Sunday, October 16, 2011

Four shorts of sorts

The balladeer hummed
Incomplete songs
That someone in the audience
Would remember the forgotten words
That he was trying to recall

They built pillars
Solid and formidable
With the best of material
Superbly engineered
Four on either side of the railway tracks

Someone forgot to build the bridge

The egg seller
Balanced 56 symmetrical eggs
On a single plate
Audaciously cycling through crowded bylanes
In order to ensure the eggs reached their destination
Every day

For four decades or so

The debauched man
Was cursed by god
A lightening struck him on the head
Man said, ouch
And told god
Its not my fault
You made me imperfect

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Why we require agarbattis in an agarbatti stand

Before sun-rise

He bathed
Prayed to Goddess Laxmi

Offering agarbatti fragrance

A new brand
Rose, jasmine, sandalwood, mogra, champa, tarangini

While G.L. swallowed superior-grade smoke
He repeated his daily money mantra:
May the people of this land remain stupid, eternally hereafter

So that people like me can gleefully fleece them and triple my bottom-line

The logic of the honky-tonk man

What's more important

Asked the honky-tonk man
Eating yesterday's left-over

A day job?
Just a song on the radio?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

My friend's uncanny knack

Uncanny knack

My friend has

With his travels to Equitorial Guinea
To Belarus
To Uzbekistan
To Kazaksthan
To Iran

Last week,
He did deals in
Ethiopia and Rwanda

Don't you travel to happy lands?
His daughter asks him

He sips his single malt
Issues an opprobrium of sorts

Thick skinned countries
With thick skinned leaders
Create thick skinned citizenry
Who don't require high and mighty lectures and ideals

They require money
Which we pour
They require largesse of guilt
Which we leverage

Saying so my friend planned his next trip
To Eritrea

Sunday, September 11, 2011

At route number 524

At route number 524

Waiting for the bus
He took leg stump guard

When no one was looking
The septuagenarian
Twirled his working folding umbrella
Tapped the ground thrice
Bent his knees
Leaned forward at a right angle
Unleashing the most perfect drive through cover

Something Rahul Dravid would have been proud of

A Callery pear

This is my story

My parents
Who were they?
I hope they loved me

My latest birthday
I became more deciduous than I was ever meant to be
Brylcreem for my foliage, green
Bespoke tailoring for my branches, weak

I want to tell the story of my life
It is the only I know to tell

This fall,
My leaf turned shiny dark red to scarlet
I realise the grotesquery of my flowers, white
I pick up conversations from the bees
About sweet shops and bakeries
About grated Grana Padano and the aroma of fresh dill

Granite slabs for tombstones
Oak trees for company
But I can't dialogue with a 30-feet statue of Plato
Or the Tanagra figurines at my feet

I'm a marvel
In front of me
Silhouetted bodies pay a ticket
To mourn
They egregiously kiss
The tip of my fruit, inedible

If I could talk
I would tell you my fate
Today I plan to self-immolate

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Quite elementary

Quite elementary

He was told

When he was born

Please pray in Sanskrit

Communicate with your grand-parents in our mother-tongue

Four lectures per week in school in the state language

Attend office in English

Government-speak in Hindi

Order wine in French

Give gaalies in all of the above

And never-ever lapse into silence

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Let's talk poetry

Two fonts stared
At each other
Across enemy lines

Till one said to the other: Let's talk poetry

Long long ago
I covered
P V Narsimha Rao's 7 am election rally
In his constituency in Behrampur

Woke up with a jolt
Having over-slept as always

The sun had risen
I rushed to the broken window with tooth powder on my forefinger
Realised my mistake

It was bright light from a lamp-post
The street was illuminated
Behind the plastic curtain

You see
The local administration
Had switched on the power supply for the PM's rally

Every evening
The old man knotted fresh champa flowers
In her hair
She placed her hands on his shoulder
Walking into the night

I could have burst into tears

I mustered courage
Invited her home
For the first time

She stood above my bed
In her white cotton saree and said:
What's all this

I replied:
My thermos flask with hot water
Crocin strip
An old train ticket from Sindhri to here
Hair brush, nail cutter, transistor
A book of poems by Nagarjuna with two pencils in it
And lots of dust

