Monday, November 23, 2009

Karma on two wheels

you journey through life on two wheels
of future and the past,
the equilibrium always unstable.
the front wheel takes you towards future,
where you want to be.
the past, the rear wheel
always behind,
but nevertheless there propelling you.
your mortal body and the frame
connects the past and the future.
your actions, the engine, your present
drives you, carrying
your karma on two wheels
from the past
through the present
in to your future.
future is not entirely for you to choose.
no matter what where you steer
the past, the rear wheel
decides where and how far
you go.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I’ll never be young again

The title is borrowed, I know,
[Daphne du Maurier, to be precise]
but somebody, in fact many
must have felt this way before.
When any mushy love story
makes you sad and you hum again,
the songs you had sung, hummed
or whistled two decades back.
Peer near the mirror and detect
the crow’s feet at the corners of your eyes,
the insubordinate grey hairs
that refuse to lie low. Somewhere
dies the sixteen-year-old in you,
and in its place is born
a tired beast of burden
that keeps turning the treadmill
on creaking joints, protesting bearings
and the path changes from a line to a circle

Friday, November 20, 2009

Killing me softly

An expert cartographer
you find the borders
of my reservoir of endurance,
pinpoint the limits
of endurable anguish.
A toreador,you
show the red flag
and goad me to anger,
to irrational behaviour.
A sorceress
you know where to stick the pins
on the voodoo doll and
where it hurts most
where the the pain lingers .
Killing me softly with your words


Amidst the vast ocean
Of ignorance
I could only create an archipelago
Of tiny atolls, barely above the water.
Wish I could create an island
Where I could stand and say
There are none to dispute
my authority.

Hope, revisited
Hope rises
Like a guardian phoenix
From the slow burning fires
Of daily strife,
Tomorrow is another day…..

Anger unrolls like a red mist,
Hot, raw, intense and insensible
From the primordial swamp of unreason
By the urgings of the serpent brain
Perceiving threats, to existence or self-esteem
Where there are none.
The mind rationalises the catharsis
Intellect condemns the outburst
Ends in contrition, but
Are the lessons learnt?

Born in the mind
Surging to the loins
Galvanising testosterone surge
Like an electric charge
Exhilarating in release
Seeking to be unbridled, but
Governed by the rules
Of civilised society
Frustrated sometimes, but under control.

Disgust spills out, foul bile
From the soul
Witnessing corruption that touches every moment,
Every day, every aspect of our lives
And sneers at our face.
The corrupt hold sway and
The law-abiding, tax-paying citizen
Grovel and unwillingly pay for
What is their due

The welcome numbness
That comes after gorging
On a Sunday lunch
And the short lived, unfeeling bliss of
The post-lunch cigarette.

Confessions of a middle-aged student

The urge to learn,
stemming from inadequacy felt,
battling with inhibitions
is probably hesitant.

Inhibitions prompted
when the salt-and-pepper
is by the green youth confronted.

Inhibitions come to the fore
and the drudgery of two decades tells
on the tired, rusted
and atrophied grey cells.

The old grey cells do strive
to move, to gather speed
against inertia, to come alive.

Add to that a dash
of the loneliness
of middle age in a youthful crowd;
memories of home
the company, comfort and warmth,
remember and sigh aloud;
and may be,a unaccustomed tear
the mind does a see-saw
between hope and despair.

The complete man

You stand out, so tall
Gallant, hard and yet
Soft and childlike.
Touching the mother figure
Passing on a little warmth
Clutching the child and
Sharing a little understanding.
Towering over the boardroom,
Hard decisions and adoring glances.
Your suit does not gather creases
Nor does your brow.
Pensive you stand, your patrician profile
Softened by the synthetic sunset.
Bet, you haven’t spent a night
Awake with worry, when
The thermometer does not show
What you want to see
And the little child well;
Wasted a day trying
To revive the dead telephone;
To get a gas cylinder,
Tried to solve a problem
Of algebra, long forgotten,
When the fat file lurks in your briefcase,
Changed a flat tyre.
Complete man-
You are the product
Of the copywriter’s fervent imagination.
Come, meet
The middle-aged, middle class man
Who buys the suits and dreams
You help to sell.

Death and dying

Death is academic;
If distant, a mere number
If near, a momentary stillness
A sigh, may be a few tears
So hard to come by.
Then back to the grind-
The business of living on.
Dying is personal.
It is all about pain
Pinprick of needles
Drips and injections
Myriad of test and counts, with
Unpronounceable names and
Unaffordable medicines
The gloating, knowing looks of others
The embarrassment of nakedness,
Of constant dependence
Inability to control your sphincter
The ebbing of life, draining away
Of pain, pain and more pain
And relief from pain - death
At best, sudden, unaided and alone.

