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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

30 June, 2006

haiku or first attempt

dew drops
misty illusion of parting tears
between Dusk and dawn?


new sunrise
the rosy color of blushing bride
darkness of wounds follow

the true love of my life
is suddenly a past!


shivers of anticipation against lashing rains
welling tears in her eyes


Garden of memories....

The wilted petals drop slowly to earth
From the flowers of my fading memories
Swept away by the warm summer breeze
And shed from my transmuting life garden

New life has sprung from the green patches
Sprouted from mulches I made of buried past
I see that bloom was that of mixed hues
Few colorful flowers and some dull weeds

I collect the broken twigs of what has been life
To make a bonfire and watch in flickering flames
Those parts of life I broke hardest from myself
The sagas from my broken heart and faded love

Life has been a huge garden of mixed dreams
Those passing seasons changing many a frame
Frozen winters leading to shining summers
The spring breathing new life into the barren

As I live on through the varied seasons of life
I drop regrets by the fall and await a new bloom
And through those moments of short lived joys
I cherish the bloom that I know will wilt soon….


29 June, 2006

Time to say good bye...

A reason for me to live
Is the season when you love..

A treason that most hurt
Is a reason my grief had spurt..

Rebut in your voice I do heed
But a choice now I truly need..

I bruise you hence my friend
Then whence I choose this end..

I will but always hold you dear
But it is this void in me I fear..

For you shall know not how
You gave me the blow and woe..

That it will heal not slow
You shall feel not though..

If only you ever know
How you made my heart glow..

When your love I cherished
And how my soul it nourished..

That my heart was always true
But your part was way due..

I can no longer bear your scorn
It remains in me as a thorn..

I hope you understand my pain
I cannot see your love for me wane..

Hence here is the reason to die
Thenceforth is a time to say good bye..


27 June, 2006

TheScian Science Fiction Short Story Contest 2006

The Scientific Indian

Science as a way of life

Are you an aspiring writer?
Do you like to blend fiction with science?

Enter TheScian Science Fiction Short Story Contest 2006!

Move Minds with Words

First Rs.10,000/-
Second Rs.5,000/-
Third Rs.2,500/-

Closing Date: 30 September 2006
Download details (pdf)
Questions? Discuss here.


25 June, 2006

The Dancer in Paradise

Dancing in the room, with the lights dimmed, and I feel happy. Your hands are holding onto me, holding me against you, and I can't help but sigh at the entire way this whole episode is turning out to be. We met yesterday, over a coffee shop, and tonight, we're dancing in my apartment. We spoke about Suketu Mehta yesterday, and his book, and today the conversation had nothing to do with books really. We hardly spoke today. Just looked into each other's eyes, and I knew you wanted to come home with me.

God knows I wanted to let you in.

"He's actually my uncle," you said, and I turned around at the comment. You were goodlooking, quite goodlooking, I thought, that was my first impression. Also, a smartass for venturing your opinion where none had been asked for, and I let you know that.

"I'm sorry, do I know you?" I replied, steely voice in tow.

Your divine smile did the trick. And you said, "No, no you don't. And I'm sorry for butting in. It's just that I'm awfully proud of the fact that he's my uncle. Believe me, no one gets more embarassed than him, when I act this way. Awfully sorry."

Of course I had to relent to that. The entire package was there. The grin, the elfen ears, that excessively long nose that I suddenly longed to reach out and squeeze, and I grinned back, "It's quite alright. I'm sorry if I appeared rude. He's really a great author. It's a great book. You should feel proud."

I loved the way you beamed. As if you'd earned a medal from me at that very instant. Was I being mad, I thought, but then you said - "Thanks a bunch. Let me make it up to you for the interruption. Can I get you a cup of coffee at the store here?"

And, I don't know what compelled me, I said 'yes'.


It all came out. You're the great author's nephew and live in the States with him. Here down for three weeks, and you'll be in Sri Lanka for a week in between. New to Bombay. "Well then, I must show you around," I jumped up to exclaim, and simultaneously rap myself sharply inside my head for doing so.

