.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}
A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

28 September, 2004

Into the Void

(Not to be confused with a ong of the same name by M/s Ozbourne,Iommi and Co)

under the over and into the void
i understand naught of Plato and Freud

caught among the aging shortstops of glee
It must have been you, It sure wasn't me

complacent and defiant, subversive to the core
agreeably insane, washed up ashore

a protruding potbelly, a sign of the end
a creasing forehead, lots of worries to mend

hot blood stopped coursing through my veins
my body's revolting, stabbing aches and pains

undeniably entrapped, unsuitable I am
to embrace free verse; all i wrote was a sham

delusional poetry comes naturally to me
and ill-fated synonyms will my bane finally...


So it's not your poem, then.

Found while randomly blog hopping:
Mario Ruparello: Poetry does not belong to those who write it, it belongs to those who need it.
Pablo Neruda: Ah(smiles)..a highly democratic thought...

26 September, 2004

Ahem, vagina blurbs !

Hi Caferati,

This is my blog for today, hours before my birthday, so if you want to throw brickbats, please hold them for 24 hours in the name of decency.

I have been meaning to dispel a cloud of thoughts that's been meandering in my brain since a week after having experienced an interesting event.

Picture this : a staid audience of about a thousand anxious parents of school kids, enjoying a show where kids dance and sing and frolic. Just before intermission, the chief guest, a very housewifely chief guest, a theatre personality gets up to address the quiet audience.

She tells us about the dual faux pas committed by a friend who was incidentally a chief guest at some other similar function. She chirped two illtimed quotes :
Mark Twain : I do not want schooling to ruin my education!
Oscar Wilde : I never allowed my schooling to interefere with my education....

Whilst the audience titters lightheartedly she drops her own bomb without a warning :-
There was this play The Vagina Monologues, which when banned in Chennai forced the director to explain, they have no vaginas in Chennai, only assholes.

Only I tittered and about a thousand pairs of eyes glowered. I liked the humour, let the rest be damned to hell. The audience treated me like a leper, with looks that could kill.

The thundering silence that greeted the chirpy lady's immaculate humour can only be described as a glacial avalanche wherein ice, pure and mindless ice buries everything in sight.

My amusement petered off soon enough, and I was left wondering, how thin is the line separating one man's humour from another's affront.

Human life never ceases to amaze me. I bet you got something to say about this !


Cheers !

Love Poem

I have come to a conclusion
Or maybe it came to me,
That falling in love
Has altered my chemistry.

My mind has lost a bit
Of control, don’t you see?
My heart blissful now
Shows a softer side to me.

The cares they remain
But the burden’s gone,
I erase the worry lines
Laugh lines get drawn.

Flying without wings
A chain that sets you free,
Dazzled by the moonlight
I’m still exploring me.

Unfettered by space
Unchecked by time,
Altho’ my spirit is free
I feel bound to write in rhyme.


25 September, 2004

Digital Dilemma

I’ve used Google.
And Yahoo too.
Looked at FAQs,
And failed.
So now I’m asking you.

When you delete words,
Backspace them, you know
Pausing over the ‘cut’ icon,
I wonder where they go?

As little zeroes and ones,
Do they simply float around?
Do they form self-help groups,
Are they gagged and bound?

I wonder if we could help them,
Redirect them to pages.
Put them up on e-bay,
Recycle them in stages.

Send cuss words to comics,
Adjectives to page three,
Scandalous ones to tabloids,
Misspelt ones come free.

Let’s create an ‘at’ address,
For alphabets cruelly cut
A perfect resting place
For every extra ‘and’ and ‘but’.


22 September, 2004



Fragile and free the muezzin’s call pierces the day
just where it gives into the night.
My ceiling fan whirs on its nonstop nonsense…


Flurry of startled pigeons
Freed from their twilight spell
Over the white domed spire
Suddenly rise!
Unwilling witness I,
Close my eyes.



21 September, 2004

India Thru' Foreign Eyes & Vice Versa.....

Hi Caferati,

Though the Caferati readers have probably washed their hands off the topic "why foreigners find it difficult to work in India..." I am posting this blog because I find it terribly fascinating.

I have a friend in Germany , Ms.Silke Schwarzbach who wrote to me asking :

Dear Max,

Good Morning,
I've been at India last year and I found it very different to all countries I have seen before.
Have you ever been to Europe? With european Eyes India seem a bit shocking- so many people living on the streets with cows and dogs in between.
But after some days I could see in the eyes of the people that they are not all sad. Some of them have a "shining" that many european people have lost.
And I had to learn that I have to change my point of view. For that I am interested in the indian point of view...
What I want to know is quite dificult to ask:
What is important for Indian people?
What are major problems in India?
How about religional casts? Do they still exist and are still hierarchies?
I am very aware that India is a huge country so that "the Indians" hardly exist.
But I would be glad to get a little bit of your point of view!
Thanks a lot and have a nice day!