That's when she undressed
Folded her saree
Placed it on yesterday's newspaper
Picked up the broom

I watched her
Clean my room
For hours and hours
Till all was spic and span

Then she left
Without a word

Couldn't sleep
It was a terrible day
She stepped out for a glass of water

And saw
A cockroach crawling all over the elephant god's trunk
Instead of screaming
She went to sleep saying: what am I?
These days, even the gods are helpless

Monday, August 29, 2011

When it rains

When it rains
I wrap myself in a grey plastic tarpaulin
A yellowish carton to cover my head

And cycle
Through tiny puddles

Of counting rain drops
Behind a dirty window pane

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Of saints, falsehoods and other things

Today morning
The sun refused to rise
She tried to bribe it
With a simple prayer

Last heard
The sun's rays were sentenced to six years of RI
As per the new law

Jyotiba asked Babasaheb
How does it feel?
This new Marathi Mahatma
Who pooh poohs the preamble of the Constitution
And doesn't know our names
Yours or mine

Scribbled with a stick
Near the water-tank in Mahad
Mahatmas come, Mahatmas go

The show must go on

A new epoch has set in
A nice new revolution was made
All expenses paid

10% service tax

The laughter of the world
Is a constant quantity
For each one of us who laughs
Someone somewhere else ceases to do so

This is inversely true of a farce

The annihilation of corruption
Scripted by Bollywood
Drama, action, naach-gaana, nautanki

That's why Ramlila Maidan and not Dalal Street
That's why Parliament House and not temple trusts
That's why meditation and not Manusmriti
That's why like-minded people disagreeing with like-minded people

History shows that where ethics and economics come in conflict
Victory is always with economics

Periyar says
The struggle of the saints do not have any effect on society
When a man is earning Rs 10 per day
His self worth does not originate from Bhakti
Or public fasting on a public stage

Saints fast
That's their trade

But fasting has an unhealthy effect
It provides the saints with an excuse to silence the rest of us
With their Smriti-religon

Till they break their fast with coconut water
And imported honey

Tiny ants
Working hard
Continued to slave

In ant language they wondered:
What is the per capita bribe ratio in the ant world?

Equality for all

If the worker and his boss sip the same wine
Attend the same weddings and circuses
If the lady who collects the garbage is as fashionably made up as the daughter of the house
If a Dalit owns a jet-plane
So that the assimilation is complete

Everyone dehydrates
And lives happily malnourished ever after

Crow 1
Who was perched on the branch
Of the Ficus Religios
In Bodh Gaya
Woke up

He wondered what the fuss is all about

Crow 2 said: Caw Caw

Roughly translated, it meant: It's something called democracy
Nothing has changed
The human race like Prince Gautama Sidhartha
Still seeks enlightenment

Saying so,
Crow 1 and Crow 2
Went back to sleep

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The only Anna I believe in is Anna Durai

The only Anna I believe in is Anna Durai.


The corruption of the world is much too complex for the simplicity of mere mortals.

Mulla Nasruddin says:
It's a matter of time
The day has come, yet again
When I will turn and churn in my grave, yet again

Why, you ask?

For there are fools bigger than I
Says Nasruddin

This planet of ours
Has a special knack of celebrating a new fool, every now and then

One turn more
To complete a billion and one fools

Reality is notional, and mostly unlikely. That's why it cannot be tabled in Parliament.

What Mahadevbhai taught me: To die for a Gandhian cause is easier than to live it absolutely.

That's why my idea of Paradise is kind of Dravidian.

I have a simple solution. Eliminate black from the CMYK printing-ink formulation. That's one way to prevent the production of black money.