"That would be great," you beamed, and suddenly I couldn't resist. A date was set. A ferry ride to Elephanta. It helped that I've quit my job and on a break for some time. There's so much time to kill. Elephanta will be good. And dinner afterwards.

I decided to try my luck at dinner, because you're looking so delicious: "Do you dance?"

And that's when you grin, wink at me and reply: "I'm a dance teacher."


Salsa. The twist. The hustle. Lambada. The tango. Cheek to cheek, then. And finally, lip to lip. I'm hooked.

Hurried phone calls to friends follow the next day, and advice pours forth. "He's here only for another week. Then he's going away to Sri Lanka. He's not going to call you again after that. Just enjoy the passion now. Nothing more."

A scowl on my face. Why on earth won't I believe my friends? "What if it's more? What if...?"

"It's not more," chimes in friend no 2. "They come and they go. Non resident idiots are fun to screw. Screw him and get over it. Nothing more. Don't screw yourself like this now."
Reason shines through, and fights with the heartstrings. But... "He dances divinely."

"He'll dance right out of your life," comes the reply, fast as lightning, I'm not sure from which one.


A week goes by terribly fast. Terribly. Fast. And we find ourselves on the dance floor again, talking about everything but books and uncles. "What's Sri Lanka like?" I ask, in a whimper, not really wanting to know.

"Heaven." A pause, and then - "What's Bombay like?"

I'm puzzled, and don't reply, but then he does, for me - "It's paradise. Because it has you."

He'll dance right out of your life, I think, and grin at him through a steel heart. "You're glib."

"I'm honest," he replies, and I wish he would beam now. I want him to laugh and talk nonstop the way he usually does, about dance and books and travel and other things that don't matter, anything that won't make me look at him, like this, and wish I could reach up and squeeze his nose and stroke his ears, something which I don't trust myself at all to do... Ninny, I call myself, and wonder why it took so little time, such little effort. And then, I make up my mind, and tell him, "No, you're glib."

He looks slightly pained for an instant, but then the smile comes back on his face. He grins and kisses my ear, and I shudder at his hot breath. They're playing some delicious tango tune, and he holds my waist firmly, and pulls me closer to him. I'm grateful for that, grateful that he will take me to dance with him and then to bed later, so that we can forego this silly talk which drives me crazy, so that I can forget that he's leaving for his week-long trip to Sri Lanka tomorrow and that I will probably never see him again. Jumble of thoughts destroyed thankfully by the jumble of body movements as we twirl on the dance floor, but then he whispers into my ears as the final crescendo starts... "Hold on... you'll see..."


My friends have been angels. I've been thinking of you every day. Talking about you to them, and they've been patient enough to bear me prattle on. A week-long romance. I must be going mad. Or juvenile. But it seems so important to me, and I don't know why. A week full of dance and desire, a week full of absence and wondering whether you'll come back or not. And finally, it's over. "You're glib," I tell an imaginary him, whispering, while I fold the clothes fresh from the laundromat.

There was the episode when we went to Marine Drive together for a pizza, and got stuck in the rain. "I hate the rain!" you sputtered, hiding under the store awning, while I shrieked in glee. I'm a child in the rain.

"You're crazy!" I yelled back, nose dripping water, and hugged you, getting you wet. I think you were in two minds, whether to push my wet body away or hold on, but I didn't give you a chance. "And I'm demented!"

You started laughing now, and grabbed me in, away from the torrents now, "Are you always going to be this mad?"

I nodded my head vigorously: "Getting second thoughts?"

And you pecked my cheek, even as I tugged on your nose, "Not even if I tried!"

Bombay rains make me decidedly mad, I've decided, more than a week later, as I fold clothes on the bed. Friends are right, and lovers rarely are. Screw them, don't let them screw your head: the cardinal rule of a fling, and I.. and I flung it out of the window. I hate Sri Lanka now. I'm never going to go there, I decide, like a child.

The doorbell rings, and it must be friends 1 and 2 with the pizza. Pizza and sobby love stories for a rainy evening, that's my life. Thank god my new job begins from tomorrow.

And there you are. Dishevelled. Smiling. A big nose and elfen ears. Smiling. "I'm back... and it's Paradise again."

