Sunday, October 25, 2009


Ma. She came from a very erudite family in Calcutta, her father, the late Professor S. P. Chatterjee is known as the father of Indian Geography, the man who coined the name "Meghalaya" and the founder director of the National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation (NATMO) if you hated geography in school, you should know that in our generation all those books we read were written by him. But this is not about him. Its about his third daughter, (he had four), an elegant lady who was known for her quiet demeanor and gentle ways. Ma met Baba in college, and the rest as they say is history. Ma was a qualified lawyer, fortunately for other lawyers in her generation and unfortunately for her, she did not practice law after marriage. But she was with Baba every step of the way and solely responsible for his illustrious career....she was the driving force, the one who took the decisions, the one who gave up on personal happiness for the sake of her family....and her family was large. Sorry, I err when I say she gave up on personal happiness, she just made the family her number one priority, whether it was the children's studies or going for "secret" matinée shows with other ladies in the house! Ma was way ahead in her generation and she possessed that delightful blend of whim and gentleness that made you stop whatever you were doing and listen to what she had to say. And she never imposed on were free to do as you wished....she insisted that the daughters-in -law of the family work, she allowed them to dress and behave freely when all others were shaking their heads in disapproval and she absolutely endorsed further studies and higher education.Ma never made the headlines but in her own quiet way she held the reins in the house...kind to a fault, her heart and home was always open for friends and relatives. She gave of herself just as she gave of her material possessions and never once have I ever heard her speak ill of anyone....everyone got a kind word of encouragement but that did not blind her to the weaknesses of others....oh she knew exactly what you were only she handled it her way. With kindness. And patience.....
Ma left us on September 15th this year. She went painlessly and peacefully, without a fuss just the way she would've liked to, unobtrusive and quiet. She had been ill earlier, and we had been though many complicated medical battles which she won through sheer will power and inner strength... but this time she had it her way...with Baba by her side and a quiet "adieu". She left before we had a chance to reach her side to tell her half the things we still have to say to her but I know for sure she's still with us, deeply woven into the matrix of our lives. And when she left home that last time she took with her the glow that set it apart......

Before I forget, I have to add that Ma is my mother-in-law. When all my friends would sit around and bitch about their mothers-in-law I was always the one with nothing to say. I was the envy of my friends, I never had to undergo a single fast or snide comment, I was never made to feel she handled a home better than I did or raised smarter kids. We giggled together, we laughed together, we shared hopes and dreams and stories...I'm sure there have been things which she may have disapproved of....but I was never made to feel small or inadequate...I was never criticized....scolded, yes, but never without cause. I was the spoiled "Bahu", the pampered one. Hell, she may not have been my biological mother but in the years I have known her, in many ways she was more of a mother to me than my own! And I never ever was made to feel like an outsider. That says it all.

Today I like to imagine Ma up there, quietly watching us, dressed in a beautiful sari, looking as gorgeous as ever, surrounded by people she loved in this life and who are no more, ensuring we are safe and well and free from harm.... And if I look hard, I'm sure my father is there too in that crowd and somewhere together, they watch over us!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

For you.

"The emperor reached for the jade bird
with glittering golden eyes,
he pleaded for it to sing,
his eyes glittered with tears.
The potter looked down at broken fragments
of an urn
too shattered to be kept,
yet too precious to be thrown.
The seagulls rose, they flew and dived
into the winds
across the oceans of eternity...
they mocked the passing clouds
and soared to the top of the sky.
Solomon walked on the gold dust
of the scattered sand of the desert
restless and shifting...
A treasure trove of mirages and oases.
Ask me why the nightingale sang?
Ask me why the potter stared?
Ask me where seagulls go?
Ask me where the desert water lies?
These are but unknown words
for unknown emotions.
Ask me why I write."