Here then is my asnwer which is going to attract a lot of bouquets and brickbats I am sure : -

Dear Silke,

Hey Silke,

That was a wonderful reply to me.
Let me answer ur queries one by one :

Have I been to Europe?

Yes twice. Once in 1993 for eight days at Bergotel Bestei, Dresden, Bremen, Hamburg, Salzgitter, and Frankurt.
Second time to Sofia Bulgaria in 2002 via Zurich where I stopped for a while.

I know how the European eyes look at so many people living with cows and dogs inbetween. This is a fact of life here, a way of life -and I guess those who have lived with animals in close proximity cannot live otherwise. I know of hundreds of cases where the local governent made huge apartments for slum-dwellers, and to their horror, the goats and dogs and other animals moved into the apartments with the new occupiers.....

On the other hand I have not come across any of these people suffering from heart disease or neurosis or depression or 10000 other modern new ailments. They live a contented life almost free of stress.

Yeah, after a few days you could see a shine in the eyes of poverty stricken people that you failed to see in the much better off people in Europe... once at Frankfurt airport I had meditated on this topic, for at least six hours.... my conclusion was that Germany despite its huge strides in industry and finance, seems to be peopled by ghosts. I could see almost insane expression on faces of most persons lost in their own personal world, not paying attention to events around them, and working like automatons. Neurotics abound in such societies... and what use is progress in finance and trade when the average person is more and more under stress?

I could see that the women on streets in Sofia, smoke desparately and have a hunted look in their eyes, as if being pursued by a hundred monsters. Their walking style is brisk and always hurried -as if they are scared witless of missing an appointment, an opportunity or a chance... in fact Bulgaria is one of the unhappiest countries in the world : they have a lot to catch up with in terms of money and infrastructure. This dissatisfaction shows on their faces.

What is important to Indian people ?
I may not be the best person to answer but I am an average Indian so let me try.

Peace in the society, Peace of mind, a good family with very solid family values, some social standing, a roof over our heads, a steady job and income, affection and loyalty, lack of disease and ailment, reliable support from family and society, some recognition and amusement. These are the fundamental things that we all need.

Most Indians seem lackadaisical, bordering on the carefree even irresponsibile, because they do not get thrown out from home at the age of 15. Even a middle aged man of 55 can still be supported financially by a father or mother or an uncle, even someone not related to him. Thus emotionally most Indians are very soft -and breaking of family bonds is equated with disaster or calamity: losing a job or becoming a pauper overnight in business is not that big a calamity... try and grasp these values.

Dishonesty is common, but it is virtually spat upon and a big ruckus is made when someone is caught. In the end, we always forget and forgive our dishonest, corrput ministers who milk the land dry. And stash away millions in Swiss banks.

Major Problems in India ?

Increasing disquiet on the caste and religion basis is threatening to tear this society apart... however the society has self-healing powers and it has usually bounced back to good health after momentary madness or aberration.

Food was a problem long ago, now it is not. Very strangely India produces more than enough food but the distribution system is so rotten, food gets eaten by rats and rodents whilst human being starve to death. We are very callous about statistics. Thousands dying every day, look like empty figures to us. We rarely act on such matters.

Drinking water is a big problem in many dry regions, and it is predicted to become a huge problem very soon. There could be water riots in near future -which makes us shiver. Very little is being done to combat this sure calamity.

Over population has led us to more diseases, more lack of law and order, more crime and more short cuts in earning daily bread.... over construction is depleting the green cover which is affecting rainfall which can cause more droughts in future.

Yes caste structure has been cast in iron... it will never go away form India. Hierarchy still exists, and at various levels. We are sharply divided over these matters and yet, as Indians we come together and fight the enemey whether it is an external threat like China or Pakistan invading us or an internal threat from a government that has failed to rule properly.

India Silke, is not a country, it is a continent.

I hope I have been able to answer yr queries.




There, there, folks. Start throwing the flowers or the stones.... I am ready.

19 September, 2004

Coming up

A couple of features here to look forward to.
Book reviews, for one. And not necessarily new books, but old faves as well. Max has volunteered to get the ball rolling. And soon, the others too, but hopefully at more length than this.
And then features and presentations. Contributors will post about word artists they admire, introducing them to the rest of us.
More? Any suggestions from you, our readers, on what you'd like to see here?

Musings from a train from Goa

hi people,

Sorry, I haven't been able to post in ages... I was off to Goa for a long overdue break (Tuesday thru Saturday)... well, I'm back now (Duhhhh), and on my way back in the train, I was reading the assorted works of Oscar Wilde... incidentally, the one poet/author I identify with immensely purely from the sense of his writing style and his take on life / world...

here's the poems that I came up with along the way...

