Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Lunch at Taj

A month after the terror attack, I brave an x-mas lunch at the Taj

“No Photos Please!” the hostess of the Shamiana smiled the warning in while a German couple tried to steal a click. For a brimming Chirstmas afternoon, South Mumbai’s most famous coffee shop for banoffe pie and Christmas struttle is eerily mute and empty. There are no carols and no magnanimous buffet spread either. A few visitors have taken place in meek corners, which have erupted post the restoration, of the Taj Mahal Palace and Hotel’s most prestigious eatery. The cream, silken tent is missing and the hollowed roof structure that was completely destroyed in the spate of the terror-attacks has been restored. But the golden gleam of the Shamiana Chandelier has dulled. This is my first lunch at the just-restored and barely-recovered Taj. The Hotel by the bay, that had its own TV show on a popular channel, came under siege when armed terrorists stormed the Hotel – destroying, killing, stomping, torturing and uprooting the faith of a fearless city. Hundreds lost their lives and the Taj burned in a Magnesium filled air. Pellets of bullets burned holes into the walls of the aging building marking our lives, visions and hearts with fear.

But just shy of a month from when the terrorists first set foot in the Taj, a part of the hotel is now taking orders and reservations. Constant music is filling the gaps of the constant hotel murmur that previously filled the space. Few talk, silent whispers resound and the lobby leading to the Shamiana, is eerily dark even under bright halogen glow. For a newly restored Taj, the place is far from being crowded. 268 rooms have been booked in the Tower, while the Heritage section is still under construction. The opening ceremony was grand, but post that the doors to the Taj have been again closed. The Apollo Bunder, sea-face side and the Bombay Electric entrances have been barricaded again and to get a mere glimpse of the activity around the Hotel, one has to walk through and peer through the fence again. The Taj, it seems, hasn’t recovered from the siege and as the restoration process is still underway, the doors are open for select few. The guests at Taj include fewer foreigners than ever before. “There have been cancellations understandably. And all the new bookings have been fresh as earlier we were booked till January end when we have a lot of people coming in from Germany and UK who spend winters in Mumbai and Goa. Because of the terror attacks, all bookings were nullified. We only opened for the same a week ago. But we do have a couple from Germany staying in the hotel,” Vinifer, the spokesperson for the Hotel described.

But the Taj has recovered. Much of the drapes, carpets and linen in the 268 rooms have been replaced, and new sets of crockery and glassware adorn the tables. Any signs of the havoc that was unleashed on the walls, ceilings and flooring have been painstakingly eased out.

The only reminder of attack is at the base of The Tree of Life, where an inscription carries the names of 31 people who were killed here. The artwork itself bears no trace of having survived the grenades and gunfire on the sixth floor of the heritage wing. In the rest of the hotel, too, it is business as usual a few days after it was opened for guests.

“Nothing seems to have changed except, maybe, for the fact that the food tastes a bit different,” said Ogilvy and Mather Vice President, Production Vikram Bangera, sitting with his mother in the Shamiana eating fish and chips and a slice of strawberry struddle. “I stay at Matunga but come to eat at the Taj at least twice a week. After what happened I will come more often now if possible,” Bangera’s spirit is undeterred, echoing the thoughts of the 178 staff members of Taj, at work in the hotel right now and the 300 some guests being catered to in the various restaurants.

While the staff is warm and welcoming, they are wary of talking and disclosing too much. “Lets not relive the past and wonder too much about the future. For now lets just celebrate the season,” said a Taj employee, insisting on not being named, while shrugging questions of when the full hotel will be functional and whether he witnessed the terror unfold. An intrigue filled curious reporter seeks questions. And a gore loving sadist would love graphic details as another regular on a table nearby prodded a smiling waiter what all he saw and how he got over it. The man, standing with a jug of water, is shaking his head and smiling – eyes focusing on the jug.

Maybe that’s what one should do. Appluad in the recovery of the Taj a month after and pray for normalcy, with a hotel that is still scared to open all its doors. The food for the day is on the house. Eat all you can. A tribute or welcome? One is still unsure. “This is Shamiana’s first holiday celebration. We had limited reservations, so we decided not to charge out guests for the food. This is our Christmas cheer,” the waiter on duty smiled when the cheque was called for. Surely not the last meal.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Inheritance of Loss

Wild eyes, left astray,
absent within their own dismisal.'
Grips of sanity, lucid pain,
unheard to the negligent victim.

Locked on vanished, past events,
that stumble into relapse.
When all is done and all is good,
we are hit by fatal traps.

Savage and brute, untamed upon touch,
sold on feud and vendetta.
Vein and bent, stares in the mirror,
but who looks back is fiercer.

Wondering won't help, the deeds been long done
Innocence instantly vanished like never there.
Their screams I hear often, stuck in a melee of aimless stupor
if only I could reach and shoot one.

I feel their loss, though I know them not
Some profound humour in terror-struck tragedies
My heart, it weeps and feels the anguish
Of the child who lost his religious parents
Of the friend who lost his companions
Of the young son who lost his father.

Lying in their final resting place
Lives, that were perhaps lost in an instant
I see, I hear, I feel -the sound of each heart break.
Though I knew them not...

Apoorva Parrot (was found in the staiwell of the Oberoi Towers, in a pool of blood, being dragged down between the 8th and the 10th floor. His son, Siddhartha Parrot, stood amongst us in the media enclosure behind the Hotel anxiously waiting for his father to come back safe )

Gavriel and Rivka Holzberg (the Rabbi and his wife were tortured and gunned down, while standing in front of the fourth flour window of the Chabad House, Colaba after being held hostage for two nights)

Amanaette and Jeaquess Mannayatte (the husband-wife were eating their dinner in Tiffins, Oberoi. The husband was sho through his head and the wife took the bullet through her stomach. Both the bodies had to be identified with their clothes by a friend who waited and cried anxiously standing outside Oberoi)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Hostage situation

A flat dead face
where emotion cannot stick
but slides off
and is lost in nothing.

(It's not easy to comprehend a life amongst the dead. I don't know how to take those images away. I don't know how to silence those screams. I don't know how to exist in a world where they don't exist.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So it is

I wish there was some rule book for intimacy. A guideline that told you what and what not. A map to guide you while you walk your way in and around your own and your significant other's heart. It's easy to blame it on love. The same way it's easy to be a 2-year-old and be unable to colour between the lines.

And so it is
Just like you said it would be
Life goes easy on me
Most of the time

I wonder if I've ever been there - on the top of a pyramid and be reaching to that perfect Northern star in a symmetrical line. Isn't that how the Egyptians made their peaked triangular towers? Their need for perfection and allignement to pay allegiance to their Kings reflected in their architecture of their tombs. Have I been in love so deep to endure the pain of perfection? My galaxy is splashed all across my cieling and I still can't touch the stars.