Read this poem when I was in school and liked it enough to save it all these years. No clue as to who wrote it....Anyway, why do I write? Raneedi declared "I write because I can." I admire the confidence but I lack such conviction, I do not have such lien over my words tumble out, at times sloppily, at times smoothly until I gather them up and make them stand like soldiers in the dark...quiet and still...waiting for opportunities such as this!
I write because I like to. You, dear reader, may not like my words but then I enjoy the process, my words melting and molting onto my page.
My father never read any of my poetry. So my favourite critic has never been there to share my you think he'd approve? Thing is, by the time I found refuge in poetry, actually fancied my verse, he was already gone....
They say people come into our lives for a reason. Manish was there to make me write poetry...he studied in AFMC, I met him through common friends. He had this habit of constantly scribbling bits of blank verse on bits of paper and a small notebook he carried around with him.... I was fascinated and impressed...later I found a lot of the verses were "borrowed" from Vikram Seth but at the time it was irrelevant...a whole new dimension had opened up for me! This Manish started me onto writing and thinking in verse...It came easy....the words just fell into place and there you go...another thought taking wing!
I knew Manish for a very short time, he wasn't the military type and paid his way out of the army and disappeared back into oblivion....But sometime after college was over and I was working and trying to live a routine disciplined life, I wrote a poem for him...which of course it never found its way to him. And today, I think this poem is not just for Manish, it's for every friend who has ever liked a word of what I've written, ever shared their comments or ever encouraged me. So.... to Vani and Re...for the first faltering steps....Vaishali, my constant reader...Ted, for sharing the hurt....Raka, my second favourite critic.....Rini, for weathering the storms.... Isha for the tears that roll down her cheeks when I read out some of my poems....for Aimee who likes to be part of everything, whether she figures it out or not...Amitesh who doesn't always understand my strangeness but plays along...for my inconstant muse, you know who you are.......for every follower on this blog all the kind friends and strangers who have ever bothered to leave a comment....and for everyone in my life who have helped me become the person I am today!Cheers!

Digging through the rubble
of the disaster I call my life,
I chance upon poems 'for Ipsi'
only you spell it with an 'i'.
Wishing back all the days
of RCs and watermelon juice
those long drives and longer nights
searching for our lives' muse...
Wonder what you're doing now
wonder where life's taken you,
if you're content with why you are
or doing like I do.
Yes, I'm doing what I wanted to,
or so I say, law keeps me happy
occupied and beyond reach
at least I pretend its that way.
Court and chamber, chamber and court
did i say I was happy? I lied
I try so hard not to hear
the familiar music of the night.
Poetry is out, dying but not quite so
lame excuses suffice for the lack of verse
still there are times I can't think in prose
yes, you could say it is a curse.

Enough of this self indulgence though,
I shall not take more time,
suitably chastised, yes I'm broken
sometimes life ceases to rhyme
if there is anything at all
I have done to cause you hurt,
some silly joke or ridicule,
or maybe something worse...
I apologise, yes I do and
yes, even I do cry sometimes
Would love to hear from you...
so please won't you write?

Saturday, August 22, 2009


.....if you do not understand my silence how will you understand my language?
I speak volumes when I am silent. Even when my hours are filled with idle chatter, it is the words I do not say that say the most, take wing and go on to discover new worlds...unchartered territories.
Only, rarely does anyone care to listen.
Oh my words fall smooth and strong, all at once ruinous, tactless and volatile and yet my silence stutters like the candle that the wind cannot blow out...Can anyone ever claim to know another person...inside out? Does anyone really dare? For rarely does anyone plummet their own depths, forget about anyone else's....who has the time? We are all too busy to listen to our own silences...or we think we are bored and cover up our own voices with music and flurries of activity....Once, stop and your true self, with no pretensions or delusions, be honest with yourself, say what you really want...and who knows, one day you can hear the song of the mermaid and the rustle of the flower as it breaks into bloom!
I love being alone...I like my own company. I enjoy the silence when I paint long into the night and my mind stretches out on the canvas in front of me. Sometimes I like to paint over and over, changing night into day, clouds into moonlight and whirls of light where there should be only darkness....
When I am hurt or disillusioned, silence is that which comforts....the words of well meaning friends are like raindrops....soothing and comforting but one also needs to hear the silence to listen to the rain!
coming back
to haunt again
ominous silence
among music, noise,
and day is night
is day again
and there is nothing
in the moon and stars
for all this
without you
is nothing.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

15th August has always been special because it is my father’s birthday. I used to love that day more than any other. Even my own birthday paled in comparison…we always got gifts on 15th August, usually there would be a neatly gift-wrapped new box of paints for me waiting at the breakfast table….. in myriad colours….and I would set about painting with gusto for the only man who really mattered. When I learnt about my dad’s illness that would take him away from us I first went into denial. Then I was angry…..later there were times I just wanted to hold him and cry my heart out in his arms but never found the courage to do it…preferring to be brave and “take it like a man”. When I used to sit quietly by his side while he slept, when he could, though the pain, in his last days, I realized I could never have enough of Baba. I would always want more. Today I yearn for those arms more than ever and I need to feel his strength and listen to his answers. I find some comfort in words and paintings which someone said are always lonely…like I’m looking for something and cannot reach out to it. It’s like there’s a strong current and the water is dark and deep but I know he waits for me on the other side… take me home when my journey is done. I wish he had been around for my daughters who never met him. For my husband who tries to understand why a song can surprise me into tears….Sometimes I blame him…why didn’t he take better care of his health? Why didn’t he tell us he was this ill? But then I realize Baba always had more time for us than he did for himself. The illness had been growing inside for years but he had pushed it aside, for everything else he thought was important.
My father was just a man. And he was just being himself.
I always used to say I would never get married…because my dad would shoot anyone who ever came close, no man was ever good enough for his little princess…but then suddenly now here I was, free of paternal judgement…but without paternal love as well.
After I finally decided to marry, I suddenly felt more lost than ever before. There was no way I could talk to Baba or seek his approval, was I making the mistake of my life or was this just what I needed? Does anyone really NEED marriage? What if I tired of it all or, worse still, got bored? What if I just didn’t measure up? The list was endless, the questions coming thick and fast….and then there was some comfort for everyone agreed 15th August was a good date for a wedding…I was eased… an extent…… and then came the poem; for the best father a girl could ever have:

