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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

28 August, 2004

And the deluge commences... Green Eggs and Ham

between a rock and a hard place..
stuck i am...
would you like some green eggs and ham?
it could not would not go away
the problem i have is here to stay
to leave it though i try my best
never shall the problem rest...
stuck i am stuck i am
would you like some green eggs and ham?
running away is quite possible
only if i weren't so gullible...
hiding away shying from the light i am
stuck i am...
in my heart is a wandering dream
alas, a pipe fantasy now it seems
a day the night shall never greet
never ever the twain shall meet,
this truth is the parody i live
a part of me i shall have to give
a solution that never ever shows
and dissolves all my broken woes
stuck i am stuck i am
would you like some green eggs and ham?


Anita Desai

Ryze business networking: "'So much is being written in India now, every mail brings me manuscripts to look at by Indian authors. It has suddenly become a craze. It's not much to do with writing, it's to do with celebrity culture. Because a few like Rushdie and Arundhati Roy have become celebrities, it's encouraged others to try writing.'"

Now I find what Anita Desai has to say very objectionable!


Published authors, at least in India, never lend a helping had to struggling authors. A crab mentality prevails. Now that I made it why should I help someone else?

Agreed. You have made it against the odds, had to struggle, was rejected, etc. etc. But helping someone come up, saying a good word about something you really like. No way, we are Indian.

One billion people and no Olympic gold? Only one measly silver? Why?

Because our social system and structure is such. Along comes a talented person who wants to do something and vicious gossip is circulated, insults are hurled, character assasination is ready to be circulated, everything is done to make the person feel small.

"Who does he/she think he/she is?"

"Big writer eh?" Smirk! Smirk!

So now that Ms Desai has made it, Ms Desai can thumb her nose at those struggling to make it. Same with the writers who have had "god"fathers abroad to promote them.

Is there any doubt why most talented youngersters (writers, painters, sportsmen, actors) get disillusioned and give up? We are not a society based on merit, we are a society based on cronyism. If you don't like to be a crony then go jump into the well. Ask the sportsmen who has no talent to suck up to the officials. How can you ask if you won't even find them?

Now what makes Anita Desai crib in front of a foreign audience? Perhaps she thinks she has arrived and is now on level with the "goras" so the brownies who struggle in India can suck their thumbs and descend the depths of desperation.

Anita Desai says we Indian writers want to be celebrities... who doesn't? Doesn't she want to be a bigger celebrity than Arundhati Roy and Salman Rushdie? Doesn't she want the TV cameras, the interview, the book launches, the paid book tour, etc.

She does, but she wants it so seriously that she doesn't want the 10 million or so people in the sub-continent who can afford a computer to catch up with her. So she would rather subvert their prospects and criticise them in public than say a good word.

Is it any surprise that a nation of one billion cannot produce a gold medal at the Olympics. All we can do is a silver when unknown countries in Africa (imagine Africa with its malnourished millions!) can produce more than one medal. All our medal prospects gave up long ago!

Birth Of A Poem

How do you drag a poem
like a reluctant cat,
digging its rear paws into the earth,
hissing and spitting and flapping wild-
into broad daylight ?

You stare at it wordlessly,
and let the fuzzy wuzzy vapours
in your head, congeal into words
so you could spit it all out?

Or you force the internall chatter
for goodness's sake to subside
into a lakeside placidity
and cut it all into diamond chunks?

Or you allow the uneasy
queasiness bubbling inside
to come retching up like an idle volcano
and then move your astral self aside
to let the columns of fire rain
till a rock garden builds itself
where unbroken monotony ruled
with an iron hand?

Or you slip into the half-self-mesmerized
state : on the brink of dreams,
and let the vitriolic emotions
etch their gruesome designs
on a soul forever hungry for more?

Which ?


Max Babi


25 August, 2004

Come September

BWC's next aromatic brew of words and coffee will be served piping hot on Sunday, 5th September at Pranay Srinivasan's house in Andheri. Ryzers can go here to RSVP and for directions. Vijay (the thus-far silent "jivay" on the left) is coordinator for this meet.
As always, it's not restricted to Ryze members. Anyone else who wants to join in can use the comments section on this post. And let Vijay know well in advance if you'd like to be one of the featured readers.


23 August, 2004

Musings on the rain!

It is raining as I write this... pearly drops are falling with the rhythm of sibilant whispers...

