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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

31 December, 2005

The Lover.

He stood shivering
wet skin and dry eyes;
He jingled
jangled tunes
breaking through
torn pocket

He lived rough
and pretended to be
oh so tough;
meagre possessions
in a broken cart
a blanket, cigarettes
and a burnt out heart.

Where will he
sleep tonight?
Underneath the
plastic sheet
behind the
garbage bin
fiddlin’ with
her frayed picture
he'd gambled

didn’t win.


29 December, 2005

language of life!

They speak to me
in their own language..
I hear them, I feel them,
I respond and I learn...

From the Drops of rain,
the Falling leaves,
the Grains of sand,
and the whispers of wind....

From the twinkling stars,
the passing clouds,
the colors of rainbow,
and the fragrance of flowers...

From the swirl of surf,
and the lapping waves;
also the noise of silence,
and the lull of storm...

The various expressions..
of the joy and sorrow,
of love and pain..
they all teach me
the language of life!


give me that promise!

A hand to hold,
in good times and in bad..
A shoulder to lean on,
in pleasure and in pain...
Patient ears to listen,
to my words and to my silence...
Loving eyes to look at me,
protect and guide me all times....
Soothing arms to envelope me,
hug me and care for me always...
A willing and loving heart,
to read my expressed and hidden feelings.
Darling, that loving person in you
is all that I need for my life...
Give me that one small promise,
And I will lay my life in your hands!




Resolutions I have made
Kept, I have none
Why do I have to make
Resolutions anymore?

I pause through endless time
For this year to pass
And the lights of celebration to die
On this New Year day.

Remember those magical days
When the promise of meeting
Was what held us together
Alas! No more!

Years just flow by
As water beneath bridges
Gathering speed towards
The great sea of immortality.

There you and I
Will rest our weary heads
On the bed
Of our broken promises.



26 December, 2005

winter haiku in 5/7/5 and 7/5/7...

...In an SMS conversation...

DI - 25 Nov. (10:12:05)
Pilaspe Haiku

Trombone in morning
sounds from an upper window
sa re ga ma pa
/ / /

RD - 25 Nov. (11:59:28)
Faridabad Haiku

Wrapped against the early dawn
I walk out of dreams
in a winter scented morn
/ / /

DI (11:59:28)

Maharashtran sun
burns in November's late morn
southern edge of north
/ / /

RD (time not noted)

Northern sun caresses one
tempts one to laughter
and flowering in the winter
/ / /

DI (11:40:39)
Thinking of your north
seems like more than happiness
in an unknown land
/ / /

RD (time not noted)
Summer Memory in Winter

Watermelon splits open
heart blood of summer
exquisitely murders heat
/ / /

DI (11:48:05)

In Panvel I've seen
great mounds of watermelons
now they speak to me
/ / /

25 Nov (cont'd)


Traffic snarls on way to work
my day is half done
introspecting this winter


Fairy lights twinkle and mock
celebrating mundaneness
on this average winter eve


See myself in the rear view
am I closer now
or further from self this eve?


Please mute the traffic outside
much noise in my soul
winter calls up memories


SMSing bits of me
meaningless shared verse
to baffle the winter eve


Wearing lipstick by street light
in traffic rush hour
the Delhi season in swing


As I drink down the day's work
wonder where it went
in the early winter mist

26 November (Richa's cont'd)

Tea light gleams through whisky glass
flickers wide awake
in an alcoholic dream

Poesy dies in wnter night
season's cold shoulder
kills the warmth of treasured words

Candlelight induced haiku
outstrips the fair moon
in reality and life

The winter sun has gone to bed
crows circle far above
as it seduces the moon

[I take the "it" to be the sun(?) -d.i.]

