Tuesday, December 20, 2011

In Memoriam: Christopher Hitchens [1949 - 2011]

A puff of dust hovers by the sidewalk,
a footstep hurled in haste. A bus to be caught, perhaps,
that curious cargo of sighs, limbs & distances,
leftovers of yet another dailiness.

Nothing pauses.
They are all too busy living,
too busy staving off death's unwavering envy of life.

The absence sharpens,
streetlamps dilate in lament, like balloons.
There is no elsewhere,
no afterwards.

[7:43 pm | 16th December, 2011 | Delhi]

Friday, December 9, 2011

On THE Grammy snub of the year

Oh Kanye, Kanye, Kanye.
How, how could they?

[End of rant.]
[Or not.]

To paraphrase Sartre, Awards are other people. They exist, whether you would like them to or not. And by virtue of their mere existence, they tamper with your subjectivity. There's no escape, neither for the uninterested nor for the disinterested. So, when I went through the list of nominations for the Album of the Year and failed to locate the one name that I was looking for, it did carry some weight, a heaviness of the weightless kind. But before I could contemplate that further, there was a more urgent concern - what was he going to do now? A frenetic google news search for "Kanye West reaction Grammy nominations" revealed 130 results. Whatever it was, it had already happened.

"Kanye West blames himself for Album of the Year snub."
Wha? Himself ? Was the 34-year old tantrum-at-the-drop-of-a-hat rugrat of hip hop finally growing up? Reading further clarified things. It was his fault that he dropped two great albums in the same year when instead he should have "spaced it out, just a little bit more." He had just been a little too good for his own good. Kanye West was still Kanye West, after all.

Coming from a culture where an oversized ego is a survival tactic, that almost sounds, curiously enough, humble. And West, whose public image can be almost accurately described by a first-grader's attempts at cubism, is a titan in that world of giants. But there's more to him, an ambition to match the ridiculous proportions of that ego. (I'm not yet on board with his fashion foray, so let's just stick to music for today.) As a crafty producer with an exquisite taste for samples, he's always had an aural imagination to die for but his recent musical evolution has involved, to my great delight, the infusion of an emotional honesty. Emotion is a rare thing to find in modern hip hop, emotional honesty even more so, (which is such a shame, given that it's perhaps the most literary of musical genres, rap's very ravenousness for language and rhyme making it a mouthwatering canvas for confession...) so I was obviously taken in by his 2008 release, 808s & Heartbreak. Even though its android-like passages of raw emotion stretched out in Auto-tune over staccato notes of electronica barely qualify as hip hop, the shift was obvious. The prodigy had finally been baptized, the most unfettered imagination in hip hop now had a soul. (Shinier and heavier than silver, yes, but still a soul nevertheless.) No wonder why over an year ago, I couldn't wait to get to his next album when it came out, the album this heaviness of the weightless kind is all about.

My Beautiful Twisted Dark Fantasy is, like its adjective count, an exercise in unabashed indulgence. There can be no other way to describe an album that has a guest list that includes Elton John, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Drake, John Legend, Fergie (all on a single track), Jay-Z, Bon Iver, the RZA, Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj among others. Even as they all turn in masterful appearances, stamping their signatures on the album, it's clearly West who's in charge, conducting an ambition that anchors the album through its numerous excesses and digressions. At moments, with burgeoning textures of vocals layered over a cavalry of strings, trumpets and beats, you can't help but feel that he's channeling Wagner, furious and maniacal in his fascination with grandeur. In "All of the Lights", a pacy Fergie verse suddenly devolves into an Elton John piano solo which then ascends into a spar between his vocals and Alicia Keys's, juxtaposed with African horns and towering beats. All this on a rap-driven track. This is not hip hop, it is the naivete of an imagination whose irreverence knows no bounds.

On "Runaway", around the 6-minute mark, past the lyrical climax of the track, West drags the song on for three more minutes with an insistent coda of keyboard notes over a slithery jarring sample that sounds like a lazy electric guitar but is in fact him singing through a synthesizer. It is the kind of idea that should sink under its own weight but he makes it work, an almost-mournful plea that shores up the self-deprecatory confession the song itself is. The album does have its weaker moments (such soaring ambition can't not fall flat on occasion) and, of course, it indulges in every one of the genre's notorieties - the braggadocio, the misogyny, the materialism and the phallic obsessions - but to deride it for just that would be like dismissing Lucian Freud's Benefits Supervisor Sleeping as merely revolting or Lolita as being paedophilic. I am, often to my great regret, too much of a classicist to be able to appreciate hip hop in all its truest passions but West's relentless ambition makes the album, through the opulent hues of its ebbs and flows, the sonic equivalent of a Mohtashem Kashan.