I prefer my neighbourhood whore to tax evasion. The former fucks me (Rather reluctantly, too sluggish, she says); and the latter screws we the people

My paan-wallah explains:
Politics is not a cliche

When you head a political movement
It's like trying to make a paan for the first time
It requires trial and error, experimentation, practise
Reasoning, seasoning

It is hard work

You can't medidate for 57 minutes
Open your third eye and say: QED.
Now, brothers and sisters
I present to you the perfect paan

Anna Durai
Studied files
For weeks
He wanted to set up an aluminium factory in Salem

An iron and thermal unit in Vridachalam
Atomic station in Panruti
Create an export zone from Pathamadai

Anna Durai looked up
He was told to resolve the matter of a party worker
(Who had walked 200 miles)
And prevent a messy divorce

He did so
Draped a hand-made shawl around the husband-wife

Next day he faced a no confidence motion in the assembly

This is in the nature of things

An afterthought

Arun, Sudhir, Vernon are rotting in prison for endangering our nation
Their opinions ephemeral
Their words a threat to national security

Then what explains this incertitude

So readily
We accept a man
trying to overthrow a democratically elected government
In the hope of installing a Gandhian dictator

Is this a precursor of things to come
Where our right to refute shall be ratified
By a joker

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Why drinking is injurious to health

His wife told me
This tragic story

Her husband drank and drank
From his collection of booze bottles
Sourced from hooch factories in Umergaon

One night
She woke up and saw
Her husband aflame

The booze he was drinking
Had combusted
And caught fire
Inside his body

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ten Tech Thoughts

How I wish
I could Photoshop
All my meals

What do we do
What do we ever do
Musically asks
My collection of vinyls
To all my spools

How would I know
Oban is a typeface
In the spirit of the woodcut

I thought you were ordering
Two bottles of Jamaican rum

It would be terrific
If newspapers front-paged
The murder of a great idea

That's one way
People like me
Would not stumble from one obsolete skill to another

Lily or Franklin Gothic
The better font
For a political slogan in Azad Maidan

One day I hope to grow old
And manage to read
Most of the books in my bookshelf

One day
I hope to celebrate
My own death anniversary

Matrimonial ad:
Looking for a male
One browser, one size, one code
Preferably with live sex apps

Has launched a new gadget
It's called reading

One day I'll need GPS
To help me understand
Where I am going in my life

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Reflections about a vexillographer and other things

Spent so much time
Admiring the outstanding label
On the bottle inside an ice bucket
That he forgot to drink the wine

The Mahatma said
Healthy dissent is a prelude to progress
Why then is progress not a prologue to dissent?

We're the largest producer of licit opium
And milk
And babies

Some connection there
I'm trying to find

When I opened
My copy of James Joyce's Ulysses
Molly Bloom started dancing
She started speaking like a ZooZoo

That's how I realised I'm watching too much TV

A bemused commoner (that's me)
Is peering through a telescope
He is a peeping tom of sorts

He scrutinises the lives of others
Sodomy, sordidness, adultery

He starts to describe
In detail
The mating of two lovers

Members of the state police appear
To arrest him on grounds of obscenity

The bemused commoner (that's me) protests

He was describing an innocent affair
Between a blue chested kingfisher and a golden breasted kingfisher
On a neem tree

The state police say that's against the law

A bemused commoner (that's me)
Sits in suffocating silence for three minutes
Plus a few seconds

Suddenly, a mob appears
The mob applauds lustily
Copies of my silent speech are distributed to the audience

I'm the new oracle
I'm the knowledge and the truth

My book which has the complete collection of all my silent speeches becomes a best-seller

1.9 million miles of roads in India
How many road-side dabbas and tyre-makers does that calculate into
And obsolete road-signs

I meet a young man
Name is Hamid
He tells me heart wrenching rural stories
In a bhatti in Kurla

This included one, about how he purchased a tong (instead of a toy)
For his aging grandmother

I weep when
I hear these poignant poverty stories

Years later
I realise Hamid was merely re-telling Premchand
Regurgitating stories like Idgaah

See, that's why one must read Premchand

Typeface is everything
That's what RK said

Should I change everything on this site into MetaSerif?

Twice a year
The vexillographer sells flags
The rest of the year it's cigarettes

Both businesses are lucrative, he says
Plus they provide for a certain sense of freedom

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Random ruminations


My new ringtone is Stalin's cough

Fewer people call me, now


The glossary of my life

Will be pretty short

A for alcohol

B for barbiturates

C for chuckwalla (the pet I never had)


What if life on earth gets reduced to

Pepsi? Coke?


