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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

30 November, 2005

Pachpani – Thank You.

Teacher taught ‘thanks’, ‘sorry’, ‘please’ are magic words. Never learned.
Read an anecdote of Gandhi. He said ‘thank you’ to a waiter once. Waiter cried. Never been thanked before.
I said ‘thank you’ to a bus conductor. He said down, overwhelmed. Happy to be thanked once.
Never failed to say ‘thank you’ since. Thanks, Gandhiji.


29 November, 2005

(Poem) To You from Me

(Previously posted this day this year to the Caferati Message Board)

To you from Me:

To the present You
from the absent Me,
I shall write a missive
filled with longing,
and a aching dullness
that covers every inch of my heart.

To the vivdly remembered You
from the widly imaginative Me,
I shall write a soppy letter
filled with happiness
and delirious joy
that encompasses all thing physical

To the undoubtedly passionate You
from the strugglingly inadequate Me,
I shall write an application
of submission, of requisition
for the necessary skills I need
to cover you with the satisfaction you deserve

To the brilliantly astute You
from the sometimes surprisingly naive Me,
I shall write a long and winding letter
that covers up all my frailties
and tries to wind around a million corners,
and skirts the issues that hound me all day

To the soft and gently soothing You
from the brash, and often uncouth Me,
I shall write a request
of understanding, of compassion
of togetherness, of uncompromising friendship
and of a bond that will endure

Including You and Me.




(Poem) Standard Issue Insults

(Previously posted this day this year at the Caferati Message Board):

Dedicated to the sticks-in-the-mud at high altitudes in extreme climates in educationally charged cityscapes:

standard issue insults
dont seem to do justice
to the current situation.

hmm, perhaps we should
muddy the waters a bit more;
stir the vitriol in a bit more.

excite the natives;
raise them up to dizzying heights,
and neatly dismantle their supports.

it's so much fun to prance around,
whilst jeering buffoons bow their heads
in derision at your idiocy

bury your heads deeper;
as the grains of sand penetrate
the crevasses of your brain

stand up to the mockery
you have reduced yourselves to;
dont shield your ballooning ego.

so charted a course, have you?
walking on water with your heads in the shadow,
sinking deeper and deeper into the deep blue sea

goodbye and good riddance,
i shan't miss you at all.
that part of my life is dead.




28 November, 2005

Essence Of Life

[with apologies to whosoever concocted the original anecdote]

In the scorched landscapes of East Africa,
as a steely dawn breaks over the sleepy horizon
a gazelle suddenly bursts awake
and runs for its life
-for it must outrun the hungry cheetah
just to stay alive.

In another corner, a desperate cheeta
awakens on hearing the clobber of hooves
and chases the gazelle with all its might...
it must eat to stay alive.

Let me sneak back into my own ratrace
before the water rises above my nose.

(c) Max Babi, Nov . 2005


25 November, 2005

A Glance at Marvell

Not disdain, but in quiet knowing, your orbit’s reach
swept beyond common eyes, beyond the limited lenses
of mere stargazers. The firmament was for lesser lights,
the vain ones content to sing the lesser senses:
for you were one with gods, your distant sights
set on divine tongues, a remote austere speech.

Not flourish nor conceit, but a cavalier insouciance
marked your passage through worlds, lives, and time;
mocked the grave’s seclusion, gravely making love
to shy mistresses, an ear cocked for wheels on grime.
And in jewelled strophes, an eternity glimpsed above
the running sun, above the dark empyrean’s effulgence.



23 November, 2005

You Can Deserve It and Still Not Get It

[with apologies to H.E. Peter Griffin]

If you do not want to get overwhelmed
by the ugly face and uglier body of reality
invent a myth
believe in it, nurture it
let it take over your life.

One billion souls leading lives
of quiet desperation,
does it matter
deserving or not deserving?

Getting it or not getting -
therein lies the rub,
my Lord !

(c) Max Babi



18 November, 2005


The Professor
(amended from Ryze)

“Sarada, I’m leaving.”
Bhaskaran set out for the university. He brushed off the dust of his bicycle-seat, mumbling to himself that he must clean it this Sunday, and rode off.

Bhaskaran was professor of biochemistry at Alagappa University. It was a small town he lived in, and a small town he taught in. Nevertheless, he had an international reputation; he was invited to address conferences around the globe, and had several scientific breakthroughs to his credit.

Today he had to take B.Sc. Biochemistry lecture at 11 A.M., and then the M.Sc. Metabolomics lecture at 2:00 P.M. His PhD student was to meet him sometime in the middle. “Hm, the phosphatase mis-expression was coming on well”, he said to himself as he parked his bicycle opposite his department. But what he looked forward to most was the movie at 6:00 P.M. He had promised he would take Sarada out. He looked at his gold-plated watch, a wedding gift from Father-in-law. 10:30 A.M. Time enough for a quick coffee and a glance at the newspapers.

