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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

29 May, 2006

Cherri, my love!

I think about Cherri many times, those mad times we had and I genuinely believe that I had experienced something akin to real love, for the affection between us was bereft of any real motive except companionship and joy in each other’s company. Some days went like this, just after I had been accepted for astronaut training in theory…

“But, hey listen, I have no desire to settle in Siberia or the moon for that matter, I want to come back here and help you make babies, and have lot’s of fun about it, so don’t give up on me. However, that depends on your bosses.” I trailed off, watching Cherri.

Cherri got up as if in a trance and hugged me, splaying my collar with all the tears that had stuck to her beautiful cheeks and stuck on to me for god knows how long, all the while crying softly and speaking simultaneously. “But I’m so happy for you, and your dreams. This calls for wild celebration.” We made passionate love, gulped Strawberry ice cream afterwards, and licked off the fallen bits from each other’s bodies. It was quite late by then, but Cherri said,“Let’s go for a long drive, down the Lakeshore Drive, with the glasses down and feel the spray of the moisture on our faces. It’s been long since we did that, earlier we used to do it so often, didn’t we.”I was on the point of protesting, citing the late hours, but seeing Cherri’s enthusiasm, could not summon the courage to speak up.

We got into my battered Ford and really had a wild ride along the magnificent mile. Cherri and I were shouting at the top of our voices as we sped along and indeed were the recipients of some baleful glances, not that we cared and even otherwise it was too dark and we were going too fast. We gulped some wine, kept in the dashboard of the car, and poured the leftovers over each other, with the promise that we would lick it off and have a bath together once we returned to the Dorm.

However when we returned, it was very late and we were both were dead tired. After saying sleepy byes, we went our separate ways, as cohabiting in the night in the same dorm was still discouraged. I went off to sleep; dreaming was of how Cherri and I were raising babies in a distant Space colony.

The morning arrived, attired in sheen of rain and snow, and it was beautiful. I realized I was running late, got ready in a hurry, gathered the essential papers including that all-important communication from department, and hurried down to the Rector’s office. I walked all the way, as it was refreshing, with cold flakes whipping my face and my feet making that crackling noise even as they negotiated the now hardening snow that had fallen overnight.

I managed to reach the Administrative Quarters in time and sent in a slip with a request to meet the Rector. The rector came out to meet me personally, in about ten minutes. “Sorry to have kept you waiting, young man and congrats on your excellent results. Now, tell me, my fellow, what can I do for you?’ The rector was all attention and seemed willing to listen.

Mr. Strange, the rector, went through the letter, reread it and after a poignant pause, commented, “Well, I don’t see any problem in this, my boy; after all it’s a matter of great pride for you and your great country too.” “We’ll simply put you up for the accelerated program; we have for people who are already working in the industry, provided you can cope. And hope to see your mug amongst the stars soon.’ “Thank you, sir,” I was all smiles, even as I continued,“You don’t know how big a load you’ve taken off my mind, now I’ll give my best shot at completing the balance semester period and the next, and thank you once again,”“No problems, come see me if ya got any other problems, see ya.” saying that, the rector took his leave and I hurried out of his office.

I immediately called up Cherri on her Mobile, told her the good news and was rewarded with a whoop of joy,“You’re a genius, ya know, ya manipulative little demon, well, this calls for more celebration tonight, so buckle your loins, ya tiger. See ya soon…” She trailed off.

I slept after that, after returning to my room, since I was still feeling tired after the hectic events of the day and the confabulations of the previous night. The sharp American ‘briinlg’ of the telephone woke me up, with Cherri on the other end of the line, inquiring.“Hey, sleepy head rise and shine, its almost late night and the stars are bright and clear, what say, hey, are you up to it, some beer, and music?"

“Let’s keep it for the weekend, that’s quite near, ya got to make all the arrangements! I’m really pooped today, want to get my energy levels on par. I think I’ll go in for an early night, still feeling sleepy.”

