Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Comely Life

Ek Saans reh gayee hai
Vo Be na toot jaye
The only gasp which remains
that too might snap

The reverse countdown has already triggered in my mind. Four days to go before I hop on a flight to felicity. Nature always thrills me. The rhapsody which raw leaves make with common hoopoes is more enchanting than all the din in our ipods. The puerile rustle of wind at your windowpane. The waltz of phantoms in the woods. Familiar tweedle of the long-tailed shrike. Plop of the fish. I just want to be there -- crash on my sack and dream. Dream the dreams, I cannot stroke. Imagine the hugs I cannot feel. Isn’t it so beautiful that we can almost do everything wacky – which we may never attempt in real life -- in our little fantasies?

I sipped lemon tea on the roof of India Today with pals today. The view of the majestic Connuaght Place was splendid. Despite the maddening humdrum and a flood of commercialization, the arcade still exudes an old world charm. It brings back memories of good old days when everything was so simple and uncomplicated. The sky over the place was stunning. There was a passel of grey clouds, which seemed to conspire with each other to block the Sun. Only a buttery salmon dot was visible. People paced about in the inner circle. I looked away.

Late in the night, reading something interesting, I wondered if I annoyed people. Though it is hard to tell in matters where one is himself a party. I recall of Charles Baudelaire, the French Poet of Decadent and Parnassian movements –- who wrote Les Fleurs du Mal (1857) – ‘The world only goes round by misunderstanding’. How true? In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood.

Life. Too short. Gasps.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

May Queen

You don't have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.
~ Barry Goldwater, American Politician and Senator (1909-1998)

It was a windswept evening. You don’t usually expect such an affable weather in May -- in Delhi -- India’s quintessential metropolis. It felt like a mellow reverie. There was light rain in the air, though it didn’t quite rain. You could smell the summer breeze. It wafted in the hair and softly promenaded on the shoulders. Twain, my favorite humorist, once remarked rather wryly, ‘Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get’. The company I had was primarily military. Uncalculatedly endearing too.

The annual May Queen beauty pageant -- organized by the Defence Services Officers’ Institute (DSIO) -- was a chick affair. A bevy of beauties sashayed past you, even as you clenched your glass tighter than ever. For a while, I thought I am dead – and this must be heaven. Fairies in a million different hues -- so many of them. Luckily, Sandy was at hand to assure me that we are very much alive. The guy, I must chip in, possesses heart of a child. 24-Carat.

A well-groomed swarm of lasses burned the ramp. The pageant rolled on past midnight. The chief of the Indian Air Force along with a host of top military officers sat perched in the first row. The famed army discipline was extant but gradually loosened towards the last benches. We sat – and you guessed it right – after the final benches. So, naturally there was no decorum. I met a couple of young army officers – my age -- and enjoyed a palsy chat with them. How I love the disposition of soldiers?

There is something about military that always excites me. Is it the decorousness, the valor, the uniform, the spunk – I cannot precisely say? As Horace waxes eloquent, it is courage, courage, courage, that raises the blood of life to crimson splendor. Amidst all the music, wine, gals, friends and berets around, I recalled to me -

Our God and soldier we alike adore
just at the brink of ruin not before
The danger past, both are alike requited
God is forgotten and the soldier slighted

The May Queen was declared to a deafening cheer. Frankly, none of us cared to know who the enterprising model was.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Floundering About

Take away my trouble, take away my grief
Take away my heartache, in the night like a thief

Crazy Love -- Bob Dylan-Van Morrison, Moondance

We are too conditioned to do things that we are not supposed to do...or told not to do, or can do without doing, or should not do.
Friend :)

Time is a sly monster. It creeps in the dark and pounces on you when you think you have spotted your destination in a distance. As you try and amble across to reach the glow, which stands a-few-yards-away from you, it swoops on you. Swiftly. Wolfishly. Aided by a little sharp-teethed demon called destiny. The troubles and grief and heartache that Bob harps about in Moondance sit heavy on your stirred shoulders. You can’t hold many things in life! However dear.

It is well past midnight now. I think of a million things. A new species of birds called the gorgeted puffleg has been discovered by scientists in the wild. They say it has remained hidden from humanity -- for an eternity -- and it is green and violet. It also has an iridescent green plumage on its neck. Wonder why the poor bird had to appear now. Everyone will follow it now, in an effort to catenate its existence. Each flight of the poor bird will be observed. Why do some things have to appear to cause all this flutter, I ask no one in particular? Expectedly, I get no answers.

My mind is ajumble. You are conditioned to things and then you are not too conditioned. You drive in the middle of a May night. You chatter about the world, knowing that it is a hybrid world, a world of nostalgia. Only when it is too late, do we dream of the past and then our dreams incorporate everything we want to deny. Strange world. You can’t question it. Yet it offers answers at times, when we don’t expect them. And when you gather the courage to pose questions -- that nag you to the innards -- it gives breezy answers. You take it with a smile.

