Monday, January 30, 2006 

Just another day in paradise

The phone rang at 4.01 AM. I looked at the time, and I knew he had been suppressing the urge to call for some time now. “I have been trying to call you all of yesterday!”, he screeched. “Ummm, well, I was out of town”, I said. Because telling him I was out of my mind was not a move that would have been appreciated. He blubbered about problems and deadlines, and I soothed him down. He subsided slowly, the verbal torrents slowing into a trickle, relieved that the burden of responsibility was shifted. Koi aansoo mere daaman par giraake, boond ko moti banaana chahte ho, I mused to myself.

The second came as I stood on the hill overlooking the sea. Even the run up had not been as much a grind as it usually is. The usual huffing and puffing, but the mind remained clear. “Where are you ?” “Tell me”, I said, sidestepping the question. He blathered on, seeking reassurance much in the manner of the earlier gent. Again, calming words were spoken.

So came back and did the dishes. And boiled milk and made tea and tried to get a morning fix of the Net all together. (The milk boiled over, the tea was too strong, but yes, the dishes did get done). The third call came from Him-who-must-not-be-spoken-lightly-to, neutrally checking if one had an inkling of what lay ahead. Yes, I confirmed, he had called and yes, he too had called. I knew. And no, no problems. No, I would not get in trouble. And so on and so forth.

The mind is unhurried. Get to work. Today, even the truck driver overtaking perilously close by is excused. Oh well, he’s probably been driving all night, one mused in an all encompassing love.

One person came by, bearing sheets indicating meetings scheduled back to back. Came with a grim smile, and dropped agenda points with a flourish.

“Gulshan ki faqat, phoolon se nahin
Kaanton se bhi zeenat hoti hai
Jeene ki liye , is duniya mein
Gham ki bhi zaroorat hoti hai"

We drawled, with a beatific smile, and person scurried back bemused. The office knows it is a good sign when we sing old weepies.

The usual grumpyface came along next. 74 for 4, goddammit, he said. And wotta week lies ahead. And here, I hereby wash my hands off these files. We smiled and said, it’s a game, ducky. And of course we will cover for you. Go forth and multiply in good cheer. Remember this, he said. And don’t blame me later. So we sang

Yeh chaand beete zamaanon ka aaina hoga
bhatakte abr pe , chehra koi bana hoga
hatheliyon ki henna, yaad kuch dilaayegi.
Karoge yaad to, har baat yaad aayegi.

You been smoking something, he sniffed. And went away.

One has learnt to treasure the good days. When the sky is blue and the grass is green and the birds are chirping. Even if they aren’t. Because there will be others when the miasma of doubt and gloom will close in, and emptiness will be a heavy weight to bear.

And therefore, today, we will not shy away from talking today. And singing.

Saturday, January 21, 2006 

The Manicured Life

It isn't just a hobby. It's a painstaking one. Attention to detail. Analysing the past, forecasting the future growth. Each lop planned, and then inspected for results. Carefully crafted to look natural, shaped to look untouched by hand. Bonsai.

A wild, fetid landscape of competing, unrestrained life. Towering trees, spreading brooding canopies that seek to smother, deny lifegiving sunlight. In the humid dampness below, wild creepers, deceptvely fragile. Twisting, sucking the very ichor of their supports, clinging, strangling. Wild grass, tenacious, meek, enduring. Mosses, soft, ubiquitious. The sweet cloying smell of the decay of those who lost the battle, covered with the squishy headstones of mushrooms. Weeds, noxious, plastic in brilliance. Proclaiming defiance at a world that considers them unwanted.

Which is why we each treat our passions differently, yours becoming a trophy to be admired in elegant drawing-rooms with colour-matched furnishings. Mine banished to a different planet, to be visited when this one lets go for a while.
So each can continue with the eatworkdrinkfucksleep routine that is life, as everyone else sees it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 

Angsta Rap

Someone liked Eminem.

Another reason I detest the gent. Plus I got a solid half n hour for the meeting to begin.


Aint no rhythm , and aint no rap
Knock off the wannabe brotha crap

You doan have to tell US about frustration, bud
In yer pimpmobile and flashy gear
We live in an age of fire n flood
And all enveloping fear

Anybody who thinks Eminem’s ornery n mean
Is just a victim of Sony’s hype machine
Yeah right, he doan wear a bowler hat
His sneakers are endorsed, be sure of THAT.

In the days of old, the rebel bit ,
was confined to the occasional fuck or shit.
They went wild over Sex Pistols n Clash
And then Public Enemy et al redefined brash

Oh, we been there and done it
far as rage against the machine goes
When it comes to selling movies n Tshirts
the carefully manufactured rebellion shows.

And Eminem, here’s a news flash
We’ve had it with yer “white trash”
Try bringin a ray o light in jaded lives, dude
Instead of ffing WWF attitude

wanna thump your kid, do in your mom or sis
There’s a body part of mine you can kiss.
As for shock value : get this into yer head
Try flogging another horse, this one is DEAD.

Saturday, January 14, 2006 

Walk Like An Egyptian

Thank God for the Egyptians. They have done what the Government has refused to do in a decisive manner : stopped the Clemenceau from carrying its deadly load of asbestos to the Alang ship-breaking yard.
The French, in a breath-taking display of brazenness, had declared that the ship did not fall under the purview of the Basel Convention on transportation of hazardous wastes, being a "warship". "Asked to explain the difference between asbestos contained in a suitcase and asbestos contained in the empty hull of a decommissioned warship, a clearly discomfited French Admiral refused to reply ..." . What even more amazingly cynical is the fact that the company that was contracted to clean up the ship prior transport has gone on record to state that ..."France never intended to undertake more than a superficial clean-up of visible toxic substances on board the Clemenceau and deliberately chose the cheapest option they could get away with..." and that "the Clemenceau contains as much as 500 tonnes of asbestos, a huge increase on the 45 to 50 tonnes that the French Government has admitted to. "
The Indian Government has kept mum even as Greenpeace has raised up a storm in France itself, and highlighted that the Greeks and the Turks have already refused the same ship due to decontamination hassles. The only hope, it seemed, was the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Wastes, which recommended that the vessel be denied entry. Whether this would've actually translated into action on ground by the time the ship's final resting place became a fait accompli is a matter of conjecture.
As I said, thank God for the Egyptians.
But hey. Spare a thought for poor workers of companies like Shree Ram Scrap Vessels Pvt. Ltd, which has taken up the Clemenceau job. They depend on these jobs for a livelihood. Can a movement that wants to save the environment neglect the interests of these workers?
The Clemenceau may be one of the largest ships to be sent for scrap but every year a vast decrepit armada bearing a dangerous cargo of toxic substances, asbestos, PCBs and heavy metals, ends up in ship breaking yards in Bangladesh, India, China and Pakistan, where they are cut up in the crudest of fashions, taking a huge toll on human health and the local environment.
Life, it seems, is a choice between poverty and embracing death.


Polite Conversations

Silence was our language.

The initial silences, tentative
with jabs of conversation.
The joys, surprisingly recursive;
Mutual pleasures, shared elation.

The amiable silences that we shared
musing over news, writing, a song,
or what bursts of confidence had bared.
Silences often lengthy, but never too long.

The bitter silence of fights,
and of mutual recrimination
Musing over imagined slights;
sudden, joyous reconciliation.

Silence was our language.

Our talk is now of weather and such topics, cursory;
We cannot reclaim the silence we chose.
The conversations now are detailed, desultory;
our love has been struck verbose.


Dubious Move

The Game Commences.