Sunday, December 19, 2010

on life...

Shakespeare talked of the world being a stage, and human life being a series of seven acts. Closer home, Vedic philosophy had it all sorted out into four clear-cut compartments or ashrams – Brahmacharya, Grihasta, Vanaprastha and Sanyaas. But is life really that simple? In our age and time, when people have babies first and then get married, couples take a break from their blissful Grihasta state to find their true calling in life only to get back together again after realizing that having to do the laundry, pay the bills and cook three meals a day all by yourself is not so cool after all...I am pretty much willing to bet a one-month salary that the good old bard would be tugging at his beard in frustration…and our sages would be left dumbstruck from not being able to express their frustration for the lack of swear words in Sanskrit.

One evening after a particularly heated conversation with a friend over how simple or complicated life is, (never mind the fact that we did not even touch consensus with a ten-feet pole!) I went back to reflecting over these ‘stages of life’. Besides, reflecting on random matters of dubious distinction is a great hobby, now that coins have lost their sparkle and stamps are pushing the envelope trying to stay alive, battling electronic phantoms. And I digress…true to my hobby :)

Coming back to my reflections, life does not seem to me like a cake that you can clearly cut into slices and put on different plates to be handed out one after another. It seems to me more like a bag of peanuts. You never know when you get a perfectly salted one or one that leaves you cursing the genus, species and whatever else there is to the whole nutty lot. There are no stages. There are just phases. And you never know which one it is going to be.

Someday you wake up feeling the feeling that you can’t exactly nail down, but know it is there. The feeling that makes you want to bounce off the bed screaming ‘I love you’ to no one and everyone around. It could just be the previous night’s awesome dinner or a beautiful dream that just did not make sense but was beautiful nevertheless. It could even be a butterfly fluttering its wings in Timbuktu. You don’t care what brought about that feeling. All you know is ‘life is beautiful’. So you sing your way through the shower (to hell with those notes and octaves!), dance your way through breakfast, smile like an idiot when the autowallah extorts ’meter + 10 rupees’, give a handful of coins to the beggar at the crossing, lilt a ‘good morning’ to all your colleagues and coo sweet nothings to your PC even as it shoves a 404 error in your face. Phases like this usually don’t last long. They are probably like the fillers that go in between the main acts on stage. But as long as they last, ‘aal iz well’ in your world!

And then there are the ‘(unprintable word) the world’ phases. They are like weeds. Stubborn and irritating, coming back with a mind-boggling frequency even after you have gotten rid of them. These are the days when you just don’t want to open your eyes to those smug little morning rays and take the day off, even as apoplectic team members spend an entire morning Googling to find out what on earth is ‘Caribbean equine flu’ that has struck you down 2 days before the project deadline. And if you feel benevolent enough to drag yourself out of bed, chances are you will leave the water faucet half-open to drip down the drain an entire month’s water quota of a small village, smirk while thinking that the beggar at the crossing could have done a better job with dabbing that red color on his bandage, ask your colleague how she feels being allergic to water and deodorant, and then get back right home to tell your wife that her new yellow dress is not being too kind on her tyres, and then turn on the TV volume to let the cat-fights and beeped-out abuses of reality TV drown out the real abuses coming from the kitchen. To be honest, these phases aren’t all that bad. After years of social conditioning, after an entire childhood of being taught the difference between ‘what you want to say’ and ‘what you should say’, these phases are like the whistle on a pressure cooker. Relieving. Liberating. But the ‘bringing peace to the world’ phase that inadvertently follows it can haunt you for a long long time. This is where the gender war goes 1-0 in favor of women. When you back up your ‘to hell with the world’ phase with biological reasons, no questions are asked. Game.Set.Match.

I have a postcard that says ‘there is a secret part in everyone that loves being miserable’. This brings me to the third phase. The sour, horrible-tasting peanut that takes you by surprise and pulverizes your palate, even as you quickly spit it out. The phase where you see the world in negative, no matter how Technicolor it is. Remember those Greek tragedies? Those opera singers bursting out of their corsets, with painful shrieks bursting out of their contorted mouths? This would pretty much be the background score drumming through your head all day through – even as you sulk about how rude the autowallahs in the city have become, worry how global warming has made the city ridiculously hot, wonder what it must feel like to be homeless and penniless like the beggar at the crossing, answer every ‘how are you?’ with ‘why…what’s wrong with me?’, pity yourself for uninspiring work, virus-affected workstation and back-stabbing colleagues who you are sure are plotting against you even as they stand at the water cooler whispering and laughing intermittently. In this phase, everything in this world sucks…and no, am not talking about gravity! It is like pathos, conscience, guilt and all those ten thousand complexes having a picnic together in your head. And then we take refuge in the past, shutting our eyes, rewinding those little tapes somewhere in the back of our head to 10-20 years back and wondering what went wrong and where!