Potholes fill up with winter
streetlights warm the road
but miss my heart completely

RD 27 November

Watery sun through my chai
dust motes hibernate
till it's time to come alive

The sliding door sticks again
reluctant to let
November into the house

The orange tabby stretches
glares at the bland sun
but it is only wooden

Sunlight filters through window
Raag Yaman stretches
as my bow draws out the Ni

Thirty thousand marriages
Delhi celebrates
the dawn of winter tonight


That Kind of Day

The kind of day
in which I sit
at a streetside cafe -
and watch the world standing still
while I wonder, which will arrive first -
Judgment Day?

That kind of day
in which I look
at the way
my reflection looks
in the steel lining a neo-cool eatery,
reintroducing me to who I am -
How the edges of me
are not sharp.
How my eyes are larger
than pretty.
How my nose throws dark
shadows, ignoring symmetry.

And how I sip at solitude,
fending off bitterness with a cappucino.

That kind of day
in which I can trace
all I cannot say
in the crows-feet round a stranger's eyes;
in which I can tell all those lies
that fill tiny empty spaces
between the larger empty spaces
of colossal truths,
that - if told - will not endear me
to anybody.

That kind of day
in which I sleep
the sleep of those who stay
in a house made for books -
broken into by too much insight,
lit by the compulsions of a sense of humour,
of those who get into a fright
in the early morning,
with their faces staring
through the bookshelves.

That kind of day
in which the night
watches me lay
my inhibitions aside:
kicked away, like the blanket,
in an hour of too much heat
before I begin to shudder,
sweating the dew of the premable of knowledge,
and the disgrace
of eviction from an Eden
of my own making...
(Such loss of face!)
I watch this Eden rearrange its laws,
turn into the tastefully done-up room it was.
I watch it put on its careful cheer,
like I, my clothes,
or like an actor, his veneer
of ordinariness.

And suddenly, I let go
of the illusory relief
of no longer having anything to say.
That kind of day.

(C) Annie Zaidi, December 2005.


24 December, 2005


I like to think of divinity
not as gods or demon shapes.
I find it revealed when,
in five exquisite steps,
Euclid with his Attic ken
sees his primes to infinity.


20 December, 2005


In the bazaar of conscience
We sell vestiges of notions
That we held close to our breasts
When home was mother’s lap
Or humped spaces on crooked boughs
And bliss two candies worth
Or a splash in village ponds.

But now we have sold
Our dove-eyed souls
And like a majestic eagle peck –
Blasé to the emanating odor –
The dead pigeon’s flesh; and when bloated
We leave the rest for others
In nature’s design to feast upon.

© Dan Husain
April 19, 2005


17 December, 2005

Peter Jackson's King Kong - I have something to say

Much will be said about this film. There will also be people who will love it or hate it. Armchair critics will find loop-holes and film directors and writers will stand and speak their minds but no one will be able to deny that Peter Jackson has given us an experience; a ride we will not forget in a long time.

I had 'issues' with LOTR and wondered what Peter Jackson would do with King Kong. I am not disappointed at all. The film is beautiful and worth every paisa of the admission ticket and the money you would spend eating popcorn.

Set in 1933, the year of the original King Kong, Peter takes you quickly through an introduction of the time it was set in. In flash cuts he wraps up the Great Depression, the hunger, the Prohibition, the poverty and then lands you smack in the middle of Vaudeville in New York City. Then begins an adventure filled with lies, deceit, magic, humour and romance to the un-charted island and the discovery and the return.

An out of work actress, a mad film director in search of the elusive hit, a desperate but talented writer, a steamer boat captain who treads the wrong side of law, a Hollywood action hero almost like the lion from the Wizard of OZ, a mumbling cook with an attitude, along with a cast of thousands support the giant ape in this roller coaster adventure.

by Andrew Lesnie is lyrical and in complete harmony with this story. He understands and treads the line between being labeled 'art-house' and 'mainstream'. He brings the miniatures, the CGI and the locations alive and under the believable umbrella. He had worked with the director on LOTR.

Film editing by Jamie Selkirk is a treat to watch. He hits the highs and lows and uses his grammar to the maximum. Yes, this film goes across a lot of genres. The midsection on skull island, I would have wished it to be shorter but am almost sure that it was not his call.
I can understand the director's need to introduce us to the other 'big' characters but it somehow reeks of studio intervention.

