Friday, November 6, 2009

Going through my old notebooks....

I came across these fragments and unfinished pieces. The notebooks themselves are falling apart with age and neglect. Thought this would be a good place to preserve and clean them up.


Lonelier than the people I see
Feeding pigeons in the sun
Whistling to the squirrels
Begging them to come.

I sit in a crumbling tower of dreams,
Behind a forever-locked gate.
Staring at the empty pages
Smoking the cigarettes I hate.

Trying hard to capture a moment
Feeling unworthy every time.
I look into mirrors to remember my face
Reading words that can never be mine.

Who am I pretending to be today?
A poet, an actor, a wandering flame
Trapped in a stillness of spirit
Looking for something to blame

Searching for my corner of Beautiful
Somewhere to hide the love I keep.
To greet the dawn with a smile
And dive a thousand kisses deep.


You remain hidden from me,
Like all the hopes
We dare not breathe.
Sometimes I catch your scent
Lingering. A wisp of magic
In a mundane day.
I see a smile I recognize
On an unfamiliar face.

I search through Coltrane
To understand the meaning
Hidden just beyond the words
I don’t quite understand.
All these words…
What happened to my voice?

I can’t force a picture to smile
Or a glass of wine to be truthful.
We are all locked within
Parodies of ourselves.
Searching not for a way out,
But to trap another within.


Where do your dreams take you
Into the meadows we were banished from.
Into the songs the Seraphim hum.
Feathers on the summer wind,
Where do your dreams take you

Do you see my face, there
just beyond the Light?
Where all the things you wish for dwell.
Waves of hope against the darkness swell.
Do you see my face there

I cannot make the words beautiful.
I cannot make them sing the songs I hear.
You are the beauty and the song
The flame of my hearth.
You are my burning bush,
my desert cave.
My brimming cup of nectar.
You are my final goddess
My last loss of faith.

The Silence of Us

There are silences within us
We, who reflect only moonlight.
Silences they cannot drown
Or wash with television,
Silences that never whisper
Music that never stops.
I do not remember
My dreams.

I search the faces,
For the bright ones,
With eyes like drops of nectar.
We gather the sheets, and
Whisper “Good night,”
to empty beds.
Linger with the shattered
Things, and whimpered dreams.
Away from the silence.

This begins with guarded smiles
Safe distances, excuses wrapped
In Hookah smoke and Turkish coffee,
And two perfect cups of lemonade
Wearing matching smiles.
Words dancing to her voice.
Fingers weaving around each other
Like dragonflies in the sun
I take her eyes in mine
And forget to look away.

A song sung by this woman of quiet,
Distant places, and desert suns.
And hair that curls and flows
Like the pen of an Arabian poet.
A woman deeper than all of this,
A sound vanishing beyond itself

She sprinkles me across her sky.
Jasmine dreams in a secret garden.She gives me the wordsI told my ears to forget.
A prayer calling its priest,
As I take her in my arms,
And welcome her home.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

This Is It

I decided to finally stop procrastinating and go see Michael Jackson’s “This is It” tonight.

Moment of silence…………………………………………………………………

Words cannot begin to describe the nostalgia, the euphoria, the overwhelming shaking of the booty, and the heartbreak I felt whilst watching. I have loved that man’s music ever since the first day I heard “Thriller” playing, in July 1991. In Swedish House Dormitory at Kodaikanal International School. I was all of seven and a half years old, and I had told my parents the year before that I wanted to go away to boarding school. I have no idea what had gotten into me to leave my comfortable home and my doting parents and move to the other end of the bloody country, up a mountain, and into a boarding school.

I remember the green stucco walls of the dorm. I remember the alien sounds coming out of the Tamil maids as they cajoled, pleaded, screamed, and jovially pushed all of us into the cafeteria for dinner. I remember the white tiles on the floor that smelled like spilled spaghetti sauce and Coca-Cola spills. I remember the heady aromas wafting out of the kitchen which wasn’t really separated from the cafeteria by anything except one of those saloon doors that they show in the old Western films. And every now and then, Mary, the chef’s wife would step through like Clint Eastwood and thump unidentifiable stuff into the bowls in front of us.

