر ،
اسکی چلبلی ہسی
گونجیگی پھر سے

दो दिन मुन्तज़िर
उसकी चुलबुली हँसी
गूँजेगी फिर से

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Lex yeux et la bouche

Bénissez les yeux,
ils voient tout avec silence,
en disant rien.

Comment burlesque la
bouche, qui dit plusiers et plus
en voyant rien.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

on weirdness

who knows for sure
what's truly weird
and what is normal
when I follow my heart
they call me weird,
when I follow my head
and come up with wild schemes
they call me weird

but when i follow the herd
dressed like it
eating like it
talking like it
and refuse to listen
to my heart or my head
as it stampedes to its doom
they call me normal

Monday 2 November 2009


लोग कहते हैं तुम्हारा इश्क़, इश्क़ नहीं फ़रेब था|
हम नहीं मानते ‍ तुम्हारे फ़रेब को भी हम इश्क़ ही समझेंगे|

Neon signs

Neon signs on busy
road, bamboo flute vendor
plays the Airtel tune.

A rural schoolboy's revolt OR An antipastorale

Who prefers to have flies in his bedchamber?
Or for that matter, all manner of insects?
How romantic to consider the prospects
Of a cricket's chirps that rob one of slumber?
Yes, the stars are bright and the grass is tender,
Arcadian dreams are gay in many respects;
Yet lying in Elysian fields one suspects
That adders do not make for sweet surrender.

It is much to the credit of Tennyson
And other fools of the English Lake District
To pen rhymes for - a cloud, a lark, a peasant
By the fireside in their stately mansions
But who asks the cottar before they depict
A fancied idyll that only sounds pleasant?

विरासत / وراژت

बज़ोर ए शमशीर क्या पाओगे - खोखले मकानों की रियासत,
ख़ौफ़ के दम पे खड़ी सलतनत, खोखले ईमानों की सियासत?
ख़ुदा का पैग़ाम तो मोहब्बत है, उसे तुम दर-दर सुनाओ,
तुम दिल-दिल में छोड़ जाओगे, अपने वज्द-ए-अज़्ल की विरासत

بزور ی شمشیر کیا پائوگے - کھوکھلے مکانوں کی ریاست
خوف کہ دم پے کھڈی سلطنت ، کھوکھلے ایمانوں کی سیاست
خدا کا پیغام تہ محبّت ہے ، اسے تم در-در سنائو
تم دل-دل میں چھوڈ جآئوگے ، اپنے وجد-ی-ازل کی وراژت


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