My friend and colleague tells me it has been raining continuously for the past one and a half month. The road I travel to work is full of holes of varying sizes and shapes. Some are deep some are shallow and all are full of water. The bus lurches through it as we hold on for dear life.

There is no respite. The umbrella is a flimsy toy for the gusts of strong wind. They blow water through the think jacket I wear to keep away the wetness.

The weather bureau, where my sister used to work and now has retired, had predicted deficient monsoon but now I think we are having more than enough. Who needs all this water here in Bombay while elsewhere farmers are committing the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives because of the lack of it.

Well, it is feeling chilly with the air-conditioner on and I have downed my 'n'th cup of tea.

Has anyone heard of El Nino and El Nina. Well, one should. When my dad died there was such a deluge and the water almost cut us off from civilization in good old green paradise of Kerala. We had to keep his body in a mortury for almost a week to be able to give him a decent funeral.

El Nino my online dictionary tell me is:

A warming of the ocean surface off the western coast of South America that occurs every 4 to 12 years when upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water does not occur. It causes die-offs of plankton and fish and affects Pacific jet stream winds, altering storm tracks and creating unusual weather patterns in various parts of the world.

Al Nina is something similar. Weather like the unpredictable lover is becoming too much moody these days. The world is growing warmer by a fraction of a degree centigrade every year. What is fraction of a degree? It all adds up into several degrees over the years. So be prepared to sweat it in summer.

That means you and I would be sweating like a pig in summer and warding off a deluge in monsoon and near freezing in winter. Yes. That's most likely to happen.

Who is at fault. All of us. The world has less and less tree cover these days. Acres are cut down every year to make way for farming and habitation. We are losing 86,000 hectares per day: an area equivalent to New York City.

Forests are needed to condense clouds and bring down rain uniformly. In the absence of this it will rain cats and dogs and rats in some parts and nothing in other parts. Witness what is happening in India today. Bombay and the north-east are having abundant rain and floods while places like Vidharba are still dry and rainless.

We have filled our airconditioners, refrigerators and aerosol cans with a chemical known as chlorofluoro carbons. These chemicals rise in the atmosphere and destroy the ozone layer, the precious protective shield against cosmic radiation. So the earth is partially naked now... I was typing fully naked... but that will happen not long in the future if the trend continues.

But all of us are not bothered... we are happy with our jobs making more and more money forgetting that the process we have set off is irreversible! Our grand children may be better than us living in fully airconditioned bubbles and working in fully climate controlled offices.

But what of their children and their children? And what of the poor?

I am sorry to seem so negative and pessimistic but that's the way things are... I feel we have crossed the limits somewhere and need to correct it and set it right.... But who will bell this cat? Who will undo the knot we have tied around our own ankles?

Wonder what will happen when we are gone and our grand children go through many more El Ninos and hard summers! Would they applaud us or curse us?

Remains to be seen...

22 August, 2004

Freewheeling Mind

Nothing fascinates me more
than the whir of a freewheeling mind.

All our technologies pale, when it grinds to dust
universes -distances disappear and enormity
with its sidekick infinity, hightail it like scared rabbits
when the mind whirs

countless libraries with their low hum
operate there without any other
breathing forms or throbbing shadows
slithering about throwing up sinister implications

the mystery of organic farming of memories
would be it be deciphered in the next few centuries?

The mind also plays tricks -blessing us with the
phantasmogorical displays, impromptu bouts
of shadow-boxing where
meaning and lack of meaning
altogether lose track of meaning....

baffled silence rules.



21 August, 2004

The Power Play

My initial enthusiasm which frothed like a freshly opened bottle of wine, dwindled into nothingness and then bloomed into a spurt of anger because, our buildiing at the edge of civilisation, developed a power snag.

Voltage went down to such an extent that tubelights went into a tizzy never to recover like a lady threatening suicide, and succeeding. The old faithful incandescent lamps paled like the promises of an alcoholic father to the fun-starved kids. My computer promptly died and the only thing that breathed fire was the TV which I watched into the wee hours hoping the power would be restored some time, for I had blogs to write.

When the first birds chirped tentatively, I realized the tubelights all around in our sparsely populated outskirts were on, had been on the whole blessed night -but the dimness of our lamps started sounding like an endless song of mourning : more frustrating as the source could never be pinpointed.

