Sunday, April 30, 2006 

The J Word

I can’t say that J word, can’t you see ?
But so many people you know!
So dreadfully commonplace, jealousy!

You lavish time and money on me
and so much of affection you show!

I can’t say that J word, can’t you see ?

“ I love this”, you said (not about me)
A “miss you” made another glow;
So dreadfully commonplace, jealousy!

I know that it is probably just LSE
You are suitably modest, though.

I can’t say that J word, can’t you see ?

Often we are rude, banal and petty
( and you are sometimes angry, we know)
So dreadfully commonplace, jealousy!

It sorely tries us to just let you free;
we want the “special one” to be.

I can’t say that J word, can’t you see ?
So dreadfully commonplace, jealousy!


A Villanelle, a rustic song. Though neither Wiki's example nor this all-time favourite can be said to be anything remotely so.

Friday, April 28, 2006 

The Road Much Travelled

The first time he had travelled this road, he did not know the way. And neither did he stop to ask for directions. One revelled in such randomness then. The joy of the engine’s roar, the smooth road, and the sunshine, they all reflected his mood. He did not know what lay ahead; he just knew he was going to love it.

He remembered those times the next time he went by this road. The tin-shed panshop by that turnoff. One waits sometimes, knowing it’s a matter of time. And sometimes, you wait because there is nothing else to do. But waiting is a decision in itself. It’s like baccarat, when you have a five in hand. Waiting is the third card, the one that can push you to that magic nine, or just tip you over the edge into certain loss. He waited here like that, rebelling against the safety of the five, the certainty of compromise. He waited, daring that third card, and it rained.

He disdained the panshop’s inadequate protection; he didn’t want to get wet by drops leaking through the tin roof. He’d much rather feel the sting of the water, suck on a sodden cigarette cupped in the hand. Then that went out, and he just sat there on the bike, face upturned to driving rain, eyes closed. The fact that the spirit was getting recharged allowed him to admit that he was tired. That was how she saw him as she walked past on the other side of the road without stopping, though he didn’t know that till later.

The next time they were on that road together. She pointed out the bus-stop where she would get down everyday, and said “Nothing Goes Right In”, pointing to the acronym of the government organisation there. “Not easily, not the first time, no”, he deadpanned, and her mouth formed an O as she chided him for being crass. “Need Another Seven Astronauts”, she then said, and they laughed, though both knew that they had heard it before. She hummed, randomly connecting; a habit he was to pick up from her. He used to love connecting the dots between her lines and the conversation. “Carrie”, she hummed, almost in an undertone, and he said “Final Countdown”, rather pleased with himself. She nodded, and then hummed more audibly

“ Things may change, my friend, … Carrie, Carrieeee

Maybe we’ll meet, again ….”

He taught her to say goodbye; a gift that he passed on, armour that he donated, leaving him awkward and bumbling at all farewells from that point onward.

He passed by that road again today. The car’s tinted glasses and noisy AC drowned out the outside world quite effectively. He listened to the jabber about electron beam cross-linking and how it made for better fire-resistance. Nodding to worries in squeaky tones about the loss of flexibility it entailed, he looked out, at this road he had never really learnt about. As the turnoff approached, he tensed; flattened his face against the glass, moved to the edge of the seat. Even the driver noticed, slowing the car tentatively. Cigarette, he gestured, motioning toward the panshop, and the car glided to a halt.

“Classic Milds”, he said. As he smoked, he saw the road anew, this time knowing it did not matter. Roads did not matter anymore, he was now driven by alien, sure hands towards known destinations.

Monday, April 17, 2006 

Bachpan Ke Din

Moving to a new neighbourhood was always a mixed joy. On one hand, there was the sheer pleasure of being rude at school to assorted teachers, in the joyous knowledge of no long term revenges being possible. On the other, the trials and tribulations of moving to a new neighbourhood were all too well known.

I remember that day; I had been unceremoniously booted out of home at 5 pm, with an injunction to “play and make friends”. Fuming over the beatific, but ignorant optimism of parents, I made my way to the park cautiously. This park did not offer any sylvan refuge where one could unobtrusively hole up with a book. And steal home unnoticed after a decent interval. No, the damn place had nothing but a few overgrown shrubs for cover. So one opened up the comic book, sat down on a stone bench, and waited.

After a couple of stray glances, a couple of representatives of the local lot walked over.

“Where from ?”

“_____ Street”. ( A smart alecky answer, considering it was unlikely that anyone except people on that street would come to that nondescript bit of Eden). They chewed on that one, and decided that newcomers were to be allowed some latitude.

“What’s your name ?”

“___”. This caused some hurried consultations in the local militia, and then they dispersed without further attempts at “making friendship”. I went back to the comic book, thinking that the natives, if not friendly, definitely seemed to be less wearisome than several others which an itinerant parent had exposed me to.

Not for long though. Even as his shadow fell across me, I knew that this was big trouble. I looked up. He had the overwhelming incomprehension of the dullard written all over him, along with the brute strength that often accompanies stupidity.

“They say your name is ____” , he said nodding towards the local reps. He wore his truculence as shield against a faster, better, shrewder world.

“Yes”, I said.

“Why ?”

This stumped me. Several answers surged with tidal speed towards the tip of my tongue, only to be beaten back by a wall of caution. I decided to cautiously probe.

“Errr, why not ?”