Your arms were my refuge in every storm
Each step I took guided by your love
You watched over me, helped me grow
And suddenly – silently, you had to go.
Years passed. An emptiness no one still
can fill; time flew, venues changed, life held
surprises new, which never ceased to test
the courage you taught me as a child.
Now it’s come. The day you told me of
A day in my life you’d be proud to be
here. I’ll miss you – and I can still see
those meetings you cancelled, the work
you left to be one indulgent smile in the audience-
When the lights went low and the house
was dark and the theatre waited (bated breath)
for that momentary spark. You gave me the guts
to act that solo part….It’s like that now
too. I’m getting married. True,
this is not a school production and I know
you’d love him well. Still I need you here, I need
your consent. 15th of August, isn’t it ironic
I never asked you but I feel it couldn’t have been
without your approval. Do you recall those long walks
together with the sun barely out. Stopping
to look at the trees, to smile at the pups
each morning was new – it’s like that now
I’m a little apprehensive, a little scared
I wish there was your hand to hold on to.

They say dreaming of fathers is an ill omen
Little do they know; those are the dreams
that sustain me. Keep me sheltered
from the storm. The world outside is dusty
the winds blow my dreams asunder
but I have you to cling to when the morning
comes to thunder; into my haven
of sleep. Those moments with you I cherish,
unreal as they may be. I’m not sure
if I’m where I belong but this much is true
when I smile and the world thinks all is well,
it’s a smile that comes from you.

There’s so much going on these days
what with the big day drawing near
there’s all the joy, the excitement, the pain
and also an insurmountable fear
that comes from knowing you won’t be there
to guide me or help me on my way –
but Baba, I had to write all this
talking to you eases my mind, and yes,
help me please that I may be worthy
of all the trust and love you showed
help me be strong, courageous and kind
a worthy tribute to your generous mind.
It’s confusing here, I know I’m disjointed
I need your love to help me. Since I cannot
ask for your consent let me at least
take your blessings. Let me carry you in my heart
in every action, every dealing. Give me
your integrity, your values, your strength
bless me so I can be brave. Let me not stumble
in my duties, let me not crumble
or be vain. When I fall, help me stand
let me not break or be broken
give me the strength to be your daughter
give me the strength to remember your name.

I do not know who regrets it more.
You, for not being here, or I because
you’re not. But when they take me away
I know I’ll see you standing around
There by the door, a tear in your eye
A heavy heart but full of joy and pride…
I know somewhere you listen. And you watch.
I know you’ll be near when I’m a bride.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


8.8.90. I was in Pune about a year when I was adopted by a white furry little ball of fur that allowed me to call her Dabish. Dabish means a small stone in Arabic and that’s how tiny she was, so I conveniently carried her home in my pocket. I never fancied myself as a cat person, always imagining myself with a big dog by my side so no one was more surprised when this little waif kitten trained me pretty well…..soon I was running circles around her every whim…I’d buy milk and fish even when I was broke, I cleaned and cleared out her litter box, turned a blind eye when she killed a sparrow, made trips to the vet and even took her to class on occasion, hidden in my jacket pocket! She looked at me balefully when it was bath time and had such a pained expression that I took to bundling her against my tummy till she was warm and dry again…Dabish accompanied me on my walks in the wee hours of morning, using me as a safety pole whenever a dog barked…she shared food from my plate, patiently waiting when she was done, never intruding on my corner and when I was sad or lonely she curled up on my lap and purred her way into my heart. Dabish kept me for four years, happily adapting herself to my changes in address from a flat to the hostel to a one room out house in somebody’s garden…she slept curled up near my face, turning when I turned, moving herself to adjust so she could rub her face on my cheek. When I lived in a second floor apartment she used the neighbour’s balconies on the way down but always took the stairs back. So often the bell would ring (thanks to some kindly neighbour) and I would open the door to have her walking in complaining about the delay….One time, Dabish climbed a tree and couldn’t get down. So I climbed upon a garbage vat under the tree, red bucket in hand and waited patiently till she finally decided my positioning was right and she could jump into the bucket. My friends were, in turn, indulgent, impatient and affectionate with Dabish but all in all they put up with me and my nonsense! When Dabish had kittens, I sat next to her and shared her birthing pains….we had tiny kittens blundering about all over the place…and when her kittens later left, one by one, she was the one who consoled me. When I went home for the holidays, I once left her with a friend in the Army, a doctor stationed in Khadki…he and his friends spoiled her silly and I came to be known as the “cat’s mother”! But she unfailingly ran to my kinetic whenever she heard me coming…leaping into my arms with a loud purr!
One morning, four years later, the neighbours called me and I found Dabish….run over by a passing vehicle…..she had outlived her nine. I buried her in a park near the Film Institute, close to where I was living at the time. And each time I’ve been to Pune thereafter, I’ve made it a point t visit that park….the last time I was there the grass grew wild in her corner and the sunlight danced on the trees and I did not have to shut my eyes to imagine Dabish running about chasing mice and butterflies! But my most enduring image is of Dabish at the foot of my kinetic, sitting straight up at my feet…ears pinned back by the wind!