And so it is
The shorter story
No love, no glory
No hero in her sky

I have been in love, I think. I've wanted to breathe and been left breathless many times. I have felt the touch, the race in the heart, the blood boil and the flush in the cheeks. Red's been a favourite colour and 2 the perfect number. To gaze endlessly at filgree cups and wonder. I have been a victim of beauty. When nothing else - not a word, or a sigh; a sight or a flicker looked as timeless as him.

I can't take my eyes off of you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes off of you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes...

A lucid interval - when time stands still. Does it exist? Can it linger? Will it stay? Forever? Never ending? Do I still believe in fairytales? Does the butterfly really die in seven days? Do hearts really break? Does sleeping beauty fall asleep again? The sky, Earth, wind, water and time doesn't really stand still does it? We live not forever do we? Love doesn't endure life does it?

And so it is
Just like you said it should be
We'll both forget the breeze
Most of the time

I swim. When my heart breaks and when he leaves and walks out the door. If it's jarred, he tears it apart. If it's locked, he breaks it down. But if it's open, he doesn't even make a sound. And then there is the flood of water through that door and I must swim if I don't want to drown. I hold down till I can and then I push and fight myself to the surface. At the end of it, the tears that never came fills my world and all I can see for miles are the tears that drowned me all this while. I think my heart stops beating for a while. But I just don't forget to swim each time. I survive and reach the shore somehow - each time.

And so it is
The colder water
The blower's daughter
The pupil in denial

It's the hate, it's the cynicism. It's what they call being practical and it's what Freud called a super-ego. I call it freedom. I have this fondness for birds. I have this belief that if I really want to, really really put my mind to it - then I can fly. Meet the skies, let it escape beneath my wings and talk to the sky - face on. But it's only when I'm asleep and dreaming. Most of the times, I suffer from insomnia.

Did I say that I loathe you?
Did I say that I want to?
Leave it all behind?

Confessedly, I am a relentless romantic. I have faith and my heart never leaves my sleeve. I wonder when it'll come back to me, but it rarely ever does. I believe in fairies, I do know how to fly. Truth is I don't swim too well and don't mind drowing every now and then. The door is always open and I think I must've lost the key or broken the lock in some era. I do have a knack for perfection and I must've been an Egyptian slave who built that pyramid stone by stone. If only I knew how to quit 'You', I wouldn't be a word or a sigh.

I can't take my mind off of you
I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind off of you
I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind...My mind...
'Til I find somebody new

(lyrics interspersed 'Blower's Daughter' by Damien Rice)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Finish Line

You are a champion
When you ran
The ground shook
The skies parted
And mere mortals looked up
Wrapped with a wreath of flowers on your back
When you came to meet me in the winner’s circle

Friday, November 07, 2008


From the corners of memory
erupted a faint image
words, coffee mugs, sanitiser, daisies
orange, rum balls, mud bucket, chistle and a pick
The walking stick, now a constant companion
Faint blue kurta pyjama - his uniform
Nani's hand knit brown cable wool
Scrawny, tired, but firm hands
Perfect grip..
Feet in synchornised strut
through Snow View Cottage towards
the meandering cobbled paths and back
Haystack brooms, pinewoood smell.
In the evening - chestnut chessboard and plum jam.
Always on the breath - the stale smell of Marbolos
Ashtrays greyed
Faded and ashen with the smoke
Now - just a memory.
Makes me full again.
Favourite bedtime story and
written verse on scattered paper
remains yellowing in a closet somewhere
Yet he is everywhere.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cannot Find Server

A fidgety attempt to put the edges of two bangles together.
A viewfinder to an object that just doesn’t hold two eyes at once.
Losing focus and can't locate the self-analyser

The knee displaced and need met with ignorance.
Broken slipper and burning vision
Imbalanced fngertips writing disjointed poetry
Stabilty prized with uncertain compassion
change resisted with a condition - mentally bipolar.
Meanwhile structure eludes for the first time
And a song asks coyly - A lil more wine?

I drink again!!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Perfect Drug

In gasps and sighs, it comes and goes - these shards of absolute nothingness. A vacant empty bounded cover, with wordless pages inside. That night, standing at the edge of the ocean, all ties swept away. The cool, clean, yellowles, dark waters washed my feet and my wounds. The salt soothed as it stung in deeper to this feeling of complete freedom from pain. What happened after conjured no emotions. I have no metaphors, no deeper meaning to represent what happened. To me, it didn't signify anything. Husks of people floated face down in what usedto be rice patties. It was only a minor detail, like the clean smell that permiated everythingor the cola stained floor of the bus. The heart is full yet it doesn't seek an outpour. At the abysmal bottom, I don't know what hurts more - the unknowing or the unfeeling.

Years ago, I wrote a verse, when I fell in love for the first time about the feel of a feel. How I romanced the idea of a seduction of senses. The search seemed over then and the secret of the Universe stood revealed. The answer was 'YES.'...

So much has passed and the shoulders have drooped with the weight of - nothingness.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Ever heard the oft quoted cliche, Denial is not just a river in Africa!!!
It's an ocean. So how do you stop from being swept away?
Gossamer skin
Like a gunshot to the vertabrae,
Forgotten all been wanting to say.
Love has been llike a dying gasp,
never catching on a grasp.
Lace stays white for just one night,
then yellows with age.
Just like the books waiting,
for mildew on the page.
And all the thoughts are dead
dreciting poems in a strayed head
Leading one to temptation
and then what utter regret...
Denial is not just a river in Africa...It's an ocean and I'm getting swept away...

Friday, September 12, 2008

After thought???

All constructs of reality blur at this odd hour and music being top of mind has hit home again...

Just two lines tonight
Music seduces me ...
And as always I succumb.

All this post script to Soulmate live in Blue Frog....

