Sunday, November 30, 2008

Yasser Arafat is no more

I met Yasser Arafat
For the first time in Egypt
His body was on a horse-drawn carriage
As part of a military funeral

I asked him:
Sir: how do you do you?

He kissed me (he was forever kissing people in spite of doctor's orders)
And said, Not too good

One, I'm dead
Two, I am in Cairo and I do not have the time to see the pyramids

Saying so
He readied to play out the final charade
That began in a military hospital in France
Unto his temporary destination inside a cement container in Ramallah

All this

To the greater glee of his hecklers in the Arab League
The F-16s in the Israeli Army
And paid assassinators

Yasser Arafat knew this
Since his days in a windowless room
Inside his muqata in the West Bank
Where he used to lie down on a single camp bed
Watching rarefied species of lizards and rats, scurry around
Here and there

At 11 am
On Friday
Arafat discarded the olive green uniform
Said adieu to me

He wrapped himself in a white shroud

In which he knew he would be buried
And re-buried, forever

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mister God

Er ...

Mister God?
Can I ask you a question?
Are you religious?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

It's all a bit stupid, really

It's all a bit stupid, really
You are born
Then you die

After years of great sex
She felt love
Next morning, he left her

You can go to Fatehpur Sikri
Bow your head at the tomb of Salim Chisthi
Or have a nan kathoi

Friday, August 15, 2008

No Tamasha this season

No Tamasha show this season
Says the veteran Tamasgir to me

Tomorrow it’s Dashehra
Followed by Diwali
The rice its peaking
The rains are ceasing
But no
Dholkicha Phad this season

Seven months of silence
210 dreary days
210 lonely nights
No sound of the applause, no razzmatazz of lights

150 theatre companies, they fold the travelling tents
They iron their costumes, they tune their instruments
They tell their children about ideal prognostications
Of how Tamasha performances entertained the nation

That was then
This is now

Eighty jatras
300 performances
No Suparees
No encores for now

No Tamasha show this season
Says the veteran Tamasgir to me

The numbers don’t lie
He unwinds his
Our artistic reputation can't grow
Due to inconsistency of cash flow

There are no yearnings
Therefore no earnings
Plus there’s a no-show
From 9 pm to 5 am, my friend
A court ruling that bans us after 10

Unemployed are the artistes
Female dancers and singers
All of whom migrate to gambling dens
Where women are paid more than men

We pay money to the wealthy
We pay for the diesel, we pay for the car
We pay for rentals, we pay for the hiring
We pay for taxes, we pay for complex licensing

We pay for the insurance, we pay for bank loans
We pay for costumes, we pay for the cell-phones
We pay for the generator, we pay for sound and lights
Whatever remains is for government babu's bribes

That’s why
No, Tamasha show this season
Says the veteran Tamasgir to me

Chirimiri economics, it makes no sense
State subsidies are fucking nonsense
There can be no co-operative theatre movement
When we are being crushed by our own government

That’s why
There will be no Tamasha show this season
Says the veteran Tamasgir to me

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Water, water everywhere

The government babu
Unveiled his water formulae
And theorems

He said:
If you connect the Ahars and Pynes in South Bihar
With the Baoris and Khatris in the Himalayas
And the Chappris and Chaals and Talabs in the Deccan Plateau
With the kuccha wells in the Gangetic plains
With the Bandhinis and Shilotris in Konkan
With the Katas, Mundas and Bandhs in Orissa
With the Thurangams in Kerala and Sisandras in Karanataka
With the Virdas in Gujarat and the Beris and Taankas in Kutch
With all the Jheels

Everyone in the nation will have access to water

That's when he realised
His throat was parched
The glass of water on the podium was empty
And there was no way any of the upper-castes
In that hall
Were going to re-fill it

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The one-third syndrome

One-third of the people in our country do not possess a single certificate nor document (never have, never will)

One-third do not know what to do with theirs - even though someone in their family has stored all the papers in some form or the other (always have, don't know what to do with it)

One-third of this one-third who own the official stamps and seals in their office desks - ensure 1 and 2 remain in a state of oblivion while they ensure two-thirds of this one-third accrue the benefits (it's part of the job profile)

The rest make money

In fact let me hasten to add, the rest make a lot of money

Thursday, April 24, 2008

When you're a profligate idealist

Tough only life is

Life is tough only
Only tough is life
Is life only tough

When you're a profligate idealist

Monday, March 3, 2008

The missing doctor

Do you have

The telephone number
Of the old doctor
Who lives down the lane

He mends
My broken heart
When it goes TWAANG

I'm told
By his daughter
That when she saw him last
He was rolling a beedi
Lost in thought
And may have set-out in the morning
To search for Sant Tukaram

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Gutenberg

Proposed to mass-produce
32,000 mirrors
For the Aachen pilgrimage
And make a return of 16,000 gulden
For an investment of 600 gulden

(Like the plague, lack of finance and a law suit)
Ensured Gutenberg
Could not produce mirrors for one lakh pilgrims

He invented
The movable type

Amor vincit omnia
Love, she conquers all
And eros, she is the mother of everything

Print merely illustrates this
So that we follow our own pleasures

You and I see
Bark of trees, hemp waste, old rags and fish nets
In a dirty pond with mortar

But in this
Ts'ai Lun conceived the idea of paper

Monday, January 28, 2008

Make my country awake

I tried to make my country awake

But it's pockets are empty
It has run out of cash

Now I'm told
Nobody wants to lend it money for a cutting chai