The lament of a tardy photographer - written for this friend of mine who was trying to capture the elusive setting sun and kept blaming the trees for obstructing a clear shot....

A concrete jungle, not a woodland you seek,
where the sun who sets is not lame and meek...

To encapsulate a piece of the fleeting sun,
and possibly create a photograph that is second to none

the hurrying sun across the sky
tarries not to hear your cry

it scurries off to there from here
to light up the world in a different hemisphere

and day turns slowly into night
and the ever-plunging sun trebles your plight

in the magical glimpse of lovely twilight
you strain your reflexes with all your might

in the mauves and gentle oranges we see
are sunbeams lighting up clouds enticingly

alas, now your labour of love has ended today in vain
but fret not, he may oblige us tomorrow again..


J.U.- Past and Future

And sometimes
We carried on
2 ruppee worth
love affairs
puffs of smoke
The boy
in horn-rimmed spectacles
Trying to catch a kajol’d eye
With his eager verses-
But then
2 ruppees
was worth something
Those days…
In Milon Da’s canteen…
Steaming cups of lemon tea
One for you
One for me…

And someday
Caught unaware
in those glass revolving door
of one of the fancier resturants
-Momentarily discomposed-
It’s you , I see…
I hear you now write
impassioned letters
To several papers
Not a flicker of recognition
behind the worn-wire frame…
-We are both past our poetry, you see-
-But with the first bitter tang
of cool iced tea
In the flash of a match-
You’ll remember me!
Dedicated to all those
who have maroed line and thek …
Behind canteen corners and corridors
Who once consumed tea
Subsisted on peanuts in penury
And have now graduated
to life
And to


18 September, 2004

Suketu Mehta reading

This just in via SMS from pal Naresh Fernandes, of Time Out magazine.
Time Out invites you to a reading by Suketu Mehta on Tuesday, 21st September, at 7 p.m. at NGMA, Colaba.
Mr Mehta will be reading from his new book, Maximum City.

Kitabkhana features an excerpt, and points to other excerpts here and also on Mr Mehta's own site.

15 September, 2004

Beach Haiku

A gentle push from the wind
The door creaks
Voices flutter through the trees


I found a grey hair in my brush

Back then, I was immortal,
i knew i wouldn’t dye
when all was young about me
no chains, no string, no tie.
But i found a grey hair in my brush
and all is lost, alas
pray don’t jostle, please don’t push
for I am aging fast.

Written for fun, oh so long ago, just to be able to get that pun in. Many more grey hairs now. AND a receding hairline.


14 September, 2004


I watched the wall
The shadows fall
The sun go down behind me

The dazzling white
Awaiting the night
Caught fire like the old fir tree

I waited for long
Singing our old song
The minutes went a-tripping by

Till I saw our star
Heard the old guitar
And the jingle of the old jalopy

Packed my tin suitcase
Wore my dress of lace
Then I tip toed out into the night

Where lover boy sat
In his cow-boy hat
With a button hole in the moon light

There was silence then
Dare not say till when
Then we both did straighten up there

Lip-stick on his shirt
Said I “Wouldn’t hurt”
Cause the button hole caught in my hair

In his tin can car
Sixty miles an hour
We cruised among stars up high

And the Man on the Moon
Knew we’d be there soon
Away we had taken flight!


08 September, 2004

what is a man

what is a man
if he does not know
when black goes with black.
when with orange, with pink, or blue ?

what is a man
that is not some wild
or some mad.
who is not as soft
and warm
and sensitive too.

who can ,
for every tear
match you ?

what is a man
if not sometimes
a bit of a woman too ?


The E-Slave

John's travelling, so we can't ask his permission to put his essay on this blog, but here's a link to it on his Sulekha page:

07 September, 2004

A Tongue-In-Cheek Report

Hi Caferati,

The unbroken silence indicates no one from the twenty odd souls that gorged on coffee and sandwiches and cakes, is going to tap the keyboard for a report on what exactly transpired at Pranay’s flat on 060904, bewteen 1700 hrs to roughly 2130 hrs.

Here’s a full-bodied, sanguine, slightly tangential and somewhat tongue-in-cheek report :

The bored-to-death chowkidar seemed surprised when I gave the address… wahaan koi nahin… he said, and having reported half an hour before the time, I had to vanish. When I returned, a motley crowd was milling around –Soeb Fatehi welcomed me, we knew each other from our photos on the ryze pages. Rats disappeared into the kitchen, with cool cats droolingly awaiting the taste of first coffee. It came and kept on coming. In-between some delicious mashed-potato sandwiches materialized too.