Monday, September 01, 2008

The relentless Insomniac

There is a ringing in my head. Like a pleasant cackle that amuses and then annoys. It comes and goes in sudden pangs of noise and vanishes. It's been three weeks and now the swollen eyes refuse to even try to shut. There's been a trip and forced escapes from reality have just boomeranged me back to where I started from - leaning on the headrest of my poster bed.
All I'm doing is negotiating sleep.Well, not all. Also writing stories, chasing deadlines, making up stories for the movies, putting paint to the canvas. Aimlessly I'm gazing around for a spark of inspiration and it comes in the form of random emails and Youtubed Michelle Obama speech. My heroes have left me and fallen from a state of grace.
It's been indifferent weather. Un-rainy, un-windy, un-sunny, un-hot, un-cold. Sheer numbeness. I hear shuffling footsteps in the corridor. Or I'm imagining them. The disquiet and Zakir's exalt of the tabla - is all that remains. Slowly, a desire surfaces - to stay put. On the crumpled night-sheet, with the remains of a conversation killed unawares.
Half-asleep or half-awake? The maudlin citizens and the obdurate elves. All reside within me.After the downpour, a cloud is left. That forgot to burst. And now by itself, is wandering, with the weight of rain in it's veins.
Somebody join the dots. Somebody rescue me from my second verse. It's not ending making way for the third. There is sheer confect.
While there is turmoil in my heart. In between somewhere there, I do say my prayers, tidy up the room, will the bad leg to walk, shed an inward tear and put up a smile. And a random a 2-minute poetry project every now and then.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

As Shireen Nada Rashid...

The morning wore a chill, cloaked in fog and damp air that drifted in light-circles against a grey backdrop; streetlamps flickered, some already dark in places where a sliver of autumn sun burned through. There were sounds, but they were not unfamiliar: the hum of a patrol car, the crunch of gravel under Green boots, the echo of commands barked in a harsh out-Kashmiri accent. Huddled together for warmth, our breath betraying our position, we stood with gripped hands and attained a steely resolve, resigned to take our first step. This was our walk through Greater Kashmir in Pandor, as not an outsider but as a Kashmiri. Deep undercover, this would be the first time I looked, spoke, dressed and felt Kashmiri.

There is a road that separates enemies from friends; it looks like any other road in any other city, lined with small shops and houses protected by lace curtains; there is a butcher, a masjid—a postal place on the corner. Look more closely, however, and you will notice the subtle hints of something off: an outcry in green Gaeilge marking a window or door, a man with a machine gun standing across the way. The man, most particularly, is the oddity—but only to you; for us, he is as permanent as the broken upper story window of the Anwar's Boardinghouse: cracked, a blemish, never to be fixed and yet familiar in its imperfection--comforting. There was a difference on this day, however: he wasn’t alone.

The night before last a policeman came to our door and armed men searched our house in the name of secularism. He did not find what he was looking for (save a new doll for his daughter), which was a relief; last night Saffadullah and the Rakim were beaten bloody and left in the gutter for the grave sin of being Anti-Amarnath. The state is burning, only this time the terrorist is communalism. Today, the Troubles had returned. Today, we were walking to school with an escort, frontrunners on the battle lines. The children were out of class.

There is a point on this road where Pandor becomes Khatir Ganj and, not two blocks more, an old Shiv Mandir stands as a vicious reminder of a time when this street belonged to another page in history. Crossing this line in fear, as we did every weekday, we clung to each other and our mothers—and this day we looked over our shoulders at the blurred vision of our fathers and brothers, kept behind a line of smartly-dressed policemen (for their own protection). Long before we’d learned that tears didn’t help when they fell, pooled as they were in our collective sorrows; today we were learning a lesson in glassy stoicism and thin-pressed lips.

Not three steps across that territorial line, I stumbled too much with looking back and my primer slipped, clapping the concrete and startling the silence. It was not a sign but it was taken that way, and we heard a man shout before the first stone was cast. In a panic we scattered, suddenly alone on a crowded street, deafened by the angry cries of deprived freedom. Two jeeps came—or maybe three—and the wagon; men were taken away against a gunfire soundtrack. And on the steps of that old school a second-year gripped tight the railing as blood trickled and stained her new white shirt.

There would be many more times when walking to school would erupt in violence—but every day we made the walk. We were prisoners of our situation in a conflict that no one truly understood, grasping at the straws of freedom with every tentative step.

Far removed now, back in my own reality and from war-torn memories, what the true value of an education is. All I can tell them is that it’s worth a scar, pink and time-faded, on an eight year old’s forehead.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Second to None

Self expression is on an all time high. And I fear some of it has already been lost on an undelivred message that will sit in my outbox for days. But courage, like I've said countelessly before, comes with a ticking bomb. And as on many such stupors, parting through a melee of insignficant and perhaps some too significant moments...the upward and tortous climb to my appartment has left an afterthought of random words. For the record, I have survived being termed an Anglo-Indian, hit on by a couple of band members who mistook me for a groupie, a bloated foot and knee thanks to prolonging childhood revisiting injury (this time she promises a longer visit) and of course life in the live world and fighting that incredibly urge to form connection with the one-at-the-moment . There is a moment in time, that psychologits term the lucid interval, when time stands still and one is expected to translate self's feelings and confirm other people's thoughts in a nod or a shrug. Mostly this is one of those disclaimers : Very drunk rambling ahead I talked about earlier. But heart in displaced territory is echoing a tune, even the bad knee (dislocated and all) promises support in jig and I'm feeling 15 again.

So much has happened. So many faces in distant lands have provided a sense of comfort, reality and Kahwa. And too many near and dear ones have had a dimming. Having a first of many more to come. Hic...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Emergency room at Uri

The sanatorium looms over the metropolis,

Stinking of bleach,

To conceal the scent of vomit and blood.

Yet I can taste them in the air,

From the children's ward,

Were we receive the needle’s flare.

To the emergency room;

Where the careless are stitched up.

I sit now in the waiting room,

Envious of the 7 year-old,

The one with the shaven head.

For she knows not of the enemy

Crawling in her blood.

Only of the smiling nurse

Who says she’ll get well;

And the child believes her,

Because that’s what children are for.

Perhaps she will recover,

The girl with the shaven head-

They caught it early it seems.

But I sit and become rancid,

I decompose in the padded chair.

The unknown case,

The basket case,

My head spins with every theory;

Every hypothesis;

Every possibility and,

For my whole body is ailing.

I pray for a medicine,

One that will do its work.

I pray and pray,

I smile at the girl with the shaven head,

And she smiles back.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

On the way home last night

In God's Own Country
Amongst God's own Men.
I found my Eden..with a touch of brown and grey....
(notes from Omar Abdullah's private golf course)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

By blur

Deliberation and Angst came over for dinner tonight. We three dined over melting drama and glasses of cheap Sula wine picked at the last harvest in Nasik. The lights fluttered in the shadows reacting to the exchanged emotions amidst the silence of clinking spoons, forks, bone china and masticating noise. Any moment now, the plates will be empty and there will be no food dodging the inevitability of the evening. The cheap Sula’s last dregs had been emptied. The candles on the table were dying out and what seemed like the longest supper of the longest night at the smallest dinner table in the whole world, closure would'v been a fine aftertaste. Cloaked in the comfort of lose linens and satin sheets, the threesome would finally come out tonight. After the last morsel was forked off the plate, Deliberation let out an exhausted sigh. There was to be dessert, of course, for the prolonging. But for the lack of Purpose’s wisdom, he mentioned it before. “I just can’t find that cheesecake.”