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Every ever so often I subject myself to what I call “morbid introspection” by which I basically evaluate various aspects of my life, find myself wanting in most departments and mope around with a sense of doom and foreboding which lasts until something more exciting than feeling sorry for myself sparks my imagination! They say this is a cycle and it happens to the best (or worst) of us but sometimes this is one cycle I cannot seem to get off and then the only way to cure myself is by taking an irreverent look at things.
So prepare to be bored…for this is therapy…my way!
WORK: Ah, that’s something. When I have it. In our profession they say sincerity and hard work…that’s the key and work begets work, blah blah blah. But sadly that’s not all you need. In a very male dominated workplace like the Calcutta High Court, unfortunately, if you’re a woman, it is not enough to be an exciting combination of beauty, brains and legal acumen…. You also have to have the three essential qualities of being able to lick ass, kick ass and eat shit (sadly, I lack two!)…of course in addition a little doe eyed adulation helps as does bending over backwards. But, as anyone who knows me knows I have neither the eyes nor the constitution for either. So there I am… work is limited. Limited to what I can do with no compromises and no pretensions and guess what, it suits me just fine!
FAMILY: Having never really learned the fine art of tactful diplomacy, it comes as quite a surprise (specially to me) that I am quite well adjusted in my marital home. Probably my live and let live policy serves me well. There’s the nuclear aspect of my two girls and husband and then there’s the larger picture with parents and family members some slightly extended and some not….. some that I would gladly extend myself for and some I would not. In my girls I have been able to instill a somewhat inconsistent sense of discipline which I less than deserve and I often multi task as “maid” “driver” “cook” “tutor” as and when the situation demands. Although my husband and I are friends (which makes the whole marriage shindig worthwhile), disciplining him has never been easy. ‘Uneasy twitches the hand that wields the whip’…and even I fall in line when I hear the crack! My parents-in-law are absolute sweethearts and I believe they are happiest when they spoil me so I consider it my bounden duty to give them ample opportunity to do so! I have no hesitation when I say they are like my own parents and I have never seen them as “in-laws”. The rest of the family (and we all live together more or less), are an indelible integral part of this multicolored tapestry that constitutes my life. And amid all the tears, the heartaches, the bitching, the hypocrisy, the sorrows and joys we have shared, there is genuine love and affection. Who could ask for more?
HOME: Home, they say, is where the heart is. If that be true then my home is somewhere in the hills watching the full moon rise above the darkened valleys…or watching the sun set over a glittering golden ocean. Every ever so often I have to slap my heart and drag it back to reality so I can answer more relevant questions pertaining to the life cycle of a frog or the unitary method……(frogs lay their eggs in a jelly like substance under water…who the hell cares when the baby moon is beckoning from between the rhododendrons?) Ah. But such is life!!!!
FRIENDS: Old or new, my friends keep me alive. When I’m sad or lonely or just my own crabby self, they are the ones that that come to my rescue. Always. Even the ones I rarely meet or speak to or just email an occasional dumb forward to, each of them have helped me be where I am and who I am today….so if you don’t like me you know who to blame!
SOCIAL LIFE: There’s a lot of that, sometimes too much. There’s the formal (Sari, bindi, smile in place kind) and then there’s the informal (jeans, t, you don’t HAVE to smile kind)….guess which ones I prefer! The BLC (Bar Library Club for the uninitiated) loves to have its formal dos. Some with spice (mouse = mice, spouse = spice…see how logical we are!) and some without. Though I cannot say all the spice we get is very exciting, sometimes the spiceless parties are dreadfully boring. The older men get drunker than they would have had their wives been around and you have them surrounded by sycophants running around to get them another drink and then you have these jackasses that think they are God’s gift to women when in fact they are God’s little joke on women! Formal family social functions of course are usually tedious affairs where I resolutely decide to talk less and smile more but end up doing the exact opposite…(sigh) as always! One fool proof way to handle parties is to get quietly drunk….it helps put things in perspective!!!!
IN BETWEEN: When I’m not working or role playing or grimacing my way through yet another social gathering, I like to chill. For me that means anything that strikes my fancy which could range from writing rubbish such as this to playing trio on the net to chatting to painting to watching the clouds float by….. When I can, I go and get myself some exercise…after all one must look after ones health! Once in a rare while this means 20 laps in the club pool. Most other days it means lying in bed and thinking myself thin….oh the power of thought!
TO SUM UP: Ideally I would like to get onto a big bike and keep driving. Never look back. I’d ditch my cell somewhere on the way and take each day as it came. Only I too know that that is not to be. Not anymore. I have two pairs of little eyes that still believe every word I say and that, my friend, as of now, is the greatest high of all…. So that vagabond part of me that sleeps under the stars can wait a while longer…..maybe, just maybe, someday I may join it!
For now, I am content.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Randomly random rantings