Vijay asked me to start reading, and I dithered as I had plenty of time, no need to hurry back to Pune. Was staying over with friends at Versova. So the first one to read was : Vijay himself who read John Mathew’s short story on the new culture of call centres and all their attendant problems, entitled “The E-Slave”. Vijay had to read it out once again, and there was a flurry of comments on it, as usual both praising it and poking holes in its fabric. The general opinion was, it was relevant to the times, and captured the mood well.

I, Max Babi was invited to read out three poems from the published collection of verse “Emotions In Motion”, 1992 by Writers Workshop.

I read out a poem “Freedom” first, which was received in what seemed to me a stunned silence. There was a repeat as the tradition demands, and this time Dilfiza who wanted to know if those were bamboo leaves that slithered in… so I replied in the affirmative. After a few minutes of discussions, Dilfiza and Rats made the right noises appreciatively at the last four or five lines. Many heads nodded, and Veeru asked a few questions about the background leading to the birth of the poem. I told them the story.

Soeb Fatehi who obviously has good experience in conducting training modules and seminars wanted to be allowed to read out this poem. We allowed him and he in his rather sonorous voice, which swelled up like an ancient church organ inside a small chapel, somehow lent a new life to my poem, giving me a new taste.

All of us enjoyed his rather dramatic reading of the poem so much, we allowed him to read out the next two poems too. Over to the loudspeaker, I would say, after having read out a poem. And he would dig in with unconcealed delight, gusto and vim –quite a sight. Peter Griffin who came in late, placed himslef in the balcony to let out gusts of smoke from his ‘shweta rung, lumb roop, dhooan – dhadak dandika…’ so often, he remained there for a large part of the meeting.

Coffee breaks settled on us, as the evening shadows lengthened outside and the traffic seemed to come alive with vengeance, to an alarming degree of noise and urgency. My next two poems “A Wish” and “Welcome” were received similarly, and there was a particular dwelling of the discussion on my use of the word “hoarding” which Manisha mistook for what a miserly trader would do with intention of making black money, not what the Yankees call a billboard. Soeb was also doubtful about the usage word, because of the line implying a negative space whilst a hoarding is a positive entity… this is a typical engineer’s [or an architects]’ response, I explained to him, and stressed the fact that it is the phenomenon of looming up –just as a hoarding looms up on a grey evening when riding on the highway… Manisha objected to my use of the cat and the buffalo doing their own thing.

This lead us to re-open the discussion we had at Deepa’s place, with Brahmanda Singh recalling the topic : whether a poem should be edited or not. Most of us opined that spontaneous editing soon after writings is all right, but too much editing could transform the mood and content of a poem too much. I maintained that words written long ago, I like to preserve as they were written for I am not the same person anymore. Some mentioned that if the editing dramatically improves the content, well, why not?

Rats had to be summoned and she read out as scheduled her rather satirical piece on How To Open A School Without Education, and indeed it was a satire on the present state of affairs in education which has fast metamorphosed into yet another business. She illustrated this, later with many examples of almost illiterate but powerful persons wishing to open up schools. It was suggested that she should put this piece up on the Blog, and names also must be clearly mentioned….

Manisha then recounted a number of her own experiences wherein the entire suspenseful scenario –young mothers anxious to get their children into school, and the ill-matched teachers not inspiring confidence in the minds of the mothers, etc., and ultimately Manisha read out a very entertaining dialogue between two such ladies with children to be enrolled. Her script was very lively and full of humour.

Pranay the host read out his three poems, and there followed a longish discussion on the merits and demerits of writing verse that rhymes… for his poems as a rule rhyme. Bramhanand had a lot to say on this –and we all concluded that it is not easy to write rhymed verse if you care for the metre as you must. Quite often the poet would have to dilute the content or go off tangentially from the main theme to preserve the rhyme and the metre.

Cakes and sandwiches were relished with vigour, soon after.

Peter Griffin read out some hard-hitting short poems, which he had hand-written –what a rare sight in today’s computerized world –and many first-timers like Veeru, who had been religiously lobbing questions to the writers and the readers, seemed rather touched. Peter also made comments and told us about the background of each poem : he is an articulate person and it is a pleasure to listen to him.

Brahmanand the film-makers, whose articulation also demands attention, read out some of his very engaging poems, with the Dangling Woman being a clear cut hit –half way through the poem, the irrepressible Manisha commented she would rather leave the woman dangling than go any further… a point worth pondering upon!

Copious comments were made on his other poems, and it was well past 2100 hrs that Vijay brought the excited pack of writers and readers and listeners [and oranisers] to discuss the SATCT project.

Rats wanted to know why only short stories, why not poems, and Brahmanand suggested essays to be included too. However in the absence of the editor Sunil Nair, it was decided that it may be too late to change the basic idea. The next meet, will be on 2nd Oct. 2004, it was decided at Manish Lakhe’s place in Versova –and Annie informed us that that being Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary ‘The Final Solution’ by A. Patwardhan is going to be screened at 50 places, so why don’t we combine the reading and screening both? Almost unanimously the idea was welcomed.