“Marvelous meal! I haven’t had okra cooked in vinegar for a long time. My compliments to the lady.” Deliberation smiled vehemently. I absently smiled and kept my gaze strategically away from meeting his eyes. Madness you see is like gravity. The eccentricities of Deliberation would only require a little push to instigate.

Scowling in one corner, Angst sat and studied her subjects. She knew them only too well and too quick. A deep-set frown on her forehead, Angst shrugged her nose in silence and stared down Deliberation and me. And then, it began…

… after it was all over, I sat examining the empty table and the upright candle. The bone-china sat perfectly shiny and immaculately placed around folded napkins and bowls of food waiting for the guests to come and chose their naked surfaces for the grand feast. Just like virgin skin. My carefully ironed and spiffy red dress draped my feigned glow. I’ve waited for this day for far too long and months of chasing have brought me to my supper table. This was my one chance at finishing my long search. Dreams and Ardour are coming for dinner tonight. In the corner of my ear I could hear, “I just can’t find that cheesecake…”

PS (there are bottles of beer in the freezer)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Drunker stupor

Usually such posts should come with a disclaimer, but courage comes with a time warranty things follow their own steam. Very proselike rambling, only this might read more confessional than concluding. I have no message and no knowledagble epiphany or after thought ODed over to dstribute. There is just this buzz in my head that won't stay with me and has aimlessly directed me to this webpage. So one would write like one has always been. Only tonight the verse has gone missing and the words are not coming by easy. It's just the wisp of a lingering melody in my head that will see fulfillment on the six-string. The seduction is back and I have a sneaking suspicion this time it is going to stay. I seem to be saying that a lot lately and for obvious reasons. But Paolo has packed his guitar off the cobbled street, and left for a grander stage. I don't think I have it in me to be Priscilla to my Elvis. And I am a bottle too down to bother the chase. Hic.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Last Kiss

Long long time ago in the land of Pixie-sweeps, Rapunzel let down her hair. The knight instead played double sweep on the poker table. No one came to her rescue that night. She pulled back and swept her floor of all the waiting, straight into the chimney with the piling dust of yesterday. In the corner of her memory, a mellow tune filtered in. Somber, mournful and melting within...she heard bagpipes and the tin flute. The sharp playful shreik of the Harp made waves through her soul. A single hand plucking the acoustic lifted hee heart and plopped back in her chest. A tear floated at the back of the iris. The tattoo maker was writing invisible sheet music on her bare skin.

The yearning for a perfection, seemingly absent.

The yearning for love, picture-perfect and melodious.

The yearning for the last kiss, if only true love climbed the golden hair.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

(Un)likely Fairytale

OK! So my last few posts have been somewhat dreading towards heightened romanticism.(and I've been made aware of that time and again..thanks to B) No matter how happily single I profess myself to be, a girl can have her moments. The truth is, life is a corny lover's bubble and blame it on oxytocin.

Some days I think I should have been born during the medieval days when honour and chivalrous knights ruled...okay, so that's the romantic view most of us choose to have of that time, in lieu of the violence, black plague and serious lack of personal hygiene. It's the act of chivalry that I believe has all but disappeared, becoming crumbling empty shells of history, much like the once majestic castles dating back to that era. I'm faced with this reality every time I hit the roadduring the daily commute. Amazing how the moment you step foot out and find no more empty seats, no empty taxis, packed elevators and not to mentione shoving queues. Feignng sleep rather than make eye contact with you. Now, mind you, I do my share of being courteous. If someone is right behind me as I go through a door, I always hold it open for them.

Doesn't matter if it's for a man or woman. That's called manners...plain and simple. I've given up my seat on the bus to elderly folks or pregnant women, too. But, no matter how independent I am, I still enjoy having a man hold open a door for me, pull out my chair (preferably not out from under me), let me enter or exit an elevator before them, etc. Heck, it makes me feel special, and what's wrong with that? :-) I'm a romantic at heart. That said, I felt pretty darn good this morning when I was approaching the front doors of my office building. A man was also approaching, but he was still at least 10 feet away compared to my 1 foot. As I reached for the door, he darted forward and said, "here, let me get the door for you!" Seriously, he actually ran to open the door for me and it wasn't as if I had my hands full. How nice was that? It's one thing if you're both there at the same time, but to run for the door? Major brownie points, dude! ;-) Just goes to show, you never know when some guy's latent knighthood will wake from deep slumber, puff out his chest and say, "after you, m' lady."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Notes to Self-II

My room has stars. The last moments when sleep takes over and darkness sets in, they whisper the last goodnight. Their florescence make me smile each night and I ponder somenights gazing endlessly into the fligree cups running amuck in the window of my already dreaming mind. I haven't even slept yet and the weaving has started. I imagine small elves sprinkling glittery sleep dust just like in the children's book that said so on New Year's first night. I recede and let the twinkle settle in. I sleep. I feel the stars looking down at me through the eyelids. I feel safe. I still hold wonder in my heart.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Shadow walker

Smell of malt whiskey, stale beer and tempered wine. Murky yet somewhat dapper. It's everywhere. I can sense him everywhere. In the train, on the platform, in the car navigating me, in the kitchen teasing my culinary senses, in the bed beside me fighting for pop corn at prime time, hugging me while I fondle with the six-strings, paying intent attention while I talk to myself; make my hair; iron my clothes... follows me to the garden of thought as I pick lilliams of wonder, resting his back on mine as I talk perilously for hours and gasps in animated wonder at my quivering super-sonic reactions, breathing down my neck as I write - even on this confession box...
My shadow doesn't seem like my own lately. It's been telling me things I yearn to hear but would rather not know. It's bigger, longer and seems to be able to engulf me. The bitter scent is back again and I feel a deep longing. My heart tells me its not alone anymore. If only I could disagree.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Pyschedelic trippin

someday, I said,

I want to meet you again.

I want to find you in the middle of a crowded empty coffee shop sidewalk,

and write on your hands;

we'll sit at a little table with french iron lacework with our little cups of sophistication and knowledge,

discuss sports(yawn) music (perhaps even make some), the meaning of life even.

and you'll give me lollipops-(lots of lollipops?- yes)

My tongue will change colours- fifty different colours! I'll speak rainbows for days,

instead of goodbye,

and you'll part from me with memories of blue trailing from your violet thoughts while red and yellow trade places with green between your palms as you squeeze orange through your fingers. And our lips gasp swivels of pink on cheeks, necks and foreheads.