So you see, there was innocent love and joy that we shared and nothing else and still do shed some solid tears whenever I care to think about those days…

28 May, 2006

Results 1 - 5 of about 11

I have never asked anyone about you
But today,
three years
five months
and fifteen days
(but who's counting)
on an impulse,
because I was shirking work,
because I needed a break after reading 35 bad CVs,
because I saw a blog post about a guy who'd done the same thing,
because I'd never done it myself,
I asked Google whether it knew you.

You're in another country now
(you were always a rolling stone),
your CV's much expanded,
you've worked there a while,
you did a course
(yay for you! I knew you'd do it eventually)
you had to drop out, though, because you were broke,
(and I was sorry to see that)
you are – or were – searching for a job...

But there's no indication of whether
you're still with him (your name is still the same)
or if you've changed your mind about having kids.
No word about whether you're happy
Or if you ever –

                do you ever
                do you never
                do you ever

                             – Search for me.


27 May, 2006


They say that god will return
To save the world

But I don’t know whom to believe
So I’ve made my own plans

My neighbor plans to pray for my soul
While his son fucks reality to produce confusion!

Are you aware of your mental avarice?
Ask a stranger to make your will

Can I talk to your conscience?
Like a guidance counselor

My subconscious wants to rebel
Is this the road to nirvana?

Religion is the root
Of all misery and evil
Kill and be killed shall be your anthem
Give god your mind
And he shall give you wisdom

Images flash across my mind
Bright and vivid
In their aimless revelation

“Call god into your bathroom and
Flush him down the toilet.”


17 May, 2006

Delhi - A Revisitation

It’s akin to visiting my foster mother, today,
That I am returning to you, mother city, after twenty years,
I look at your broad, bereft streets, mater,
Through which emperors, prime ministers cavalcaded,
In victory and defeat, through gates and triumphal arches,
That murmur of the pains of your rape and impregnation.

The sudden shock of your poverty upsets me,
It is evident in the desperation of the cycle-rickshaw puller,
His eyes intent on the ground, standing on his pedals,
He pulls his woes, as if there is no halcyon tomorrows.
Your grimy streets are dusty, high walled, impenetrable,
As if you wish to guard the gory secrets within.

Is this where histories, dynasties were made, and fallen?
A dynasty now rules by proxy the city of the great Akbar,
And a fratricide of a potentate now fills you with awe,
When you are the city of kingly fratricides and parricides.
Remember how Dara Shukoh was marched and beheaded, by his kin
In your own street of Chandni Chowk, of not long ago?

The secrets of the present and past mingle,
Where now stand glitzy malls, I know, blood had flowed,
In your dark corners soldiers, spies, princes plotted to kill,
You witnessed stoically the dethroning of emperor Shah Jehan,
And the ascendance of his wily progeny, Aurangazeb,
As you watched, your face covered in the folds of your veil.

Yet, now, mother city, your tears are dry, your sobs silent,
Slowly you die, spent and ravaged by your many lovers.
Though it is kitsch melodies that you hum today, you were once,
Serenaded by Tansen, and Amir Khushro Dehlavi,
In your parlor once, poets and artists did conclave,
Over the “daughter of grapes” and the smell of tobacco!



"Happy Mother's Day, Malini !!"

Malini entered the office and saw her colleagues suddenly hush their laughter as they greeted her with fake cheerfulness,
"Hello Malini, Good Morning".
She had been expecting something of this sort. She waved to them cheerfully and went to her cubicle. The conversation resumed in whispers and when they forgot to whisper, very audible to her even across the office.This happened around every Mother's day. For one day she was an outcaste. She was not a Mother nor did she look like ever being one.

For past ten years on every mother's day she had listened to the stories about teenage sons buying their mothers flowers and cheap perfumes or trinkets, daughters cooking messy dinners in an attempt to give mom an evening off, husbands taking whole family for an outing. A celebration of motherhood in which she had no part. She heard these happy stories every year. She had tried to tell them she really didn't feel unhappy on mother's day. It was ok not to have a child. But they looked even more sympathetic, as if she was being very brave. Soon she stopped explaining. Lying low for one day seems to be the easy way out.