When we parted –the strangers who had been talking or listening or thinking, parted as close friends. A wonderful event.


Max Babi


Three Poems

Hi Caferati,

here are the three poems I had read out day before yesterday [6th September 2004] at Pranay Srinivasan's place, Andheri, Mumbai :-


My bedroom window swelled up
once after relentless rain and
became elastic later
boomeranging back shut
with every push
for a bamboo bush
had collapsed on it
like a drunken neighbour
having slashed through the bush
whose leaves used to slither in
from chinks, silent and menacing creepers
looking more sinister at night
I breathed more freely at last
I wonder how
it would feel
if I pull down all those
bramble bushes of suffocating relationships.


A Wish

Yes I’d like to be a volcano
sit still for a couple of millennia
cooking up firestorms in my belly
enticing sombre forces lying dormant for ages
take a deep breath
and then
burst forth in a blaze
my exultation touching the sky
my roars churning the oceans
my shudder shaking up the planet
in an orgasmic fury
only to cover the naked earth
with a blanket of grey ash
guided solely by an intent
to convert it all
into a hotbed of creation.



My house is dark with a strange darkness
that fluorescent tubes or measly bulbs
cannot hope to remove
it’s a darkness which is alive
which slithers and shifts with
an intelligence of its own
it’s a darkness
which breathes down your neck
like a drunk in a train
passing through a tunnel
it’s also a darkness which slips
through a million fingers of light
through the slabs of unbroken silence
through the brickwork of screwed up courage
through the unseen barriers of prayers
through the gaps between your heartbeats
it’s a darkness forever hungry
and hungering for more voids in yourself
do not show your empty spots
for voids mingle into voids and
create an absence bigger than a hoarding
it’s a darkness which suits my black cat
for he revels in it like a buffalo
would wallow in mud and slime
it’s a vaporous darkness
which moulds itself
around you hugging you
feeling you caressing you
seducing you; if you succumb
a sleep thicker than a coffin
will slam shut around you
wherein even dreams dare not peep
but it’s a darkness certainly not
from the devil’s own arsenal
for it courteously thins and disappears
into itself
whenever a silverbell voce
tinkles, yin and yang move
into each other like presence into absence
it’s not dark inside a womb
it cannot be.


Food For Thought

Hi Caferati,

Here's some food for thought culled from helpful souls, posting this with the ardent hope that the silent readers will comment, and thus stir up the pot a bit...

Every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skull.
--Rod Serling

Writing is like cooking...if you spill something, you should make it look like part of the act.
--John Keeble

Writing is a lot like sex. At first you do it because you like it. Then you find yourself doing it for a few close friends and people you like. But if you're any good at end up doing it for money.

For a creative writer possession of the truth is less important than emotional sincerity.
--George Orwell (1903-1950) English novelist, critic

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
--Cyril Connolly


Max Babi

06 September, 2004

Whats to see? In Jogeshwari?

Whats to see? In Jogeshwari?
Misnomers galore, in this little rhyme you shall see
To the sights of Jogeshwari, as faithfull I shall be

Whats to see in Jogeshwari?
An interesting people?
or a fine church steeple..
a good movie?
you'd exhort me to see?
or a great puppet show,
to which everyone should go

Is it like a walk in the park?
before noon and after dark?

Is the dress code a scandal,
or is the place rampant with vandals?

Are the roads very fair,
where you can roam without a care?

Are there monuments of an age gone by,
or are there buildings that seem to scrape the sky?

fast food courts and McDonald's muttons
with which to appease the hunger of gleeful gluttons

Gujjubhais strolling
with their potbellies rolling

Is it visible, the distant glimmer?
of the Lokhandwalla shimmer?

In the east can we see?
The Land of Fantasy?

Personally my favourite is this friend i have, a lady
who's an exemplary beacon of courage and spontaneity

this, my audience, you will agree
that then there's not much else left to see in Jogeshwari

So what else is there to see
in Jogeshwari

- pranay
(at the meet on September the Fifth)


Steaming back through time

A couple of fragments of paper i find,
to relate the musings of my mind
Feelings i have, kind and unkind
including angst and hysteria undefined.
if my life i were to rewind,
(a privilege i would not mind),

a pandora's box it actually is...
a cola drink that's lost it's fizz

an uponened disaster in the making,
a conquered people for the taking...

stumbling through slurred words of passion,
seems to be the running fashion

a kind of stupor i seem to be in,
exemplified by my inane grin

evolved from the obsessive in my kin and kind,
a lacklustre orchestra conducteth my mind

widely revoken am i,
wail i can't, not even try

i must break free, i must, i must...
to this blessed release, my deliverance i do entrust

a flicker of life shines forth from my candle of hope
or possessed i will be, and with the grim reaper I shall elope