I met her after 10 years

She was ungainly but happy

Said she could have cycled around the world

(For which she had a sponsor)

Instead she married a dull sort of man

And they lived happily ever after


When I grow up I want to fly an airplane in autopilot

Can I?


Good taste has bypassed India

My theory is

If you've good taste

They suspect you may bring down the government


Last night

I walked up to a dinosaur

And said: It's a pity your species hasn't heard about the survival of the fittest.

He replied: Neither has yours


Can you suggest a good coaching class

Preferably dirt-cheap

Where I can learn how to break rules


For 91 years

She listened

When her skull cracked on the funeral pyre

The priest was astonished

Her brain was missing

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Please vote me for PM

Please vote me for PM
Your country I shall rule

I won't sign no papers
I won't make no speech
I will amend all the bills
For cabinet ministers who stick to me like leech

I will work so hard and slave like a mule
My only qualification is: I am some kind-of-fool

Sunday, August 7, 2011


He loves her
She loves he
He loves him
She also loves him
Him loves her

Now her loved someone
Who wonders "am I really someone"

And all of the above,
Drown their sorrow in paan
And Raga Pilu

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The depreciation of intangible assets in a family

What a lazy fellow

If he goes on sleeping
Like this till noon
There shall be a gradual and permanent decrease in his economic value
Jhunjhunwala's daughter will not marry him

Said the stock-broker father
To his wife

He is not sleeping
Said the mother
To her husband
Offering him five pieces of badaams from Iran
Our son is amortising

Monday, August 1, 2011

Why monkeys are addicted to opium in these parts

The moat around the maharaja's mahal
Is filled with attar
The maharaja resides in the maharaja's suite
Actually, an ancient prison cell

The mahal has 600 rooms
A mile tall cupola
An indoor polo ground
To host royal weddings and births

High security gates
Uniformed soldiers on steeds
To safeguard
The gravevard
Where the royal family conducts public burial ceremonies

Such has been the way of the high and mighty
In these parts
Thought a particularly redundant member of the human race
Preparing 1:3 dosage of opium
Dissolved in water

He offers
In a cupped palm leaf
To the local monkeys who visit his factory
In the outskirts of the town

The monkeys taste it
And approve of it by falling off the tree perch
The royal opium concoction is despatched to the maharaja
To be served with
A freshly cooked portion of monkey brain

Friday, July 29, 2011

Short tribute to Stendhal

Stendhal started to rummage
Through his 19th century memoirs
The dust made him sneeze

He wanted to read Goethe
To her
She wanted to dip Parle biscuits
In a cup of tea

In the East Khasi Hills
They record rainfall in metres
He said to himself
And wet his Italian sandals
In a dirty puddle

He picked up a new book to read
With eagerness
But was too tired to turn the pages

Brutalised in love
She kissed him
Hoping he wouldn't reciprocate

She walked into the showroom
Sought a perfume
That had the fragrance of the first rice cultivation

He walked into the showroom
Sought a perfume
That could prevent him from falling to the ground

When he saw her emerge
From The Madonna's Shrine
His syphilis made him dizzy

Some say: It was love at first sight

When she learnt
Stendhal had died of seizure
On the streets of Paris
She smiled her tragic smile
And recalled how he preferred dictating his final book to her
Instead of consummation

The happy few ...
Who are they ...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Proto Mogul of our times

Parked his steel grey Bentley
Bedroom lights were on
Perhaps she was reading
Or he had forgotten to switch off

He did speed dial
Asked for home delivery
Of instant karma
It will take seven minutes, the voice told him

Too slow
Too slow
By then, the speculators and share-holders
Would have fractally traded Rs 1,400 crore
On the stock exchange

At this rate
He calculated
The world would simply run out of algorithms
And stupid people to fleece

Monday, July 18, 2011

A tragic woman

I see a tragic woman
From inside my car

10,000 cars beside me
In a traffic jam

This woman
Tapping her scintillating umbrella
On the entirely granite
Hard English-made metal

Of a bridge (as ancient as her)
Having bi-lingual thoughts

Sliding across the bridge
She stumbles on a ripe pumpkin
Rolling down from the vegetable market