Finally, we have what I like to call the ‘Miss India’ phase. Right from the moment that the alarm shakes you out of bed, you know you are the one. Morpheus’s Neo. Nietzsche’s Zarathustra. The one to Save The World. You finish your bath with just half a bucket of water to save the other half, pack the left-over breakfast to hand it over to the beggar at the crossing, threaten the auto-wallah with police action if he takes even as much as rupee over the meter reading, spend every ticking second of the 2 minutes at the red light trying to motivate the beggar to take up some work to feed himself, offer to finish off your colleague’s work because you know she has a little baby to look after and stay back late to help the guy in the next cubicle draft an apology email to his girlfriend with a proposal in the P.S. I love these phases. I mean, what’s life without some bravado! But the journey from the pedestal to the rock solid ground can leave you bummed out, especially if you land on your perfectly mortal bottom.

And this to me is life! Not some compartmentalized, sorted-out stack of events. But just a mixed-bag of random, crazy phases that come and go at their own whim, in no particular order, with no fixed lifespan…just like those peanuts in the packet. Tomorrow I may be 40, 57 or even a much-lived 84, but I know life will still be about waking everyday and either discovering that I love the world or realizing that I hate the very sight of it; either agonizing that the world just doesn’t seem right or prophesying that everything is going be all right. Life will still be about opening my eyes every morning and finding a new me. It will still be about taking a deep breath and thinking “this too shall pass”…

Monday, March 08, 2010

wallet woes

A place for all the bills
for every  rupee you pay,
fading ink and crumpled edges
in wait of that fateful day
when the new shoes will break
and a claim to repair you will lay.

A place for business cards
of friends at their first job
the new tattoo parlor
or just the regular business snob
people best kept at a distance
not to socialize and hob-nob

A place for all the slips
from the money spitting machine
I wish I had hit the 'No' button
and just seen my balance on screen
Reminding of fat pay cheque times
and of  three-digit balance days seen

A place for a thousand different cards
promising credits and discounts alike
Gold. silver.platinum - have em' all
I wonder what it would be like
if someday the "lifetime free offer" guys
go off on an indefinite lifetime strike

A place for souvenirs and sundry
old photos. id cards. and notes
out of circulation since the big T.
chits best made into paper boats
If there ever were a 'obese wallet challenge'
guess who would get the most votes !

(After a mammoth wallet cleaning session....glad I don't own a tote :)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


dancing through the window
tiptoeing on eyelashes
tickling bits of dust into a frenzy
I play peekaboo in quick dashes
caressing cheeks and hair alike
giggling as they avert their gaze
I am just one among a thousand
powdery morning rays

we touch the morning dew
it vanishes in thin air
petal by petal we prod
the blossoms open and bare
and as the time keepers
march ahead hand in hand
we charge across miles
setting ablaze oceans and land
I refuse to let go
of my juvenile gentle touch
even as the harsh noon rays
snide and chide me much

In vindication of the self
I make one too many sweat
Slicing through sheer curtains
I end a siesta mid-breath
Swirling in the tea cup
setting the biscuits on fire
But I get no more fiery
just as the sun gets no higher

I meet them on the horizon
in a cooler shade of crimson
My pals of the morning
as wearily they move in unison
And a mass of light, 'em rays
blink, flutter and die
In silence they give in to darkness
they say no last goodbye
I stand alone in solitude
weary yet faintly alight
Giving in to the hungry night
I am the last ray at twilight...

Saturday, February 27, 2010


At five, I had friends
with runny noses and grimy hands
half tucked ink stained shirts
and pink hello kitty hair bands
friends with lunchboxes laden
apples, jim-jams and rolls
flipped open and shared
even before the lunch bell tolls
friends who smuggled my bag in
on days that I was late
and covered my three feet high self
as I squeezed in from under the gate

some came home to me
as  sniffling and shivering I lay
swathed in five layers,
they held my hand and declared
like grim old pygmy soothsayers
"You will be well in just a day
Shoo...scat you bad bad flu !!"
They made me laugh
till my sides hurt like crazy
they got back class notes for me
on days I felt too lazy
 Friends that helped me plan
a birthday bash for my dog,
and gladly ate biscuits instead of cake
when the dog played the greedy hog

Friends who were oddballs
some ate chalk
others drank glue
some nibbled on erasers
one claimed he once flew
yet another could moonwalk
At five, I had friends
with broken teeth and grimy hands
Young foolish tots
they sure knew how to be friends... :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vogon Poetry

My friends thought I was joking
when I said I am an alien
My freak quotient shot up
in a day by ten gazillion

I showed em' my control board
they oh-aahed and said 'fancy'
I even pulled out my tentacles
they called me cute n pansy

I stood in the dark for a day
till my batteries all but ran out
I got 'em charged up in the sun
and still they had some doubt

meanwhile my leader up there
in gynaemeda seven
drummed his fingers in impatience
and looked up at the heaven

my ten years of undercover life
as Rajinder Parsad Sahani
was falling apart in seconds
as they called it a 'Kahani'

And then the divinity radar
picked up my SOS beep
riding on a cloud of dust
came a red and yellow jeep

Out jumped a young lady
mike n camera in tow
she drew a big red circle
covering me head to toe

flashes popped, cameras rolled
i grunted and spoke into 'em
moved my tentacles, flashed my lights
and even showed 'em my pink phlegm

The next evening on prime time
'Alien attack' made the headline
the young lady with the chaste hindi
assured you all was not fine

They asked 'who is he'?
or could 'he' be 'she'?
will the aliens capture earth?
and will they set humans free?
why did they abduct the cow?
was it for the milk?
if they wear clothes like us
will they next want our silk?