(our thoughts are peculiar ribbons of indigo)


Love 2, circa 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Congregation of Faith

It's a tricky word...hope. Seems to be irony's biggest ally. In the battle of happiness, there are no sure winners. But the demon persists. If only the feeding would pause. Life is a joker's paradise. There is jest in every move and the tune of an satire on each pair of lips. I only wonder in the ultimate war, when did the battle of the skeptic and innocent take place. Was I even there? Where was the war- zone? And what I'm still figuring out...who won?

It's hard for me to fall in love. But each time I re-learn to let go, I feel I'm in the midst of a war of the worlds. If only the Beatles were singing All you need is Love right now, I'd listen intently and follow them across the universe in search of answers. But I wouldn't want the song to fade away on I love you yeah yeah yeah...that remains as an afterthought. It leaves hope, a dumb glee, a growing blush and a heartbeat - what if.

It's best to avoid the verse at all points. Kipling's poem is lost in a corporate jungle somewhere where performance managers continue to drive the mumbo down endearingly. Only my life is unroutinely chaotic to follow the consistent meandering. But I still wonder. The regret of loss is probably the worst feeling. But it revisits often.

Three days, three calls - still one lonely heart. Learning to adjust!

Monday, June 23, 2008


She stood at the edge of the ocean. Talking to the waves as she had done on many occasions. This time there was ferocity in the waters. As if they mirrored the violence in her heart. Her face gave nothing as she peered into the distant horizon - that would be at day break. The night had become her favourite companion to accompany her on her moonlit walks across the lands that meet the sea. Only this time, light was threatening to kill the darkness. She was waiting for the eventuality at dawn break. Her dream was dying and she watched as a shallow outsider. Too scared to mourn, too proud to fall, too weak to hurt. Ironic. The freedom she longed for was right beside her in easy company, yet hope planted the seed of love. How easy, she thought to let the pain take over and float with the southbound waves. How righteous to stay on the edge and gaze. Numbness. Irony. Love. Freedom. She made a mental note. Her life’s thesauras needed another update.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Perfect Word

Silent echo
A muffled wish

Deep gash
A salted wound

Deadly sojourn
A still journey

Feverish pitch
An unheard cry

Black tea
A balming concoct

Vodka straw
An invited misery

Simple life
A distant memory

Home town
An online blimp

Size zero
A soulful state

Calendar Girl
A jaded reality

Happy tune
A misleading lie

Summer house
A Facebook profile

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A little less conversation

Apologies to the King,
but not everday one has an encounter with 'Action' Call
Keep reading

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

.unknown application

The scene has been played over and over
Each re-run perfectly timed and rehearsed
My life has the perfect plot
I just need the cast

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sinfully tempted

I sinned
like the faithful standing
at the foot of confession chamber

I sinned
like a melody distorted
through an amp and a loop

I sinned
like a googled name
wished to spring live from webpage

I sinned
like holding hands
lingering beyond an innocent navigation

I sinned
like being tempted
with a promising kiss

I sinned
like being swept away
to Alister Crowley's magical lair

I sinnned
like familiarising with
all that makes me Zedekiah

Monday, May 12, 2008

Arabic Sojourn

On the Sheikh Zayed Road
find more photos on picasa

SO you're headed to Dubai for shopping is it? Electronics and gold? Beware of the customs," our wary and suspicious friends had interrogated before we (my Punjabi family & I ) boarded the Air India flight bound to the city of Middle East mysticism and commercial capitalism. True. We were headed to upgrade the wardrobe and the locker with new Dubai rich gold.

But the arrival gate at Dubai International Airport offered sights, sounds and smells that made a solemn promise of serving a great concoct of urban Arabic culture curry. The Namaz was being recited and miles away from the heart of the city, the distant voices from a mosque nearby was welcoming one to the United Arab Emirates. This virgin tune in Dubai would re-visit periodically for the next 10 days through malls, hotels, road-side cafes, SUVs, safari, art fair, the derby world cup, museum visits, trial rooms, rest rooms, clubs, dhow ride, at foot of the tallest building in the world and the place we called home in the Indian neighbourhood of Bur Dubai.


Situated in the heart of the free port, Bur Dubai, is as much a tourist touchdown hotel spot as it is for the brown immigrants who made their home in Dubai in the early seventies. The surrounding areas of Al Karama and Al Maraha with its distinct Lebanese, Indian, Chinese and Mexican aromas rising through market corners and squares makes one feel at home on the foreign port. A row of houses lined in bricks and mortar that make for cubicle housing societies, each some stories high give away tell tale signs that Indians and Pakistanis inhabit it: clothes hanging in balconies. There is nothing distinctly foreign about Bur Dubai for an Indian. Not even the electronic gates or the lines of Hummers, Camry taxis or Lamborghinis. Not even the Sheiks on duty speaking crisp Hindi while in their flowing white Kandhuras.

Visiting relatives and borrowing their Toyota Camry, we drove out of Bur Dubai, which is also home to Dubai's only source of history, the Dubai Museum placed next to mud walled art galleries in the square of the trader's textile market, we drove onto the grand Sheikh Zayed road. Wide-laned, spacious, weighed under mutli-storied, multi-angular-shaped, tall glass skyscrapers (some still under construction)…the highway that links all of Dubai to the other emirates, is as royally proud and grand as the former ruler it's named after. All along the expansive highway, besides the grinding breaks and accelerating engine noise of the latest models of four wheelers on the road, the uniquely coloured tiles making way for the underpasses, the faces of the royal family plastered along the highway at brief intervals that truly made you feel a part of the middle east.

The angry looking Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, his young son Sheikh Hamdan Bin-Mohammed Bin-Rashid Al Maktoum and endearing daughter Princess Nada escorted you, probably guiding you to their majestic commercial empire.

They say Dubai is the commercial capital of the Middle east thanks to his endeavours, with the maximum numbers of cranes in the world and also the prospective tallest building in the world, the Burj. The bearded man in the East is rising and fast.

On the way to Jumeriah, home to Dubai's poshest sheikhs and global businessman, the villas start crowding the streets and lanes. Texan in size and crisp Persian in architecture…each home is a miniature palace complete with Golden horses, lush greens and ingenious fountains welcoming the cloaked fortress in the distance. And then luxury in its finest. The only approachable fortress to mere mortals. The Madinat Jumeirah, that vouches for European splendour. Dubai's grandest hotel, Madinat is Venice in fortress, completer with a Gandola, cobbled pathways and riverside rooms. Beisdes being the Sheikh's former favourite home away from home (before the truly ostentatious Burj Al Arab came up, the seven star hotel in the sea that needs you to shell out 350 Dirhams to grace the lobby), it was also this year's venue for Dubai Art 2008, Asia's biggest art fair that had showing from 150 galleries around the world. The artists got richer as Indian and Pakistani art flew off the walls. This was the year when Rana Rashid, Sundaram Tagore and Bose Krishnamachari were talked about in the hallways of Dubai's rich and finest. And while all this took place in the lobby of the hotel, a tired Pakistani crane operator took a nap, wearing his kurta pyjama, on the wheel of a machine. Dubai is a city of contrasts and the social disparity made for a great culture calling.