She unclenches her fist
To scatter polished grains for pigeons
All of whom disintegrate
Due to a bolt of lightening
Causing confusion
Among the locals

Time halts

Thoughts criss-cross

This is what I see
Noisy motor engines, cars annoyed
The woman rests her forehead
On a solar street-lamp
A waft of paalak and pudhina
Till the earth shudders
A little volcano erupts beneath her feet

She breathes, again

Time re-starts

She looks up
Sees me

I try to reciprocate

I can't

Her sadness has engulfed me

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It was that sort of day

I chewed and chewed at my purple-coloured toothbrush

I looked through the frosted stained pane

I counted each and every drop of rain
That drenched two sparrows on the window grill

It was that sort of day

Monday, July 11, 2011

In high tide or low tide

In the monsoon

The city dweller wrapped himself in a blue tarpaulin
Walking bare-foot
All the way to the Haji Ali Dargah

With every drop of rain
He rendered a qawwali
For Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari
Whose coffin
With his body
Floated all the way back
From Mecca
Till it rested on the rocks off the coast of Worli

For five hundred years,
The city dweller never entered the Central Shrine
But his qawwalli did
Reaching out to the tomb
Beneath the red and green chaddar

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Why reading is injurious to your health

Why reading is injurious to your health

On 24 January 1556
Humayun wants to read, something, anything
He climbs the steps to his library
To procure a good read

While descending

With many big books
He hears the mullah's call for azaan
Duty calls

tries to do namaaz
In doing so, he slips

He dies

scrupulous and honourable God
Hears the news
He says: Beware
The word, especially when its written, is injurious to your health

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Hello Mr Tolstoy

Hello Mr Tolstoy
You're genuinely too good
Why am I, still, so impressed by you?

What about you?
Have you read Dostoevsky
Impressed by him?

When you pray at a temple
Who appears?
Shakespeare? Dante? Or Mister God?

Saturday, July 2, 2011


I water words
I've meticulously planted
In mud pots

I fuss over these words
Fertilise them
Sing a melody
In the hope
They will blossom into a ballad or love song
That I can type out with my tongue
One day

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Three shorts from KL

The meek shall inherit the world
If not, they shall
At the very least
Nudge it
A little bit

The Tunisian fruit vendor
Mohamed Bouazizi
Had a fracas
(to salvage his male ego)
With a woman police officer

Leading to protests
That toppled a government, sort of
And modified
The future of Egypt
In a way, its citizenry never-ever dreamt about

The blind brother number two
A proud Cambodian
Removed his dark glasses
And roared
The judicial investigation is unfair
It lacks transparency

After the supreme judge
And the tribunal sentenced him

Emptying the cities in the country
Abolishing currency
Shutting down all schools
15,000 people in a day
To ensure the long life and good health of blind brother number one

Relatives of the murdered victims
Shouted slogans
Outside the court
That blind brother number two
Should be buried alive in the mass graves
In Choeung Ek
Tit for tat

A small minority said, spare him
For a small mistake
The Khmer Rouge did what it did
To ensure the prosperity and progress of our nation

So then
What is this thing called justice?
Asked the custodian of law
For he
Knew the name of the concubine
Who delivered sudden death to
blind brother number one
By poisoning his bed tea

The law abiding authority
Told protestors
Tomorrow's march has been declared illegal
That if anyone took a step forward
Legs would be broken
Skulls smashed
Slogans water-cannoned

One of the protestors
Came up with the idea: There's no law
That prevents rallyists from walking backwards
Into the city centre
That's what we must do

Greeks of the world, unite
You've nothing to lose except your billions

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A tribute to her

Kiss me
She says

He stares at her sweet, drunken lips
Not knowing
What to do

She goes home
Scrapes the chunna off her bedroom wall
And licks it
To assuage her broken heart

PS: In this way, she notches up one more avtaar of sadness

PPS: And for him, one more missed opportunity

The saga of the noted botanist

Two years, later

He returned from the rain forests
With the Rafflesia Leonardi

His grand-mother (maternal side) used to call it the corpse flower
And his grand-mother (paternal side) the meat flower

He caressed the five-petalled flower
All 39 inches of diameter
22 pounds
Brownishly grayish with dotted design