“Cos it’s my name”, he said. Uh-oh. I now grasped the unrest in the local population. They were asking themselves what they had done to deserve another of us. The simple difference, of course, being that he was around two times my size. In physical terms, I was like the free dispenser sold with the extra large toilet cleanser bottle.

“Errr, that’s good”. I tried an ingratiating smile.

“I am enough!”

No, you are way too much already, I wanted to say. Fatally, the caution that was my sole protection forsook me. Probably the Commando comic I was reading had something to do with it. Something I had read during the day sprang to the mind. I had wanted to show this trick off, and like a puppy wanting to show it can chase a ball across a busy road, I decided this was the opportune moment.

“ What is 75 x 75 ?”



Now I was on a roll.

“75 75 za 5625, 85 85 za 7225, 95 95 za 9025, 105 105 za 11025, 115 115 za 13225, 125 125 za 15625”.

I paused, both out of breath and because my tables beyond that were a tad shaky.

He looked at me with shock, admiration and some respect. However, like coriander in the sambhar, these only floated in a thick broth of dislike.

“See ? They wanted somebody smarter”, I said.

Knowing that my logic was wrong, I had still advanced the argument in the hope that he would be too dumb to point out a flaw in it.

I was right, and I was wrong. He was too dumb to point out the flaws in reasoning that led to assumed superiority. However, he was also strong enough to pummel me into abject submission, which he proceeded to do. I picked out the confetti of the comic book, which he had shredded over me as a sort of a finale, and went home to report that the park was unwholesome and could I please accompany elder sisters to their athletic practice. A smart move, since they protested in shrill tones and hence I achieved my aim of sitting at home without being forced to indulge in any physical activity.

I have fond memories of that neighbourhood; I saw very less of it.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006 

Wanted : The Unrest Uncure

Tis April, and while we may moan about lilacs breeding, the fact remains that it is the month of that dreaded Annual Performance Review.

One of the things that make us wish to take up BFGs and chainsaws is this New Age Management Revolution. Generations of gorment awficers have come and gone with no decision greater than whether samosas are better with tea or do biscuits look more awficer-like being taken. "Keeping pace with the times" meant seasonal shifts from chai to nimbupaani and back to chai.

Sigh. Now higher echelons attend courses on Critical Chain Path Management and Motivational Leadership. And come back, spouting Chicken Soup for The Manager's Soul jargon. And we middling cogs in the machine have to reflect in our Annual Performance Reviews, this revised thought process. My own review/recommendation, in brief and precise terms, is like this :

" I produce garbage because I work in a junkyard. Possibly, it has become a junkyard because of such garbage being produced over the years. Which came first is a subject that requires external consultants, with power-dressed young women resembling Lara Flynn Boyle in The Practice (for those with a severe outlook) or those lushy legals in Ally McBeal (for me) ".

( That of course, is tailored to project the urbane image. Actual tastes run to Juhi Chawla in Duplicate and Sridevi in Laadla).

Musing on these and related issues, the intercom rang, and we noticed with much joy similarly stressed cog in machine's number on the ID. This virtuous gent (muchly loved n all), is slightly... ummm.. staid in outlook. Without actually giving him The Unrest Cure, we have never shirked our bounden duty in introducing some zing n zest in his life.

So we picked up phone, and the conversation (?) went somewhat like this :

High Pitched Squeal : "No, don't, don't DON'T!"

Guttural Tone(originally modelled on Teutonic tyrants of WW II, now adapted to sound Middle Eastern dagger in djellaba-ish) : " We haf means of geththing our way"

HPS : "We are innocent, for God's sake!"

GT : "Where would your Gods be without prayers ? Where would your saviours be without victims ?"

HPS : "We have done no wrong to you."

GT : " Your culture extols sacrifice. Our committment demands blood. Pliss not to take personally."

HPS : " Haalp!!"

GT (on phone): "Listen, unless you meet our organisational goal of houris, we shall kill him and send him to you in small packets, one KRA at a time."

Upon which we realized that a gentle voice was going "errrmm" on the other side of the line.

Big Boss, as part of Management By Walking Around, had visited friend's office and was calling from there to fix up similar visit to my orifice.


Looks like April will be the cruellest month, indeed.

Friday, April 07, 2006 


Each word guarded, the tone neutral always;
And thus we walk ,with a tentative tread.
Counting small victories in banal days
reassuringly, to stolidity wed.

For it clutches at our insides, this dread
of falling prey to passion. On thin ice,
One mustn't listen to stray tunes in the head;
and dancing in gay abandon's unwise.

Remnants of the past remain in my eyes :
twinkling, chilled floes. For once we chose,
to look at stars, believe their warming lies.
In Numbness, Bliss; pain receded, as the heart froze.

Enemy Sunshine! Seeking to thaw, warm glow
We're done with all Stars , do you not know ?


One poem that will do the rounds now, as it does every year at this time, is this.

The famous lines that cause this annual recall, are of course relatively well known :

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

But someone somewhere brought out these lines, that are from the last section, to ponder over :

"The awful daring of a moment's surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract..."

We all think foolishness will not strike us. That we are armoured in practicality, experience, wisdom and luck. Which makes it all the worse when we do slip !

Preen moment : The format, as per this. ( Do not look too closely though :) )

Sunday, April 02, 2006 


Corynna Corynna.