He was an indifferent teacher, but the depth of his scholarship more than made up for it. Having done his PhD at Caltech, he had nevertheless chosen to return to his hometown and University. This alone gained him the awe of his peers.

He wound up his lecture and went into the faculty club for lunch. The students hadn’t proved as stubborn as last time, and had managed to absorb the notion of allosteric regulation. He looked forward to his lunch: sambar, rice and curry. Some things should never change, he reflected, as he hailed a colleague.

Students nicknamed him Prof. ‘Starchy’. Dressed in white cotton shirts, black trousers, thick, and hair well-oiled, he was the very picture of the unworldly academic. His fogged, square-rimmed glasses, which he refused to trade in for a swankier pair, lent him that philosophical air that is supposedly required of every professor’s being. That, and his Golden Pen, which he won as university topper, were his proudest possessions.

The Metabolomics lecture was over. Teaching M.Sc.s was easy: make them look up some papers and turn in assignments, which he could correct at leisure. And sneak a few laughs. And his student had exuberantly reported that the phosphatase experiment was giving publishable data. It was to be a perfect day.

He cycled home. “You’re late”, said Sarada. He dashed in, washed his face, quickly combed his hair, and they set out. A Rajnikanth movie was playing. Luckily, they had booked a month in advance.

As the movie progressed, Sarada gaped at her husband. Prof. Starchy was now whistling and hooting with the others. He matched the superstar’s ‘styles’ and sleights-of-hand with his own. He mouthed the ‘signature’ dialogues with the same accentuation as the actor.

Sarada tugged and whispered reproachfully. “There you go again! What will people think? The famous professor hooting vulgarly like this!”

“I am a professor in the university only. In the theatre, everyone is just a Rajni fan.”

The Rioter

Suhas turned back towards his shop. He had been loitering with his chums in the lane; now he had to go sit in the shop while the owner went home for lunch. As he turned into the main road, he paused to have a glimpse at Shahi Bakery. His eyes skimmed over the biscuits inviting him in from under the glass shelves. He daren’t go in though.

The riot had been fun while it lasted. It had been a manly thing to do - smashing things, setting them alight. He had been a soldier for his faith.

There were rows upon row of nankhatai. He liked the ones with cashews in them. Also the ones with badams. Shahi Bakery was famous for its pav. Soft inside, with a thin crust and just a bit sour, they were the best thing to have with tea in the morning. But he couldn’t even look at them, leave alone dream of eating one.

He was among the mob when they had attacked the bakery. The owner and two of his assistants had perished with their shop. Chanting “Death to the invader devils!” the mob had dragged them out and hacked their limbs. Though Suhas was not among the murderers, he had gleefully looted the shop’s contents.

He currently held the post of a milk vendor’s home-delivery boy. His eager face was welcomed every morning by housewives as he collected coupons and handed over the milk packets. After the morning’s rounds and accounts, he was free till lunchtime. This time he spent doing various odd jobs for other shopkeepers, or perhaps flirted with girls. Anything, but spend time in the fateful street.

The bakery owner had not been a pleasant man, and gave no credit. Gruff and businesslike, he had little time for people wanting to make small talk. The sourness of his behaviour made up for the niceness of his products. He hadn’t given a thought to his eventual comeuppance. Every minor grudge his neighbours and customers had with him was settled in blood.

Suhas lingered longingly. An assistant had just brought out a plate of pastries. They were known to be the most delicious in the neighbourhood. Sweet and creamy, especially the strawberry ones. If he did, perhaps he would be recognised and handed over to the police. He had never had any run-in with the cops before.

Though the owner had been killed, his son and nephew had escaped. With the compensation that they got from the courts, they had rebuilt the bakery, and restored it to its former fame. Business was as good as it had ever been. The recipes, locked in a metal safe, had survived the blaze, though little else did.

Suhas dithered. Should he go into the shop? He had managed to escape being identified, and had nearly put everything behind him, but fear persisted. Would the bakery men give him away?

He turned away. The bakery owner had rebuilt his life. And left his in tatters.

A Moment

A moment

stay, desist, stop where you are
move no further, don't turn around

suspended as if by puppet strings,
strangled by the flickering second;

look up, into the wide blue sky;
spread your wings, flex your limbs

hovering above the pedestrians,
i see everything.
And I bide my time.




17 November, 2005

The Dragon and The Caterpillar.

( Story of an unlikely friendship )

What a lovely day it is,
The Caterpillar thought
As she climbed down from the tree

What’s that shiny thing over there
May be I should
Go in the meadow and see

She scurried down
On her hundred little toes
And reached ...
A shiny green mountain was it ?

It seemed like a creature,
And It definitely moved.
She climbed up and shouted
as politely as she could

"Excuse me !!
What are you?
Pray tell me, if you would !!

The Dragon was shaken
out of his reveries
And cautiously opened one eye
And then both

And stared .. astonished
At Something very small
sitting on the tip of his nose!!