Guess I was predestined to be a mediocre lawyer...ever since I can remember I have wanted to do law. I remember long drawn out arguments and tantrums with my dad who did not want me to be a lawyer (he was betting on an engineer....whatever, I would've sucked at that too!!!)and I remember faking his signature on the Class XI form so I could do arts and not science.....anyway, I got my wish... (I'm leaving out the detective, pilot,train driver, journalist and aeronautical engineer bits as they were temporary phases...)and here I am!Thought I'd change the world, thought I'd at least sit for the civil service exams and THEN change the world...but then I got sucked up into this whirling vortex called life and here I am, slightly dazed, 15 years down the line. There's this song by Anjan Dutt "koto kichu hobar chilo je...koto kichu bolar chilo re..." (there's so much I had to do, so much that's been left unsaid) which I feel was actually written for me. I know these feelings are neither new nor original, and if you weigh my professional life with my family life, I feel I am blessed, but every now and then theres this voice in my head which is evil and noisy and clatters around like a bat in a closed room at night and it relelntlessly asks me what I am doing....and I often wake up wondering in the darkness... IS THIS IT?
Would so love to end this prattling with stories of blazing success but I'm too comfortable being who and what I am do actually DO anything about it...except maybe quietly rant about it once in a while. As Richard Bach or someone like him would say, obviously I choose to be this way. So am I being contradictory and contrarily confusing...or do these words just sound like mutterings from a mad house? Whatever. I'm here to share a I wrote when I left the profession in 1999 to have my first my usual tragic style I thought I was leaving forever...

Calcutta High Court, Bar Library Club.

It wasn’t easy, I still recall
the first day within these walls
wide-eyed and a little afraid
to this old room I made my way,
courtroom to courtroom I would roam
thinking, jubilant, I am home!
It’s what I wanted, little did I know,
a few short years and I’d have to go.
I’ll miss this place, I’ll miss you
More, but deep down inside I too
Know: it’s for the best and while
I still can I’ll bow out with a smile…
Truth to say I just hid a tear
because everything here is so dear
to me now. Here’s where I learnt to love
more than I thought I was capable of.
Here too I have heard and seen
gloom and poverty and learnt to feel.
So many times I have wondered why
but then again just wandered by,
skipped, tripped down the stairs
( do you know there’s a hundred there?)
I care for this place, haunted by men
alive and dead converging again.
Time has no beginning nor an end
and I feel aeons ago it was just the same,
the same laments filled its walls,
the same jubilation lit the halls
and if there are thoughts its only this:
here’s where I lived. This is what I’ll miss.

I returned to the profession after two lovely daughters (they DO make everything else worthwhile!)late in 2001. There were the usual teething problems of leaving home with two small kids around but somehow we they grow up I'm getting used to knitting their homework and exams and extra-curricular activities into the fabric of my own preofessional work and filial duties...I'm learning a lot of patience (a continuous process, I wasn't born with much of that...) and I think we are getting maybe I can one day dream myself back to exactly where I want to be....

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I've always had a fascination for the moon...we go back a long way. As a child I remember walks with my Dad over the moonlit fields near Kanke and Madhupur...and long moonlit swims with only the moonlight rippling up the waters. It was always magical....And whenever I have been sad, she's been around to give ease and comfort, reminding me that no matter how far or remote she may seem, she's always there. I specially remember one time when I was hurt and upset and on a whim I took this overnight bus from Pune to Bangalore...throughout the journey the moon followed us and the moon drenched fields and hills winked at by the time I reached Bangalore I was comforted, much more at peace with myself....and maybe a little more ready to face things... Over the years that beautiful lady has been a mute witness to my life. Whether I have been savouring the summer breeze on the terrace, or enjoying a drink in the moonlight, or watching the silver beams dancing on the waves or enjoying the quiet chill atop a hill, she's been a constant companion, friend and inspiration for much of my writing, my poetry and my paintings.

moonshine and tears
turning all my fears
into reality
gone are the years
amid all the heres
and morbidity
i dare not speak
knowing i cannot keep
my silence
heap upon heap upon heap
of self doubt creeps
into my reticence
but moonshine talks
where i always walk
in memories
dark shadows stalk
incessantly mock
my tragedy
mute starlight hears
all my dreams adhere
into the mist
in my ears
a memory whispers
of your kiss.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant: they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble, it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs for the world is full of trickery but let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Specially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

- Max Ehrmann.