The electricity guy with his mobile phone came to life around the time when schoolkids have gone and the milkman is sourly placing bags into their predestined slots. Promised to come an hour later, but wasn't seen till three hours later. Some more frantic calls finally made him scoot down to the poor transformer that always hiccups like a moronic child fed brandy, every rainy day.

Suthar is a thick-set dark-skinned earnest man who rides his 80cc moped as if it were a battle tank with 2000 BHP between his legs. His facial expression tells me, if I cross the path, that I must have lost my mind, to take liberties with the mother of all bikes when it comes roaring down the street... I'd better watch out or else.... ah, now I know. He thinks like Calvin of Hobbes series. His reality seems like the dark side of the moon to me. My reality is utter fuzzy nonsense to him too. We love each other. I always make complaints, he always attends to work half-heartedly.

This time around he came alone, for he is always with his Man Friday who will climb the parapet wall, take the hugely long pole with its funny shaped front hook to lift a piece of thickish copper wire that can be gingerly coaxed into the drop out fuse which is always blown. For a hundred reasons.

Our earnest electrician hates trees. I love trees. He chops down the sexiest amongst creepers draping the ugly cage around our transformer, that somehow reminds me of the hungry and pitiful faces of the condemned in the concentration camps. I love the sensually green draper and he yells to the chowkidar, a mysteriously silent Nepali who loves chopping trees too. Rapists, I whisper to myself.

They make me bring a knife to start the gang-rape of green and orange and dull red, brighly lit creatures... In the mean time, Suthar has figured a way out to fix the broken fuse wire. He asks the chowkidar to get up on the wall, so thin that even a cat would find it dicey, and instructs him. Plain stupid. Amazingly idiotic. But he makes his remote control work.

Lo and behold, power is restored. I tell him repeatedly that hanging a wire with a piece of stone, is a primitive thing to do. He gives me spurts of dirty looks as if shooting them at me with an AK-47, and shrugs his shoulders and scoots off to the next emergency.

It is Thursday when power is switched off in our area leaving blogs boiling in my head, and ideas clashing within like two communities overcharged with someone's silly rhetoric.

Power dwindles into the dim lit bulb routine before I can connect to the internet. A spate of feverish phonecalls and Suthar realizes something better has to be done. He scoots right back. He makes his official assistant go up, who briskly fixes the broken wire, now hanging away from the insulator, appropriately.

Bring to my mind the story of the poorly paid assistant of such an electrician who got the 11000 volts shock and had to get both his hands amputated. I try to tell this to the earnest faced electrician who shrugs my story off before it can grow to adulthood.

The problem is fixed, but the insulator remains broken, has been like that for a year. Should I complain to the main office ? He shrugs again.
" Tock nahin hai..."
Talk nahin hai? I wonder.

With gestures he shows a heap of imaginary insulator.
Ah, Stock nahin hai... okay. I give up.

Power is restored. I promptly restart the computer. Before I can connect to the internet, power is gone.

When I ring up Suthar on his mobile phone I can hear the laughter in his voice. Thursday saheb, I just switched off the power.

Sick and fatigued, I abandon the computer.




The whimsical magnanimous
and yet parsimonious
Nature's bounty

I sorely miss it when
green has turned golden even
a starved brown,
when hills go bald
with sudden obscenity
and unwavering certainty
of an exhibitionist in the park

I dream about it when
dry and static-ridden crackling
wintry winds slap my face into
shocked wakefulness

I wallow in it, even if it is
an amateurish drizzle,
a bad-tempered squall
not a world-flattening storm

And I hate it when
I have to walk the city streets
with faecesf floating in six inches
deep puddles that hide
potholes and rusted debris.

Wonder why the web and waft of life's
fabric is always woven with love and hate?
Because we are not on a neutron star?
Or demand and supply rules the cosmos too?


19 August, 2004

am i ?

am i the only one
that comes and goes
and leaves behind
terrible poetry,
on tippety toes ?

hog that i am
i need more lime
than light
more praise
than fight.
for heaven's sake
a comment atleast
if you dont
want to write

an empty blog
does, i am afraid
no justice
to a coffee stain


17 August, 2004


This is me
not of much use
unless held by somebody
of no use at all
and that much is true
until i am
held by you

and then, from time
to time once again
sharpened to point
in hurt and pain
of no use at all
and that much is true
until i am
sharpened by you.

always knowing
that what you see
is nothing at all
to what's in me
nothing at all
and that much is true
except for what is known by you

sometimes woman
sometimes child
sometimes tame
always wild
and most of all
and that is true
a pencil yet
held by you.