Later in the evening, as she was getting ready to leave, Ruby came to her table with a big smile.
" Guess what I am doing tomorrow evening ? My Annette is taking me to a disco! She even bought me a sexy outfit yesterday!" she giggled.
Rubes, the dearest soul, was never going to launch a thousand ships, but as her face glowed, she looked beautiful.

She picked her bag, waved to her friends and colleagues and stepped out of the office. No one called her to ask her what were her plans for the mother's day.

But she too had plans. Same thing that she did on every Mother's day. She walked to a park full of children and selected a bench which had a view of the whole park.

A boisterous game of foot ball was going on. Sturdy legs chasing the ball, arms shooting up, boys tumbling over each other, happy shouts filling the air. Occassionally a few squabbles, fist fights as only energetic boys can have. She found herself relaxing. She smiled happily as she watched the game, munching peanuts.

How old must he be now? Her son? Almost fifteen. Her eyes looked at teenage boys engrossed in their game. Some times she caught a glimpse of curly hair, or sparkle in eyes which brought back memories. Was He here? among these boys? Will she even recognize him if they ever met?

She didn't regret having given him up. What choices did she have? Bringing him up alone? No way she and Shibu could have married. Both artists, dreamy and hopelessly in love. It was magical, it was volatile, it was inevitable. But even then she knew that two people such as them could not have made a go of their relationship. After graduation Shibu went away to Europe on a scholarship to pursue art and she went home, pregnant. Shibu never ever knew.

She was adamant about not aborting the baby. Shibu's and her baby was bound to be special. It must live. She went to stay with her grandmother. Her parents were upset but Gramps was surprisingly understanding about it, as she listened to Malini talking about Shibu. She had advised Malini to give the baby in adoption. The suitable adoptive parents had been found. The complete secrecy about them bothered her a little, but was assured that it was for the best.They too were waiting for the baby's arrival. Baby arrived, was hugged once, tears were shed and he had been handed over.

She returned to the city, and carried on with her life. Post grad abroad, a well paying job, a few awards here and there, even a whirlwind courtship and a short lived marriage. Life was running it's course. She never had another child after that. But she was content. Her baby lived. Some might call her an unfeeling mother because she gave him up. But allowing the baby to live was the only gift she could give him.

Since then she celebrated Mother's Day by seeking out the children and youngsters, mingled with them, imagining her son in that crowd, trying to locate a familier smile, a familier style among those faces. Shibu's dreamy eyes and soft voice, her dimpled smile, something that will tell her this was her baby.

It had become quite dark by now. Game was over and boys were now gathered at a far away corner bench. She picked up her bag and left the park with a jaunty step and murmured to herself,
"Happy Mother's Day, Malini".

10 May, 2006


On Caferati's message board, and in our email, every now and then someone posts gleefully about having a poem accepted by poetry dot com (yes, deliberately not clickable), or about the contests that site runs.

And then one has to go about the sad task of letting the person know they've been conned. So, we thought, being a lazy sod, we might as well put all the gunk out here, thus saving ourself the trouble of having to search-&-cut-&-paste every time.

How does it work?

You send in an entry, and after a respectable interval, you get a lovely glossy mailer telling you that you are a semi-finalist. It will enclose an Artist's Proof of your poem for you to sign. The mailer will also tell you that you can buy a copy of the thick cloth-bound book that will contain the best entries in the contest.

It's a "benign scam," you see. The ILP (International Library of Poetry, aka and others like it operate by preying on the desire so many of of us have: to see our verse in print. You DO get a book. A large coffe table book crammed with poems. For which you pay a whole lot of money. It's cheaper for you to do a vanity printing, with only your verse in it, and give them to your 50 closest friends.

How do we know it's a rip-off? We sent in a poem once (we were so much younger then), and were flattered to find we were a "semi-finalist." We immediately checked out the bank balance and thought to ourself, hm, perhaps this is worth a shot. Lucky for us, we first asked a few friends and e-contacts more worldy-wise than us. And were gently told that we should, ahem, perhaps, er, reconsider.