At the onset of his Indian conquest, standing amidst the wind and ice-swept hills of the great Hindu-Kush mountain range, Alexander the great – looking towards the vast Indian sub-continent -- is reported to have put his arm around his close companion Hephaestion and said ‘Do you think, my friend, we can do it’? The year was 326 BC, most historians agree. Hephaestion, who shared more than just friendship with the greatest warrior of all times, quietly whispered in Alexander’s ear: We must do the thing we think we cannot do.


Friday, May 18, 2007

When pals beckon!

On a sudden sweet morning
I got hit sans any warning
It was the most gentle jolt
That left me in much revolt

Friendship comes to us like that
You can’t even hear the splat
It is like falling in love
First love, next love, last love

To laugh and lope and cry
Always the shoulder to try
Like we learn tact with gals
We often fathom honor from pals

It is tough to let them go
You bond to them like morning snow
As birds soul-kiss upon the bough
A buddy snugs your senses and how

We may grow in time and order
The heart knows no such border
To evolve in such a beautiful blend
Is what they call being a friend!


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Betwixt Pals

It borders on the loony. I may be missing an exact expression for it. It is a very mixed feeling. Harplike. It hits you bang in the brow and you can’t even squeak. It smells of real friendship, of crisp, urgent gazes, of a sudden discovery of each other -- like two unfamiliar musketeers, out there to fight familiar demons. Feels like autumn dawn. As it appears on the horizon – you still rubbing your sleepy eyes – it whispers almost crisp-like: It has to go! There is a certain immediacy about the tryst. You feel a sharp jab in your heart. Life!

You think about the sameness of things. The big crowd that is going to swell – like it does every other day – around my existence. But would it be the same again? Nothing comes close to the joy of being on similar wavelengths, you ponder. There is a certain pleasing fluency about some relations which makes them personal and regal, at once. You don't want to give any names to it. I think friends often partake of such muckamuck. It is a generous potion of joy, sharing, comfort and cheer. Secrets.

It would be hard on anyone not to miss out on such a blend. But hope always lingers. Friends are also about endurance, I perhaps delayed to add. There are times when you simply give in to peradventure. I trust Søren Kierkegaard, the maverick 19th century Danish existentialist when he says, 'It belongs to the imperfection of everything human that man can only attain his desire by passing through its opposite.'

The pain of parting is nothing to the sweet joy of meeting again.


Monday, May 14, 2007

Good Breeze

The hermit doesn't sleep at night, in love with the blue of the vacant moon. The cool of the breeze that rustles the trees rustles him too.

I am called Breeze. I blow on pleasant mornings. On sweet evenings. Upon elderly mountains who have been there since eternity. I blow between the gaps of a pianist’s fingers. I blow when the night is no longer absolute. When a hint of future color softens some flower-cheeks. I blow with feudal splendor. I blow in the wings of flamingos that come rummaging for happily frolicking earthworms. I blow in the purple slush of pond scum. I breeze in the hair of perky guys in the middle of rainy nights. I am called Good Breeze.

I don’t know how I originate and who spawns my disguised flight. Yet everything that slithers on this terrestrial ball loves me. A million smiles piggyback my glide. I am beautiful, dainty but I can’t talk smart. I only whisper in the woods near Sam’s home. I whistle too -- on solitary afternoons. Hunters lying in the wait can shoot in thin air, mistaking me for a spotted gazelle. I can fool people. I can make them giggle. I make the girls' tresses skitter, long enough to make them blush. I make some eyes more impish than they usually are. Perfumed candles flicker their flames when I pass by, as if serenading my existence. That makes me happy. We all long to be loved!

Lovers do a quiet trapeze when I enter their embrace. Friends look at each other as their tender hearts waltz’ to my zephyr. I sneak into the unsleeped rooms of stoic razbliuto’s. I dance on the palm fronds. In the fluffy wool of a lost pack of merinos. Across prairies of the wild west. I live a soft life yet I feel powerful. Remember that old-as-turtle white-bearded, longhaired philosopher, who built Shantiniketan. One afternoon, as he sat in his forest-lodge, I blew in his flowing beard (he he…I can be naughty). At that he entered something in his tiny maroon dairy. I was curious; you never know these writers. Lucky for me he kept the dairy on his tea table and took a nap. Gently, I blew to turn the pages. You want to know what the old guy had written with his wooden reed pen ~
God's great power is in the gentle breeze, not in the storm!