I remember that first dinner, sitting at a table alone, watching everyone so comfortable with each other and themselves. I tried to understand all the jokes, decipher the stories being told and the references they used. I knew nothing, and noone. I had grown up on a pretty secluded farm, with my only contact with kids my age at the local public school where we all had worn uniforms and not really talked to each other.

That’s when I heard the music. Michael Jackson playing on the most beat up tape recorder I had ever seen. But this kid called Dhanus Nair, who would later become my room-mate and my friend, put it on and did an impromptu jig in the middle of the cafeteria. Our dorm parent, Mrs. Lazarus, a tall statuesque, Amazon of a woman (who later become as close to me as my own mother, through my time in that dorm, and later, as I moved on, grew up and grew out) come storming through the doors like one of the ghouls breaking down the door in the video. But I, sitting alone in the corner, was the only one who noticed her smile when she turned away again to walk out after chastising Dhanus.

That smile was the first moment I felt the weight and the fear lift off my chest. And I’ve always associated that feeling with Michael Jackson’s music. It’s one of those strange psychological associations that happens. Doesn’t have to be logical, doesn’t even have to matter to anyone else.

Till this day, all I have to do, to feel like a kid with an entire universe of adventure ahead of him, is to play Michael Jackson.

You were an angel Michael. An angel we raised up then tore down and threw away. How we wailed when you died…how we beat our chests. But what we cried for wasn’t that you were gone, we cried that we had ever known a moment of doubt about you. That the world made us stop loving you as much, even for a little while.

Forgive us.

And thank you.

For the music, for that feeling, for the love.

You were it.

Have fun teaching the angels how to Moonwalk.

Something in the AIr

I feel the weather changing. There was a promise of relief in the wind, just the barest brush of better times ahead. Bombay never really gets cold, but the wind tonight seemed to promise some respite in the future. I hope so. I am not a man suited to this humidity and dust. It’s been only a week since we all came down from Rishikesh, and every morning I wake, I can feel the siren call of the mountains throbbing against my eyes just after they open. In that half moment betwixt slumber and when I toss aside the sheets, I can almost taste the thickness of the mountain air in my mouth.

It’s strange how I’m always wishing to be somewhere other than I am. I wonder if it’s my own personal purgatory, or do others have a similar ache in their hearts now and then. When they look around a room, or stop at a red light and stare outside their cars, do they long to be anywhere but in their present circumstances. I’ve been working at not being so disconnected with my present, and am proud to say that there have been mostly successes on that front. But my rambunctious mind and it’s endless, bounding energy to skip and twirl and disappear into fantasy, like a pup chasing into a thicket after a rabbit, it always takes me by surprise and snap! I’m away in another world.

I found myself doing that very strongly this last Thursday night. I was invited to attend the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image’s Eleventh Film Festival. Truth be told, I went more because the opening film was going to be Soderberg’s “The Informant”, a film I’d been jonesing to see ever since I saw the trailer earlier this year. But before the screening, there was a long drawn-out introduction and opening ceremony, with many speeches and many moments of applause. It was very well done, heartfelt, a bit sloppily staged, but sincere. And yet for the life of me, I couldn’t bring myself to actually pay attention to my surroundings.

Thankfully the movie started and gripped me from the first moment. Matt Damon who, after watching him in the “Talented Mr. Ripley”, I have come to greatly admire, was unbelievable in “The Informant”. The man altered everything about himself, body-language, mannerisms, idiosyncrasies, tics, speech pattern, even his body shape. It was a humbling experience watching an actor inhabit his role so completely. Realized I have a long, long way to go before I can even claim to be an actor worth the mentioning. If you get a chance, watch this film. Aside from “Frost/Nixon” it’s probably the best film I’ve seen this year.

After the screening was a dinner, but everybody seemed to only want to head home. So I peeled away too, took in a nice quiet meal at a nearby restaurant. Something very relaxing about eating alone in a dimly lit joint, with smiling waiters and perfectly decanted port sparkling crimson in a glass. There’s definitely something in the air these days. I don’t quite know what it is, only it fills me with the oddest surge of hope. As if something’s coming, or has already arrived. I keep walking into rooms hoping to find IT there, or turning corners hoping to glimpse it.

Now to be away. Brand new book sitting on my bedside, and a steaming cup of kahwa. My apartment smells like champa, and the wind’s tapping softly on the windows, asking to be let in. I think I’ll oblige. Excuse me…