From you I have learnt
that I still have youth...
and beauty, on my side.

From you I have learnt
to enjoy my body
and use it every way I can.
to not be afraid of it
or of what-
other people think of it.

From you I have learnt
to sing and dance a
nd be as mad as I can.

From you I have learnt
to understand that
friends come and go
but with a precious few
one must hold on

From you I have learnt
not be reckless with other people's hearts
and more so ever,
not to put up with people
who are reckless with mine.

From you I have learnt
that sometimes I am ahead,
and sometimes behind.
The race is long,
and in the end
it's only with myself.

From you I have learnt
not to congratulate myself too much
or berate myself either
that my choices are half chance
and so are everybody else's

From you I have learnt
to live in the city
but not to allow it to make me too hard.
To live in this small town
but to leave it before it makes me too soft.

From you I have learnt
One inalienable truth
It is more important to be loved
than to love
But to be loved back
it is essential
to love first.


Of Gnashing Teeth And Dimming Ears

Hi Pals,

It's a nerve-shattering tissue-jellifying and bone-loosening exercise to go for a hospital check up, at least for me, and though docs have been close pals to me to the extent that during the lull following my graduation, I did keep nightly vigil for docs who would vanish for a few hours during the internship and leave me in charge of the gory business of dealing with emergencies. I could write a book on those experience, but Robin Cook may turn green -heh. No sweat. But when it comes to self being under the spotlight, I still get chills and the heebie jeebies.

So when the lady dentist peered into my shyly opening mouth last night, I was praying that no cavities nor root canal business would be announced. She had been warned by me that I hadn't been to a dentist for two decades... and she looked horrified. To aggrevate matters when I said I had never got myself de-plaqued, she gave me a look as if I were The Mummy who had de-banded his body to show his missing gums. Vigorous brushing does get plaque removed, I now know. No need for a dentist to do that... But to everyone's relief she almost yelled in glee that my teeth were perfect. Too good, no problems. I thought I had hit the jackpot. A recent spate of hospitalization has left some huge blocks of irrational fear transplanted in my brain, uselessly. 'Transplanted' and not implanted, because there was no fear in my mind to begin with. The wellwishers in their shivering hordes, bombard you with their gamma rays of fear.

Oh boy what relief. She remarked, that those who do not care for their teeth generally have very good teeth. This was a teaser, I wondered. There was a sigh of desparation on the flip side of the pronouncement, I noticed. A good professor of economics jumped to my mind. The couple did not have kids for decades, and finally had one in the US of A. Now we all know that those guys are over-fussy about disinfecting their whole world. When the couple returned to India, they used to spray even the walls of their entire house and even the poor kid's toys, with Dettol. What could happen? The fist time the boy stepped out of the house to fetch his ball when mother was not looking, he got infected. He nearly died in the hospital, and Indian docs, may their tribe increase faster than terrorists, gave him a piece of their mind. The boy was then allowed to wallow in the mud. He never fell sick again. For decades he was hale and hearty.

So making friends with microbes is the only thing -make pals with crocodiles if you want live in water, so goes a Guju maxim and that has helped me a lot. Forgetting to brush your teeth like I do, when I travel, is a boon as my teeth have served me well for half a century or more now. Never had toothache ever !

Similarly an itch in the ear, if attended to gently is good, believe me. Ear drops are not a good idea. Running to a doc is even worse. Three of us once went for a check up. The actor amongst us had blobs of gooey muck in one ear. The lecturer had a plug of wax the size of small wine bottle's cork in his right ear. His hearing became overkeen and he kept telling us not to shout for weeks... we left him alone. The good lady doc peered into my ears and said there is nothing to clean. Cleanest ears I ever saw... and imagine the last time I used ear drops was something like forty years ago at school. The last finger on our hands is a useful device.

Immunity comes the hard way. Mollycoddling reduces us all to pampered little babies. Isn't it?

Nilima Shastri, a close friend, once saw a newly born baby being abandoned by the tribal mother, right under the spout of a roof in a neighbouring house. When the young mother was away, it started to rain. The baby was right under the gushing water for six hours... no one could rescue here from the heavily guarded and well fenced house. The baby did not catch pneumonia, nor die a blue death. Nilima was wonderstruck. Have you ever seen tribals line up at clinics or hospitals ? I have never seen such a thing. No tribal died of cancer or heart disease or ten thousand other diseases which you or me could catch easily.