Another favourite of mine, back from my growing up years….We are off for a two week holiday today so I leave you with these thoughts….undoubtedly, the world is unfolding as it should!!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


As I said, I'm a very private person. Yet today I went to my email contacts and informed some (not the entire address book, no way!)people I consider close to me to check out this am I gearing up to open my heart for the world to see or am I just pushing the limits of my own self worth? Whatever, in the end each poet, each songwriter, each author is in his or her own way, a Narcissist. Otherwise would we be able to emote about ourselves so eloquently...delve into the depths of our despair and bring out a heartfelt outpouring as if words were created only to fan and give a voice to our emotions? Sometimes I want to laugh. Once in a while I see the larger picture and I see myself, small and unimportant, it's hard to suppress a giggle and at other times, its just me and me and me. Then I'm larger than life and all my hurt and angst, real and imagined, cease to limit itself within the limits of normalcy. Recently something happened which I really smarted about...spent a while moping and howling at the moon and pleading and groveling and feeling sorry for myself. But I know it's enough. I've done enough. And now it's time to pick up the pieces and move on.... And as Baba would have put it, "..this is not the end of the world."


A cold grey world
a reddish glow to the Eastern sky
the morning song of the koel
a caress from the waiting breeze
and another day is in my hands
another day to love and hold
another day to live in hope
the promise of another day,
another life, another world....
My thoughts drift in like roving clouds
scattered across the morning skies
all my words, all my doubts
still unspoken for this day.
I need the torture of your love
I need the vanity of your taking
I need the chains you bind me in
I need your loving lies of hope.
Just now it's only the sun and I
trembling I wait, for this is mine
the world to my touch
for a moment - one brief moment-
I can pretend I'm indispensable!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bach, again today...

"The world is your exercise book,
the pages on which you do your sums.
It is not reality,
although you can express reality there
if you wish.
You are also free
to write nonsense, or lies,
or to tear the pages."

Need I say more?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Lets talk about Richard Bach...

When I was in my early teens, someone gave me a book called "Illusions...." by Richard Bach. I devoured it. Hell, I even tried cloud vaporizing!!! I wasn't very good at it but in my scheme of things I often convinced myself that the clouds shifted somewhat...(how quaint, how naive)!That book never was too far from me and I managed to read all books by Bach...a personal favourite being "There's no place such as far away" which I have thereafter gifted to countless people. I grew up on these philosophies and tried to live on them and live off them...they helped me out when the winds howled outside and it seemed that the world was going to end. They made me a less judgmental, less interfering person....unconcerned about things that do not concern me to the extent of being labelled a snob (a mantle I carry happily!). Now that I am slightly better read than I was then, I personally feel the thoughts have a lot of similarity to those of Lao Tzu...obviously the universe is unfolding as it should and you should just take a back seat and let things happen! Sure. Only sometimes life kicks you in the gut and you wonder where you're headed and if it is the right direction! And no matter how well you know your illusions, there is always some delusions you have to shake off!!!!
So at this opportune moment, very timely as Bach himself would say, my mum gives me this book..."Messiah's Handbook", the one that had been thrown away, remember? And do you remember how this book was to be used? "Hold a question in mind, please.Now close your eyes, open the Handbook at random and pick left page or right."
Here's what I found:

"When you live
by the highest you know,
the outcome of the game doesn't matter.
However it comes out,
it came out right."



Your Gift

I accept your gift, unfair though it may seem
of sleepless nights and relentless dreams
chasing through the night to where you stand,
calmly watching me fall, not lending a hand…
Mornings are filled with disrespectful light
all at once too busy, all at once too bright
it’s glow too diffused to be unkind,
dull and lifeless like my daily grind.
Somehow time passes, days bleed into one
while each day I race only to be undone
by the dreams: the tears wet on my face
as night falls and there’s still no trace
of you. There’s no running away - naked and cold
shorn of all pretenses I now clamour for a hold
back in my old life. So I buy myself sleep
with shots of whiskey and wonder why I keep
living. For I was not ready for your perverted game
the love I treasured was to you only lust by name.
Now I imagine your face cold and cruel
Unsmiling eyes watching me grovel -
I thank you for the hurt, surely I asked for it.
I thank you for the agony, surely I deserve it.
More fool I, for despite your heartless coup,
I still – stupidly, insanely, blindly – love you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ghosts.....She-devils and the like.