Friday, May 11, 2007

Here you go

hum ne maana ke tagaaful na karoge lekin
Khaak ho jaayenge hum tumako Khabar hone tak
Aah ko chaahiye ik umr asar hone tak

You won't ignore me, I do know/
But I'd be dust till you discern/
A sigh often takes a lifetime to soar

Thus scribbled Ghalib* in ‘Joy of the drop’ around circa 1852. Nearly 155 years later, I listened almost reverentially to it in my car. Perhaps no one other than -- the inimitable -- Jagjit Singh could have done more justice to the timeless, mystic poetry of Asadullah Khan Ghalib. You can almost relate to the poet’s lament. The fervor of his soul. The myriad tempests that our own hearts hold. Last night, I could hear woodwinds from the Kingdom of God mildly tapping at my car pane. I looked straight ahead. The glower in the leaden sky that I first noticed in the little restaurant had turned into a drift. It poured buckets. The stop lights gave off. Traffic came to a standstill. My eyes went tenderly moist. I must admit I know not why!

Life is so unpredictable. You look for support, camaraderie, comfort, love. There are times when you aren’t looking for something in particular and suddenly you meet a friend. Such sudden, magnificent relations often offer you the confidence to walk on the defenses of your own heart. The matchless moments you think you might spend playing pranks. The circumlocutory silly philosophizing that you would like to spray on each other's nose. The unmooned darkness you reckon – foolishly – we can decipher together. Such is the nature of good-hearted friendship. But in a fast-paced world, things have to keep trundling on -- at ferocious speeds. So…people move on, wittingly and unwittingly. But innocence lives on. Remembrance grows on yew trees. It lives in some hearts!

The rain won’t stop. Summer rain is often an agreeably bracing occasion. I thought about the quickening rain falling on a hamlet, so utterly charming that you would see blue fairies in its distant windows. They seemed to wade at me. It so felt. Mellifluous music continued to cascade in my car. The soft rain continued to fall. Did I again miss on moments of private joy? The invisible Excalibur poked my heart. We part to meet again, the astray heart suggested after a while. I drove on into vol de nuit.

*Ghalib died in 1869 and is reportedly still dead. His stunning poetry is held in high stead -- even to this day.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

My Gang

Me and my legion.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

noce de mi-été -- A Mid-Summer's Wedding

I went to a wedding after a longish hiatus. It is mid-summer. Mehak is my colleague and it was her D-day. Now the heat in Delhi is hellish that you don’t even want to eat. I was in no mood to go. Then suddenly half my office decided to take off. I was indecisive till the last stupid minute. Eventually I joined the troupe. Three loadfuls of chariots drove from Delhi. I went with my fav blokes in office -- Sandy and Mehak (the bride’s namesake). It was a fun trip. Sandy – the perfervid chap that he is – drove like real fast. We were at the Vaishali farmhouse well in time.

Now Indian weddings are a plain euphemism for boisterous celebration. High jinks! I liked Mehak’s affair. It was a tad subdued, warm, a more jovial event. The lady looked resplendent in her trousseau. We had a good time. The gals let their hair down. The dudes cheered from the ringside. Our party posed for the shutterbugs -- with the beautiful couple. Raided food stalls – Salami, Cheese skewers and a funny Chi-Chi stick (If I’m not mistaking the name). The evening was breezy and not too oven-like, as the Indian May is expected to be.

I came back with Shaleen – toon enthusiast, cross-work champ and a racer driver -- a la Sandy. I work with some lively, laidback fellas, I forgot to add. The wedding was a welcome interlude from mindless work, more work and still more work. I am glad I went. And if you wondering what is Sandy show-casing: That's the famed Chi-Chi stick, mates!


Friday, May 04, 2007

Jour d'été -- Midsummer's day

Without a wish, without a will
I stood upon that silent hill
And stared into the sky
until My eyes were blind with stars and still
I stared into the sky.

Cockamamie. That is my state of mind. The heat is on! For another 200 odd days it will be hell in its several forms. Ah the diabolical heat! As one week passes baton to another, different depths of abaddon begin to unfold. Amidst all the flux, something fantastic has to happen to me every single time. Like bumping my car. Bracing the climes. Brooking the cuts – light cuts, that is! And I still manage to live another day. God bless the guy – who made my AC. I can contrive to dream, doodle and droll!

I recently rendezvoused with the magical Eyes – again! How I love the waltz of our glaze. Eyes -- They were at once hot and cold. I always fail to read them. The secrets they harbor. The truths they never yell, the lies they conceal. Eyes that have always astonished me. Amazed me. Made me smile. Eyes that I thought promised intimacy. That made me feel loved. Eyes from another world!

I am planning to go supine in the land of a million laid back souls – Kashmir. The fish, they say, still plop in its loud brooks. Little genie's hang on old chinars. It is fun. Folksy, green, verdant, clean. I’ll add more on these pages, shortly. Mountains can beckon, can’t they!