Exhibit 1 (a.k.a. the International Library of Poetry, the National Library of Poetry, and many others), is a vanity anthology scheme that draws in poets through free contests, and then solicits them to purchase the anthology in which they will be published, plus a variety of other merchandise and services. The contests, in which all entrants are declared "semi-finalists", are bogus; and while the company portrays itself as a viable and even prestigious poetry market, the complete lack of editorial gatekeeping and the resulting poor quality of most of the poems means that publication in one of its anthologies is not a professional credit.

A number of organizations, including the Office of the Maryland Attorney General, are seeking writers who have complaints about You can find links to all of them at, a website organized by poet Robert James Funches.

Note: doesn't exist anymore.

Someone did the math. Here's Exhibit Two:
Turn-over estimate

The anthology that I bought cost me $ 59.95. (excluding p+p). My estimate is ... that there are around 1,500 poems in there. Since you won't get published if you don't buy the book, all those 1,500 poets have bought the anthology. That would mean 1,500 x $ 59,95 = $ 89,925 for the poems. There are 325 biographies of poets in the back (I DID count them by hand), for which the poet had to pay $ 25 extra. That's 325 x $ 25 = $ 8,125.

Together for this anthology that would be $ 89,925 + $ 8,125 = $ 98,050.

I took the time to count the released anthologies that they have on the website and in the year 2002, ... they released a total of 52 anthologies. In 1998, which was probably a very profitable year for them the number of released anthologies rocketed up to 78.

So if we take the average of that, 65, and use that as the amount of released anthologies per year, you can calculate the following: 65 x $ 98,050 = $ 6,373,250 income per year only for those anthologies. That is over SIX MILLION DOLLARS!


And then I didn't even count all the other shit that they are offering. The awards, which cost like $ 175 - $ 250 each and the plaques on which you can have your poem printed and the audio recordings you can get from your poem and the offers for the symposia that you can visit as an outstanding poet.

And in this matter I'm only talking about the poetry part that they have. Imagine what their turn over is if you take into consideration that they also do 'business' in for example photography! My dear fellow poets, this is BOOOOOOOOMING business.
[Read the whole thing.]

Here, from the same page, is the poem by the same person who wrote the above:
Poor Victims

Naive poets
walking with open eyes
into a spider's web
of deceit and lies.

An institute
by the name of ILP
desillusions any
well-faithed wannabe.

A flattering letter
send in a fancy envelope
brings the new poet
temporarily new hope.
Dear fellow poets,
don't fall for
this trick;
ILP shall deceive us no more!
This was published, s/he says. :)

Here's another Semi-finalist:
by Wergle Flomp

flobble bobble blop
yim yam widdley woooo
oshtenpopple gurby
yip yip yip
nish-nash nockle nockle
opfem magurby voey
Ahh! "Wurby tictoc?"
"quefoxenjib masaloouterp!"
bim-burm nurgle shliptog
afttowicky wicky wicky
erm addmuksle slibberyjert!
Reqi stoobery bup dinhhk
yibberdy yobberdy hif twizzum moshlap
dwisty fujefti coppen smoppen dob
tigtog turjemy fydel
saxtenvurskej brisleywum
swiggy swiggy swug
yumostipijjle dobers!
This, by the way, inspired the Wergle Flomp Poetry Contest

Oh, here's a few more links. Google will give you about 42,100 results for " scam". in case you'd like to try it out. And another 595,000 for "literary scam"

A few links to get you started: (good list of scams)

[Cross-posted here]

In The Mood For Love

The rain came down like a wave of tears. They were caught. A moment. An instant. Under the rooftops. The gentle breeze blew away their words. He looked at her. Her profile against the diffused light of the street lamp in the distance. So many thoughts yet so few words. The water dripped down from the roof above and fell on his coat. He looked at his watch. Time had slowed down as it always did when he was in her presence. He took out a cigarette.

The lost letters. The connected food. The little words. The long silences. The invisible walls. The dried flowers.

The night was warm in spite of the rain. Her arms were wet. She made no move to wipe them. She cast a glance at him. He was leaning against the wall as always, a cigarette dangling from his mouth. So many similarities yet so different. The rain flowed in waves driven by an unknown wind. She remembered last night. Inexplicable feelings mixed with the sudden shiver that traveled down her back.