I stand there at the door, looking at you. Red bags and black jacket, dripping wet in the rain. I step back, and walk over to the stereo and switch on the CD which I haven't removed in a week's time. "Just in time for a dance," I smile, as your hands encircle my waist.

23 June, 2006

set piece

i hadn’t thought of him for a while,
not a poem in his name,
something else had captivated me,
he thought it was just a game.

so he sat down beside me,
with a beguiling smile so casual,
“care for new tune this time,
or perhaps your usual?”

no tune of pure seduction,
no promise of eternal bliss,
not even your peacock crown,
shall keep me away from this.

he held my hand now,
and whispered in my ear,
"be my love, my only love,
come be with me, i’m here."

my heart did skip a beat i admit,
"go seduce a cowgirl or two,"
i did manage to say, "but now,
wait for me as i did for you."

he laughed, "and those poems
you pen, of love and agony?
come now, or never again,
it'll be just you and only me."

i stole a kiss, before i sighed,
so such was to be my fate!
i’ll write more love poems i promise,
but not now love, can’t you wait?

his glance at me was quizzical,
i had unwrapped his arms from mine,
"no song, no words, no touch
affects you, what could make you mine?"

you’re my love, i assure you,
but i love the offer you’re making,
teamgeist is my fever now,
a german-argentine final i’m seeking.


22 June, 2006

"Those who wrote"   [gnomic rubai diptych]

Those who wrote were susceptible
      of some misconstruing
those who did could be subject to
      subsequent undoing
those who didn't never discovered
      the deed indeed
those who wroten't discerned no bulb
      to require unscrewing

the silence could seem commensurate
      with the happenstance
the music could grow importunate
      so one had to dance
if those who dancen't never find
      the sooth forsooth
yet the poem may prove considerate
      of coincidence


20 June, 2006

Communally hated!

This is me, a martyr,
Bleeding inside, lacerated,
With a thousand wounds inflicted,
By all of you, strangers, whom I hate.

You who deprived me of my livelihood,
You who raped our women,
You who brought your skills and toil,
Where I was comfortable with my existence.

You should die for your sins,
There’s no forgiving your greed,
You who snatch our money,
And money order it to your kin, must die!

I am good, you are bad,
You have no right to exist,
A world without you is my dream,
You who manipulate my destiny.

You live on my soil, drink my water,
And don’t respect my culture,
You bring your alien rituals,
And pollute my environs.

You are people whose rages,
Have been compromised in smiles,
When you laugh, you do not,
Laugh with me, but at me!

For your transgressions you must flee,
For the harm you have done,
We must teach you a lesson,
And kick you out of our homeland, our state.


Without you

On the run in dense obscurity
You're the 'cause I got to know
Every day dreaming dreams of
A woman in those scattered clouds

She said she were a loser
At the same old, old game
An angel with a brightening edge
Burning in search of fame

All I gained was a new gun
To satisfy her heartache
Just as the bullets begin to fly
I had to clear the blue blue sky

Then she left my open door
Her head in a cold wind
That the dark night shrouds
No love, no tears, no ugly sounds

And tonight i'll make me one mistake
And the moon it doesn't feel all right
I am cold inside with a struggling thirst
And a watchful eye on her young pride

Then she left my open door
Her head in a cold wind...

She got me to hide tonight
'Cause I wanted to know
I couldn’t sleep with old rules
When the bullets began to fly

Then she left my open door
Her head in a cold wind...

And with no regrets I squeezed
the trigger and looked within me
My memory of a beautiful lost love
Running the breeze on a clear blue sky

Living on my own I don't care
This one time I will carry on
With an image of love, of her
By the door; and she was gone

Then she left my open door
Her head in a cold wind
That the dark night shrouds
No love, no tears, no ugly sounds

Then she left my open door
Her head in a cold wind
That the dark night shrouds
No love, no tears, no ugly sounds

Without you


14 June, 2006

The Fairy Catcher

I’m obsessed with fairies. Elves and goblins. It comes from being an addict of Tolkien. So at night, when I sit out here on the hotel terrace, watching the lake below me swathed in darkness, the fairy lights draping the treetops that the hotel people have put up remind me of tiny little fairy dances, ala that ridiculous scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Sitting here, recording every moment that we’ve spent the last week in this place far out of Timbuktoo, waiting for you while you potter about in the loo. Careless beauty was never for you, I smile wryly, but then it was never that way for me either. We’re a strange species, you and I, who spend hours to achieve that end result of looking as if we just got out of bed and came out to hug the world. Complex creatures with severe complexes of our own.