Original music by
James Newton Howard
Mel Wesson (additional music)
Mel Wesson (ambient music)

What can I say! It is an epic and so is the music.

Production design by Grant Major
Art direction by Simon Bright & Dan Hennah
Set decoration by Dan Hennah
Costume design by Terry Ryan

This talented team is so responsible for the look of the film. Though, I would like to add the entire special effect and CGI team to this. All of them are absolutely the best. Watch out for the Oscars and Golden Globes this year. This film will make a dent in all of them.

Peter Jackson adds wonderful little details from the 1933 film that inspired him. The hat in the restaurant sequence worn by Naomi Watts is similar to the one worn by Faye Wray in the original. The camera carried by the film crew in the film is the same as that used for filming the original 1933 classic.

I think I could go on and on about every department of the film, it does demand it but will keep it short.
Few minor quibs, very minor and please do overlook them:
The fact that there remains only one large primate - Peter Jackson does leave clues to that by leaving skeletons in the cave and probably the reason for Kong's loneliness.
The quick disappearance of the native tribe and why do they gave sacrifices only to Kong?
The way long mid-section dealing with the land of the 'Big';
The return of the Ventura crew with Kong, how? Etc...

Another thing my mind fought with was the way the dialogues were spoken: they sounded clichéd and stilted. I am not sure if the director did that on intent or was that the way it was spoken in 1933. Or is this his tribute to B movies? I am a bit lost on that but would take the B movie route as the answer.

Special mention for actor Andy Serkis (Gollum) who returns now as Kong's facial expression; the CGI dept. used over a hundred sensors on his face to re-create Kong’s. He also gives a mind-boggling performance as lumpy the cook.

Jack Black as the maverick director is exceptionally good and will attain greater heights in his career. Adrien Brody, who I loved in The Pianist, is an actor I would kill to work with. Inshallah!
And the woman you will love for years to come: Naomi Watts. She rises to the occasion. An absolutely stunning performance. Her Vaudeville had this kong completely rapt in attention.
Few scenes:
A) The Vaudeville performance for Kong. The cuts to close up, sigh! I could fall in love.
B) Her reaction after she crosses the drawbridge with Driscoll.
C) Walking in the middle of the road in Manhattan towards Kong.
D) When she and Kong 'talk' on top of the empire state building.
E) Not in order; but the restaurant sequence and her practiced introduction on the steamer boat for Driscoll.
Okay, I admit, I might be in love.

Lastly, and I am sticking my neck out. If you thought Gone with the Wind was the last word in film romance, re-think that one. King Kong is one of the finest romances you will ever see.

There is a reason I chose to be a film maker, a storyteller and a writer and I think it was because of movies like King Kong and the various cinema adventures I saw as a child. This film is truly in the Zone. The magic of cinema.

Acknowledgements: IMDB for tech team details

15 December, 2005

The city won't stop for him

The city doesn't stop for anyone.

He was young: agile and swift.
Could cross the street.
Dodge cars with ease.
Not now. He is an old man now.

Age, dignity, and a pension
is all he has left.

Wife is at home waiting.
So they can sup and retire.
He wants to cross the road.
He wants to get home.

The cars are in a hurry.
They need to get somewhere too.

Turnover, Growth curves,
Bottomlines, Quarterly projections.
There is business to be done.
No time to stop for an old man.

The city doesn't stop for anyone.

(Cross posted from Ryze)


12 December, 2005

Book Launch

(For B.)

I’m early, by the look of it. Ushered in by the writer
I walk in, find a chair under a discreet light,
glance around. A few women scattered, brighter
for silks and cologne, and the air-conditioning’s bite;
a camera or two, a handycam adjusting his grip tighter,
and the mike man setting his knobs right.

On a table, the author’s labour lies in piles, neat
and inviolate till autograph time. A coffee drum,
cups and biscuits stand unbroached, complete
as still life, inert till the others come.
There’s no sign yet. I park my bag on the seat
next to mine, thinking I could do with some.