Pamperers, give up the dark arts of self-mollycoddling, please !

Go out and get drenched in the rain... I always do. Ahem.



16 August, 2004

Hi Caferati friends....

Hi there all Caferati friends,
[and more and more new names are cropping up daily... a very positive sign that there is life on Terra Papiera,
well, salud !

The heavy rain that lashed Mumbai and made me uptail it recently, I was there for two days but cut short the sickening visit due to incessant rain, flooding, mudding and befuddling of senses : am a dry weather man and not seeing the sun makes me slightly 'solatic' [ opposite of lunatic, ahem writers, pl note the invention of a new word] -so in climes like the North East, it would be quite reasonable to see me climbing trees and tearing roofs down barehanded in a fit of madness... if it rains like this. The whole scenario is so alien, words pop off my mind, and pure rambling residue remains. Like froth after a violent squall.

After a heavy meeting at BARC, way out at Trombay, and a hugely relaxing rainless night which saw me walk for two hours nonstop just enjoying the fact that my knees do not yet scream from arthritis and that I can still breathe pure oxygen in Mumbai if surrounded by green cover so near the sea, with the huge mountain beaming benevolently like a giant frozen in a smiling moment, and also discovered that there is a place where by eight o'clock at night, life starts to yawn hugely and drops into a slumber -helplessly. That's BARC campus for you. I love to unwind there, and forget the world. Get do it very often, to share a secret.

Next day business hassles overtook my sense of relief and the dark clouds again gathered up in the sky like so many shameless lumpen elements with ' that' look in the eye... and that's when after finishing a few assignments, I headed towards Andheri West to meet friends. Shannon Melford is a gifted cartoonist, multimedia tycoon and an incredibly talented electric guitarist... spent some quality time with him and Basil whom I have known from aeons before, when the earth was an earthling itself and when Time had not gathered a mote of dust on its face... the usual chais and long walks got our minds loosened up... and words tumbled out as if they were overstuffed marbles leaking from a creaking box.

All said and done, it left a hankering feeling in heart when I came home and did a bit of ryzing to find out that one of my best new friends, a spunky young girl named Jasmina Khanna, lives withing walking distance from where we all were farting around with precious little to do than reminisce about good old days when traffic was sparse on Versova road, and evenings were dangerous due to lack of crowds. Jasmina, by the way, some of the readers -ryze network members, may know, is suffering from cerebral palsy from childhood and hence is paralzyed. Totally paralyzed. And even then she has done her Masters in sociology, is working on computers and planning to go abroad. Am trying to help her out.

What courage !

Would have loved to meet here.



on a rainy day

wet clothes on the verandah
smiles on the faces of children
umbrellas flying in the wind
my baby splashing on puddles
pakoras in the kitchen
a cuddle under the covers
a good book
a friend to defeat the pain
rain on my face


11 August, 2004

I know for certain

i know for certain
i shall not resurrect
if i am crucified today.
the nails shall not
let me bleed.
the blood in me is frozen,
like the cross,
with the passing of
so many odd years.
and what there is left
i shall need,
to sacrifice
at the altars
of your making.


[Sunil says its an extract] Property

March 20
For a change, that evening, we skipped coffee and ordered hot lemons.
We weren’t supposed to go out at all that day, since they’d discovered a cooker-bomb in their garden last night.
The police had come by to take it away, and the army too. They asked lots of questions and arrested one man, who they said, was a Maoist. The whole family had been awake all night and she, of course, had spent most of it talking to me on the phone.
She’d joked, “Wait till my dad sees the phone bill. He’ll explode like a cooker-bomb himself!”
How could she laugh, I asked her, when the Maoists were trying to blow up her family?
She’d scoffed, “Maoists! They’re probably just university dropouts who couldn’t get into the army. They must have come for a midnight picnic in our garden and left the bomb behind by mistake.”
And so, Maoists notwithstanding, we slipped out that evening, telling her mother that we were only going to take a walk in Ganesh Basti. And we went to drink hot lemons at our usual haunt, The bakery cafe.
She, as usual, went without sugar. Silly girl! Always denying herself food-pleasure.
“Food-pleasure is a wonderful thing. The only wholesome thing. One which doesn’t need another person around,” I reminded her.
She sipped the hot lemon and burnt her lips. “You can take my share of the pleasure.”
“That,” I said, “I will, thank you.” I added three cubes to my hot lemon.
She stared at the sugar-bowl for a long time.