“But then that’s always been the way with us”, you say. You’ve been reading from behind my shoulder, “Are you going to keep on recording every thing I say as well? You won’t talk to me, but keep on typing?”

“I’ll talk, but I’ll also write,” I reply.

“Complex?” You grin, and I love you when you do that.


“Some people believe in love, but are incapable of it,” a friend once told me, while we sat in her drawing room, drinking coffee. She has a severe sweet tooth and had dissolved two thin slices of mocha-flavoured Swiss chocolate in her brew, and I could get the whiff of chocolate from across the room where I stood, leaning against her book-cases.

“Do you think I’m one of them?” I asked her, mildly curious. My friend has been divorced thrice. She got married the first time, when she was seventeen, running away from home with her lover and out of contact with her family for the entire year that the sojourn lasted. Now, she’s older and not much wiser, richer and not much more secure, but she still has that beautiful air of fragility that tempts so many men, and that hint of steel that fools them into believing she won’t cling onto them.

“Do you think you are?” she counters, grinning that smile at me, impish bitch, “I know I’m one of them. I’m dying to find Prince Charming, but the damn ass never comes. Of course that doesn’t mean I’ll stop believing he’s going to come.”

Character insight? - Whacky. I laugh at her, and tell her she’s hoping for things that probably don’t exist. She furrows her brows at the thought and looks at me with the air of a believer who encounters a pagan for the very first time. Surprise and bewilderment as to why I haven’t been struck down by lightning yet. The scary part is, sometimes, I wonder about the same thing myself. But for now, all I do is grin back at her – an impish grin for the impish bitch who I love so much.

“How is it for you then?” she asks, “Do you never fall in love?”
I do. But I fall in love much too often, I tell her. So I’m not sure whether that amounts to love in the end. She knows I believe in fairies. I tell her how I’m perpetually waiting and hunting for the next fairy to enter my life, to flit past, to enchant me and tempt me, and make me weak in the knees. I believe in the sensation. But does that make a lover of me? I have my doubts.

“Maybe you’re trying to run away from comfort and settling down,” she ventures, but only half-heartedly, because she knows that I will throw my head back and laugh at that naïve comment. Maybe she’s trying to shoot arrows in the dark, I retort. My fragile friend smiles back, shifting her weight on the wheelchair and sipping her chocolate-induced coffee.

“Tell me how you managed to run away in your wheel chair,” I tell her, curious.

“When I was seventeen, you mean? O, you’d be surprised at what people can do when they’re young and want to believe they’re in love. I wouldn’t be surprised if I had left the country then. Moving to another city was chickenfeed, darling.” She and her lover had absconded from the city – he had picked her up from her hostel, and they had gone straight to the airport, to board a plane for Delhi. Once there, they got married at an Arya Samaj temple and he had taken her to his parents’ home in Vasant Kunj. They were suitably shocked, but since they depended in no small measure on their son’s income as a senior manager at his MNC bank, they gave their blessings and my wheelchair-bound friend became their new daughter-in-law. “I made their life a living hell,” she grins now, cheekily, happy at the thought of bringing a little bit of hell into Delhi.

“It’s a very hot city anyhow,” I observe sagely. “And not just in terms of temperature. I’ve had scores of encounters in Delhi.”

A-ha. More fairies with gossamer wings. Punjabis and Jats and Kashmiris and other North Indians. Week long trysts and journeys and whispers and couplings at night, trips to Mussoorie and Shimla and Srinagar to watch the moon waft past and the hilltops quiver while we would have sex.

“Have you ever done it in the open?” she asks me now, finishing her coffee.