And return to wondering why I’m here. Bored,
I pull your precious Larkin out, grateful for the gift,
plant a surreptitious kiss to serve both adored.
Somewhere voices louden, as the guests drift
in; a speaker says something, words obscured
by accent. I revel in the librarian’s thrift.


Muscles or talent?

Cross posted this rant from my blog for comment on writing style, or the absence of it!

Just a thought struck me as I was watching an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie (whichever, whatever, all of them look the same to me!) yesterday.

When, I mean really, when, did this thing of acting prowess as muscles take root? I mean, when did the likes of muscle-and-brawn men like Arnold and Sylvester Stallone come to be called exponents of the fine art of acting. True, neither can act. The former confessed that directors have to make him lie down on a table to bring some expression into his immobile face. The guy just can’t act to save his life. He is an actor because of his muscles. Ditto for Sylvester, why, he can’t even speak.

Back home in India, our heroes-in-waiting have taken to the idea of brawn as acting skills as a fish takes to water. If you visit your local gymnasium you will find at least a hundred youngsters pumping iron in the hope that they would get to be actors like Arnold, Sylvester, Khan, and Kapoor. I guess our own wanna-be Khans and Kapoors must have been inspired by the Hollywood duo to beef up their pectorals and fight, sorry, scare the villains with their biceps!

Acting? What acting? We are into the “looking good” business. Acting is for sissies and grumpies who sit with books the whole day.

A big “ha!” to that!

Now, can biceps, triceps, or, for that matter, pectorals, compensate for good acting skills? Agreed Arnold, Sylvester, the Khans, and the Kapoors have churned out a lot of hits. That’s what biceps do to acting talent.

Confession: I have watched a lot of these capers, and have, ummm, liked them too. But can they really, really, act? Can they?

If they can act, then “Wat r u ding?” is great literature. And the following is great poetry:

“Honey came in and she caught me red-handed
Creeping with the girl next door
Picture this, we were both butt naked
Bangin' on the bathroom floor”

Written by some pop or rap star called Shaggy who is also a shabby writer. But, come on, he sells millions of records. That’s what biceps do to music. Don’t you know?

What does it say about the state of humankind when a fine art form like acting is not done with brains but with biceps, triceps and pectorals? Is acting and poetry no longer an intellectual pursuit?

Is it all about flexing the above-mentioned muscles?

09 December, 2005


Subdued am I
like a sleepy river
receeding from the summer scorch

Subdued like a bride
doomed by fate,
freefalling into the mire

Subdued am I,
lost my steam have I;
no pressure to blow my whistle

Subdued deep within
these them layers of skin,
a fount devoid of desire


08 December, 2005

Rina's Dog - Short Story

Rina’s Dog

I look at Moti from my window and feel sorry for him. How can I not feel sorry for a dog that thinks he is a bitch? That’s it, a bitch.

Moti thinks he is a bitch. Well, can you imagine that? That’s because Moti’s mother Kuthi had brought up him very protectively not allowing him to mix with other dogs. Moti became so effeminate that he started peeing like a bitch. He won’t raise his leg to pee like other dogs. Honest. He would squat on his hind legs like bitches do. Imagine a dog doing that. And, he wants other dogs to mate him. Now, that’s hilarious.

The whole problem of Moti thinking he is a bitch arose because Kuthi was very protective of him. How can he not realize he is not a bitch and do bitch-like things? He blindly imitates Kuthi. Now that Kuthi has a new litter she has no time for Moti. To compound matters for Moti, Kuthi treats him with disgust nowadays, and snarls at him when he comes near.

Moti is distraught and I can see loneliness in his eyes. He doesn’t eat. I feed him biscuits everyday but he is so depressed he doesn’t even eat. How sad.

“Rina what are you doing?” My mother calls out from the kitchen when I am feeding Moti. Mother doesn’t like dogs or bitches and would have nothing to do with the species. She doesn’t want dogs around her house and doesn’t like me playing with them.