Combat of Shadows: Mating Call

Come let's shed the trappings of civilisation
The cocoons of respectability
And meet in the arena of shadows
When fireflies glow with love.
Just two combatants
You and me, and let the bodies armed
With the Braille of love strain
To overcome each other in a combat
Neither of us win
or lose.
Let the minds soar
To a dizzying zenith
Where novas are born
Life so near death
And then fall caressing the clouds

Cactus Flower

Tired of planting exotic plants
And watching them wither
Leaving my garden barren
I had planted a tiny cactus
In a corner
and the night had cried with me
Nourished by the tears and the dew
The cactus thrived
On a summer dawn
Came a tiny pink bud
I sit on a lonely vigil, waiting
For my cactus flower to bloom.


Been feeling a little down
In the dumps, perhaps.
Don't call it blue
The blue I know
Is that of the ocean
Challenging man to one of his limits.
The blue of the sky
Open, vast, infinite
Of possibilities and mysteries.
Don't call it blues.
Been feeling a bit down,
That's it.

America - The First View

America - The First View
America, at the first glance
you are so erotic ;
so much youth, vitality
and - a dash
of accepted perversity.
Your cornucopia-
lot of effort, pains, sweat and tears
must have gone into it.
You have your controversies too
discipline and the lack of it.
The helpful, often meaningless smiles
and a tip for every small job.


What Is Left ?
What is left
- the last bitter dreg
when love evaporates,
sympathy has gone,
empathy is forgotten,
listening is a lost art,
mutual respect is on its last leg.
What is left ?

What is left
is probably the next day,
asking for a good night’s sleep,
a few hours of blessed relief,
yearning for peace,
a respite from wrangling,
the soul’s cry for hope !
Hope is all
that is left !!

Nothing Is Left !
Hope, tiny flickering lamp,
a small tremulous flame
cupped by the palms -
the urge to live on.
The pitiful light disappears
into the black hole
of well nursed hatred.
When hope rebounds
from the stony walls
of hopelessness.

Nothing is left.
When civility meets derision,
logic shatters against pet dogma,
openness confronts a closed mind, exploration meets foregone conclusion
contrition recoils from mockery.
Nothing is left.
The mirror of mutuality shatters,
shards of glass scatter,
two sets of bloodied footprints
lead to two different directions,
a relationship dies,
but for memories
nothing is left,
nothing is left,
nothing !

After parting
Paths lead to different ways.
People look back , sometimes,
from hilltops of lost individuality,
precious; that they had wanted
so badly to reclaim, what they thought
had been lost in the daily grind of marital strife.
They see smoke rising
from the hearth of the broken home
and there standing,
the product of the union,
the unwitting victim of the parting,
the child
lost, bewildered, not able to take sides.

Patching up
Hesitant footsteps return
the mood is sombre.
The truce almost fragile,
liable to shatter with one false note,
a veritable minefield.
The tableau reminiscent of courting,
deja vu with a difference.
Formal, feeble jokes, inhibited jollity.
In the darkness,
a hesitant hand creeps ahead
searching, seeking warmth
from once familiar terrain.
Grudging acceptance
search for lost rhythms
known-unknown-trying to know again
found-lost-found again.
A modicum of peace.

New status quo
Peace returns
to the domestic Bosnia,
albeit temporarily.
The child wears the blue helmet
of the UN Peacekeeper,
powerless to impose.
Watching, waiting, watching,
hoping, hoping
hoping against hope that
peace has returned for good.
Happy that it is peaceful
at least for the time being.
Savouring the peace
one day at a time.

Abode of Justice

Abode of Justice
Teeming with people-
Mostly poor, seeking elusive justice.
Lawyers-vultures in their black and white plumage
The fat ones, gorged on their fill of human misery
Scrawny ones- crows sweating, cackling,
Waiting for their turn at the carcass.
Typist- busy woodpeckers
Pecking away at their dilapidated Remingtons.
Clerks- busy sparrows chattering, forever
Rushing, to and fro, foraging for lost papers,
That will never be found nor the justice that lies strewn
Or buried with these papers.
Notary public- grave mynah, head cocked,
Willing to vouch for the vilest untruth
on your behalf, for a fee.
The abode of justice itself,
Dark, musty, dank with the stench of sweat and
Bidi smoke, walls besmirched by countless betel leaf-chewers.
The colour on the walls, appropriately red
Is justice- bleeding, haemorrhaging,
Dying a slow death.
Dark, musty, dank with the stench of sweat and
Bidi smoke, walls besmirched by countless paan -chewers.
The colour on the walls, appropriately red
Is justice- bleeding, haemorrhaging,
Dying a slow death.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Dog and His Tale

There was this puppy, young
Small, frisky and perhaps a little
Scared, as any pup.
They cut off his tail
So that he would grow up
Fierce and strong.
Predictably, it grew up
A dog fierce and strong,
Noticeable in any doggy ruckus
or even peaceful throng.
Aggression apparent in the stump of a tail
Always up, ready for a scrap
There was always this flicker
Of apprehension, perhaps fear
In the eyes of anyone who faced this dog.
But, whenever, this dog
Lay down to sleep
To see dog dreams,
Or whatever dogs see
When they are in slumber deep,
Phantom pain throbbed
In the tail that was no more;
Always a small frightened puppy
Who cried for his lost tail,
Whimpering, licking the stump,
Bleeding and sore.