And thus my ten year long mission
was finally a success
after a secret small town life
disbelief, ridicule and stress

Now my leader full of glee
to take me back will agree
for now humans are aware
that aliens are out there
all thanks to a TV channel
who even have a panel
discussing us 24x7
for which I thank thee heaven

(an entirely uninspiring bit of prose, inspired
entirely by a feature on aliens on a 'certain' news channel
all characters in this post are completely fictional...and no,
I do not know any Rajinder Parsad Sahani...dead or alive, tentacles
or no tentacles :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

mirror mirror on the wall...

Whoever said a mirror
was all gloss and shine
Whoever said a mirror
told you all was fine

The mirror of lore
where pretty lasses of yore
the fairest of em' all
smiled and stood tall
is but a fine tale
told to chubby children
huddled up in quilts
mouth agape and pale

The mirror of the modern day
is deep, dark and got lots to say
comes in all shapes and forms
and follows no rules o' norms

Sometimes it is a friend
who is just being 'honest'
at times it is the mentor
putting you on a test

The stranger on the road
whispering as you pass by,
Or the office gossip
trailing you on the sly

or just a well-wisher
too eager to disagree
and the online personality quiz
ten clicks and its free

everyone's a mirror
showing 'you' to you
everything that you are
everything that you do
tall, slim, fat and stout
maybe an occasional horn or snout
at times you are the devil
at times almighty incarnate
sometimes beauty embodied
sometimes a balding pate

so if I were to spin a yarn
for my forthcoming progeny
changes in the tale of yore
I would make a many :)

Saturday, January 09, 2010

the commemorative post...

Sitting in the library, working on something that needs to be done by today evening POSITIVELY, I suddenly realised that its been quite a while since I wrote something on the blog...actually, since I wrote something. Period. I would love to claim that I have what they famously call the 'writer's block'. Except that my affliciton has long limbs, hooked claws, hangs upside down from trees and is spelt S-L-O-T-H. There was a time (which goes on to say a lot about my age I guess..sigh!!) when I would wait for a spark of inspiration to write about. Many of my friends found their colourful lives gloriously blown out of proportion under the euphemism of 'fictionalization' and emailed back to them as word doc attachments. They discovered previously unknown and unexperienced facets of their own personality. The Lopas, Shaileshs and Hemas of my world found themselves referred to as L, S and H on my blog, more to lessen my guilt about taking creative liberties while writing about them than to protect their identities. Cut to twenty-ten. And whenever I am gripped by an urge to write, when the words spur a sudden neuron activity sending a tingle down my arms into my fingers, I just shut my eyes and wait for that urge to pass. Like a wave of nausea that washes over you and then goes away with a deep breath.

And just as I logged into Blogger, the '99 posts' text on the Dashboard caught my eye. So this would be the 100th post. So it had to be a commemorative post. While the rest of the world writes about the best and worst of the year that just whooshed by, I will sit and write about my little-over-5 years on Blogspot. From sending messages to close friends, friends of friends and just about everybody within the six degrees of separation to 'check out my blog' to getting to know from somebody you hardly speak to that they have been following your blog and quite liking it. From opening the blog ten times a day on a 56kbps dial-up connection to see if there are any fresh comments (ohh...the excitement of finding a new comment and the subsequent fall of all joy and hope when you find that the comment is from an online pharmacy offering you a 10% discount on 'performance enhancing' drugs) to email alerts about new comments and followups. I could just go on and on with these from-to statements. I guess it is just one of those many things you learn with age. That thing they call 'nostalgia'. (Strange how close it sounds to nausea).
But just when I was too busy composing my commemorative post, I realised that 14 out of those 99 posts are drafts. Sudden strokes of imagination that flashed and were flushed soon after. So technically this will not be the 100th post. Never mind. My profile has not been updated ever since day one - except for the picture which I thought back then was a nice sepia. My blog page is still linked to the blogs of some of my friends who gave up blogging after an initial burst of enthusiasm or moved onto newer and quicker pastures like FB and Twitter. And there are none of those fancy widgets or much-needed monetizing options on my blog page. All in all, it is just as it used to be 5 years back. With the addition of a lotus-bud picture, which really doesn't serve much to liven up the page. And so my much-touted commemorative post turned into yet another regular rant. But hopefully this time I shall take stock and shift my attention lock-stock-and-barrel onto some more writing. Both on and off the blog. So any of you gets a new Orkut testimonial or a handwritten card from me extolling your existent and non-existent virtues, five months before your birthday, please DON'T PANIC :)