“I am just feeding Moti,” I shouted out to her.

“You come back here right this moment.”

“But why, he is so feeble he will die if he is not fed.” I am stubborn and defend my friend Moti.

“If he is feeble let him die. I won’t have you touching that dog again,” she said appearing at the door of our house.

“But I like him no? He will die if I don’t feed him. Kuthi doesn’t care for him anymore.”

“That’s their problem. Who are you to solve dogs’ and bitches’ problems? Come inside right now.”

I go into the house downcast. I know Moti will die if I won’t feed him but mother doesn’t understand. Ma is like a dictator. She likes to dominate all the time. Sometimes she doesn’t speak to me for weeks when I disobey her. She is very unreasonable.

She thinks I get pimples because I touch dogs. What crap. Teenagers get pimples all the time. Look at my neighbor Simmi, her face is full of pimples, the size of small, small grapes. But I like Simmi. She and I play “house” wearing saris as our mothers do.


I see Moti dying everyday from my bedroom window. I want to go out and feed him but I cannot. Mother will be furious. Even father doesn’t like canines. Between them there is a strong anti-canine lobby at home. I wanted to make Moti my pet. But, no luck. So I can only watch Moti’s agony, as he lies curled near Kuthi and her litter, wanting to cuddle up to his mother but shying away from approaching.

I call out to Moti as I go to school.

“Moti, Moti, come here.”

But he refuses to come. He only looks at with me with sad eyes. He is so confused about his gender; he doesn’t know whom to trust, as Kuthi has almost disowned him. Poor dog. A dog’s life must be terrible without a house or parents one can trust.

Kuthi is a vile bitch. Today I saw her bare her fangs and snarl at Moti. I threw a stone at her. That drove her away. I think she is ruthless. She must really be a wolf. Because near the place where I live in Panvel there is a forest. She must have lived with wolves in the jungles of the Western Ghats. I saw the ferocity of a wolf in her snarl.


Yesterday I saw some dogs biting Moti. Poor Moti was yelping with pain. Kuthi was nearby and didn’t even go to help her son. When will Moti realize he has to grow up and be a dog in his dog’s world? When will he realize that he has to pee with one leg raised and not squatting on hind legs like a bitch? I think that that bitch Kuthi hasn’t toilet trained him. Her fault. She has been too protective of him suckling him even after he was grown up and making him totally dependent on her.

I went and picked him up and petted him. I had to immediately release him as I heard my mother’s voice as she came walking to the door of our house.

“Rina, baby, where were you?” she asked.

“Here I am, playing.”

“You touched that dog again?”


“I know you did. Look at your hands. I can see the cur’s fur on it.”

“No that’s just some sand.”

“Sand?” Ma fumed. “Go wash your hands before you enter my house.”

My house? Since when is it her house?

“Ma, don’t be so protective or I will become like Moti.”

I don’t think she understands. Kuthi denied Moti his life. She was overprotective and denied Moti the right to live his life. He doesn’t even know if he is a dog or bitch. So naive. I hope my mother wouldn’t make me too depend on her, now that I am grown up and all. I hope she realizes that I have to learn about life on my own.

I don’t want to be like Moti. I want to be independent, and my own person.

I went and sat at the table to eat.

“I told you to wash your hands,” Ma said.

“My hands aren’t dirty,” I said wiping my hands on my frock.

“If you don’t wash your hands I won’t give you the rasgullas I made.”

“Oh,” I controlled myself, “No, I don’t want. I am not hungry.”

I know I can come back, open the refrigerator and help myself anytime.

“What happened? You don’t like rasgullas anymore?”

“I like, but, not today. I am not in the mood.”


“Stop bothering me all the time, Ma. You know Moti is dying and all you can think of is making rasgullas for me to eat. He is dying out there,” I shot back.

Ma looked at me shocked.

I think the message got through. She didn’t talk to me for an entire week after that. Well, I needed the break. I am growing up. I am a young woman now. My friend Simmi tells me I did the right thing. She is a young woman, too, and we play “house” and talk as if we are grown ups.