"..for friend and father Deb Kumar Sett
who loved life and me
And who waits for me still
around the corner
walking among the ghosts
of living strangers
not one as real as he..."

{That's not entirely original. The credit goes to Linda Goodman, I think. But I like it too much and it reflects exactly how I feel.}

Some friends, and foes too, with malice probably, called me "she-devil" in college. I had this favourite red jacket and long curly hair flying every which way...with my face covered with a black scarf with only the eyes peeping out I guess I did look chudail-like when I zipped about on my bike! And truth be said I loved it!
During a recent trip to Shimla, I stumbled upon an enchanting book called "Ghost Stories of the Shimla Hills" by Minakshi Chaudhry. It was full of short stories in and around Shimla and even in the Mall and the US Club, close to where I was staying on the Mall.
I was up at 3, tormented by a migraine and unable to sleep. Tossed and turned for a while with visions of ghosts and moaning voices running through my mind and decided to take a walk to the US Club and hopefully meet some of these notorious denizens of the night! I've always wanted to meet them, who hasn't... I have too many questions to ask....The sleepy Receptionist was just that. Sleeping. And did not notice my exit.
The night air was bracing and the sky was clear and bright. Stars lit the night and the mall was deserted. I walked up the road to the US Club along a narrow unlit stretch shaded by looming trees. It was quiet and the only sound I heard was my own laboured breathing! No, I did not hear any footsteps nor did any lost souls peer at me from behind the pines....nothing but the distant sound of dogs barking somewhere and the wind whistling through the trees. So I stood a bit, took in the fresh mountain air and returned quietly to the hotel where the receptionist stared at me as if I was the ghost!

This book says that descriptions of chudails or she-devils vary from beautiful damsels dressed up in bright clothes to the other extreme of monstrous creatures with protruding nails and teeth and long unkempt long hair. They can be identified by their feet and hands which are turned inwards. Folklore has it that they can change their form to appear as a woman, a man, a child or a beast.......
So which one am I now?
Go figure!!!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Writing, again.

I wasn’t really accurate when I said I hadn’t been writing. It’s not that I haven’t written at all. There’s this sheaf of letters to my father, all written in an adoring hand but no address to send it to. I actually thought I was crazy…writing letters that would never be read. Till I met this other person quite as mad as I am. He keeps writing to his dead wife and actually walks up to the post box and posts them…so here goes, this one’s for you Baba, just like most of all I’ve written the past 17 (?) years………
And cheers!

This Light (your light)

When darkness falls and the day is over
When unnamed sorrows assail my heart
In one corner of my mind you come along
And light your lonely lamp of love.
The lamp is small but gives me light
Turning my darkness into day
It burns with a constant flame and then
When I am comforted it goes away.
So I sit whenever I am hurt
Or sad or lonely or just afraid
Waiting for that little circle of light
To bathe all my cares away.
Even sometimes when I’m happy
From the corner of my eye I watch
For that lamp that gives me hope
And thank you for all your love.
I know that I will see the flame
And find the peace of knowing you care
For each night I feel your smile
Only each night there’s no one there.

If I could make visions out of air
I would have you standing here
Smiling face, indulging eyes,
Encouraging, utterly selfless and wise
There’s so much you have given me
But most of all I have your light
That burns in me a fierce flame
And comforts in the dead of night
Fire purifies the soul and so it is
Each time I suddenly feel you near
All my cares just vanish
All my fears disappear.
I know the day will come when I
Shall not need to see the light
That’s the day I shall see you again
That’s the day that I shall die…..

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Poems and other knick knacks!!!

Well, there are things we do not understand and things we are not meant to understand. And sometimes the world asks us to fight for things we do not understand and whose significance we never will discover. And a fight does not necessarily mean going out there guns blazing, we all have our own little battles...which leave us scarred. And the peace we broker is never easy....


Listen. Can you hear the sound:
vacuous and painful, hollow and loud
it’s music from my heart,
a heart shorn of all desire,
reduced to tears; it’s a start
an escape from the fire
that purifies the soul.
(only then, why is it so cold?)

When you smile your eyes
light into my nights
and when you’re gone the skies
bleed into sunlight
ghastly and bright
filled with disrespectful light.

Give me darkness:
it’s the gift I choose. You
cannot refuse. And send
me your cloak of darkness too
let me hide among the folds,
be it dark, be it cold.