And Demanding to know Who HE was!
He had never in his life seen
anything so small

The Dragon, a polite and peaceful guy
Who liked nothing better than
Dozing in the sun and
Blowing smoke rings
through his nose,

He searched his brain
for a suitable reply…
‘I am a Dragon, I think,
at least
That’s what I have been told!!

Now if you don’t mind,
Pray tell me what YOU are,
If I may be so bold?"

The Caterpillar pondered
Confused and replied,
"I am green, I am shiny-
I think I am a Dragon too,

A little Dragon now, I know.
But I’ll grow up
And become a BIG Dragon
With wings and smoke.
Just like you."

The dragon cocked his head
trying to take a good look
From side to side.

She didn’t look like any dragon
He had ever seen
Little or otherwise.

But he was a polite and peaceful guy
Who liked nothing better than
dozing in the sun
Blowing smoke rings
through his nose.

So He decided to hold his peace,
and nodded
Almost dislodging poor Caterpillar
from her perch.

There sprang between them
a beautiful friendship.
They told each other
the forest gossip.

The Dragon loved to hear
The secrets of the forest
And The Caterpillar loved to watch
the fire and smoke.

Every now and then she tried to blow,
A few rings of her own!

Together they planned
to roam the far lands
And one day caterpillar
Went home to sleep.-Yawn !!

The Dragon,
Not quite understanding
Where his friend has gone.
He waited in the meadow,
Patient, but forlorn.

She woke with a start,
Was it hours? was it days?
Poor Dragon must be waiting!

She rushed down the tree
On her hundred little.. toes??
Where were her toes ?
What were these
Long black spindly things?!
She couldn’t climb down
and clumsily lost her footing

and down
she fell,
with wind
past her
as she fell
on the ground…..
....and bright wings
unfurled themselves
and she floated !!!

She had WINGS !
Bright Yellow
with red dots on-
Now she too was a Dragon!

She flew to him Happily
And shouted “Hey! Look at Me!!"

The Dragon looked
at the little patch of color
Dancing in the air joyously

His little friend was Back!
And just LOOK at her!!
He watched entranced.
the Butterfly’s dance.

The Caterpillar-now a Butterfly
On her favorite perch she sat,
Now that she too had wings,
It was time to start.

They traveled the far
and unknown lands
experiencing the world anew.

That she wasn’t a dragon,
The Butterfly never ever knew,

And Dragon? He kept his peace
For he had sensed one eternal truth
That butterfly too had seen.

Outside we may be
Different kinds,
But we are all Dragons within.


12 November, 2005

clapping words together

"as much as a page filled with dreamy words."
she said, she could read me, through and through.
said, my hair rough and dry, read like a derailed train,
going swiftly towards neverland.
words which spell visions, which need not be seen,
a garden with white grass,
a turbine which loves to move,
here nothing leads to nothing.
hiding behind a wall
I am too tall, too small
starting a five minute relay atop a cube of ice,
lies which sound natural,
people with nothing to shop
nothing to wish
walking empty on the streets, tasting the wind again.


08 November, 2005

Paulo Coelho's "The Alchemist"

Recently I read what I thought was a highly over-rated book, Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist.” I didn’t realize what it would do to me as I waded through the monotonous dialogue and seemingly dreary tale of a shepherd boy who goes in search of his destiny and love.

I won’t reveal what he found out. But on the way he meets the Alchemist whose words of wisdom inspire him and egg him towards his goal.

Following are a few gleanings from the Alchemist’s repository of wisdom:

“When a man pursues his destiny, everything in the world conspires to make it possible.”

Maktub: “It is written” (Means your destiny is already written.)

“It is not what enters men’s mouth that is evil, it is what comes out of their mouth that is.”

“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure. You’ve got to find the treasure, so that everything you have learned along the way can make sense.”

“You will spend the rest of your days knowing that you didn’t pursue your destiny, and that now it is too late.”

“You must understand that love never keeps a man from pursuing his destiny. If he abandons that pursuit, it’s because it wasn’t true love... the love that speaks the Language of the World.”

“Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.”

“To show you one of life’s simple lessons, when you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed.”

“If a person is living out his destiny he knows everything he needs to know. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

“When you are loved, you can do anything in creation. When you are loved, there’s no need at all to understand what’s happening, because everything happens within you, and even men can turn themselves into the wind. As long as the wind helps, of course.”

“Because when we love, we always strive to become better than we are.”

“Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.”

“It is true. Life really is generous to those who pursue their destiny.”


a slow rat-race with a drunk friend

He said, he is like summer -
dry, eclectic, lazy, intense.
I allowed him to have his say.
When my windowscape and my memory
had dulled, the rains had flooded my garden,
I remembered him again - crossing the highway
umbrella in hand.
He says, he is a pig
a glutton, a misunderstood person.
He will visit me every Saturday
and insist on sitting very close to me,
as if we were dear friends; he was falling apart,
and I was obliged to support him.
But, next time, I will ask him a question.
What was he thinking of,
when he freed my gas-balloons
into the cold winter wind,
the cold winter wind?