As for Moti, the confused dog, he died a few days later. Poor dog. Simmi and I gave him a proper burial in the empty yard at the back of our house.

(This was an attempt to get into the mind of a teenager who loved a dog that thought he actually was a bitch.)

07 December, 2005

When Harry Met Sally And I

I always thought it was a matter of common courtesy to not smoke in front of non-smokers, or at the least, to ask their permission before doing so. As it turns out, it was fallacy on my part to think so. So, I sit here, wedged between Harry and Sally on the park bench, as they puff away to glory and I crinkle my nose.

It’s always been like this. For the five years that we’ve known each other, it’s always been like this. Harry and Sally and me, the token Non-Chimney, to complete the pack.

Sally’s real name is Sharmishta, and she’s still in love with her old boyfriend, the one who dumped her to marry a Monica or a Kelly, or one of the other Makapao women who live and work in Bandra. Harry and I call her Sally, though, because of her penchant for falling in love with Christian boys. Glenn was her first love, the one she lost her virginity to, on his huge blue couch in his sea-facing apartment on Carter Road. Glenn was perfect, she used to tell us, young and dashing ad executive who made it big quite by chance, when the boss noticed his layout on the desk while passing by, and the climb came quickly after that. Sally and Glenn met at a bookstore, as they both reached for Love in the Time of Cholera, and were smitten.

But today, he’s dumped her, and married Diana. Or was it Monica? Today, Sally’s sitting on the park bench with me and Harry, smoking her Gold Flakes Light because she’s thinking about the cute boy called Aaron whom she met in the yahoo chatroom at work. She’s furrowing her brows and thinking hard because she’s wondering why Aaron seems so interested even though she weighs 77 kilos. But maybe, he’s a nice guy, she tells herself, maybe he’s not as shallow as Harry.

Harry’s parents named him Haresh. But he found his new name, Harry, in the course of a sojourn in a gay chatroom. In a gay chatroom, Harry would explain to us, no one would ever uses his (very few hers) real name. There would be several Rahuls there, an umpteen number of Sameers, and quite a few Sahils as well. The trick, Harry explained, was to choose a name that sounded friendly enough, fake enough, and definitely not complicated. No one would ever want to sleep with a Haresh, but a Harry definitely gave the impression of a cute Anglo stud.

Of course, Harry had met Sally’s Glenn briefly during the time they were still going strong, and he felt strangely vindicated now after the end of the affair in his initial assessment that Glenn was a ‘fart-face’. Harry liked to tell himself (and others) that he could read people. I, he said, was a pushover. Sally, by the same mystic art, was a sucker for pain. And Harry, the two of us concluded, was a flake.

But the thing he said about me being a pushover is not completely untrue. I’m an ordinary guy, really, and I find myself in a very ordinary place. It’s strange how those ideas of being this famous writer died down. Ashes to ashes, and all that jazz. My dad told me that a chartered accountancy was the best way forward, and since none of my stuff was getting published anywhere, I had no other viable alternative to show him. I spent five years and finally became a CA. That actually sounds pretty cool to say, but not when I see Harry, who stuck to his guns, stood up to his dad and is the lead guitar in a music band today, or when I see Sally, who’s writing feature stories for one of the city’s leading tabloids. O, yes, they bitch about their jobs same as I do, whenever we sit on the park bench, but that’s just natural, or they’re just being ingrates – you can look at it in whichever light you want.

The park lies in the centre of this little square patch of green grass, surrounded by the shining glass towers and concrete buildings where we work. All three of us. Sally’s newspaper has its offices on the first and second floors of Highway Towers A Wing; Harry’s band usually comes to the little studio behind Highway Towers D Wing, and my firm occupies half the fifth floor in Sunrise Towers II. The complex is called Sunrise Complex, by the way, which used to be the Sunrise Mills ten years ago, but none of us who come here every day, six days a week, really care about what the mill was like, what they made, or where the old workers have gone. That’s just reality here in Lower Parel. Hell, people need crummy music bands, tabloids and chartered accountants more than they need parchy old cloth, right?