And when this life is over,
let it be known as true:
I had my weaknesses and my faults,
but I was happy. Inspite of you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Poems and such things

I like to think of each poem I have ever written (and there have been many, I think I'm better with verse than with words...) as a child I have had. And I do not like to share them, for each carries its own angst and its own story...usually morbid. Viz:

Each night…is the same.

Black. The darkest night ever dreamed
Rain clouds hurtle across the skies
Grey are the ashes flying in the wind
Reminders of a love that to you is a game…
You wrench yourself free of my paintings
Dripping bloody footprints on the ground
I reach out to touch you to hold you close
only our eyes meet in the blackness
and the darkness swallows us whole…
as you walk back toward the light
and I watch and wait and wait
in the shadows that assault and tear me apart.
I run and run to catch up with you
My silent pleas are all thwarted
as I grope for you in the dark
my eyes are blinded by the flame
as you light a joint and hand me a drag
I’m dragged into the depths of madness
My head swirls, “water, water..” I gasp
And you are gone leaving a cold smile.
The moons mists up among the clouds
Sings to me “come…into my arms”
I rise only to be torn to death
by night creatures lying in wait.
As I lie bleeding the moon hides
behind tumultuous clouds – you whistle
and the claws disappear.
I fall……
only to find my pillow soaked in tears.
Asphalt morning storms into my night.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


It’s been a while since I last wrote…. Of anything personal, anything that wasn’t newsworthy…save the diary I’ve started keeping this year. This seems a good place to start.....when the fancy catches me!

When I was 10 my dad gave me a diary and asked me to scribble in it…any old nonsense, he said and I wouldn’t have to show it to anyone. That idea really grabbed me, that privacy bit. So day by day I started. At first it was drawings, doodles, even pictures I liked. Then each year got a little complicated. Growing up, secrets shared, first crushes, giggly school friends, the first Harold Robbins (OMG they actually write this stuff!!!), boys, dreams, nightmares, fantasies, fears, anger, resentment, joys…everything came to be chronicled and by the time I left college I could give you a little detail about each day of my life from age ten…..Amazing. And crazy. I had this little cupboard (locked, of course) in my room at home where I stored these diaries….and I would guard it with my life….the keys were well hidden and in my custody even when I was away in college.

Then, one day before I got married I opened that cupboard and spent the better part of the day sitting in front of it. Some of it made me laugh, some made me cry and a lot made me shudder at my own naiveté and idiocy!!! So I burned it all. Dragged out every last bit of loose paper and let it burn. Today I sometimes wonder why I didn’t just seal it all in a carton and bring it with me……but years of my life were gone. I do not know why I did it. Was it to safeguard my own privacy or was it just a ploy to hide what a jackass I could be? And now that I’m older and it has ceased to matter what people think, those are the pages of my life I miss…the humdrum days of a girl growing up slightly confused, slightly crazy and more than slightly rebellious.

No, I don’t think I was either unique or newsworthy but that life was mine.

And now when I sit with a pen in hand I often find my uninspired writing: “…..went to court and came home…clients in the evening…conference at 8” and wonder why I write. Isn’t all of that in my Court diary anyway, and who the hell cares…years later if I read this diary will I enjoy sifting thorough pages of a routine existence…ah but that’s it. It’s our monotony that makes us what we are. And right now more often than not it makes me bored and crabby and difficult to live with.

Which brings me to the second thought of today: Over the weekend a little room on top of the terrace has been made ready. Although I call it mine, it actually isn’t. It’s just an unused empty room used to house servants earlier which now is empty and which I plan to use as my own space to paint…anyone is welcome… yesterday I took pains to make it as nice as I could. So there went my easel and canvases and paints and pretty soon I can begin this tiger that’s growling about in my head…I love painting tigers…. and the moon…. A week earlier I was in Puri. The most beautiful part of that trip was the night we sat on the beach at night, drinks in hand. The full moon was two days old. And the sight of the silver echoed on the dark waters is enough to soothe any soul. So when a friend said poetry, this is, inter alia, what I smsed:

“ Shine on beautiful, the night is still new

call out in the darkness, my reply is in shades

of white…and of nights of black madness

shimmering in the glow

of a heart too drunk to care

and a head too heathen to know……”

Or this:

“Full moon, two nights old

on the vast ocean soothe my soul

Dreams in white reflected in the dark

Call out to you, resident of my heart…”

Crazy? Sure. Until next time….

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing here,

where I go or come from; it’s peculiar

for no one asks – or gives a damn

but I care. Ask me and I’ll tell you

how I love each rock and tree

and each smile I see on every child

reminds me (regardless of the sun and stars)

most of all there’s you. You who

haunts my days my nights, lying

awake I think of you. I must not speak

I dare not move. For fear my love

may smother you: kindness I do not crave

keep me alive keep me depraved…

while you are there, there is life

fulfill my desires and I would die.