Gonna take this sh** to the next level is hip hop's greatest cliche, but after this, even if all West does is impersonate Louis XIV on a pedestal of trashed Lamborghinis in a sea of Versace upholstery and Basquiat-adorned walls as he spits bombastic verses over the glint of golden strobes, he shall have earned it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Words hastily scribbled on a paper napkin for a girl in blue

In the golden shapes of this evening's rustic melody,
your blue is like

a little girl's giggle hovering in a petrichor breeze
as she sheepishly peeks into the window of a sand castle
for the first time.

[1:32 am | 22nd May, 2011 | Paradiso Perduto, Venezia]

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On making an Omelette

Yellow innocence in a dreamy puddle.
(A flaming sun on a watery sky, for the heliocentrically inclined. Or wabi in a china bowl, for the orientally inclined.)

Greeted by a salty conscience, reproached by the sanguine grit of chilli, beguiled by the sorcery of pepper. Add the tender lament of chopped onion, to taste. Stir repeatedly, until the contents weave a fluid tapestry in anarchy.

Onto the sparkling eagerness of a lonely pan. Brown blushes of initiatory awkwardness, a simmering companionship arbitrated by the buttery lenience of a spatula. Flip as needed. A geometry of browned white and scrambled yellow, measured to taste. Serve hot.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

An open letter

Paris | 4th May 2011 | 1:21 am

Dear reader,
Wow, it feels amazing to break the fourth wall. I should probably do this more often. But I have only ninety nine more minutes to finish typing this, so I'll stop dawdling and get a move on. (You do not know this - well, at least most of you don't - but the only way I could ever rein in my epistolary verbosity was to impose a time limit. It was either that or a word-limit and given my love of laziness, I was never going to go for the tediousness that is keeping a word-count.)

I just want it said here, categorically, without it being nestled in soaring metaphors or cunning wordplay or obscure imagery, that this blog is very much alive, and will be for a while to come. This is by no means a reassurance (I surely am not presumptuous enough to attach a sense of importance to myself in any of your mindspaces) but just a disclosure. A confession even, if you may.

Because I might be on the cusp of a disappearance here and thought I would be a little vocal about it for a change, instead of leaving it up to time to do a poor imitation of my voice. Or, well, the disappearance might just never happen. I'm not sure really. Ummmm, I prefer that all of my letters be purposeless, and would dearly like this one to stay so. Just humor me, will you please? As it is, I already have the time-limit weighing on my mind.

Enough small talk.
I work mostly through my notebooks, vessels of jotted down elements and imagery that I usually scour for focal ideas to weave my words around. But like most things, they have outlived their purpose and I very recently decided to let them go, in a singular moment of calcified determination. Two and a half years worth of unfinished material, zipped up and stashed away for reference later in middle-age, if ever that were to arrive. So, this essentially puts me on, artistically speaking, a blank page, the definition of pastlessness that I only too readily understand. Thankfully, I'm not new to this, I have a long-standing habit of resetting my literary pursuits and voluntarily going blind once every few years. (For those interested in history, the last time that happened during this blog's short lifetime was here.) It usually makes the world a tad more beautiful when your vision returns in the months to come. It also helps make life easier and art more complicated, a delicious recipe for their co-existence. Yes, they're quite the bedfellows, but you know art is the only thing that lasts, nothing else does, not your methods, not its inspirations, not life itself. (I'm tempted to break out into a passionate-yet-perfunctory exaltation of the tenacity of art, but then the clock moves.)

It means new reading habits, new playlists, longer evening walks, new paper-faced mates (Pinter, Rilke, Carey and Virgil wearily lift hands in attendance from the cluttered desk in the background), more late-night experiments with ink and eventually, a slightly evolved destiny, bent, bruised and battered. Whether the new-found freedom will liberate me or just tie me down until I find new inspirations or construct a large enough corpus of notes again, only time will tell. (I have a sneaking feeling I'll be back here before the turn of the week, but you know, betting on yourself in whimsical matters like these is just never the right thing to do.) As for "Confabulations", it is an offshoot, an arena born of my desire to adopt a different tone from my habitual one. It's got nothing to do with anything here, and as such I don't really expect it to influence matters much. So that's that.

I do not know when the next time will be that I'll be able to address you directly without being shrouded in half-painted ideologies or veiled metaphors, so I would like to take this opportunity to extend my most heartfelt gratitude for deeming my words good enough to waste your time on. After all, you've just seen how seriously I take my own. All ninety seven minutes of it, to be precise.

Verbosely yours,

Friday, April 29, 2011


For all the abrupt illuminations, ruminations, fascinations, impersonations, condemnations, divinations, examinations, hallucinations and many, many other illustrious machinations of the imagination.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Two o'clock.
The day startles me,
tearing apart the opiates of sleep.