“What now?” I asked.
“No, I was just thinking,” she said.
“My share.”
“What about it? Pleasure?”
“No… how easily I said ‘my share’. Like it was mine really.”
I swept my hand in waves of non-comprehension, about my head.
She was impatient with my stupidity. “Mine. Mine means I own it. Which means that pleasure – which is an abstract - can belong to individuals.”
I sipped my hot lemon deeply, slurping slightly. “You’re on the property trip again.”
“Yes, but isn’t funny?”
“Property? I think it’s… nice. It would be nice to have some.”
“But isn’t it funny too? Like, how it is this and that?”

I settled back with my glass, scratched my ear and leaned my head against the wall. There wasn’t any stopping her now.
She went on. “Ok, how do you define property? And ever noticed how ‘property’ is the word that goes into the defining of anything.”
“Umm. Like those questions they asked us in organic chemistry…. What are the properties of carbon monoxide?”
“Exactly! Therefore, the properties of carbon determine how it will react with sulphur. What a thing is, determines what a thing can be, and how it mixes with other things. And so it stands to reason that what a man is, is defined by his properties; and his properties determine what he will become, when he comes into contact with other men.”
“So? So, property then, is the key to civilization!” she threw her hands in the air.
“I see,” I said and sipped some more hot lemon. “It’s cool now. Drink it up.”

She was starting to get sulky. I sighed.
I'd have to take the property and mankind issue seriously now. So I finished the hot lemon and ordered another before jumping in with, “Ok! But is property the thing that you have? Or the thing that has you? The grip on your neck, or the strength of your fist?”
She shrugged and swilled the phrases around her mouth a little.
I continued, “And does it follow then, that if I want to own something, to control something or somebody, I have to let it define me? What I do already defines me. My clothes, my words, my friendships. These control who I meet and who wants to meet me. And If I want to change what I control or what controls me, I must change the things that define me, which is -”
“Property!” she finished it for me.
“Exactly. But how do I change my property, without help from my property?”

She gargled with this one; meanwhile, my second drink arrived and I dunked another three cubes of sugar into it.
Then she looked away at the next table, which was empty. “Maybe the only thing that can be changed is definitions. To buy new property, just re-define someone else’s property as yours.”
“And this someone else will let you?”
She shrugged. “You can get away with it. Same thing.”
“Not quite.”
“Yes it is. Like, this hot lemon. My hot lemon. Your hot lemon. We haven’t paid for it. So it’s not our property yet. It is the property of the café owner.”
“True, but it wasn’t ours to consume really. It was a loan.”
“But now that we’ve consumed the hot lemon... it’s not something that the owner can take back from us. It’s in our tummies, and half-digested. He can’t reuse it to us.”
“We have the option of changing the definition of property. Whoever consumes something is entitled to its ownership.”
“Rubbish!” I spluttered.
“Not so. It’s in our tummies. The tummies are ours. The water and lemons were the café owner’s property because we found them on his property. Now these things are lodged inside our property, so they’re ours.”
“That’s crime.”
“That’s revolution.”

We walked out without paying, after all. Funny, but they let us get away with it.
Revolution, it turned out, isn’t so hard, after all.

09 August, 2004

The first taste of coffee...

Hi Friends,

This is my first clumsy attempt at writing a blog, for public consumption. Forgive me for the unstructured rambling, I tend to go of tangentially to the moon and sometimes far off galaxies too, as cosmogony has been a fascination for decades.

Caferati gathered at Deepa's cosy flat in Goregaon last night, whew, it seems like it was ages ago already, and having plopped ourselves a teeny weeny bit earlier, we had to have more coffee than one would usually have in late afternoon. But the cosiness of the room, and the light banter filling the space, set the mood.

The gory proceedings have already been given a smoke and mirror treatment by self and others, so here's some reading between the lines :

The coordinator had stipulated two minutes for interjection and conjecture. Or discussion on a piece just delivered by some creative soul.
One debate that had sparked off an inner fire, strangely also on part of my spouse Nasreen who had never been to such a literary meet before, though she has been my editor for long... was the unfinished business of someone asking if a poem should be edited.