I hate sermonizing, by the way. That makes me wonder why I like Harry, actually. He’s got issues. All gay men have issues, he tells me, and I must learn to deal with them. You’re the only gay man I know, I retort, and I actually wouldn’t have minded if you’d never come out to me at all, you know. To which, he arches his eyebrows in what I call the diva queen mode, and sniffs. Of course, Sally has to take his side here, even though she bitches about him to me when he’s not there. I get quite fed up with the two of them at times – it would be such sweet and divine vengeance if Harry decided he wasn’t gay one day, and the two of them got married.

Haresh weds Sharmishta. Invite for one.

It’s actually funny how similar the two of them are, really. Like the fact that they both ignore my glum face when they smoke right next to me. I’m dying of cancer here, but no, they need their stupid joints. And then, they’re drama queens. When Sally got her heart trampled upon by Steven from Hill Road, she told Harry first, and the two of them went to Café Mocha, within sight of Steven’s house, and drank wine and ate chocolate fiesta, and tried to get over him. Harry falls for most of the guys Sally dates, and in a way, it’s his heart that gets broken too, when she gets dumped. Me? I’m the one who has to drive down to pick up the two drunken sods from Mocha and drop them home.

But Sally’s not exactly sure why she fell for Steven. Not after what Glenn from Carter Road did to her. Her parents are quite scandalized about their daughter’s liaisons with Catholic boys, and have asked her not to have anything to do with them. Also Muslims. Parsis, definitely: they’re sickly. Sikhs are very domineering, they tell Sally, and so a Sikh boy is out for her own good. Any nice Hindu boy is fine. Unfortunately for them, Sally is not as rigid as they would like her to be. She’s a girl who likes the idea of love, is in love with that idea herself, and is quite willing to believe that there exists someone who will fall head over heels in love with her, just as she will do the same for him. She’s not stupid in matters of love, mind you, just gullible, and in a way, that’s much, much worse.

It had been beautiful with Glenn, of course. Glenn and the blue couch facing the ocean, on which they’d made love. When his face was lower, burrowed between her breasts, she would sigh, and look out at the blue-green expanse of sea and tell herself how lucky she was to have found the love of her life. When Glenn told her casually that he wasn’t in love with her anymore, on that same blue couch facing the sea, she smiled back her bitter tears and told him to go to hell. She prays regularly, you know.

No one could ever accuse Harry of being in love with the idea of love anymore, though. Like all men who discover they’re gay relatively early in life, Harry had had his heart broken a couple of times in quick succession by older men who needed a quick screw(driver). Harry was able and more than willing. And since then, he’s come to the conclusion that love is what you make of it. He’s not running after love anymore, but is willing to wait for it. He’s built a reputation for himself in the gay circles of this world called Bombay, and is pretty much satisfied at the whole deal. Sally and I keep telling him to be safe and make sure to use a condom every time, and that’s probably the only time Sermonising Diva Harry shuts up and listens to us.

He calls us his fairy godmothers, and I’m the chief in that line, by virtue of being his flat-mate. I’m the one witness to the succession of young men, old men, bald men, hairy men, swarthy men, boyish men, fat men, thin men that he brings in almost every other day, and I must confess that I’m quite jealous of his bloody-active sex life. Gay men have sex a lot, I told him one evening morosely, after a certain Dick or Tom had just departed, and he nodded, agreeing. You don’t have to try hard at all, I observed again, quite sad at the extra effort I had to put in every time I needed to have sex. Harry nodded again, lighting an infernal cigarette now, and replied, That’s true, but that’s why we never have relationships. It’s so much fun having just sex, no?

Try telling that to Sally, I replied, and he chuckled.