Silence still.

The ground gives way.
Everything begins to burn.
Waves of penitent flowers
doused in gasoline.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Song in two verses and a chorus

I have dreamt so much of you
I sometimes wonder if you'll ever be real

Realities have become distant cousins
journeying the mazy waters of insignificance
while the tenacity of memory keeps leaving notes
I can't just go on dwelling in its palaces forever

But even as I stumble into the solitudes of solicitude
gasping, clutching at straws of passion's vocabulary
all I can muster is a mellow cadence 

When I love you
I am weightless
like a hyphen that shores up floundering thoughts

When I love you
I am pastless
like a staccato nestled into a slithering symphony

I have fallen so deep into you
I sometimes wonder if I'll ever be found

Days have become unrelenting landmines
navigating the slippery slopes of restraint
while the brutality of reason keeps slipping clues
I can't just go on toeing lines forever

But even as I slump against cold, whitewashed walls
sliding, descending into the blankness of silence
all I can forge is a watery melody 

When I love you
I am defenceless
like open terraces against an impending sunrise

When I love you
I am endless
like a little boy's shout into the sea

Friday, April 22, 2011


evening arrives
as twilight erases the day's memory
stringing quivering shadows
into opaque childhoods

dripping softly
into black and white hearts
stretched out on stony windows

every breath a weary whisper, 
does love ever last
forever, ever?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On Jackson Pollock's "Number 1A, 1948"

Once, there was a
town that had no windows
and streets that never intersected,
like the twisted insides of a dog.

It had no sun, no moon,
just glowing dreams
splattered on crumbling walls
with streetlamps that were only
half-hearted lullabies to a black, black sea
spitting smoky fumes at empty streets.

In the view lay a solitary shape,
an unmoving form drawn like a shadow,
a colosseum imperiously descended from the heavens.

It was where I woke up,
battered into submission, thrown into
a marbled pool of splintered statues,
a graveyard of eternities - 
frayed foreheads, orphaned swords, crushed chariots,
wounded wings,
gods that once strode the clouds
now mere rubble
clinging onto the soles of strangers' feet.

Born of a chisel, cursed with unfailing sight,
I watched the starless rainy sky
ruthlessly bring down its thunderous wrath
on the very spirits that once contrived it
as the sea of their weary voices begging for mercy
rose and fell wordlessly, unable to escape
the immortal stone their hearts were carved out of.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

On being asked why I write

As a kid, I used to love to play hide & seek. Every time we got together, I used to convince my friends to play the game with me. In one of our rooms, there used to be a large cupboard with sliding brown doors. It had nothing in it except some pillows and blankets. At every turn in the game, I would always go and hide inside it. The same place, every single time. All of the kids knew about that, so it meant I never won. Once the countdown was done, some would come straight to me and seek me out first, making me the thief for the next game. Some would just go elsewhere to search for other kids, knowing that I would be there anyway. The thing was, no matter when they came, I would always be there in that frayed brown cupboard, my ears pressed up to its door with my breath muffled slightly, waiting.

Perhaps I just loved the wooden sound of approaching footsteps and the triumphant look on the face outside as the door slid open. Perhaps I was dim enough to think that they wouldn't notice the life-sized lump under the blankets, every single time. Perhaps I never cared for their little game, playing another game by myself, one with very different rules from the one everybody else was playing. Perhaps it just felt safe in there, even if only until reality came knocking soon enough in the guise of a smug kid. Perhaps playing the thief was more enjoyable than trying to hide from one. Perhaps it smelled wonderful in there. Perhaps I was only just desperate to be found.

I don't know. 
Nor do I ever want to.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Creaky verse

I have never told you this but
I stay up all night
only to try and write poetry for you.

Sometimes I weave verses beautiful enough
to make me sleep soundlessly for a week afterwards
but sometimes it just doesn't work, this writing thing,
it wears me down, the way scratching initials
into a rock with my bare fingernails does.
I scrape as hard as I can, for as long as I can,
but when the open window turns navy blue
and I'm still lost for words, it's only alright to give up.

seems to be another of those lessons in futility,
five and a half hours have passed
and I have barely five decent lines to show myself.

Pretty soon, my fingertips will be sore,
my eyelids will start to droop,
the dawn will arrive with its pompous cavalcade in blue
and I'll want to retreat into the blanket's quiet anonymity
but before that happens,
know this, my dear sleeping beauty,
I did try.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


The night is mine. All mine.
My kingdom come. My fistful of glimmering otherness.
Chalked in letters of misty ecstasy. The animalistic fervour of mirth.

It is here. Now.
Here, there, everywhere. Waltzing around me in amorphous orbits. Unscrambling the glowing darkness. Gracefully approximating poetry into a delicate simulacrum of prose. Gathering disappearances. Unweaving tales. Inflaming my heart with the song of beauty's glissade. 