His bestest gift, ever
For his beloved wife

She was asleep
She generally was

She yawningly squealed and said:
What a strange flower
With no stems, no leaves, no roots
Plus it has the horrible stench of dead meat

Please throw it out of the window

Friday, June 24, 2011

Baba Ramdev sat on the wall

Baba Ramdev sat on the wall

Baba Ramdev, he had a great fall
All the PM's Ministers
And all the PM's men
Could not make Baba Ramdev do his asanas again

Monday, June 20, 2011

It's all Greek to me

In a small town
In the middle of nowhere
The man helped his mother get off a crowded truck
He carried her
On his shoulders
To the only clinic in these parts

Mother has TB
A month ago, dysentery and snake bite
It is curable
Said the doctor to the son

In another part of the world
Economists gathered
To diagnose the Greek economy
As to how a minor cold became a flu which became an allergic rash
That became a disease
Crossing borders

And is that curable?
Said the suited-booted men
During a secret meeting in Luxembourg

This time someone did manufacture life saving drugs
Administered in the nick of time

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Oh, to be in Sialkot

To be in Sialkot
And write like Faiz
About knees that caress each other
Hearts that pound
While alcohol flows as freely as her hair in the open air kitchen
Fraught with tension
In which she must re-build her life

She kneads the dough, serves rotis
Which she serves with a smile

All I want to tell her is
There is a world outside
And she will have to oil the hinges of the doors
Step out of her grandfather's haveli
Or else the road will be empty
With no one to show her the way

Monday, June 13, 2011


When he was shot dead

The PM sent a letter to the CM
The CM sent a letter to the Deputy CM
The Deputy CM sent a letter to the Home Minister
The Home Minister sent a letter with a RSVP to the top cops

One of whom got transferred to arms control

On cue
Four under-paid scribes went underground

A few wept copiously
Hundreds protested

That's when you realised
Beneath the banter of Old Monk and Thums Up
At the Press Club
There exists a world where nothing is quite what it seems to be

And basically how totally fucked up we are

Saturday, June 11, 2011

How to topple a dictator ...

Basically, three ways

1. You out-pay the dictator's cronies
2. You start a people's revolution when the dictator is aging - and research indicates that his oil resource / bank balance is depleting
3. You play Bridge with the dictator, and poison his mind - and bed tea

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mamta appears in my dream

Appears in my dream
In a crumpled cotton saree with a green border

With clenched fists
She is heading for a rally in Lalgarh
And to attend a plenary session in the house

She asks me
What should I say?
What should I do?

Bhai, help me!

She sips tea
That I've prepared
In order to buy time
That's when I tell her:
Please request Budhadev-ji
He'll write your speeches
Draft your proposals

Maa, Mati, Manush
I'll decimate you with my Dhanush

She pours tea
On my head
Walks off
Muttering even people's dreams are infiltrated these days

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A gentleman's will

His safe deposit locker
Revealed a will
Which bequeathed hectares of property
And bonds to her

Plus a handwritten note in a buff coloured envelope
That said -
I meant to say this, everyday, for the past 57 years

Please don't play Schubert after Mozart
It ruins everything

Why she didn't get Binayak Sen's autograph - and other shorts

Ideology is detritus
And hard-working governments
Manipulate it better than we ever can

He prefers
Anonymity to self-promotion
They prefer
A Mahatma and a good-looking poster boy

Politics is theatre
And yet, people abhor plays that make them think
Since it can spread brain disease, you know

World social forum or social world forum?
Where media junkies try to persuade the masses
About what's right for them
In their pitiable ghettos

When she strode upto Binayak Sen
For his autograph
He was calculating the body mass index for ordinary people

Alarmed by her own obesity
She turned around and walked off

Monday, May 16, 2011

Two short speeches about governance


There are more cabinet-reshuffles
Than popular uprisings
In this country of ours

I wonder
Who lets me down, oftener
The government I vote for
Or the people I think I know

At the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese

At the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese

The priest spoke of God creating the world
In six days

The young man who was studying science in standard five
Asked his mother, "Didn't God hear about carbon dating and fossils?"