The remaining days passed in a murmur of more hotel and some great mall visits and one got a glimpse of good oil money put to some grand use. From the rainforest lobby created under the Hull of a ship at the Hyatt, the Arabic Starbucks at the Ibn-Batuta Mall with its Egyptian and Tunisians courts, the ski village at the Mall of Emirates as the outside March heat sore to 38 degrees and the customary visit to the Gold Souk market, where gold ornaments, jewellery and wares are sold in street shops

Of course the dessert safari had to follow near the Oman border. The day-long dune bashing, sand surfing and kababs, sheesha and belly dancing in the dessert oasis camp in the middle of the barren brown sea once out of the Hummer, our choice of dune bashing vehicle, we watched the sun drown in the expansive wasteland. Watching the voluptuous belly dancer entrance the audience, and our Syrian driver Nabeel who roasted kababs and rolled them into pita bread for us and the small box that seated the higher Kandhura clad Arabs…we feared. Feared of the Sheiks who were reclaiming wastelands and turning them into homes for the rich, feared the grandeur that would consume Persia, feared the power and the unsaid discrimination that separated the elite from the immigrant, the oil, the media, the wealth and the Burj.

The day next, we drove to Abu Dhabi on the East and took a ride on the sea side, Corniche to take in the richness and bow down to the massive flag that marked our presence beneath the richest emirate. Sharjah, in the west and Ajman further housed the labour force from the Indian subcontinent that has put their sweat and blood into making Dubai, the Switzerland of the East. I wondered again, are these people who made Shah Jahan's Taj Mahal for him. The slums of the emirates has many diamond shiners. The Mughal empire we lost probably resides in UAE. And it is making the new eight wonder of the world…Dubai.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A prose to be Go(o)d

What do you say when someone asks you, do you have faith? One could easily curl up a lip, slit out a shrieky and aghast cry, 'of course! I do.' Most people would do that. I would do that to. But this one occassion made me doubt my answer. Before the sub-consciously conditioned response neared my lips, the thought dissolved before it even rose from my throat. Fact is, I'd be lying in saying I had faith. I had none.

Growing up in a middle class Punjabi household, to liberal yet spiritual and God fearing parents, my chldhood has had uncounted visits to the Gurudwara. When I was born, when I turned a new leaf, weddings, funerals, each time a new addition was made to the family - material or man, in loss, in happiness, I turned six in the Gurudwara where all who knew of me - some familiar, some unseen and some very close faces - sat and prayed a happy life for me, complete with a royal entourage that filled the sidewalks and outer skirts of the white marbeled Sector 8 Gurudwara - the neighbourhood I grew up in. Maharaja of Patiala with his beaming begum made their presence felt as did people of prominence in Chandigarh and Malwa Punjab. I was the blessed one.

Close to about two decades later, the dome of eternal bliss sits disembled in my heart. I fear the almighty. I talk to him in my hour of need, I call out to him when in pain - self loathed or otherwise. I chant. My perfectly animated schooling in Carmel Convent, the city's most prestigious school, has instilled values of the church and the Holy Bible in me. And there was a time when I believed in a Heaven grander than this life. Even visited the corridors of a saint, who took to his thrown in all richness and splendour. The one who smelt of roses, granted invisible rosy trailed darshans and was royally driven in a bee line of never-ending cars.

The path of self righteousness and moral science has created a laboratory in my being. Till I learnt how to distance myself from the temple and God. I questioned doubted everything. The need to be independant, alone and somewhat materialistic, I confess, made the concept of worship uncool. When it happened or why I did it, I honestly don't remember. But I know it flew from me. I'd love to say the spirit of God hushed and quitened. That would be erronous. To quiten would be to lower the volume and let whispers slowly creep into your ear. I simply turned the switch off. I silenced him. His will in me dimmed. It was as if someone reached out and pulled the plug of the universe for black night to creep. Just... And I sinned.

Some years later, I find a new restlessness. Years have passed and this noise rings in my ear often. Visions pass the iris of my eye every now and then and I have this newfound need to drink in the sights and sounds. I have become spongebob, applogies to the Nickelodeon patent. There are words on a passing truck, visions on a tattoo on the back of a friend, whispers of chanting in the distance - sometimes I feel I am hearing them out of memory, in the motions of the clouds on a dreary sky, on the traces of leaves made on a lazy mid afternoon from the bedroom window, from amongst the theros of people clanking their religious instruments from a passing train, hidden in songs you've heard all your life and now are astutely aware of, in clubs, late night drives and movie halls ripped through the hands of a DJ or music designer, in books and stories that now line the racks of my house, in the eyes, lips, fingers, rings, chains of people on the trains, taxis and roads. And on visits and travels to distant lands that brings back floods of azaan (The Middle East), sunday mass (Venezualla) and even morning martial arts (Kerala).

I feel I'm returning to the seed of my existence and have learnt through the traumas and joyous moments that perspective is a luxury when your head is constantly buzzing with a swarm of demons. And I wonder, if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night. This is my call from a bedroom on a second floor of a heated pyxexia, located somehwere in a Christian society of suburban Mumbai. Thank you Nana. I know it is you with me.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Intensity crept upon
in the early throes of dawn.
That vivid scent of fresh rosesand sweet, yet varied taste
of jujubes covered my enflamed throat.

A couple months whispered through
the morning hours like that
of a hummingbird in search of it's nectar.

Delicate growth stunted to enslave
high noon as hawks soared
in the brightest, eye-catching sun,
while the lowly praying mantis lie
still in grace's preparation, apropos.

The afternoon glided on slippery
wings of prey, as nested fledgling
feasted on imaginary nipples anda
pathetic progression through
love's blinded eye.

As night preened itself and
the moon lit the sky like
a pale beacon of hope, our paths
split in misinterpreted glows of existence,
a clash of thunder and lightning scraped
across the sky as rain drenched truth and
escape became inevitable behind huge pixilated dots;

panned out, the picture, descriptive ...

I loved intense and fell intense,
yet death did not come, as
descent of the moon to horizon;
bewilderment excites possibilities
in charred chasms of warmth and direction.