Here's a couplet that composed itself whilst we were stuck in an A/C bus groaning and creaking its way up the Khandala ghat, with an erratic traffic jam now opening up now choking up. Here it goes :-

A poem is a child, a boon, a gift
Changing a word can induce a rift
And if you aren't miffed
Implied meaning can shift !

My take on this ticklish topic is : when a poet writes a poem he is a different person altogether. Now he or she has no business to change even a word. To my mind, words are windows through which we can have a worldview... how can a poet close a window and open another one mile away from the original ?

I no longer possess the sensibility of my hormone-fuelled youth, nor the flawless peaches and cream complexion of my childlike thinking : those poems contain words that are sacrosanct to me now. If I change them now, it is tantamount to placing adult strokes on a child's drawing.

Enough for tonight.
See you guys and gals tomorrow.
Do make copious comments.


Two poems by Sunil R Nair (Words and more readings)

Day’s end

As the sun settled into a harmless glow,
the warmth of the day breathed out in a sigh,

shades took over from the shadows,
cloaking everything in its colour.

There were ages of dust still suspended,
musty and old like my years,
groaning they mingled into the stillness of the air
Almost willing to live again.

Slumber came easy, crept under the eye like grit,
and the warmth of bodies melted sheets into softness.
While all this time the stars landscaped the horizon.
Landmarks in the sky.

History of today slipped into yesterday,
A premise for another birth,
Born from the pregnant death of this day.
Life imitates days almost certainly.

As I walk into a crevice in my memory,

I remember. I am alive.

Characterless Sky

I lay awake,
watched the pale grey sky,
go characterless,
not a single cloud.

she has lost her depth.

And then the wind rose
a million bits of old dust
to colour the sky.
to give her,
the lost ways,
of the rains of yesterdays.
when her character was dark,
adorned with a child of love,
a rainbow born,
to the eternal love of water.
carrying her lust,
to the earth below.
to let him sigh.
let out a billion breaths,

The sky is characterless today,
and the winds sweep her face.
wiping clean her laugh lines.
Abandoning her, in search of verses
to adorn her face.

they will return
to give her,
her love again,
the character blemished by the kohl
of dark clouds,
making love.

Today, the sky has lost her character!


From the collection - Silhouettes (to be published by Frog Publishing in 2004)
(c) Sunil R Nair, 2004


07 August, 2004

Here is some Coffee


They sat at Grey’s drinking coffee,
Cold as the lips of a frozen fish
As soon as it was poured out
From the mouth of the pot.

They looked everywhere
Except at each other, sipping,
And stirring the void between them

With a coffee spoon.

(from the book Canaries on the Moon by C P Surendran)

And the Sunday has come. After the wind swept Bandra Shores, the reading moves to the comfortable drawing room provided by Deepa Gahlot.
Sigh! How time flies! it was just a few weeks back that BWC was born and look how much it has grown.


Online reference shelf - send in your contributions

We're attempting to build up some resources for writers. Two of them are already online: Useful Links for Writers and Readers and a list of Writers' Showcases. Right now, both are hosted on my personal web space, but the intention is to move them either into the left panel of this blog, or if that turns out too unwieldy, into a blogpost with a permanent link on the left panel.
If you have any favourites to recommend for the first list, or would like to add your own pages to the second, please add them to the comments section, or mail me at peter DOT griffin AT gmail DOT com.

05 August, 2004

Happy 57th India - an online event

This is for the benefit of those who registered at Happy 57th India! but found the guest book format too limiting. Feel free to use the comments section here if you'd like to type in a longer entry, or to post your links to wherever else you may have created one.


03 August, 2004

Which book are you?