Under the sky, once. An amazing experience. That was the one who needed affirmation, like I did. The one who was so complex, with so many complexes, and laughed like an elf when I made a joke. The one who took hours to come out to hug the world. Like me. It was an amazing experience.

I nod. “Scratchy. On the hillside. The lake was just a short hop away. I was a bit worried about frogs and snakes, but then I quickly forgot about them. But yes, the grass was very pointy. My bum itched for ages after that episode!”

Squeals of laughter, and she throws a pillow at me. I laugh, catch it, and throw it back at her. Monstrosities, itching bums and pointy grass are, I tell you. Impish bitch friends come a close third, but somehow you end up loving them, so they don’t count much really in the list of Monstrous Things To Put Up With. Itching Bums and Pointy Grass are fine only if the sex is fantastic.

“So, you never answered me – are you incapable of love?” she asks me now, green eyes glistening with sudden tears, and I wonder who she’s crying for more, me or her.


The fairy is sitting astride me now. Looking at me with cat eyes in the dark. The lake is a short distance away. The grass is scratching my back and bum, and I’m vaguely aware of the discomfort, but they don’t really compare to the anticipation of this – the fairy sitting astride me.

“You’ll destroy me,” I tell it, but the fairy never cares. Never does. Fairies are cruel creatures.

“I’m not cruel. No more, no less, than you are. I flit. I float. I sit. I ride,” and the damn thing grins. I fall in love with the damn apparition when I see the grin. The most beautiful thing in the world. Ethereal.

“Do you think I might fall in love with you?” I ask, perplexed.

How can you think of love now, like this, when you’re naked on the ground and I’m sitting on top of you, the fairy asks me, and I can think of no answer. I must honestly be in love if I could think of that question in the first place. “Sometimes, sex is not enough,” I reply, and the fairy laughs with me, because I have never said this thing before. Never thought of it. Sex was always enough. Sex was always easier.

“Don’t fall in love with me, fairy-catcher,” it whispers, its tongue loping its way in my ears, making me shiver, “It’s a terrible, terrible thing to fall in love with fairies. They fly away. Fly away.”

“Will you write about this also, when we go back up to the hotel?” the fairy asks me, later, while we are lying together on the grass. We seem to have moved closed to the lake: my legs are feeling damp.

“It’s cold,” I reply. I want to change the topic. Of course I’m going to write about this episode, but much later. Not now, when it’s still so vivid in my thoughts. When I’m so completely influenced by the fairy presence so as to almost believe that I could be in love.

“Yes, cold. And wet,” it replies. Our hands are clasped, and the fairy rolls on top of me, and I hold onto it tightly, quite involuntarily. I need to feel its presence, because in some strange way that I don’t want to understand, it reassures me.

“Tell me one thing you want, more than anything else, in your life,” It whispers now in my ear, and I ponder.

“Give me something,” I reply later. It seems as if it’s been ages since we had sex here. Dawn is breaking. Dew drops, or perhaps I imagined them from the wetness in my eyes that I’m trying to conceal. “Give me something to take home now, and I’ll take it as the one thing I want, more than anything else.”

I surprise myself with my idiocy and the fairy too. But it is magnanimous, and kisses me on my forehead. Decides to not deride me, because the sex has been amazing and in some silly way we have connected over some concocted notion of togetherness. So, the fairy kisses my eyelids, one by one, tender touches of gossamer, and says, “Take it then. Take the gift. Never feel sad because of it. Never feel sad.”

Never feel sad.


The impish bitch looked at me quietly, with tears in her eyes, after asking me that fateful question, and I smiled at her. No reason not to smile at her honest question: “So, you never answered me – are you incapable of love?”

And I wonder now who she’s crying for more, me or her. It must be for herself. For I have my fairy gift. I must never feel sad.

I answer, wiping away her tears, hot streams of crystal flowing from the emerald vales of her eyes, “Yes.”

08 June, 2006

"Bootless poesy"       [ghazal]

A thundrous argument for my deficiency   if you seek --
for my verbal drizzle of insufficiency   if you seek?

who need search further than the current lucid example?
it will dredge me out most puissantly   if you seek

is the perfectibility of utterance or the crown of thinking
some backwoods death that will swarm in kissantly   if you seek?