Perhaps, that’s what Ritika tries, when she’s ever here. It’s so much fun just meeting and being there for each other and shagging sometimes (once in the month she’s here), than actually getting into marriage or an engagement or something silly of that sort, Vishnu, and when she says or does things that seem to suggest this is what she’s thinking, I can’t help but feel that maybe my life is an acute waste. Harry doesn’t like Ritika (She’s doing the quarterback, he proclaimed once, looking at a picture she’d sent me, of her with the Northwestern University football team) and it took all of my self control to not smash his head in when he says something like that. Sally’s very sweet and all about Ritika, but I don’t think she likes her much, either.

I get the feeling that both Harry and Sally think I’m being a pushover for Ritika. Again.

So here are the arguments against Ritika: 1) She’s studying in the US, so I see her once a year, and that too only for three weeks or so before she goes to Delhi to be with her parents; 2) She’s bossy. So bossy; 3) She doesn’t put out easily. I have to literally beg her for sex when I see her, and I hate doing that. 4) She hasn’t been calling me of late, and when I call, she hangs up within five minutes, saying she has to got out with Michael or Todd or Jonas. 5) She may be doing the quarterback. (His name is Michael, I think.)

But on the other hand, dumping Ritika will basically mean admitting that my life sucks. I’m twenty seven and I’ve had three relationships, and none of them worked out. Ritika and I have been seeing each other (well, not literally seeing, since she left for the States) for three years now. So I’m loath to let go of it. Harry says, I’m just waiting to get dumped. I’ve seen via Sally how horrid it is to be dumped, and I don’t want to end up like that.

“I have to head back now,” Sally says, stubbing her used ciggie on the ground under her feet, “Don’t you boys have to go, too?”

I look at her curiously and then at my watch. Sally hates her boss, and she’s the one who deliberately lengthens these afternoon park sessions. Harry asks, offhand, still puffing on the last vestiges of his cigarette, “What’s the rush?”

“New project,” Sally says, getting up on her feet, and I follow. “Something quite cool on gay rights and all that jazz. You want to help me out on this one? How about doing an interview or something?”

I find that funny, as Harry may be out to the whole world here in Bombay, but his parents in small town Ferozepur still think their son is a sweet natured entrepreneur who will return home someday to marry the next door neighbour’s daughter, and I chortle at the thought of that. “Yea, why don’t you mail a copy of the interview to Ferozepur, na?”

Harry flashes me an evil look that suggests he’s going to put too much pepper in my food when he cooks dinner tonight and sighs, getting his ass off the bench. “Nopes. Will give ya numbers of some other guys you can chat to, though. On condition of anonymity, of course.”

Sally brightens, and says, “Of course. Scout’s honour.”

“Your cheesy newspaper has those too?” Harry quips, but it’s a lame one, as he hands her his cellphone which has the number of a ‘friend’ of his.

“So, how should I talk to this guy? I mean, does he like you? Have you… you know, done him and dumped him or something?”

“Actually, it might help, if you don’t give him my name at all.”

“That bad, eh?” and Harry shrugs.

“He’s immature. What can I say?”



05 December, 2005


He won't wear a hearing aid.

He knows her refrain by heart;
The recriminations about a life
That didn't live up to expectations.

And the children whose first words
Had made a new man of him
Now growl at his inability
To keep up with the times.

And they don't play the music he knew.

And there's way too many car horns.

And the news isn't that great.
      The newsreader looks good though.
      Yes, old men can lust

And the men who knew him
when he was a boy
Are too far away to call
And, like him, don't understand this web thing.
Or they're dead.

And the memories of sound
Are the sweetest things he hears.

No, he won't wear a hearing aid.


01 December, 2005

Time Stands Still over Govandi Station

A kite flutters,
On a high tension wire —
Against a stark blue sky.
Beggar and old mother huddle
On Govandi Railway Station —
The dirtiest station in the universe.

He shows her a plastic watch,
Smiles, “See I have time,”
She, old, gnarled, wrinkled,
Looks through beady eyes,
“I have no need for time.”

The kite flutters,
Time stands still over Govandi Station.

(This is something I wrote while waiting for a train on what is probably the dirtiest station in the universe – Govandi.)