If you're as weary of all those shallow "Which [Matrix character / colour / flower / Greek god / Friend] are you?" thingies unimaginative people put on their pages, but feel pressured to put something on your own page, you might want to try the Book Quiz at Blue Pyramid and get some interesting answers. (i was Catch 22 on my first try, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on my second. And you?
[Link courtesy: Kitabkhana]


Poetry and commercialism

John Barr, former Wall Street investment banker (oh yes, also president of the Poetry Foundation and author of six books of poetry) was interviewed by Poets&Writers. Some extracts:
It doesn’t feel like we’re in a golden age of poetry right now. Poetry is surviving partly through the dedication of readers who have found it and go to it for the right reasons [and] partly because it’s managed to find ways to exist in the academic world and in the arts funding world.
To me poetry is written out of the extremes of a person’s life—the extreme moments, high or low. And it's what people go to—the readers—in the extremes of their lives. I think poetry’s golden age will come when it is in front of a general audience, when people know to go to it when they need it. I’m not sure they go to it when they need it right now.
I think it’s a healthy thing for poets to have a real audience of readers as opposed to just each other at workshop.
Poetry needs to be about communication, not just self-expression. And communication—whether it’s the next poet over in the workshop or it’s somebody you don’t know who’s never read a poem before—includes a desire to be understood, not just to express yourself.
I think a poet always implies his audience and that audience implied should not be a poet, it should be somebody else, whoever it is. I think there is more conscious work that can be done by writers generally to reflect, embody, and digest a bigger body of experience and work that through into their own work. My example is Ernest Hemingway. In 1933 he took his first safari ... he shot lions and went home and wrote about it: The Snows of Kilamanjaro, "The Short, Happy Life of Francis Macomber," True at First Light, an unfinished novel. I don’t know of a lot of poets who do that.
Somehow, I think unconsciously, poets have inherited the attitude that they are going to wait for the muse to come to them, that they’re going to wait for the lightning to strike, that they are in effect passive witnesses of what is around them. This shows up in academia where you get poems about writing poems.
[link via Wanderlust]


02 August, 2004

Words and More

An evening spent sculpting pictures using words as tools.

The second BWC offline meet is at Deepa Gahlot's home in Goregaon West.
Coordinator: Annie Zaidi
Confirmed readers: Vijay Shetty, Ratnalekha, Annie Zaidi and Sunil R Nair.
PM Annie on Ryze, or post to the BWC message board, or leave a comment here if you'd like to read too.
Leave a comment if you need the address.


01 August, 2004

Subscribe to our newsgroup

Anyone can join our news group (Click on the link, and then sign up). We use this newsgroup only to send important announcements. You should enter the address CaferatiUpdates AT googlegroups DOT com into your address book to prevent messages from being blocked by your spam filters.

We also have a Contests mailing list, which we use to announce contest that we run or collaborate with other entities to run. Just go to the URL and sign up. Anyone can join this group without being approved. You should enter the address Caferati-Contests AT googlegroups DOT com into your address book to prevent messages from being blocked by your spam filters.

Update (September 2006): Caferati Listings is a newsletter that informs subscribers about opportunities for writers: jobs, calls for entries to contests, calls for submissions from publishers, and so on. You can read more about it here.

You can be assured that we do not sell or share addresses on these groups with any other organisations or individuals.

[If you'd like to keep in touch with Caferati members in your city, join that city's newsgroup. Details on the sidebar, on our
Ryze board and on our website.]


Publicising Caferati

For those of you who'd like to promote this blog, the website, and the network, here's some graphics and code you can use.

You don't have to copy the images, the code will pull the images from my photobucket account. Feel free to use these on your non-Ryze pages and your blogs as well.

If you want to copy the images to your own online storage, you're welcome. In fact that would be nice, because there'd be less load on my account. Just remember to change the html accordingly.

I Blog @ Caferati
For this image and link, use this code:
<a href=""><img src="" alt="I Blog @ Caferati" width="197" height="112" border="0"></a>
For this image and link, use this code:
<a href=""><img src="" alt="" width="121" height="34" border="0"></a>
For this image and link, use this code:
<a href=""><img src="" alt="" width="163" height="41" border="0"></a>
For this image and link, use this code:
<a href=""><img src="" alt="" width="204" height="56" border="0"></a>
For this image and link, use this code:
<a href=""><img src="" alt="" width="244" height="78" border="0"></a>

Coffee, Conversation, Creativity
For this image and link, use this code:
<a href=""><img src="" width="151" height="146" border="0"><br>Coffee, Conversation, Creativity <br></a>

Enter the contest!
For this image and link, use this code :
<a href=""><img src="" width="363" height="46" border="0"><br>Enter the contest!</a>
For this image and link, use this code :
<a href=""><img src="" width="358" height="227" border="0"></a>
For this image and link, use this code :
<a href=""><img src="" width="179" height="114" border="0"></a>

Any suggestions for more images?
Good cheer and lazy weekends to you all.