Dress Code: Warning

I vacillate between the earth and sky.
When I am wearing blue
You may find me to be open,
Expansive, optimistic, enthusiastic.
Pink of a perfect summer dawn,
Reflected on my shirt,
Is a sense of wonder at this world,
And the infinite possibilities.
When wearing earth colours,
Brown, khaki, ochre, even cream-
I am rooted in this earth:
Firm logic, reasoning, and balance.
Mauve brings in the sensitivity,
Though it does not suit me.
Onset of blues does bring in the darkest of blues.

Networth of Disk Family

The sum total of slogging
For two decades and more
Jubilation for few successes
Coping with myriad failures
Bending, swerving, learning,
Clinging to perilous footholds
In corporate Kargil and surviving.
The networth is dismal, financially
Eight lakhs and little more
Deduct outstanding loans
One credit card,
One eight year old car.
On the tangible assets column-
A loan-free seventeen year old fridge,
Four year old stereo, the Provident Fund Account,
A small plot of land (under litigation)-may even go to the liabilities head!
, and what have you?
One teenager, around whom the world
Should revolve,
One wife whose orbit sometimes touches yours.
Intangible assets-
Goodwill and love of many, many friends.
And a good, if quaint reputation.
In the balance sheet of life
You are the only liability of Disk Family Inc,
a.k.a. Double-Income-Single Kid Incorporated
(With unlimited liabilities).

Audited and Found true
Gautam Sinha

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sindhu and I

Saw her first at Karo, never knew her name,
Dressed in cerulean blue, the colour of Ladakhi torquoise.
In a time-warp saw her again, a babbling brook, approaching Leh
You’d never notice till the signboard pointed her out,
Winding through the meadows, almost insignificant.
Beyond Leh, she blossoms in to a blue stream, unmistakable
You begin to realize her greatness, more so in
her anglicized name Indus.
I followed her winding trail on the highway
Playing hide and seek. Her path carved through forbidding mountains
And a harsh lanscape. Alluring, bewitching and
almost caused me to skid and slide, as I looked down and sideways
trying to drink in her beauty.
She met her friend Zanskar, not that I approve
of his dirty, slum brown colour. They meet and move on
Now Indus, no longer the pristine blue
of the mountains, unlimited skies.
We part company at the borders of Kargil
That separate us from our belligerent neighbours
Whose land she chooses for her passage to the sea.
We have traveled more that a few hundred miles together,
Kilometers sound so less romantic,
Definitely more than the seven steps traveled together,
To qualify as friends.
So I can say, Sindhu and I are friends
Till she chose to become Indus and moved on.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Karizma, Me and the roads of Ladakh

Karizma, Me and the roads of Ladakh

It was definitely not love at first sight!
I always had a rather sceptical opinion of her-
Pretentious, showy, lacking substance and may be brittle,
Haryanvi-Japanese roots not withstanding, show-boat basically.
When I met her, in flaming red
There, I said, overdressed for the purpose,
and daintily shod too, in fancy street-going footwear.
And the numbers, HR 36 J 7231
Did not add up to my favourite number 3, 6 or 9;
not a very auspicious beginning.
She was more Kate Winslet than Angelina Jolie or
Hilary Swank for that matter.
And the big R on the fairing did not do anything to allay my feelings,
but you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

A hundred kilometers down the highway
I was a bit less sceptical, and
as the milestones passed by in a whirl,
[should we call them kilometer-stones now?]
She had started to grow on me.
When the road started winding and climbing
Then was the beginning of appreciation,
if not the first stirrings of love.

On plain roads she warbled a love song with her exhaust,
I hummed and the wind hummed back and the road acquiesced.
When the going started getting rough
With the altimeter spinning above fifteen thousand feet,
The barometer dropping to fifty centimeters of mercury,
it was love in full bloom.
While I gasped and panted,
She showed her colours, clawing up slopes,
Matching the macho, ageing, blustering king of the road,
at every turn and climb, with a muted scream,
with tautened sinews, snarling and panting but ready for more.
On the treacherous down slopes, grit, sand, slush,
On engine braking
She gurgled and grunted, never missing a beat nor cog
As sure footed as a ghural, the mountain goat.
Keep her spinning at more than thirty five hundred rpm
and downshift in to the right cog,forget the front brake
was the mantra to make her your lovely, faithful girl
on treacherous terrain.
My New Zealander friend of the road Ben, looked at me and especially,
At her in askance, not believing she’d brought me so far,
put it succinctly, “You’ve got the nerve, ma[i]te!”

We parted company at Jammu,
after two thousand odd kilometers and more,
not because she was unwilling, but
my old bones protested. I often wonder what she could have done
if properly shod, in off-road rubbers
and stripped of her fancy clothing to bare essentials.
I still dream of you Karizma HR 36 J-7231.
Farewell, friend and travel mate,my Rocinante, having seen me
through the highest and most dangerous roads on planet earth
and biking Nirvana!

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