The late nights. The noisy neighbors. The rhythmic ringing. The passionate poetry. The rough stubble.

He wished the rain would stop. Their moment. Their instant of time under the rooftops would stop. Thunder rolled in the distance punctuating his thoughts. He shifted his legs.

“Do you think we should run for it?”

“I’d hate to see your dress get wet”

“Did I tell you that you look good in this dress?”

“I didn’t think you noticed such things”

As if on cue the rain stopped. They walked back slowly. A taxi would have been the logical choice but the thought never crossed their minds. The street glistened with water sliding down nooks and crannies. Their shadows almost touched.

The moment had come to pass. What was left unsaid would remain unsaid forever. The rain had taken with it their little secret. Years would pass. Times would change. But they knew. They knew a little secret that would remain in their hearts like unused clothes in an old wardrobe.

(Cross-posted on my blog)

09 May, 2006

reflection of Blue

He who fills the universe
and yet remains apart,
how could I fit him inside
a mere heart?

so I became a mirror and-
His reflection I caught
within me

now however big He is outside,
will also be so, forever,
within me

but unaware I was
of laws of reflection
until the moment of revelation

what was right, is now left
truths that I knew
have become untrue
black turned white
and eyes, Blue

© Rajendra Pradhan



these days I remember
the stories you used to weave
and would ask me to believe

they make me aware
of breaths that we take
and venom that we spew
of lives that we fake
and lies that we live
universes apart

time is fine sand
and our untwined hands
make a coarse sieve

you should have stayed
when the world was conquerable
or so, I used to believe

© Rajendra Pradhan



on my quest for self
I embarked with zest
each resolute step
like a mistake, perfect

I began by winning
to millions' surprise
the great swimming race
and life was my prize

bagful of wants
stuffed in a skin
always some room
for one more sin

I claimed as my own
with pride profound
tiny breaths snatched
from vastness around

arriving finally to claim
my rest, my birthright
I heard a soothing voice
from behind a bright light

"welcome back my child
your efforts be blessed
a tottering step you were
in my own self's quest"

© Rajendra Pradhan


02 May, 2006

The Zubaan Book of New Writing by Young Women

This in from our friends at Zubaan. Do fee free to pass the link on or post on your personal blogs.

(working title only)

Concept note

Zubaan is planning to produce an anthology of short fiction showcasing new, young women writers from South Asia.

The criteria

• The focus of the book will be on young writers in the 20s and 30s.
• The writers should be women of South Asian extraction, but may be based anywhere in the world. We are interested in non-resident Indian writers as well as those based in India.
• Stories can be of any length up, ideally anywhere between 2-5,000 words and should be complete stand-alone narratives.
• All submissions must be in English.
• The anthology will be of fictional writing, and we are keen to include a variety of genres – from humourous pieces to science fiction, fantasy, detective stories, and other forms which may fall under the general rubric of ‘speculative fiction’.
• Preference will be given to unpublished stories.


Selection will be on merit, and the stories would be read by Zubaan’s in-house editorial team. The final selection for inclusion would rest with the Editor.


Complete stories should be sent as word attachments to zubaanwbooks[at]vsnl[dot]net, contact[at]zubaanbooks[dot]com or anitaroy1000[at]yahoo[dot]co[dot]uk with the subject line “Submission for Young Writers Anthology”. Along with the story, writers should email a short biography about themselves, including details of their published writings (if any).


Responsibility for the editing, design, production and sales of the book rests with the Publishers.
Copyright for individual pieces would rest with the respective authors, but rights in the anthology as a whole would rest with the publishers, who will actively pursue the sale of translation and co-publication rights for the book.


All writers selected will receive a modest fee for their work.


All submissions should be received by July 31st 2006

About Zubaan

Zubaan is a small independent feminist publisher, based in New Delhi. Headed by Urvashi Butalia, who co-founded India’s first feminist press, Kali for Women, Zubaan is committed to publishing books by, for, on or about women – and women’s issues – in South Asia for an international market. For further details, and a list of books published thus far, please refer to:

Update: Please note change in the first email address.