Like the wandering hummingbird,
my incapability to stand still
in confidence, burden's the
praying mantis and beckons
paranoia when threatened
by aromatic flower petals
curling up for a good night's sleep.

Goodnight my sweet,
may you wake anew
without lingered,
natural scents of me,
so we can start refreshed,
bathed in the purified
sight of fireflies,
in dusk's friendly embrace.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Morning Dirge

The morning stillness amidst a round of wide roads and rising glass towers, is sharply cut by a booming loud speaker. A hymn resonates through the square of homes around the temple. The four corners sing together in perfected harmony. The voice...steadily quivering through the glade of the rising sun. The dewdrops from the air conditioner unsteaily melt to die in a liquid with the warmth of the morning song. The sleeping mind awakes silently through a sleepy haze... Its morning. Allah has spoken. And I am in the middle east.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

Avial and tandoori chicken - on the beach

Zero is my favourite number. The oval, pot bellied, doodle is not only a much relatable figure (ah! the only to familiar battle with the bulge) but also a great value addition. While I constanly forgot the number of zeros my hundreds had in my wallet, I managed to survive a whole month of food hunting on a distant land by turning fingers into peepholes and creatiing imaginary zero-shaped outlines in mid-air in the most remotest parts of Kerala. Appam, Idiyappam and Puttu with rasam was my daily dietry addition and in God's Own Country, which in non-Mallu lingo was the shape of zero. My assignment was simple. A lazy travelogue of the back waters and lagoons of the pristine, serene and crystal waterred moss of Kettuvalloms that were to become my home and caprture the rapture of Kovallam, Veli, Alumkadavu, Cochin, Calicut.

That was the plan...

But as coconuts and rice pancakes can leave an unfamiliar taste, so did my slight diversion to explore Kalaripayattu. The martial arts tribe seemed to be more stimulating than an ayurvedic massage. A chance meeting with a mystic, Arrayappa Devasthanam Kutty got me in hot pursuit. Over rasam and pappad, he told me about this place in central Kerala that have year long camps of martial art training. I don't know if it was the colour of his eyes (black pebbled) or the passion of his speech (crisply accented English) or the mention of some Mangalorian cuisine his Carnatic singer wife can throw up. I took directions, addresses and stocked up on banana chips (gestation: my first lil black book) and headed for Thrissur to explore some Kutty woven magic - a Kalari and some brave Kerala stories. Oh did I mention? Kalaris, traditionally are supposed to be the most desriable menfolk especially for out-of-town distant curious women...or as I would like to believe.

What was to follow was ten days of a dstrict safari through Thrissur. The landscaped plains, the coconut breeze, the inviting sea wind made me a wandering fair coloured gyspie (well in comparison) along Aloor, Chermanangad, Kadalassery, Kodungallur, Netissery and Wadakkancheri. My unpardonable lack of Malayalam and refusal to bring a guide along, had me conversing in ways I never knew possible. Save a remote bus or two that still adhered to my use of phoren language. I found my Kalaris, but my camera refused to capture their spirit. Zero helped me through and a serving of avial at a convent in Netissery made the 1000 odd kms I traveled in four days.

Back into surburbia, familiar Mumbai and a message in the inbox, Mallu power, damn good mallu band avial playing tonight. Deja Vu? Recurrent Mallu hangover? What was this? Decided to mark attendance with good Punjabi friends. S, P, L and I sat in the upper steps of the Bandra amphitheatre and in a Mallu crowd, with Mallu rock music...Avial played. I could almost smell the convent dish...its rich, spice laden fumes and smell of coconut milk would not leave. Was I imagining this, while the lead singer sang of revolution, narrated Keralite poetics verses, spoke to an audience in full agreement with his words. Did he carry Netissery aroma with him. The amateur band and its histrionics converted the crowd. The English speaking lot started talking an almost-now-partly-decpherable lingo. What the heck? I gave in. Stood and pretended to attempt a sorry excuse at lip sync.

Then...from the distance he gazed. The perpetrator of all things - good and sensual. I should wait and talk. But this evening I left. For my tandoori chicken and paneer butter masala sensibilities, Avial overdose was gong to be as good as it gets. Only I couldnt be Jack Nicholson tonight. I bowed. In God's own country, amongst God's own men, the Kalari and now at the Avial Rock show...I found my first culture curry.

Will buy Guerilla-look alike CD cover Avial container. They rocked heavy. Not before last night, S gave earplugs to Mallu funny song - Hotel Keralafonia. Aiyo.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


मैंने सोचा,
वाणी और साहस
में से किस को चुनो।
वाणी तोह मधुर है -
पर साहस तोह अनमोल है।

मैंने सोचा,
सम्मानमन और प्रेम
में से किस को चुनो।
सम्मान तोह मान है -
पर प्रेम तोह भाव है।

मैंने सोचा,
अपनापन और आज़ादी
में से किस को चुनो।
अपनापन तोह एहसास है -
पर आज़ादी से ही तोह साहस है।

Saturday, February 02, 2008

A fan, a spectacle and faith redeemed

He's walking like a small child

But watch his eyes burn you away

Black holes in his golden stare

God knows he wants to go home

Children of The Damned

When was the last time you were in love? Honestly I can't remember. But I do remember the pangs of pain and sheer torment of being in his presence. Things were beautiful, so was he. I felt blessed and maybe even he. That nervous laughter, that flutterting twit, the excited energy, the shaky smile, those bright eyes...the air felt sublime with electricity. Just like the twang of an electric guitar. A beautiful rhythm, a naked riff and an incindiary bass that would seep under your skin and pull you from the inside. Besides all things, I remember most the yearning and angst of torture to possess. A deadly sin. I felt more alive than a livewire

It happened again last night...

He's walking like a dead man

If he had lived he would crucified us all

Now he's standing on his last step

He thought oblivion well it beckons us all

Children of The Damned the Iron Maiden concert. Six men who walk amongst us. Six frames all under six feet. Six arms and voices that make chaos and pain seem beautiful. That is true love. My skin felt awash with goosebumps, arrested in wonder as a child whose been narrated fables. The songs they sang ripped through and through and the gyrating melodies trembled through the core of my being. Everything hit. Bruce Dickinson climbed the monitors, the stage support cranes, changed his costume and waved the British flag…narrating the tales of wisdom, debauchery, anger, pain, treachery and the devil’s tales through their mythological songs…Fear of the Dark, Trooper, 666:The Number of the Beast, Can I play with Madness and a rare treat they belted out a song they hardly play – Seven Deadly Sins on the acoustic. And when they asked "Scream for me, Mumbai." We screamed. We yelled and we sang in perfect symphony. S&N couldn't believe what they saw. With astonished faces they looked, they hugged and they sat back in amazement. Their senses were seduced and I, in a wierd sort of way, felt proud. being one amongst the crowd, I somehow still stood out. I was home and this was my country. These were my people and we all had one religion ; Iron Maiden.