Anecdote of Gloom

A chained man to the mast you see...
A hapless mortal trapped in a slave galley...
A deadened soul partially,
who has no future ostensibly.
A pearl in an oyster when you seek,
A million miles of sea floor you scour
It's likened to eventually stripping,
the petals from a beautiful flower

- pranay


Outlook Picador Non-Fiction Competition


Outlook Picador Non-Fiction Competition

The Outlook Magazine invites you to recount a journey you made -- on the road, on a train, by plane or boat, or just in your head. Last Date: November 30


Raga Bhairav: Orgasmic Bloom

We praise Bhairava, the hero,
the source of life,
the measure of rhythm,
pervading the ocean of notes and intervals.
A scull in his hand,
the crescent moon upon his matted hair,
he worships Shiva, the Lord of sleep.
His body is smeared with sandal paste.

--- Raga Sagara (3, 1)

Whenever I think back, I can echo
the experience of your weathers ---
thunderclaps, rain hitting stones, rattle of windows.

Every so often, I have rested between
your storms.
Partings, tears, discoveries --- these are all
epiphanies of our solitude.

In our crude, vague and dreamy ignorance,
we have recognized the subtle,
elusive beauty of human grief.

Those sunrise colored clouds
around my head,
those inconceivable enchantments ---
they have always brought me
back to life.

Across this short, dark distance
of years, you are a thought of mine.

An object among dreams, you sit here
with your bare feet and curl your
legs under you.
Your eyes close for a moment,
your face luxuriates in my gaze.

Time fades away.
Motion turns to stillness.
Space becomes void, once again.

I dissolve to my nudity,
in the soft brilliance of the
newly risen sun.

Your nakedness comes towards me,
Your body is made of infinite, whirling
points of light, each one a galaxy.

Through them, a few stars
and the moon’s crescent still glisten,
You come to me on imperceptibly drifting air
and bite me on the
edge of my shoulder.

Your tongue thrums and moves
into me, I become hollow
and blaze with the whirling light,
like the inside of a vast,
expanding, pearly universe.

Your body flows into mine,
each corpuscle of
blood and flesh.

As we become one, the world vanishes.
My Self vanishes. I am dispossessed,
only into an abyss without limits.

Only, into the dark oblivion
of sense and mind.

Only, into an un-illuminable void.

Then, I package your edges .

Each time you look at me,
with your fluid gaze,
the moon flickers and I invent
more of you, in the space between.

The rhythm and the notes
enchants your movements.
You now oppose the whole sea,
the moon and the music.
You are the only thing
you now know of.

Now I see you motionless,
still within your stillness,
having turned
into your own Art.

Brahmanand Singh
(Part of a series called Raga Poems,
read on the 8th Aug 2004 meet)


Raga Lalit: Motion of Wish

Lalita, charming in her innocence,
is bright like gold. And while she
holds a lute, a cuckoo perches
on her lotus hand.
She is seated beneath the Wishing-tree,
her breasts all unadorned,
a thousand times desirable.

---- Chatvarimshach’hata-raga-nirupam (page 13)

The sky has cleared but it has not
lightened the unstable muck flying through
your void.

There’s morning in the things around you
but not in your heart.

For your closed eyes,
this morning is born of hidden wounds,
and of long forgotten smiles.
And your breasts become a breath
of inviolable distances

Through a glass that magnifies
your loss,
I see the lines of your spectrum
shifting red.
With the daylight about to expand
it thins out
and flies far apart.

You wish your honeyed colors
to restore the liquid longings of your heart.
You wish your pains to turn into ecstasies,
and your hopes stretch across to dawn.

If you wish, I will perform the day
just as I will perform the dream.
I will smile the first morning rays
into an emaciated face in the
photograph on your side table.

Let each submerged regret of yours
flicker above the
nothingness that rims your sleep.

Let the un-guessed abyss
break into a spray on the beach.

Let me turn your dusty visions
into a brilliant shower of colored dreams.

Brahmanand Singh
(Part of a series called Raga Poems,
read on the 8th Aug 2004 meet)


Justice, You and I

Justice, deceit, hair,
woman, you and I:
a thin wire of grief,
a tone almost querulous …

There was a woman
I once made love to
and I remember how
holding her small shoulders
in my hands I felt
a violent wonder …
like the thirst for knowledge,
for my childhood river,
for the muddy places
where we were caught
like pumpkin seeds.