Drip. Overture to the sublime melody of life. Drip, drip. Escape into an unarriving tomorrow. Drip, drip, drip. Stop-motion flutters of memory's smile. Drip, drip, drip, drip. Flickering teardrops in the honey of my soul.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Once there was a pencil in crimson dark
that knew a paper as fair as air,
and a boy in the centre of an arc
who knew a girl at the corner of a square.

Spiral bound texts, lessons in valuations and stocks,
all the talk of the chalk got the pencil bored,
and away went hurtling through the boy’s magic box
a terse request to the girl for a random word.

Soon the inevitable blink inevitably blinked
and hidden beneath his desk, a screen silently awoke.
A discreet glance was all he took, as his fates winked
and the rest, as they say, went up as if in smoke.

The pencil went back to the paper’s white,
they were working on a rhyme, the last they were seen,
but they say the poor boy never recovered from the sight
condemned to an intolerable cruelty, an insuppressible grin.

[12:57 pm | 4th Feb, 2010]

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dear Grandfather

Acute myocardial infarction, they told me.
Oh, what little they knew of your heart. It had ceased the moment his had, an early June morning nineteen years ago. If only they knew. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The phrase

I still remember how your school tie was always askew,
how we both had the same stickers on our maths notes,
uncle scrooge winking out of a mound of gold,
and how you gave me three toffees on your birthday
when it was only one for everyone else.

I hate you, I said one afternoon,
and you thrust the torn page into my hands,
took your schoolbag and left the classroom.

You didn't come to school the week after that
and the teacher told us the bank promoted your father
to a distant town, to a distant state.

Seventeen years since,
I've not repeated that phrase to anybody
dealing only occasionally in the tangles of its converse.

Time carved in me a regret for you that life slowly eroded,
for many loves came and went, but you lingered, on the other side.
They say hate is an ugly business for a nine year old,
but it's only until he grows up and finds love uglier.

And on cold evenings when love wheedles the life out of me,
leaving me nowhere to go, I return to that long lost afternoon,
to the flimsy emotion of my torn comic book page,
to the curious comfort of my boyhood resentment,
clinging to it the way a drunk does to a lamppost in a dark street,
not for the light it so readily proffers but
for its gentle generosity in letting him stay on his feet.

Perhaps life has since afforded you kinder friends,
boy whose tie was always askew,
I truly wish you the utterly greatest of life's gifts, its love,
and only hope you condone this flawed passion of mine,
the warmhearted wrath of a schoolboy's hate.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Patience is the unimpeachable
chivalry of a straight line; poems 
are just blood and bones, one 
unreasonably mad with the other; 
pride is the boisterous sadness 
of a defaced old coin; youth 
is a dead man's treasure, wistfully
squandered when he was young; 
love is a bloodless papercut, 
sudden, invisible and stinging; anger is 
a stirring serenade to the old neighbour's 
dead cat; maturity is the unflinching art 
of pretending to be somebody else; 
defiance is a rock in the window 
on the seventy ninth floor; idealism is a 
polka-dotted napkin one moment and
a burning tongue the next; happiness 
is the curious devotion of a 
ticking clock in a deserted house; childhood is 
a blue swallowtail, delicate cheekbones
stretched taut into an endless smile; simplicity is 
a rainbow captured in monochrome.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011


The television played on
in mute,
to empty furniture.

Someone sang the words,
over and over.

I thought of you,
I thought of you.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Glass Room

"Man's answer to eternity!", the flashes proclaimed
amidst porcelain music and raptures of fearless colour
as nations stood still and stubborn bells danced in joy.

The gauntlet had been thrown
and impossibility hung its head in shame, vanquished.

Tomorrows went out of style, mirrors grew into windows,
apples were left unbitten, wishes summed up to wars,
dreams became common sense, distances went extinct,
carpenters turned emperors, love became a science,
and the air was taught a new kind of language.

"The departure of innocence!", the poets wailed, 
cowards with quills lurking behind bedecked windows,
as the sullen shadows of days marched past,
stretched out by the burdens of unceasing habit.

The forests wept, summers froze,
paperbacks forgot, shadows disappeared,
regrets smirked, corridors dissolved,
whispers faded, seas mourned,
and the air learnt a new kind of silence

For soon enough time's gentle currents turned into words, 
protesting indifference, spelling out remembrances,
trickling through long gardens and silver houses,
scything through the geometry of language, reclaiming history.

And when eternity arrived, eventually, 
the glass room stood, true to its promise,
a resolute mythology among the ruins of time,
glistening like a little boy's loneliness,
tender, teary and endlessly vast.