Now it's burning his hands he's turning to laugh

Smiles as the flame sears his flesh

Melting his face screaming in pain

Peeling the skin from his eyes

Watch him die according to plan

He's dust on ground what did we learn

You're Children of The Damned

What hits you first is the disorderly chaos. The strident strumming of the guitar, the wash-and-wail of the bass, the drums alternating between rim shots, rolls and pile driver snare, the tambourine almost demure in comparison, keeping time…and then the glorious dramatic howls of the charismatic frontman. The impenitent tropical pyrexia now chilled with night frost, but the temperature of the crowd was rising. You would have to be a very dull person-a snob, or a sad cynic-not to enjoy this show. The sound is of symphonic scale, and of course there is the spectacle, especially here, on and off stage-the sight of fans, arms aloft, singing every word of every song. And suddenly the media moshpit at the previous days press conference came back to mind. Yes, we were fortunate to share the limelight, extract autographs, talk to them, pose with them and touch them...

Your back's against the wall

You turn into the light

You're burning in the night

You're Children of The Damned

I had been in pious company. I was touched by the Gods and faith had been redeemed. I was the child of the damned. Thanks Bruce, Steve, Janichk, Nicko, Dave and Adrian. Thanks for the irking and shuddered reminder. Love is still alive

Like candles watch them burn

Burning in the light

You'll burn again tonight

Children of The Damned

(lyrics intrerspersed from the 1982 Iron Maiden album, 'Number of the Beast' - 'Children of the Damned')

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Witch of Webstock

A magic potion, some frog legs (and heads), ashen spice, toppled red wine, a brewer's guide and the dingy pire - and the mind has alrady spread the web for the perfect conniving plot. The outcome has been lived over and over again and the satisfied Gringe-like-grin has been viewed through the fully satiated mirror.

Only the compartmentalised life has confined one to the walls of a office cubicle and the terrain for the perfect war has been constructed online. I hate to admit it, but I have turned into the online haunting witch. There are stories to be filed, assignments to run to, interviews to finish, people to be met, homes to be found, photos to be clicked, calls to be made and lives to be got. But one sits and spews out venom, spills out hatred and adorns with love the many pages of facebook and the like.

A final settlement with the Devil has still not been carried out and the sodden sorrow of not meeting those lips still lies fresh. So while I wait for the rejection to go stale and I grab onto what I know with viscious possessiveness. In the meantime, a 2B pencil found its way to me and I made use of the printing paper to give a visual to a yet again mooring self. All this while I've finally rid myself of the self-imposed chastity belt that I have been wearing around my left small finger for the longest time. It's winter (or the solemn promise of one) and I still haven't found that warming embrace all season.

But when the cribbing will stop, the frowns will disperse into princess sparkles. Only I'm enjoying the whining a lot more than I usually do. It's the perfect romance with self-indulgent misery. Fascist or narcisstic? I think its down right witchy. Recovering....still... kindly adjust.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Ponderings from an evening gone wrong.
Are there amends oh Father?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Universe in suspended Libido

Blue. I love the colour. I don't think I've ever mentioned this before. There's something mildly passionate about it. Like a drink passed around on street corners or that gentle kiss from suburbia that you can almost taste on your moist lips when you sit back and recount it. I saw blue again. Only this time it coloured my screen. A freak attendance at a movie screening got me face-to-face with passion. Those rare times when I dared to mix the withering promise of personal fun with a professional inuendo to be inspired, left me stranded in a universe of suspended libido.

'Across the Universe', a tale that arose from putting the Beatles revolutionary songs together took a skeptical and a lil jaded me through a trip to Neverland and back. At the time, I refused to ackowledge it. But the Beatles injected potency and the latent imagery took me through a flashback on time. Julie Taymor's ’60s musical fantasia reveals its intention to use the Beatles’ catalog to tell two stories at once, one personal, the other generational.

Pscyhedelic, carnivale, repost, art in motion, Bono, Salma Hayek, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin ... if a flower culture pot broke, it'd be through the eyes of a Beatle monger. Somewhere around its midpoint, 'Across the Universe' captured my heart, and I realised that falling in love with a movie is like falling in love with another person. Imperfections, however glaring, become endearing quirks once you’ve tumbled.

A visceral peak arrived with 'Strawberry Fields Forever.' The screen turned into an artwork by 'Jude' in which rows of bleeding strawberries are pinned to a white surface transmting into a hallucination of strawberry bombs raining over Vietnam. The dreamiest reverie, set to 'Because' begins with a tableau of nine friends blissfully lying on their backs in the grass in a mandala pattern. The circle disperses as Jude and Lucy find themselves in a watery blue sky where clouds melt into liquid, and the entwined lovers are themselves floating underwater. Most fanciful of all is a largely animated sequence in which Eddie Izzard is Mr. Kite, the ringmaster of a psychedelic circus with a dancing chorus line of “the blue people.”

Amid the phantasmagoria are several star cameos. 'Happiness is a warm gun' erupted with five Salma Hayek nurses tedning to the wounds of a disillusioned soldier. Bono, acid guru, Dr. Robert, a Ken Kesey-Neal Cassady fusion sings 'I Am the Walrus' at an acid-drenched party.
When 'Helter Skelter' and 'Walrus' broke onto the screen, I wanted to grab the hand that rested next to mine. Only it was somewhere lost swimming in pop-corn.

The spirit of counterculture goes with the flow. Its scenes, songs and witty roughhouse choreography seem to be spun off from the Beatles’ movies 'A Hard Day's Night' and 'Help!' And then theatre meets art on screen when those artistic body contortions erupt suddenly as happens when you jump onto the fields... all dissolving into a stream of consciousness with only occasional punctuation. And though I stuck to my distress at my failing date of the much-planned evening, I refused to accept the visual treat and storyline of the narrative. The same way its oh-wow aesthetic refused to adopt a critical distance from the sex, drugs and rock n roll bit of the '60s.

And just like my accidental evening, the movieleaves itself wide open to derision, complaints and endless nitpicking. But it couldn’t have succeeded any other way. The movie is completely devoid of the protective cynicism that is now a reflexive response to the term “the ’60s.”

There is only one constant - love. And non-believers, cynics, bystanders can only gape and sigh. For they too long for the loving lust. For I too long for the same madenning magic that once made me feel so alive. But then again, its all Across the Univese with Jude!
PS: I am PMSing. Kindly adjust