Her desire was an endless distance.
Something that her father had said
had hurt her.
Her dreams were tender,
her flesh as numinous as words,
which sculpted the words
in undivided light …
her desire was actually a flute,
and a little song played on it …
in a tone almost querulous …
a thin wire of grief,
justice, deceit, hair.
Woman, you and I,
a thin wire of grief,
justice, you and I.

Brahmanand Singh
(read at the 5th Sept 2004 meet)


The Dangling Woman

You’re hanging from the edge of a precipice,
your hands are pressed against the rocks.
A swarm of bees pass over your head.
You think it’s your halo,
you think it might be a storm
intending to crush you.

You desperately hope to set yourself free.
Then you relax. The sky has not yet fallen.
Nor have you.
You’re not alone.
You’re your mother’s daughter
and your father’s son,
you’re several pieces between
your friends and lovers.
But you’re tired of your dizzy poise,
you’re tired to be a dangling woman.

You listen to the water speak
softly below your feet.
Feet above your feet,
you sputter and butt
yourself against the rock.
Your belly is hard from this constant tension,
your waist, your arms, your arms,
your heart, your feet,
everything is dangling.

You think of setting yourself free,
your arms reach forward,
your heart knocks against your breast.
You must have your pair of kittens.
You try to run faster, time slows,
the breeze blowing your hair tightens
around you.
You’re not yet free,
you cannot yet saunter.

Your kittens rise and stretch,
throw around you their feline mist.
Your kittens then turn
and start away
in huge, slow strides.

You’re unable to move but.
Your own breeze has caught you tight,
you’re still dangling.
You’re dying for your kittens,
you’re dying of thirst,
you’re mad for the rain.

You look out in the distance
and find the sun in its mellow color,
dangling like yourself.
You find the silhouette
of someone diminishing and fading
beyond the saddened hill
as far as the sun sinks.

You awaken the sky with your fright.
You find tall grasses
when you look to your right,
swaying in the rhythm
of the wind --- graceful ballerinas
emerging at the edge of your sight.

You contemplate about the beauty
of your thoughts,
the beauty in your heart,
the beauty in your steps.
Out here, you’re still
a dangling woman but,
hanging by your own fingers,
your own skin,
your own thread of indecision.

You think of X, of Y, of Z,
you think of your father,
of your mother,
you think of all the women
you have been to all the men.
You think of the color of your skin,
and of Calcutta Streets,
of moonlit nights
and of summer breeze.
Your mind chatters
like a paranoid air-conditioner,
you think of all the 2 AM isolations
that have folded you up like death,
discordant without logical
and beautiful conclusions.

But you don’t want to
console yourself with sorrow
or tantalize yourself with love, do you?
Or to sell your memories to tears,
regret, self pity?

You are actually tired, tired to be a dangling woman.

You feel like being within
the walking distance of the skyline.
With your loneliness wrapped
around you, you feel like
taking to the paved rainbow
in a new direction.

Just one attempt
and you’re beyond the curve
of a risen silver bow.
Just one step and you’re
out into the blinding space
of glittering crescents.
And you glide, and sway,
and swim like an aquatic ballerina.

Years later, you measure your gains
and losses by the angle of your repose.
Finding yourself dangling in a motionless gaze,
wide of time, alert,
out of the dark, distant flurry,
now you know something more
than what all languages can mean.

Brahmanand Singh
(read on 5th Sept 2004 meet)


Literay Parties

Love and literature stand out side the door.
Desire, a non-stop flute, plays 'ascend, ascend'…
We believe in art and beauty.
Someone talks about Cezanne.
Another wave of desire.
I’m alone, empty.
Someone joins with her body,
frail, soft like desperation.
Eve feeds her apple to the snake.
There’s no toad at Adam’s ears.
She doesn’t invite me for sex.
And lets her breasts bounce the way they always do.
We talk and mingle.
I think of pillows. Erotic is not sexual.
That’s where my paths fork.
It’s not the riddle of desire that interests me.
It’s the riddle of her smell, of white pages and of creativity.
Have I drunk myself beyond incandescence?
She pats me, ruffles my hair, says I’m tired.
Friends say goodnight. We didn’t talk much literature.
She says I’m tired, takes off my shoes,
puts me on the bed and puts off the lights.

Outside the window is the city night.
The sky is empty, no clouds.
Inside the room, emptiness is strict.
This suffocation pleases me.
I see Ulysses on the beach, my eyes are full of wonder.
In the sharp sweet light that streams in the night,
I see my body, naked and possessed
in a different order of religious awe.

Brahmanand Singh
(read on 5th Sept 2004)


Marital Blues 1

We fought
sitting together on that journey.
The old lady opposite
thought we were married, because
we fought
sitting together on that journey.
They must be married.
See, they’re fighting.

1996 (read at September 5th reading)


Marital Blues 2

in five years
they’ve run out of things to say
two children
and not much else in common.
if that’s what happens to love
i’m glad i’m still alone.