I keep on hurling myself against this indifferent brickwork!
it might converse with you very differently   if you seek

when I verbalize   silence serves as a mute indictment!
it might reverberate all omnisciently   if you seek

Ardeo presumed he could run to market with his feckless skills
you discover Himalayas of bootless poesy   if you seek


06 June, 2006

You are old, father Zig

“You are old, father Zig,” the kid made a moue,
     “Your face is almost all forehead.
Yet you wear your hair long and tied into a queue—
     Is that proper for someone so near-dead?”

“When I was young,” Ziggy said, (after kicking the lout)
     “I visited the barber’s quite often.
But now that my keratin’s rapidly running out—
     Why, I’ll take all that’s left to my coffin.”

“You are old,” said the brat, forgetting respect,
     “Your hormones are a memory, god bless ’em.
But yet at the altar of love you genuflect—
     Why do you persist in writing love poems?”

“In my youth,” said the sage, grinning into his beard,
     “The point of the verse wasn’t futile.
What’s the point now? Why, haven’t you heard
     Of that diamond-shaped blue pill, Sildenafil?”

Said the stripling, “Your playlist is years out of date
     You diss the pop music of this nation.
You tell us how your music was so bloody great—
     But aren’t you the—heh—disco generation?”

Said the fossil, “I was easily influenced as a child,
     I will admit I knew all the lyrics—
But surely you’ll grant this: disco never defiled
     The ear as much as Bollywood remix!”

“You are old,” said the youth, “yet you still write a blog –
     Why waste what’s left of your life?
Your fingers are arthritic, your mind is a fog—
     Wouldn’t you rather spend time with the wife?”

“I have answered three questions, now kindly fuck off,”
     Said the ancient, looking hunted and harried,
“With blogposts to write, trolls to be shook off,
     Who the hell had the time to get married?”

The original poem is well-known enough to not need a reference, but just in case.. This is based on Lewis Carroll's delicious You are old, Father William, which, in turn, was a parody of Robert Southey's rather sanctimonious The Old Man's Comforts and how he gained them.


02 June, 2006

Do you have a relationship with your books?

This just in from a friend in the TOI. Bookmark is the TOI's books page. Feel free to pass this on.

Please note, if you have questions, contact the email address at the end, not me.
We are starting a new series on Bookmark called BOOKED FOR LIFE.

It will consist of first-person accounts by book lovers on their relationship with their collections, favourite books, unfavourite books, reading habits and so on. Essentially personal, the pieces can be funny, nostalgic, righteous, ironic, and even rants are more than welcome. It could be a piece on building your collection, buying your books from pavements, Wheeler stalls, traffic signals or ordering them on the net; fanatic non-lenders who don't lend their books no matter what; lenders who are always passing on their books; rage at book vandals who scribble in ballpoint pen in the margins and underline lines they are particularly moved by; diarists; fetishes like only buying hard back; memories associated with inscriptions on the first page; the heady smell of old paper pockmarked with pinholes; serendipitious discoveries; the quirks of your local lending library, lifelong quests to source and own a whole series, say Granta or the Time Life series; first-edition fanatics; inheriting grandpa's collections and so on.

The piece should be about 800 words in length. Please do contribute and write in with your ideas.

Mail bombayana[at]indiatimes[dot]com

Afternoons & Jacaranda Smell

Latticed windows & thatched roof
partly shroud a room full
of conversations. We stretch our legs.
Our tongues wag, our heads sag.
Dust laden tales spring
from our minds’ recesses.
drearily the afternoon clock ticks.
Our heads swell
with jacaranda smell
as we’re sucked in -
sucked in -
our tales’ loose ends.

And thus we escape from,
escape from

latticed windows & thatched roof
partly shrouding a room full
of conversations. Where we stretch our legs.
Let our tongues wag, our heads sag.
Dust laden tales springing
from our minds’ recesses.
merrily the afternoon clock ticks.
Our heads swell
with jacaranda smell
and we happily stay
in the loose ends of our tales.

©Dan Husain
May 26, 2003