1996 (read at September 5th reading)


Marital Blues 3

And a warm meal
And a home loan
And what?

1996 (read at September 5th reading)


Old Diary

Half-remembered laments
For till-now-forgotten loves.
Delicious adolescent pains
And rhymes that tried to make sense of them.
I smile now, and think:
        I know more words now.
        I could handle them much better
        With more dexterity, more skill,
        ...Perhaps less spontaneity
        (Which may be a good idea).
        And i wouldn’t do too badly
        With the poems either.

February 2001 (read at September 5th reading)



i have no message for you.
If i did, i'd send you mail.
No fresh insights, no causes,
no attempts to change your mind.
i have no influences,
i come from no school,
i'm untutored in style and history,
and know nothing of conventions.
i have not workshopped,
nor been peer-reviewed.
i do not push the boundaries of verse.
Real Poets have nothing to learn from me.

Because i only write of love, of longing,
of losing, of getting older,
of the oh-so-ordinary things i see around me.
i write for myself, it's true.
But you, you may find some solace here.
At the very least you'll find
that you're not alone;
at most, words
for a thought you hadn't spoken.
More i cannot give.
May it be enough.

August 2004 (read at September 5th reading)


The story so far

Caferati is just over a month old, and we've grown.
From one solitary member nagging everyone else to join in, there are eight on the rolls as of today, with another half-dozen who will hopefully pick up their invites and get blogging soon.
From the stray visits that were the result of the previously mentioned nag emotionally blackmailing people into dropping by, we now average around 25 unique visitors each day, with close to 700 total visits and over 1500 page views over August.
From announcements, we quickly moved to animated discussions, spirited arguments and best of all, original creative work.
We have also been linked to by a few popular blogs, and hopefully, as word spreads (please carpet-bomb your email lists with the URL), that list will grow too.
You'll soon see a bunch of posts from the works read at our last real world meet. Your comments are welcome, as usual, whether or not you're a Caferati member (unless you see no 'Comment' button, which means the contributor concerned has turned comments off, which means s/he doesn't want any).

Invitations to join the blogging team are open to all who ask, subject to a quick vote from the existing members. Take a look at the paragraph of text on the top of the left column, and if you think you'd like to be a contributor, mail caferati at (or contact any of the contributors via their profile pages) to let us know you'd like to join in. read this post.


03 September, 2004

How to write a novel

But seriously.
[Courtesy Kitabkhana]


Serious Writing ?

Hi Caferati,

Writing, I have always thought, is done seriously unless someone is playing the fool. Just to impress an impressionable teenager or to show off to the soft-hearted teacher- and they will smile anyway.

Writing even a piece of office memo is at times, a poetic effort on part of those, who have a flair for writing or for expressing themselves clearly, in a civilised manner, with a degree of articulation.

Much writing one can see in political propaganda and commercial jargon filled leaflets, has a serious intent -but the style may leave much to be desired. They do not care, those who are in a souped up evangelistic hurry to get it over with.

Writing, if done as a 'content' for a portal, as some of us who do technical writing, can also be sharp enough though forcibly squeezed out of the writer, and that does not slacken its tautness nor its stolidity nor its relevance either.

Writing, if the writer has the writing skill, could be seriously useful to many readers, even when frivolous -this may sound like a contrived oxymoron, but that does happen.

Writing when not serious, can be playful, interesting and piercing -provided the writer has the knack to juxtapose the right words and phrases even when not serious.

In the end it is the reader who decides whether a piece of writing is serious, or non-serious or downright phoney : writers will seldom agree what on earth is writing or serious writing or pure baloney.



02 September, 2004

"Serious" writers and readers

Anita Vasudeva posted this on the BWC board. i thought we could widen the audience a little and ask those questions here as well.
For all you writers and coffee drinkers - what is a Serious Writer and a Serious Reader?
Is it a writer who:
a) does nothing else but write?
b) for whom writing is the prime route to communication? has something to say?
c) writes to be published (and hence, writes to be read?)
d) writes to express - creativity? - artistic?
e) writes out of sheer love for the language?
(But I know writers who write because of one or some or all or none of the above but write so beautifully, even if it is only letters to their nephews. Are they serious writers? or not?)

Is it a reader who:
a) reads to roll the words around the mouth and the mind
b) reads because it is a window to the worlds
c) reads only serious writers - or even reads the paper bag with the apples in it?
d) reads and forgets but enjoys the journey? or reads and recalls and remembers and compares?
e) reads for the story ? reads because a friend said read this? reads because maybe it will help?
(Why should I be serious to read? Can I not read for a lark even if the writer brings only a moment of an undefined something while I wait in the outer room of a government official?)
Write, all you writers - use your words, throw them at us and enjoy. Cheers!